It’s obvious that the digital era has changed the film industry, but I keep getting impressed by the magnitude of this change.
Internet, smartphones and software have completely revolutionised the way films are made. Nowadays, anyone with a phone and a computer can become a filmmaker, a huge departure from the amount of equipment required just a decade ago.
The changes imposed by the digital age spread through all the major stages of the filmmaking process. Let’s take a look at some examples on each of these:
Once a film idea is conceived, a script needs to follow. Websites like The Black List give you the opportunity to share your script with a network of screenwriters, who then proceed to rate it and offer you recommendations to improve it.
Funding a film has also changed drastically, before, the only way to obtain the capital needed was to pitch the film idea to studios and financing entities. However, with the appearance of the internet, other forms of financing have arose, such as crowdsourcing. The best example of this is Kickstarter, where films like “The Veronica Mars Movie Project”, managed to raise almost $6 million from more than 90,000 people. Another notable example is “The Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint”, raising $1.4m to help fund indie director Spike Lee’s incursion into the thriller genre… I can’t wait to see what comes out of this!
In the production stage, the big changes appear in the equipment. Although some established directors stick to the traditional 35mm, some others have embraced the digital era, with the use of digital cameras and 3D technologies. But what about the filmmakers that don’t have a multimillion budget? For them, DSLRs and smartphones have dramatically decreased the cost of shooting. “Uneasy lies the Mind” is an interesting example; a full feature film shot completely with an iPhone.
The additional benefits come from the wide range of supporting apps available. Low-cost apps such as Filmic Pro allow you to take control of the advanced capabilities of the built in camera.
Kickstarter projects have also appeared as an alternative to expensive film equipment, most notably: HEXO+, your own aerial camera drone controlled from your phone. Now you no longer need to hire a helicopter to shoot scenes.
Computers have changed everything here. No more cutting and pasting or Moviola, nowadays most of the film is edited digitally. The availability of software for editing, visual effects, 3D, compositing, etc. is endless, and it extends to mobile devices with video editing apps such as the simple and popular iMovie or the more complex Pinnacle Studio.
YouTube. Over 100 hours of video is uploaded every minute. Do I need to say more?
There are thousands of video producers who make a living out of YouTube, some of them even making millions. For the aspiring filmmaker, websites like this offer exposure; your content is instantly available around the globe.
The world’s biggest film distributors have also adapted to the streaming revolution. With on demand video available through websites like Netflix or my favourite, Mubi, you have access to 30 films per month with a new one added every day. The films are hand-picked amongst classic, independent and international cinema.
So, what are you waiting for? Get your phone out and start filming! Who knows? Maybe you’re bound to be the next Francis Coppola, or at least you’ll end up with a funny short film of your cat.