As our American filmmaking colleagues sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, over here in Europe we filmmakers and screenwriters watch the American Thanksgiving festivities with bemusement. What originally a celebration of survival has turned into something of a circus, with Black Friday shopping sprees.
Filmakers the world over can pause for reflection on the fourth Thursday of November. Here are ten reasons why:
1. There's never been a better time to make movies
Everyone is screaming for content. TV stations, webcasters and movie theatres are all looking for movies - or content 0r product. The trick is, of course, to monetise one's content at an amount greater than the production budget.
2. New super lightweight cameras
Not only are the new electronic cameras small, but the image quality is sublime. My guess is that a third of the movies we screened this year at Raindance were shot on cameras so small they literally fit onto your palm (if not your cell phone). Add onto that, they are super cheap to own - opening up an moonlighting career as a camera owner-operator.
3. Phones and tablets - the new cinema screens
Board any commuter train at rush hour in the UK and you will see commuter after commuter with their noses buried deep in their hand-held devices watching everything from the news, sports and movies. What's great about this is that it allows filmmakers to push their movies out to new audiences through iTunes, Youtube and Distrify - not only to get seen but to earn money as well.
4. Super small projectors
New small projectors can be carried easily in a backpack and can project from your cell or tablet using battery power. Now you can set up a screening anywhere you happen to be: in a park or a pub. Get some great content and a kicking sound system and the worlds your theatrical oyster.
5. New visions of collaboration
New technological advances have sparked new collaborations between artists working in different genres. Check out Montrealer Vincent Morisset's work and marvel at the possibilities. It's the new frontier where few have ventured yet. Be a collaborative pioneer!
6. Second screen
Speaking about frontiers, what about making apps that go along with your movies? Dubbed 'second screen' which means a second screen, like a cell phone or tablet that you watch along with your TV programme to enhance the experience and interact. Programme something exciting and your content will zip to the head of acquisition director's shopping list. Here are 5 second screen apps that are shaping social TV.
7. Social TV
TV isn't dead, it's become social TV. Apps and interactive features that allow you to fiddle with your remote, your cell or notepad are exploding on the market. Can you be the first to integrate this into a narrative movie or documentary? For example, BBC current affairs series Free Speech incorporates a Twitter based panelist approval platform called the Power Bar. Watch and tweet in your approval or disapproval of the panelist's comments. Figure out how to integrate these features into a dramatic storyline and you (and your banker) will have much to be thankful for.
The gaming industry has developed storytelling to the point where it offers viable alternatives for filmmakers. Not only has the gaming industry's animation techniques spawned technology useful to filmmakers, so too has gaming influenced storytelling. Watch. Play. Learn!
9. Social media
Thank the gods for social media. Loathe it or love it, social media has now enabled anyone with the ability to tell a story, to be able to sell a story. Check out Ryan Koo's Nofilmschool.com or Philip Bloom's excellent blog, or screenwriter William C. Martell's scriptsecrets.net. Each of these blogs provide interesting information and stories, and earn the owners money.
10. Self distribution
The beauty of the internet also means that filmmakers can now sell direct to the public. Earn money from ads served against your movie on Youtube, like the British filmmaker, screenwriter and entrepreneur extraordinaire Dave Reynolds with his micro budget genre masterpiece Zomblies now earning enough from Youtube to pay a salary of a production assistant. If you want to see a Who's Who of Youtube's money makers, check them out here.
It's all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking it's just too damn tough out there in the indie film world. Tough it may be. But there is much to be thankful for.
Have I forgotten anything? You can always comment below.