Valentine’s Day 2005 was a momentous day in the history of cinema – a date overlooked by the moguls of Hollywood and the learned film scholars. It was the day that the three co-founders of Youtube.com registered the URL at a website called whois.com. The launch of this social media website itself took a further six to eight months, and with it, YouTube has helped change the face of movie distribution.
Social media has changed three main areas of the film industry. These changes are not evolutionary, but revolutionary, and are affecting movies and the way they are made and seen in a way more dramatic than the introduction of sound to movies.
Filmmaking is a collaborative art form. This will not ever change. What social media has changed is the way collaboration has shifted from collaboration solely during the production process to collaboration between storytellers, filmmakers and audiences. The shift will have seismic effects on the filmmaking industry and the traditions we have inherited, and will create a new order where the film traditions will no longer work.
The first tradition to be blown to smithereens will be the distinction between art and commerce. No longer will the money-driven Hollywood moguls be able to define the so-called creative process by using money as the metrics and defining creativity as an unholy blend of launch date, metrics and finance. Even new filmmakers get sucked into the financial whirlpools of the major festivals like Toronto, Sundance and Cannes. Filmmakers and decision makers in the future will fall into two camps: those who loathe and abhor social media, and those who embrace it.
Second to fall, and to fall hard, is the traditional barrier between audiences and marketing men and women. Until now, a marketer could surmount this wall and reach an audience, but only if there was a huge sum of money. The new digital age means that filmmakers can now market directly to their audience for a fraction of the traditional cost. The ability of emerging filmmakers to understand this and utilize the new marketing approaches will define the careers of filmmakers in the next thirty years.
The last tradition to fall will be the structures surrounding scripts and story development. Because filmmakers of today and tomorrow can engage directly with the audience, it suggests that the audience will become an important part of the script and story development process from the start of a project. By taking elements of gaming storytelling, filmmakers of the future will be able to create stories that weave multi-layered story layers with a story experience that might include apps, websites as well as other on-line experiences with the traditional off-line cinema experience.
Where does this leave new filmmakers?
New filmmakers will embrace and utilize the merits of social media. They will consider themselves visual communicators using a host of storytelling techniques.Their movies will straddle the barrier between filmmaker and audience. In this new digital age, the opportunities for art and commerce to co-exist in a new format will excite and inspire filmmaker in this new age of social media. Those who refuse to adapt to the new social media structures will wither and disappear.
I came across this article on www.masteringfilm.com – and liked it:
By Jason J. Tomaric
Jason J. Tomaric is a 14-time Emmy, Telly and CINE Award-winning filmmaker. With four feature films, numerous shorts, thirty commercials, music videos and several educational DVD series on the market, Jason’s on-time, on-budget directing approach has made him an invaluable talent on every project. Jason has worked in over 20 countries as a director/DP and has taught at some of the nation’s most prestigious film schools including UCLA and the New York Film Academy.
The best piece of filmmaking advice I have ever received was… “Just Keep Shooting.” Filmmaking is a process that you must practice in order to improve. When I was younger, I made the mistake of viewing each project as the magnum opus of my career, not realizing that it was only a stepping stone in the right direction. As an artist, you continuously grow and improve your skills only by shooting a movie, assessing what worked and what didn’t, then going back out and making another one. Keep shooting, and regardless of how much of a success or failure it is, always look to the next project and how to make it better.
If I weren’t a filmmaker, I would be a… psychologist. Making movies is about creating the human condition on screen, and unless you understand people, their perspective on life, how they think and why they react in different situations, the characters simply won’t feel real to an audience. I’ve always been intrigued by a person’s internal wiring and how his personality temperaments affects his views and behavior. If I wasn’t able to focus this skill into writing and directing, I would probably direct it toward helping people.
The most important quality in a filmmaker is… having a balance between creativity, understanding the tools of the trade, and having a keen business sense.
Whereas many filmmakers have an unbridled creative passion for telling stories and know the tools of their trade, few understand how to create and package content that distributors and audiences want to see. This is the Achilles heel of the modern filmmaker – how to monetize your work so you can make a living. Even though I have one of the most creative jobs in the industry as a director and cinematographer, the majority of my time is spent on the business side – pitching projects, building clients, working to stay on schedule and on budget, investing in equipment, determining the potential return on investment for projects I undertake, negotiating deals and writing contracts. It is this work that pays my mortgage, affords me a comfortable lifestyle and sets the stage for me to do what I really want – to make creative content for the screen.
The most difficult aspect of filmmaking I’ve faced is… finding balance. In Hollywood, we have a saying that work is either feast or famine – if you are working, it probably means you’re putting in 18-hour days, 6 days week. While the money and experiences can be good, it’s easy to let your personal health suffer and even easier to lose your social and personal life. Many professional crew members have great difficulty maintaining friends outside of the industry where long productions and travel schedules keep them busy for sometimes months on end. Conversely, when work is slow, it can be extremely stressful – you wonder how you will pay your bills, where the next job is and how you will survive until then. It’s impossible to enjoy the time off because the times you’re not working are spent looking for the next job. So it’s extremely important to find balance between your work and social life, between spending and saving, and between taking care of your clients and taking care of your own personal needs.
My favorite filmmaking book is… FILMMAKING. I realize this may come across as an unveiled attempt at shameless publicity for my book, but in actuality, I wrote my book as a reference first for myself as a professional director. The film industry is so incredibly complex and multifaceted, and you must make decisions so quickly that having a guide handy that takes you through the process is invaluable. The tips and tricks I wrote in the book are part advice and part reminders to myself of techniques that have worked in the past, and worked well. As a comprehensive guide for directors who strive to master the process so they can focus on their art, I wholeheartedly recommend FILMMAKING, both as its author as and a working director.
Check out the original interview here.
This picture was taken during the shoot for my last bigger short film project ‘Damaged Kung Fu’ – if you don’t have the money to buy or rent the equipment you need… a quick stop at the catering table might help.