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Since the Future of Film blog launched as part of the Tribeca (Online) Film Festival in April, it’s taken on a life of its own beyond the Festival. Our readership and contributors have since grown to form an engaged and discerning community that constantly encourages and questions the changes happening in the digital sphere.
In addition, our readers contribute to the dialogue with their insightful comments, which often develop into conversations inspired by the content of our blog. Indulge us as we highlight some of these astute comments.
Early on, Kristin Hertko of Flashpoint Media Arts Academy wrote a post called Reel to Real: Interactive Drama and the Cinema of Tomorrow. This post garnered a lot of attention from readers immersed in the gaming world as creators and players. Partially inspired by the launch of narrative-based games like LA Noire, which premiered at the TFF 2011, Kristin argued that “game technology is giving filmmakers a set of tools they’ve never had before,” and our readers chimed in:
Jeff: It certainly seems as though there is a movement in this direction within the video game and film community. The continual improvements of the visuals within games and the broader and broader scope of the storylines featured make truly immersive experiences more of a possibility all the time. It also doesn't hurt that the video game industry has been making money hand over fist lately while Hollywood continues to struggle with dwindling theater attendance.
In the long run I think this is the end goal of video games, and I don't even think it's necessarily just in terms of cinematic storytelling. I play every new iteration of EA's NHL series because I can't actually play professional hockey. With each year the visuals get more lifelike, the features more in depth, and the experience more immersive (particularly when you consider what the Wii and Kinect have introduced in terms of adding physicality to video games). Games are only going to continue to become more and more immersive visually, physically, and intellectually. I have to think that filmmakers and storytellers of all kinds will be drawn to the format more and more as a result. The possibilities are huge.
Speaking of huge possibilities, Nick DeMartino’s post Can Data Save the Studios in the Age of Social Media? proved that there’s room for growth, even for industry giants. One commenter noted that the familiarity of experiences makes audiences comfortable to engage:
John H. Lee: Smart studios will look to build eco-systems around all the content related to the whole experience (everything that stems from the story or the film), including gardens that grow fan-based content. It's the repeating experiences—the tethering—that will expand the business in the future.
People come to take more than one drink from the well when you provide something that tastes better than the other wells they can access. It's the same with experiences. And each time someone comes to the well, a little more data, and another opportunity to connect with them.
Based on feedback and response, we know our readers appreciate storytelling. Jeff Gomez’s Reawakening the Grand Narrative told a great story about how to tell great stories, and the Twittersphere exploded with an outpouring of response and support for Jeff’s ideas. He asserts, “We now have the technology and methodology to empower storytellers within embattled, oppressed or isolated cultures to widen those portals, to learn from what they find, discover new perspectives and voice their narratives back to their people across traditional and digital platforms in ways that can change things for the better,” prompting one reader to go so far as to renounce his previous cynicism:
Simon Staffans: Jeff, thank you. And yes, extending the analogy of social change - revolution even - being furthered by the use of storytelling (and I admit I've been cynical about this in the past, in the "oh come on how can there ever be any change, everything will continue as it always has"-vein of cynicism) I believe in it a lot more now.
In any story, you have the hero(es). In the case of Egypt, or of South America above, the heroes are given. The villain is also given, and that might be ok for them. But what really will bring about change are all the soldiers and policemen and enforcers of the old/bad who all of a sudden see themselves as the evil power's henchmen. And really, show me a child that told people they wanted to be henchmen when they grew up...
We’re constantly reminded that no matter how much the film industry is evolving to meet the new demands of digital technologies, the feeling of watching a movie hasn’t changed all that much. In his post Movies and the Joy of Being Alone Together, Peter Gutierrez suggests, “We watch movies the way we attend the circus or a ball game: with friends by our side[…]We watch movies the way we read literary novels: in reverence and solitude.” Our readers understand that both experiences are at play in the darkness of a theater, and they still get excited about going out to see a movie:
Ben: What excites me about your approach here, Peter, is that movie-going in all its forms and relations, contrasts, contradictions and connected-tissues, informs us of where we are as a society at large, which I feel is moving ever closer to a place of oneness. And cinema has herald this since its early days.
Remember some of the earliest ways to see a film? Those little coin-operated microscope-like parlor machines people lined up for one by one. And then ten years later, thousands of people packed into a movie palace... In a lot of ways the story today has many of the same elements. The big difference now is that none of these forms die out, they all thrive in their own ways, together!
I know for me when I go to the theater it is a magical, exciting experience; something I always look forward to; it is just energizing. Watching at home, on the computer or TV, informs this, and most definitely enhances the outings.
So thanks for the reminder and invite to reengage in what is a very important conversation.
Peter’s post reminds us that there’s no escaping a relationship with people with whom we experience a film. In her contribution, A Little Help From My Friends, filmmaker Melanie Schiele understands the importance of finding that relationship before a film is even finished, and of cultivating it throughout the entirety of a project. Readers agreed:
Emilia: There are so many things I admire about what you've written here, but perhaps what I admire most is how you stress the importance of cultivating relationships in person, not just through technology (although that's fun too!). Sounds like you had a real positive experience connecting with the residents of Rockaway, and in return they showed you a lot of kindness. That must feel pretty good! Congratulations. The trailer is so lovely and ethereal and it makes me eager to see it on the big screen soon!
Our readers are certainly enjoying their chance for interaction with filmmakers and industry leaders, and you can join in the conversation as well! If you have something to say, feel free to jump in and leave your comment, even if it's on an older post.
We welcome your valuable input!