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Why The Form Of Cinema Will Change
By Ted Hope
Why does the feature film form have to change? What can society gain from this change? I thought I knew the answers, but what I discovered leading the conversation on ReInvent Hollywood’s episode on “The Form” is something even more inspiring and exciting.
I was 20 when I knew I wanted to use my life and labor to make cinema. I felt cinema could change the world. I felt nothing else had the power to capture our life as it really was—and then move it forward. After 25 years of producing a heck of a lot of cinema – films I am really proud of – I started to doubt that cinema had the capacity that used to , to move us, to excite us, to represent us to the fullest extent.
I was truly excited to gather for the first episode of ReInVent HollyWood what I knew were some of the greatest minds and experts on how the form of cinema is evolving, people who have been leading the way. My expectation was that we would be talking technology and science, about social behavior and learning processes. Instead I found it is the same qualities that originally brought us together around the campfire that will propel us into the next eon.
Story – when you get down to it – is the greatest technology ever invented. Technology – adapted from “techni” is simply a “tool” and it is the unique ability of story for us to feel empathy, to connect together, to share in an authentic experience that will forever be it’s greatest strength. With everyone we spoke to today it is clear that it is these attributes they look to expand upon.
In the discussion the human element one out. “People not platforms” was the advice that came from Liz Rosenthal on where to focus on developing for transmedia. Technology is a tool but not the reason for being. Dial it back to story. Recognizing story as vessel that holds the key on how we can participate in change, how we can make a difference – it is one of our most driving desires and more and more, be it through politics or profession, people feel they don’t – and that’s what story can provide The future of the form is recognizing we are no longer confined by the screen, as it travels everywhere and we step in and out of it at will: portability
Trying to future-cast may be a fool’s errand, but all participants were wary of the long reach and instead made pleas to keep the innovation accessible. Recognizing that the audience maybe “transmedia curious” as Karim Ahmed termed, but not yet ready for heavy experimentation, is a cautious reminder for every artist fueled by innovation. If there even ever was, there certainly now is no longer, a single audience, and storyworld building requires considering those who are eager to deep dive and others who will forever skim along the surface. The path to a more participatory cinema culture is a gradual shift in terrain as both perception and behavior is altered. Where it leads is not just to a nonlinear, asynchronous, interactive, immersive, and participatory world. The holy grail is the pursuit of all great stories: empathy and transformation – but now in a truly authentic way as story enters the physical world.
Technology clearly facilitates a changing relationship with the people formerly known as the audience, and it is this attribute that all were considering. Whether it was massive collaboration through “cloud filmmaking” or recognizing that people “want to have the story with you at all times”, participation and portability were key elements of what the new breed was hungry to utilize.
Barriers exist and if we don’t maintain an open internet, visions will vanish. People and artist both must take control not just of their work, but the data they generate. Our direct contact with audiences is one of the greatest gifts and we must not lose that at any cost. We can not let the culture of content ubiquity create a community of competition. Our path forward is through sharing.
All involved had developed new forms, be it for art or business, and they had lessons to share. It will be chaotic. Mistakes will be made. Rapid prototyping. Don’t wait, iterate! Enable discussion and bring diverse voices and viewpoints into the process.
The conversation flowed as the participants embraced what they saw as best practices for anyone engaging in new forms: transparency, sharing, the pursuit of transcendence, constant empathy, embracing failure as a given in the process, and a faith in the artist and diverse contributors.
Here’s the recap of the episode below. You can watch the whole show here.