Recently, there has been some big thoughts on the film industry coming from the big guns, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese.
Firstly, Spielberg and Lucas were quoted last week saying that the film industry as we knew it would soon “implode.” But, what does this mean?
It refers to the mass uprising of media consumption and various forms of media outlets. Tracing back from the 80s to the dawn of cinema, audiences could only really consume film by going to the movie theatre, then they had video (VHS), Cable TV and DVDs, which arrived in the last 20 years of the 20th century. However, now we have hundreds of VOD (video-on-demand) outlets too. Shall I watch Netflix, Blinkbox, iTunes, YouTube or a DVD tonight?
The marketplace is clearly expanding and is thereby creating more room and opportunity for indie movies. At the same time however, costs for watching indie movies are dropping whereas studio films are getting more expensive to watch online. Why pay £12 for a new movie on iTunes when you can go see it at the theatres for £8? Wait… why not just watch a better indie movie for £2.50?
Spielberg and Lucas are suggesting that a system will emerge whereby you pay different amounts of money to see a movie based on that movies budget. This is happening. However, they also imagine that movie theatres will become decked out like sports arenas and offer more varied selections like TV stations. The small screen and big screen would have to finally call a truce and merge, but could you imagine going to the movies to sit and watch telly? Our lovely weather ladies may not seem so pretty.
This supports the fact that studio movies will continue to have bigger and bigger budgets, relying on franchises to recoup these budgets. The spots available to direct studio movies will become slimmer and slimmer, where working your way up from ‘below the line’ will be near impossible. Spielberg and Lucas are suggesting that one should work from the other side of this equation: take advantage of the vast expansion of media outlets and drop in production costs to make your own movies.
Spielberg and Lucas started the wave of the ‘film school generation’ of the 60s, 70s and even 80s. They hit the industry when it was on its knees and revolutionised the blockbuster. Everyone knows this: it is well-studied, the filmmakers are living legends and the film schools boast about them all the time. However, film schools can rarely boast about the present. The latest wave of filmmakers have not been from film school – they skipped it, grabbed their bags, cameras and lights and started making their own movies. We’ve all heard of Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Guy Ritchie, okay you get the point.
The modern day director will work with smart budgets, reach their audience more directly, create a fan base and therefore demonstrate a market value. The film industry today is all about market value, those who have it stand a better chance at gaining investment capital for independent projects, or even better, representation and a shot at higher echelon jobs. Well, this is what Spielberg and Lucas think…
Next up, Marty (I double-dared myself) has some pretty serious thoughts on where the movie industry in going in an open letter to his daughter. Everyone knows that Scorsese’s heart is living and breathing cinema, but apparently the cinema we all know and love is pretty much dead. But, Scorsese is quick to say that the future is in fact bright, just a tad unpredictable. I quote, ” The most unpredictable element of all? Cinema. And the people who make it.” Brilliant.
Scorsese is tapping into a similar message as Spielberg and Lucas, he mentions directors who have all managed to get their films made despite the tough times, including artists from around the world. He also mentions the vast complexity of different media outlets available today and how movies are so cheap to make. “In the future, you’ll probably see less and less of what we recognize as cinema on multiplex screens and more and more of it in smaller theaters, online, and, I suppose, in spaces and circumstances that I can’t predict.” However, movies are still hard to make and still require strong will and a clear vision. There is no getting off the hook just because it’s cheaper, “the tools don’t make the movie, you make the movie.” A quote for the books.
So, in essence, Scorsese, Lucas and Spielberg are pronouncing that the movie industry is their to be scooped up, it is at a crossroads and it is cheaper than ever to make movies (not necessarily easier), but Scorsese is also clear to state that there are no shortcuts to getting your movie made. I’ve got one: start now!
Read the full letter that was originally published in L’Espresso here.
And just for fun, here’s the trailer for Scorsese’s new film The Wolf of Wall Street: