Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Case study in independent film failure

Many years back I sold an Eclair Super 16 film camera to some guy from the New England area who told me at the time that he was planning on shooting a feature film with it.

As it turned out - he did.

His film went nowhere and he ended up posting it online for people to watch for free, which is really the only thing left to do when you discover nobody will buy, rent, or distribute your film. You're better off having people see your film than not ever see it, even if you give it away.

What good is a film if nobody can see it?

Anyway, this guy kept a pretty detailed and amusing journal of his entire filmmaking journey and it shows how all the good intentions in the world won't result in a film that will find an audience:

alt.sex, an independent film

©2013 Chris Santucci

Monday, June 3, 2013

The New Style

The internet obviously has supplanted television and now even movie theaters to some extent. Is the internet the new television? I'd say it is - and more. If the way I use the computer is any indication, I'd guess that people watch onscreen entertainment in conjunction with doing other business online on a regular basis.

I generally have one window playing a movie while I email and/or research, and anything else I might have going on (ordering gear, paying bills, etc.) I rarely ever watch a movie or web series while not doing anything else, and I'm sure I'm not alone. I often also have a 2nd computer working for me as well.

The computer is a multi-tasking machine. Other devices are less so, obviously, due to small screen size. And people are more than adept at multi-tasking and are expected by employers to have the ability to multi-task, so it's more than a personal preference - it's a necessity for survival in the work place.

People have become accustomed to watching onscreen entertainment in smaller and smaller sizes and in  smaller increments of time.  Viral videos are generally never longer than a few minutes and more and more filmmakers are turning to the "web series" format to tell stories, which in essence is a feature length film broken into smaller pieces or basically an episodic television series.

Asking a potential audience to sit still for 90 minutes and watch your movie is asking a lot, which is why films with no "name" actors get such little response.

Viewing tastes have changed as well as delivery methods. People are used to watching short video clips  all day long that deliver brief moments of entertainment and inspiration. People are well used to watching episodic television shows. And people, I believe enjoy the added dimension of being able to comment on what they are watching, which is almost always a feature of online video.

People spend most of their time facing the screen of a computer or a tablet or a smart phone. These machines are ubiquitous in our lives and will become the primary delivery methods for onscreen entertainment. And I fully expect interfaces to come about that display multiple streams of various kinds of information concurrently with entertainment.

As such, I'd say it's well past the time to start thinking about delivering films for viewing on small devices to people who'd rather watch in parts, especially when you consider the fact that the 2nd largest movie audience is the 18-24 year old Caucasian demographic who spend every waking hour staring into the screen of their smart phones and tablets and not concentrating on any one thing for very long.

Another aspect of delivery that I find important to think about is the fact that more and more are not watching films and small screen entertainment in darkened rooms anymore. It's becoming crucial to deliver a final piece in such a way that it will be viewable in open windowed rooms during daytime. When once a filmmaker might create dark scenes in a film which would normally be viewable in a dark theater, details would become lost when viewed in the more normal surroundings of todays viewing public.

Whether they watch while on planes, in cars, on trains, in school, at sports events, or at home, the key things to keep in mind are movie theatre attendance as well as DVD sales are declining. MOD streaming is the new delivery method du jour and YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, etc. are growing exponentially.

Consider the audience above all else or you will not have one.

©2013 Chris Santucci