10 Key Film Trends for 2011

By Elliot Grove

My 2 main pre-occupations are the Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. Every waking moment I, and the fabulous Raindance team, do nothing except watch films, read scripts and talk to filmmakers, agents, financiers and distributors.

There were a number of troubing and currently unresolved issues this year. The continued imposian of the world's bankers thanks to their indiscriminate greed coupled with awe-inspiring lack of judgement. I fear they haven't changed a thing, and that we could be in for another total whammy.

And secondly, what we are doing to the environment causes me huge concern. And finally, what of our personal freedom and the freedom of the internet as ably and aptly pointed out by the entire Wikileaks fiasco. In fact I think there are many things filmmakers can learn from Julian Assange's Wikileaks.

Here are the key things we think matter to the world of independent film, in no particular order:

1. Alternative Content in Cinema

Digital and 3D screens are being installed in many British cinemas in a trend which will sweep the world. Digital screens allow cinemas to show alternative content. In the UK we are already able to watch sporting matches, opera and ballet in cinemas. Cinema goers in certain countries were able to watch last year's Michael Jackson tributes live in cinema screens too. This November, we were able to watch Green Day live from their big gig in Munich. And during the volcano crises, Raindance tutor, David Freeman was piped in live to the Apollo Cinema.

What does that mean for independent shorts, features and documentaries? Speak to your local cinema manager and find out! Perhaps your local cinema will end up more like the traditional British pub, with drinks, networking and movies.

Here's an interesting article.

2. Self Distribution

It used to be that self-distribution meant getting a van, a bunch of fly posters, and hitting the road. A few days before you pulled up into a town, an advance person would leaflet the place, and when you arrived, you would do some local radio, screen your film at the local rep cinema, collect the box office (minus the venue's share) sell T-shirts, posters, CD's and whatever else you thought you could sell, collect all the nickels and dimes, tank up the van with fuel and hit the road again.

It's all changing thanks to crowd sourcing websites, and the advantages offered by internet distribution.

Don't let me bore you here - read the rest on Self Distribution
And read my good friend Eugene Hernandez' article New Year, New Model

3. Social Networking

If you don't have a Twitter and Facebook account, get one now. Drop the reluctance to join the 21st century. Social media is the way forward in terms of news, entertainment, advertising and blatant self promotion.

If you are feeling a bit timid, check out the Twitter Tips For Filmmakers.
Here is the Raindance Secret Twitter Landing Page
Then you might want to follow some famous fillmakers, or retweet some cool filmmaking tweets.

4. Lo Fidelity Filmmaking

Movies on the web don't need to be the same resolution as movies in cinemas. You can shoot films using mobile telephones with video capacity, or with the awesome FLIP camera (pictured)

Here's some tips on how to get started shooting for the web.
And a great article by Werner Herzog who claims that the basic fundamentals of filmmaking can be learned in 15 minutes.

Paramount Studios thinks that Low Budget is the name of the game and has launched a low budget division.

Check out Raindance's Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking

5, Increased Role of Festivals

Film distributors are increasingly using festival screenings to promote new releases of films. Under the guise of cultural activity and the supposed kudos of playing at big-name festivals, distributors can leverage their marketing budgets to the maximum.

For filmmakers seeking distribution, creating a buzz on the festival circuit is a must. It's the best way to attract distribution.

Here are the 4 Reasons Filmmakers Attend Film Festivals

6. Micro Niche Marketing

Finding an audience for your film most likely means finding a small and loyal following. In the realm of on-line marketing through social media sites like Facebook, Bebo and Twitter it means creating a following of people genuinely interested in your film and your career.

Probably the most important tool filmmakers have in marketing to a niche audience is the understanding and use of key words and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

The bad news is that this is a really time consuming excercise. The good news is that if you are good at it, or become adept at it, you will be able to charge good money for your expert advice - and sell your film.

7. Role of Remakes and Adaptations

Hollywood ran out of good ideas zonks ago. Now they rely on remakes and adaptations of successful comic books and novels. The example of Twilight is a shining example.

8. The Future of DRM

The movie industry is in trouble, everyone knows that. People all over the world are downloading films as soon as (or even before) they are released. Do they also go to the cinema or buy the DVD? Hollywood says no, and that they are losing crucial revenue because their digital rights are being compromised. Should they change their policy on Digital Rights Management then? Apparently not.

In response they seem to be following the first footsteps of the music industry, cracking down hard on the pirates and not changing their system. Bittorrent site PirateBay was closed down earlier this year, and its founders sent to jail. And yet it wasn't until iTunes came along that the music industry really started stopping the flood of piracy. Giving users what they wanted at a reasonable price seemed enough to stop many "pirates" - normal everyday people. The movie industry will need to learn to do the same.

Pirates will always be one step ahead, technologically speaking, and simply shouting angrily at people won't help. Modern audiences want to watch films when they want, not hear about their amazing release in America and then see nothing for three months. They want to watch them where they want, on their telly or computer, not having to trudge through rain to a crummy cinema full of screaming kids or talking teenagers. As long as their demands are met they do not care about the source of the movie. At the moment pirate copies are all that fill that gap - but provide people with simultaneous DVD, download and theatrical release on a with scaled pricing and you will get happy, legal audiences. This is the future of Digital Rights Managment

9. Multi Format Simultaneous Releasing

Cinema releases combined with DVD and internet releases on the same date will start to become more and more the norm. The Age Of Stupid was an example of such a release in the UK in 2009. Raindance Film Festival has had Day/Date screenigns at the festival and on IPTV platforms like www.raindance.tv since 2005.

10. Archive Values

Filmmakers who make a number of films over the careers (and hopefully that is you!) will see the value of their back catalogue increase over time as different distribution windows open up. Remember that the new platforms of mobile telephony and IPTV will require different technical requirements than traditional television and cinema, so plan for segments or chapters of your story so they can be more readily adapted to new distribution platforms.


Someone out there is going to be the next Spielberg or Lucas and it could easily be you. All you need to do is to take gaming, app building and the traditional cinema 2 hour extravaganza and figure out how to turn it into a 3/4 week multi media experience culminating in the cinema ticket. You will revolutionise cinema in a way as dramatic as the addition of sound.

Happy filmmaking
And Happy New Year

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About Elliot Grove

Elliot GroveCanadian born Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007, the Raindance Postgraduate Film Degree in 2011 and Raindance Raw Talent in 2013.

He has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films incuding his latest feature film, Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe. Japan and America.

He has written three books which have become industry standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008),  RAINDANCE PRODUCERS LAB (Focal Press 2013) and 130 PROJECTS TO GET YOU INTO FILMMAKING (Barrons 2009). His first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication next year.

Open University awarded Elliot and Honourary Doctorate for services to film education in 2009.
He is regularly interviewed. Here is an interview for Canadian television

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10 Key Filmmaking Trends For 2011