What I find interesting about market trends, shifts and factors is that it’s a constant battle between regulation and de-regulation. According to Gerben Bakker of the University of Essex, kings and national rulers regulated the economic landscape of entertainment during earlier centuries. This left travelling troubadours and seasonal entertainers out on the fringes while principalities controlled the legitimate theatres of the larger cities. In the mid nineteenth century, western society moved to de-regulate entertainment. As innovation increased through inclusion of all variables so did demand. This meant more money. Cue the re-entry of regulation and standardization. Left- and Right-brained minds begin their battle for the reigns, trying to control the profit by controlling the product. But as we should have learned from history, systems only work temporarily with regards to creative industries. Creativity retaliates with change as the living, breathing organism it is. The only option is to shift towards the moving target in hopes of knocking down a few pennies from the tray.
Control vacillations persist between movie moguls and cartels seeking to monopolize filmmaking profits. But as soon as there seems to be a “standard operating procedure,” ‘creatives’ come in and “muck up the system.” Oh wait… I mean progress it exponentially and dynamically. Yet still to this day the, “but this is the way it’s always been done,” mentality wars with innovation and transformation. Right now we are seeing an identity shift from ‘traditional,’ and I use these terms loosely, to ‘non-traditional’ forms of exhibition and delivery. For example: moving from film to digital; DVD to download; and from the box office to the Internet. But as the saying goes, “the only constant is change.” This is especially true for the film industry. Demand today revolves around mobility and accessibility. Additionally, Video on Demand (VOD) and instant web access are emplaced to mitigate piracy. A huge factor influencing the move from film to digital is cost: dollars and sense [sic]. Production costs are outrageous, making online distribution more sensible as a cost-efficient alternative. And now cameras capture imagery at comparable, if not better quality than film. But demand screams the loudest: audiences like the way it looks and they want to see it now. Once again we are experiencing creative, innovative and demand-driven change.
So what’s the buzzword for today? Collaboration. Gary Goldstein wrote in the 2011 “Future of Film Summit” that the evolving culture of film elevates individual accountability for all aspects of filmmaking, and all parties, “albeit reluctantly, are selectively beginning to partner up on projects.” Up-front financing is becoming increasingly scarce, and brand-marketing tactics integrated within films are sources of significant underwriting contributions. The newest financing trend involves crowd-funding through online solicitation sites. Goldstein says innovators with carpe diem attitudes and “a true wild west indie filmmaker attitude, will fare better” in this new filmmaking model. But ‘indie’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘low-budget’ anymore. It simply means non-studio. Today’s filmmaking trends remind me of the film, Field of Dreams (1989): “Build it and they will come.” Goldstein says experts predict cowboy filmmaking will increase funding, distribution and resource streams as filmmakers venture out on their own. This comes in response to the ever-increasing audience despondency with Hollywood and its products. Because the industrial systematic state of filmmaking consistently disappoints the clients they are servicing, the people want a change. It’s the circle of life all over again (Lion King (1994) pun intended), and the left-right-brain battle resumes.