It’s not an easy time out there for budding filmmakers trying to make a buck. While the tools to make films have become increasingly more available, the opportunities to create film for a living, at least under the old way of doing things, are shrinking. The wonderful website Short of the Week recently posted an article called Has Hollywood Lost It’s Way. It discusses the current state of the unoriginal Hollywood offerings available, and how it’s driven by our economic climate. But, they also optimistically discuss how this signals change and how some truly inspired, original, and creative works are being made as short films and ads. Whether they be self funded, or branded films like Spike Jonze’s I’m Here, or Nuno Rochas Momentos or through contests like the excellent Splitscreen: A Love Story.
As filmmakers we need to seek out and experience these short films and learn from them. It’s easier than ever to find and experience these films with websites like Vimeo and Short of The Week curating them on our behalf, and Smart TV’s and web streaming devices bringing these films into our living rooms for a proper viewing experience. As we experience these films, we then need to experiment with our own narratives, as well as get creative about how we deploy these films to our audience. It’s time we create our own paradigm, because we can be nimble. Hollywood is too big a machine to make quick course adjustments. They’ll be looking to us to lead the way for the next generation.
Just look at what Louis CK did with his new concert film: Live at the Beacon Theater. He self financed and self distributed his film. By by-passing all the “normal” channels he was able to sell it for only $5 a download and has made over $1M. Sure he’s Louis CK and has a built-in audience, but you can too. Use sites like Poptent.net to challenge your creativity and create branded films with the chance of monetary reward. Build a fan-base by sharing your work and experiences with your peers via social networking. Make your films and the experience more interactive. That’s what I’ve been experimenting with while making The Specimen.
As filmmakers so many of us make our New years resolution to write or make more content. But for 2012, make your resolution to not only make more content, but seek it out. Participate in it. Experiment with audience building. Find news ways to make your films stand out in the crowd. In doing so, one of us may just create the next great distribution and monetization scheme.
It won’t be easy. I’m as guilty as anybody. Life finds a way to pull you many different directions, some of which are unexpected and wonderful, others difficult but necessary. Through it all it’s up to us to persevere, to create, to inspire, and be inspired. Let’s make 2012 the year we took back film.