What's the Next Wave of Cinema: New Wave to Mumblecore to ?
This is the second Two Week Film Collective roundtable discussion on independent film. This roundtable is open to everyone and we will be updating the roundtable with new essays when we receive them. If you wish to join the roundtable then all you need to do is write a 700-1000 word essay and then contact @thraveboy on Twitter to get the essay listed here. Feel free to respond by leave comments.
Five Possible Next Big Things - By John Ott
1. Indie 3D
No one knows what the landscape is going to look like post-Avatar, but there will definitely be more 3D-capable screens than there are now, and some of those might just be in people’s homes. And those screens are going to be lonely without lots of content. Right now Hollywood claims that they don’t see 3D as a gimmick, yet they aren’t using it for dramas, comedies, thrillers, historical costume movies, Westerns, romcoms, avant-garde experiments and most of whatever other established genres you can name besides sci-fi and animation.
3D to me seems as natural an evolution for movies as from sepia to color. The technology exists at indie budgets and the void that needs filling will soon be very wide. I see an indie 3D tsunami on the horizon.
2. Mumblecore Revisited
Yeah, I know the premise of this roundtable is what comes after Mumblecore. But Mumblecore has yet to stumble into the mainstream. The Mumblecore filmmakers have yet to get big budgets and big stars. After seeing Humpday at Sundance, I think Mumblecore is on the precipice of breaking out of the dorm room and into the Zeitgeist.
(Side note: Will this actually be good for Mumblecore? Probably not. But a little bit of Mumblecore’s intelligence would be a welcome addition to mainstream movies.)
I had a pretty heated discussion with a friend who despises Mumblecore as a voice only of the white and over-priviledged. While I think that’s painting with a broad brush, I’m inclined to agree there are many characters we haven’t met in the hyper-articulate Mumblecore universe. I’m looking forward to a more poly-phonic group of trumpet-in-the-bathtub movies.
3. Trailer Before the Cart
Although Grindhouse didn’t singlehandedly revive the Grindhouse genre, the trailers sandwiched in the middle may have had an unintended effect. They showed just how much fun it was to see trailers for movies that didn’t even exist.
It seems like it would be obvious to Hollywood. On the t.v. side they already spend millions on pilots that are only focus-tested and never broadcast. Ponying up a few grand to shoot a demo trailer could be a good way to test a property. In the best case scenario, trailer-testing could lead to more original stories on screen. If a focus group of twenty-somethings in Vegas said they actually would see that quirky coming-of-age movie – the money would follow to make it and, more importantly, to properly market it.
Indies already do this to some extent. Many a hit fest short has become a hit fest feature. (Frozen River comes to mind.) If festivals accepted shorts that were more like trailers, and the audiences at fests were willing to pre-buy tickets to movies whose trailers they liked, some of these micro-finance ideas that have been dreamed up could start working. Which leads me to…
4. Viable Shorts
When Walt Disney was working on his first animated feature, Snow White, people said he was nuts. “No one will sit through that much cartoon. It’ll hurt your eyes,” they said.
But soon after, no one would sit through a short cartoon, and Disney binned the Silly Symphony series that had built the Hyperion Studio. Now, with YouTube et al., short-form content once again seems viable. The next Walt Disney may already be out there, making short after successful short, earning enough to build a studio. I don’t think this age will last – YouTube and Hulu will soon be something like channels on your t.v. – but the opportunity exists in the interim for filmmakers of moderate means to build those means to feature level via shorts.
5. Upbeat Musical Comedies
To look at what might be popular in this Great Depression, you could do worse than to look at the First Great Depression. It was laughter, uplifting tales of rags to riches and songs, always the songs and the dances. Where are the Golddiggers of 2009? Where is Rupert Murdoch’s Follies?
I’ve seen a bunch of indie musicals lately that are taking a fresh approach to the genre. They are getting close. The first person to crack the formula for big screen song and dance spectaculars is going to make more money than Mamma Mia!, High School Musical 3 and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog combined.
As much as new technologies and 9/11 have changed everything, I’m pretty certain that the next wave of cinema is going to have a similar shape to others that have come before. It’s the pulling of the tide, the cyclical nature of the ocean of ideas. The Second Coming of the Western, Neo-neorealism, Paleo-Neo-Neorealism -- what stays the same is the storytelling at the heart of it. What’s the next wave of cinema? What it’s always been: good stories, well told.
Future Trends in Cinema By Clive Davies-Frayne
OK. First off these are just my opinions and I’m going to say straight
off that some of my views are very different from those I hear from
most other movie makers. I have a odd perspective on the movie
business… first and foremost of which, is that the perceived spilt
between zero budget movie makers and the studios is complete bullshit.
It exists, but only because both ends have a vested interest in keeping
the fantasy alive. This “them and us” attitude to moving making is NOT
the future of movie making… realising that it’s a dead duck. That’s the
Let me unpack the current perspective. The commonly held view is that the digital revolution has the big companies on the back foot “their days are numbered” is something I hear a lot. The flip side is, zero budget, digital movie makers are busy proclaiming “We are the future.”
The two factors that are fueling all this wild speculation are theories about what digital production and online distribution mean for future trends.
To be fair, there are some good business analogies: so in the 1960’s Harley Davidson owned the motorcycle sales business. There were it; huge market share. Then along came the Honda Brothers with their stupid, cheap little bikes and they didn’t look like any kind of a threat. Now look at it… Honda owns the world and Harley’s are a fashion item bought by about 2% of the market. It’s not hard to see the parallels.
However, where this view of the development of the industry falls foul is in the details. Harley was just one company who didn’t see which way the wind was blowing: isn’t one company, it’s a collect of very smart people who’ve been though this before… TV was supposed to kill cinema: it didn’t. The industry learned how to adapt. It’s adapting right now. Digital post production is the norm; the Red is Hollywood’s new favorite toy; distributors are getting their head around digital distribution. Just last month Soderburgh’s new film was released for digital rental BEFORE the cinema release… that’s bold… it’s also someone in the industry experimenting with the new opportunities.
On the flip side the zero-low budget independents are pinning their hopes on cheap production and social networking to create links with audiences… it fails more often than it succeeds. There are reasons for this as well… everyone is locked into the power of the format; the power of production… hardly anyone is thinking about getting the movie right or about the scene as a whole. The whole scene is awash with a digital “field of dreams” fantasy… if I make it, they will come… and, what almost everyone forgets is that for every zero budget movie maker trying to grabs some attention and some audience, there are twenty-thousand others trying to do the same. The concept that indies are competing with the mainstream industry is a false one… indies are all competing with each other.
Because of this, I see two possible future trends for cinema:
One of these is a future where we have digital renaissance, where new people enter the industry due to digital production experience. That’s me. I made movies on HD when it was all new and shiny… I learned my craft and now I sell screenplays to Hollywood and also produce lower budget movies in . From where I’m standing, I don’t see the divide between the two worlds. I’m just making movies. What I bring to the industry is an understanding of how you can create great films on much lower budgets and eight years understanding of digital workflows. If you look at Hollywood cinema these days, a lot of the new big names are from TV; so are a lot of the crews… and these guys were born and raised on digital production, cut budgets and the importance of getting the script right.
I see another future as well… one in which the new independents value
their independence over their movies… I see a trend in which movie
making becomes a hobby activity, like wood turning or rebuilding cars…
and that’s not a bleak picture. What I don’t see is that translating
into the overthrow of the industry. We’re not seeing a revolution,
we’re seeing an industry adapt to new technology and social networking
and they’re going to get good at it.
What I’d like to see are the door open long enough to see some fresh thinking and a reevaluation of what kind of movies are commercial. That trend is by far the most fascinating… and this is where I see a real opportunity for movie makers. Find an audience who aren’t being served by the industry and make movies that delight them.
I conclusion - I don’t believe in the digital revolution anymore… I think it’s pipe dreams and hype. What I do believe is that those who can see that they aren’t separate from the industry, but just one facet of it, will see door opening for them… and opportunities to show what can be achieved these days.
Oh… let’s call this a Coda… google Eclectic Method, watch what they are doing with video mixing in real time… if you’re just using digital to recreate the existing zeitgeist, only cheaper… man, you’re not even seeing the real revolution happen.
Clive Davies-Frayne is an English film producer and screenwriter who lives in Italy. He is @filmutopia on Twitter.