The 00's was a decade brimming with change in every area of our life. Cultural, political, economic and religious values seem very different now than on the eve of the millenium.
Here are the changes of the past decade which I believe will have the greatest impact on films and filmmakers:
The most significat date in the film and entertainment industry was Valentine's Day, 14 February 2005 - the date that www.youtube.com was registered on Whois.com - the URL registry.
From its beginnings in an office in a garage, Youtube went on to change the way that we distribute video footage. Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) has become a part of what we now expect from the internet - and the Youtube service is less than five years old and accounts for a staggering 25% of all internet visits.
Whether it’s a short with a £10,000 budget or ten minutes of your big toe, anyone can post footage for anyone to see. The downside being, for many content holders, that anyone can post your footage up as well. Since it’s beginnings in 2005, content holders have started to utilize Toutube as a distribution platform.
The question for the next decade is: How do filmmakers monetise it?
Bebo, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter… it seems strange to remember a time before you could set up a facebook group to encourage people to buy Rage Against the Machine, or find out what Stephen Fry is doing in Kenya in 140 characters or less.
Filmmakers make good use of Twitter. It's a cheap and easy way to spread news around. It allows people to express their opinions about a film's opening immediately and concisely – for better or worse.
This was a decade characterized by boom and bust. When the clocks ticked over to 2000, we were in the middle of economic prosperity and the end of that seemed unthinkable. Then came the banking crisis and subsequent recession hit.
It's an easy trap to despair. Don't. For one thing, some of the greatest stories come out of times of hardship and in people pulling together. For another thing, now is the greatest time to make an independent film on a shoestring budget.
Some think that raising money has never been tougher. And it certainly is tough if you are relying on the traditional industry finance. I believe that raising money properly from the private sector, if backed up with a solid business and marketing plan is a surefire way to keep production money flowing, even if it's for lower budget fare.
For more on why the recession is good for screenwriters and filmmakers.
At the start of the decade people had only just begun to take global warming seriously, with widespread recycling still in it’s infancy.
Now, with the disappointing Copenhagen Climate Change Summit just over, most people will agree that it’s a problem which must be addressed, even if they disagree on how to solve it.
Global warming has also inspired a multitude of films including ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ ,‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and made by Raindance Alumni "The Age Of Stupid:.
Cyber crimes such as hacking, bank fraud, and cyberterrorism have been on the rise since the internet began, but it is only in this decade that rises in cybercrime have prompted governments to take serious action to prosecute offenders. E-mails pretending to be your bank, fake versions of successful commercial websites and even the Nigerian gentleman who is generously offering you two million pounds if you'll just give him your bank details are now commonplace.
But so is cyber crime in film - what Mission Impossible film would be complete without Tom Cruise hacking into a military system, and even the remake of The Italian Job (2003) is updated with computer hacking. If you're looking for inspiration for a crime movie, why not look into some of the most famous hackers of all time?
My first mobile telephone was acquired in 1987 (I still have the same number) and weiged about 3.5 kilos with a battery the size of a loaf of bread. I was blessed with a two hour battery life.
In 2003 I got a new Nokia phone with the ability to take 15 seconds of video. It was they whom I approached for the 15 Second Shorts film competition, the results of which can be seen on Raindance.tv, and which earned Raindance the moniker 'Creator of Mobilewood' by a now extinct Italian website.
Whatever your orientation for watching movies, I believe watching movies on mobiles and other handheld devices will grow and grow and grow.
It all begins with a doctor who can remove a face and transplant it onto another person. Sounds like the premise to Face/Off? In 2005 surgeons in France performed the worlds first face transplant on a woman whose had lost her nose, lips and chin after being savagely attacked by a dog. In 2009 a controversial announcement by Dr Zavos suggested that we may be closer to achieving human cloning than previously thought and the up-coming BBC version of The Day of the Triffids, adapted to include genetically modified Triffids, shows that there is plenty of material to be drawn from recent scientific discoveries.
Local councils 'have trebled number of CCTV cameras in a decade' according to The Times and with the Identity Card Scheme being introduced on a voluntary basis in Manchester, many are worried that compulsory participation on government databases is not far away.
Despite the growing lack of privacy, both in the UK and Worldwide, this has inspired some great films including 'Borges and I', shown at Raindance this year. which was shot entirely through a buttonhole camera and tells the story of an out-of-work actor who takes on an experiment to find out if it is possible to control how others perceive him.
The first well known music sharing site was Napster, which was forced to close in 2002, after a lengthy copyright battle. As it has become easier to send large files over the net, video piracy has spread and as quickly as one source comes under control, another one springs up. By the time content providers started putting together strategies to use Youtube to their best advantage, hundreds of people were downloading films from Pirate Bay every day. Even the courts finding the founders of Pirate Bay guilty of breaking copyright law in April 2009 has not yet prevented the effects of piracy hitting the film industry.
It looks as if the British government will be moving to have the penalties for illegal downloading moved from piracy (akin to tresspassing under current legislation) to criminal law. This would mean anyone caught downloading files illegally would face a criminal record. Hopefully this will provide a deterent.
How can filmmakers fight back? One way has been with Digital Distribution
In 2007 Raindance.tv launched it’s online distribution service, providing users with access to films online which they otherwise wouldn’t get to see.
In TV, all of the analogue channels, and many digital channels, provide access to many of their programmes online. The music industry has done this as well, with companies like Spotify, Last.fm and the new Youscrobble.com providing free, advertising supported, access to music online. In many ways this is a reaction to piracy, but it is also the future of the industry.
People don’t necessarily watch TV and Film on televisions and in cinemas anymore, preferring to have the option of computer and even mobile phones to watch them on.
The challenge for filmmakers and their marketeers is to see how films on the internet and on mobile telephones can be monetised.
This article was researched by the brilliant Frederica Byron.
Elliot Grove has worked intensively with writers at Raindance since 1992. He explains the tricks of the trade from practical experience and reveals some of the latest paradigms through lecture, exercises and video clips.
Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007.
He has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. His first feature film, TABLE 5 was shot on 35mm and completed for a total of £278.38. 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 (2004) and 130 Projects to Get You Into Filmmaking (2009). His first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication in 2010.
Open University awarded Elliot and Honourary Doctorate for services to film education in 2009.
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