Sometimes I get bummed. Mostly when I watch the news, which is why I avoid it (and anything that plays into my fears) completely. I do, however, follow entertainment and marketing world, because… well, I wanna be a functional and productive individual within the film community. So I got really scared and kinda sad when I read that two feature films have been released this spring via Snapchat. For one, I’ve wanted to do the first Snapchat films (lol, probably along with another 10,000 filmmakers) but also, I got concerned for the future of the film as such.
Where is the film going? We have all been witnessing the decline in quality of studio films over the past decade, and the ever growing hesitancy to develop original content – especially mid budget. I’m not talking about TV networks here, although the transition that has happened to online in the last 3,4 years and the transition to mobile that is happening now, will surely influence the creative content that executives are willing to bet on. But I am talking about feature films intended for theater distribution. Are those dead? The only films studios have been financing are franchised superhero films, really dumb action or comedy vehicles for major A-list stars, and occasional horror flicks for genre fans. No wonder box office numbers have also been plummeting. Everyone can see the creative drought in the major studios, but the execs are focused on short term ROI’s and keeping their bonuses. I don’t blame them, it’s human.
On the other hand – there’s been a massive production of low budget short form content and web series, in which social media and Youtube stars are cast to attract audience. Also legit. Gary Vaynerchuck, a social media guru always says that the job is to day trade attention. Our attention spans are getting shorter and there is so much content out there, that it’s hard to filter it and it’s hard to value it. So no wonder the film is moving to social media. What is more immediate than that? But come on, Snapchat films?
Is that really what it has come down to? Call me old fashioned, but I grew up watching movies on a huge screen in a packed theater. I don’t want to necessarily want to watch a film on my iPhone while riding a packed F train after work…. Or am I just a sceptic? I know when film as a medium got invented, sir Laurence Olivier absolutely despised it and claimed it was the devil. He later went on to do some of his most brilliant roles on camera. Perhaps the answer is to go with the flow – pardon me – the trends, and keep trying to plug in as much originality as possible. After all, people respond to authenticity and raw emotion. And if we can package it in enough excitement, adrenaline and fun… we may have a winner 🙂