David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has added ‘saving’ the British film industry to his do-gooder list. Problem is, the film industry ain’t what it used to be.
There are 5 big changes, which everyone, including our Prime Minister, should be aware of:
1. Kodak prepares for bankruptcy
Think the unthinkable!
One of the giants of the film industry, Koday, is preparing for Chapter 11 in America. Chapter 11 is a strategic financial move which allows a company to continue to operate while it re-organises it’s finance. Fujifilm has closed it’s doors in the UK.
What does this mean for filmmakers?
Firstly, filmmaking has changed. No longer are films shot on film. They are shot on hi-res electronic cameras (see Beyond DSLR below).
Secondly, with all of the spare 35mm cameras hanging around, it could well be that 35mm becomes the new entry level format, replacing super 8mm. Kodak will still be manufacturing film stock. In fact, they have just launched a brand new film stock called 50D.
2. Death of DVD
Netflix has just launched in the UK, competing directly with Lovefilm. However, Netflix is NOT distributing DVDs in the UK. Just downloads and streams. Does this mean that DVD is dead? Of course not, or of course not yet). What it does mean is that the DVD gold rush is over and the role of the DVD is changing.
3. Beyond DSLR
So you have spent loads of money on DSLR cameras and lenses – and guess what. They are soon going to be obsolete and replaced by the new 3rd gen cameras that do not rely on a mirror bouncing up and down inside the camera body to reflect the image to the image capture media. These new cameras do not mean that DSLR is dead – but will likely replace so-called 2nd generation DSLR cameras in the next few years.
4. Online Distribution Wars
Apple, Distrify, Dynamo Player and many others are all vying for the crown of online distribution. Expect to see fireworks.
Davids Cameron has made the UK government’s film funding policy clear: They are going to favour ‘commercially successful’ films – the ones with stars like Iron Lady with Meryl Streep. In other words, films that don’t need help. This means that independent producers in the UK are going to lose any financial advantage they might have had. This will force them to utilise existing non-film tax wrappers like the Enterprise Investment Scheme, and seek out co-productions with their European partners. While this might have a positive effect because it will force UK filmmakers to raise their sights to nations foreign, it could easily backfire and cause the creation of another load of Euro pudding crap.
Of course, filmmakers like the exceptional Ben Wheatley (Down Terrace and Kill List) were able to launch and sustain careers using private equity and shrewd budgeting. Down Terrace, like Christopher Nolan’s first film, were made will miniscule budgets of about £6,000 each.
Crowdfunding is also becoming a viable alternative, although a film that is crowd funded doesn’t mean it is a good one.
It’s hard for me to express what exactly this all means – I am still processing this. What I do know is that films can be made with smaller budgets than ever, and with it a creative freedom that is refreshingly bold and dynamic. It also means that a movie can return money to its investors including cast and crew) quicker than ever. The trick is still the same: get a great script.
I have laid out what I think are the major changes in the film industry. I am sure there are other changes as well. Why not add your ideas into the conments box below?