Thursday, August 8, 2013


At any given moment, I am interactively connected to people all across the globe.  Instagram, twitter, facebook, linkedin, tumblr, blogger, wordpress, YouTube, and snapchat have given me the opportunity to communicate with a multitude of individuals from all different walks of life that I would never have be able to do without the aide of the internet.  the internet has undoubtedly shaped the way we live our daily lives, but it has also given us tools to pursue our dreams that generations before us could only write about in futuristic fantasy novels.  Is it wonderful that I can hear a stupid comment Rush Limbaugh said and know that there are millions that agree with me on his idiocy?  Yes.  But what gives me more pleasure is the fact that the internet has helped develop a community of like minded individuals to encourage and help (sometimes financially) lovers of film follow their dreams.  Considering just about everyone is on some form of social media site, it begs the question, can you make a movie in the digital age without it?

President Wolfman!!
The obvious answer is of course, "yes."  Of course you can make a movie without the aide of the triple w. (that's 90s slang for WWW or "world wide web," probably.)  However, if you want your movie to be SEEN, it's almost impossible without the aide of the internet.  Getting into festivals can be pretty difficult.  Not only can it be very costly, but getting into a festival doesn't guarantee that your film is going to get picked up, or reviewed, or even seen.  You very well could have a film screened at some bogus time slot and no one ever sees it.  Coming from someone that has attended a decent amount of festivals in their lifetime, there are a buttload of amazing films (both short and feature) that I have seen at festivals and have ONLY seen at festivals.  I can't share a film with my friends or promote them to watch/see it, because it was only available at a festival.  It sucks. Do you have any idea how much it sucks not to be able to show every single person I've ever met in my life PRESIDENT WOLFMAN?  That's right, you don't understand, because I can't friggin' show it to you and you are therefore unaware of its genius!  If a film does a festival run but nothing more, it greatly limits the audience size for viewing pleasure.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some film festivals, but I think their purpose is now nothing more than a way to maintain a sense of prestige in an industry that is constantly watering down content to be more marketable rather than showcasing artistic integrity.  There, I said it.  Seriously, what does your laurel even mean anymore?

Joe Lynch's Truth in Journalism
An area to examine is the technology boom that everyone celebrated.  Everyone champions a new era of filmmakers based on the technology of cameras, editing software, and all of the accessories that comes along with it.  What people ignore is how that new content is then distributed to new audiences.  It's great that everyone has Final Cut Pro, but what do you do when you're done editing?  Thanks to YouTube, Vimeo, and elsewhere, distribution now relies on audience's interest rather than that of a distributor.  Which, ironically, is what film festivals hope to attract.  To put it simply, even your middle man, has a middle man.  Sudance, Cannes, and SXSW are the "household names" that are even beginning to fade.  I can't tell you what film won the "top prize" at any of those festivals recently, but I can tell you that the Internet went absolutely stir-crazy over Joe Lynch's Truth in Journalism when it was released on YouTube last week.  We as a society have begun to change our tastes in terms of consumption.  Instant gratification gives way to prestigious packaging.  You could argue that we have shorter attention spans and become more morally debased in terms of our entertainment, but the reality is that we're more savvy in the media that we consume. It's the reason we're watching so many things through video on demand services and staying home to watch an entire season of Hemlock Grove on Netflix in one sitting.  It's the reason we're jumping with excitement over anthology horror films like V/H/S/ and craving highly buzzed films like YOU'RE NEXT after seeing our idols nerdgasm out about it all over twitter.  We don't even need reviews anymore, we just need one person on twitter to tell us something is cool, and we believe it.  With VOD services and online streaming platforms, what is the reason for me to even leave my home?

Katharine Isabelle in American Mary
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that the theatrical experience is obsolete, because I disagree completely.  There is nothing and will never be anything quite like the magic of the movies.  Was it worth it to shell out the extra twenty dollars to see Pacific Rim in IMAX?  You bet your ass it was.  Do I want to bash the skull in on the person who continually tries to play Candy Crush on their phone in front of me in a dark movie theater? You bet your ass I do.  However, a good majority of the films I review for Day of the Woman or Icons of Fright are sent to me through filmmakers ONLINE or through mailed DVDs. I don't get to sit in a theater at a festival to write a review, I get sent a disc or a link with a password.  A large amount of the people who are telling you to go out and spend your money on movies, aren't even going to see the damn movie in the theater themselves.  I will never, ever, ever, EVER, promote not going to the theater, but there are so many incredible films that I've only gotten the opportunity to watch because of the internet.  It is because of these VOD services and legal downloads (seriously, don't pirate movies, asshole) that films like American Mary were given a chance to be picked up by distributors and showed the world The Soska Sisters (and transitive property, got them the See No Evil 2 gig).  It's because of these opportunities, we didn't have to wait to see V/H/S/2 despite living somewhere other than a major metropolis.  I hate to say it, but without the internet, there would be a lot less movie watching going on.  

The sweet tradeoff is with this connectivity, I can now reach out to a lot of these filmmakers, and so can you, unlike anytime before.  You can tweet at Wes Craven and tell him how his films changed your life. You can reblog the incredible smut off of Adam Wingard's tumblr to get an insight of how his mind works, and if you want any updates on Everly, the best place to look is on Joe Lynch's instagram feed. How cool is that? #verycool. Look, the internet is turning into Skynet whether we like it or not, my suggestion is that we learn to embrace it and mold it into a tool that we can utilize to benefit ourselves and our filmmaking, rather than completely turn against it like an angry toddler.  Movie theaters will never go out of style, but not supporting e-content and VOD is only going to hurt independent filmmakers, and those that aren't fortunate enough to attend festival screenings. Then again, well, that's just, like, my opinion, man.

5 comment(s):

jervaise brooke hamster said...
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jervaise brooke hamster said...
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Unknown said...

Re: the "(seriously, don't pirate movies, asshole)" aside: That is all well and good if you're in the area where the film originates, but so many films that people take for granted get absolutely no release overseas. Until the world gets rid of region coding and moves towards release dates being universal, well... Piracy will be used by everyone from casual viewers to serious reviewers. I like what I buy and I buy what I like, but even Netflix has regional variations. I think the Piracy hatred is getting old, it only exists while the film industry is in such dire need of revision.

If downloading a film which has no theatrical release, DVD release or isn't available on Netflix makes me an asshole then I'm fine with that, because I'd have paid if it was an option. Simple fact is, that statement appears admirable but falls down when considered realistically and globally - made more ironic by appearing on the internet.

Need I say more?

Stuart Barr said...

Oh I agree, before torrenting serious film criticism was largely an impossibility. Pauline Kael couldn't do it. She was shit. Roger Ebert? Bag of shite. Paul Shrader? Useless.

Unknown said...

Nobody said it was impossible, but I have been told by writers and directors to download their film via torrent sites on more than one occasion because it would be quicker than them having the link and password sent to me. The same will be true of other reviewers. Saying that something is used as a tool is not the same as saying that it is indispensable.

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