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2020 has changed how we live and how industries function. The film industry specifically has seen changes in how people make and consume media, and just as the film industry has shifted, so have the film trends of 2020.

Below we’ll discuss just a few of the shifts we’ve seen this year, as well as how you can implement 2020 film trends in your own projects (because it’s never too late to start).

What are the top 5 film trends for 2020?

1) People are using action and adventure genres for escapism

2020 began with action and adventure films supporting the box office, with expected hits like Bad Boys for Life, as well as profitable gambles like Sonic The Hedgehog and Birds of Prey.

Action and adventure are historically the most successful genres, but 2020 audiences may also be desperate for escapism. Either way, we can be sure these genres will continue to be successful this year.

How to include this trend in your own film projects:

This could be the time to write the exciting screenplay you’ve been outlining, as tales of heroism (and antiheroism) continue to draw viewers. Consider investing in special effects, or if you are on a budget, stock footage you can easily manipulate. Brush up on those After Effects and CG skills to provide a world-building foundation.

2) We’re seeing women make female-centric films

We couldn’t discuss film trends of 2020 without celebrating female empowerment. 2019 ended with critically-acclaimed films like Little Women and Portrait of a Lady on Fire—and yet female-centric cinema continued even after Oscar season ended. 

2020 opened with Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey and promises other big names from female directors, like Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins), Black Widow (Cate Shortland), and Mulan (Niki Caro).

Above, director Cathy Yan on Birds of Prey (Source)

As we see more women directing films and gaining mainstream recognition, it’s likely we can expect more stories for and by women.

How to include this trend in your own film projects:

Inclusivity goes beyond what’s trending, and it goes beyond opportunities for women. Consider recruiting from a larger pool of professionals in your next project. Simply diversifying your cast and crews can increase overall decision-making and problem-solving.

3) Sequels and remakes continue to bring in money

Many favourite films this year have been remakes, sequels, and spiritual successors: movies like Bad Boys For Life, Birds of Prey, Doolittle, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, and Emma. 

Sequels are natural money-makers, probably because fans come back for stories they know and characters they love. Still, there’s no denying that franchises are in high demand this year, and we can expect their popularity to continue.

Top-grossing Bad Boys For Life proves audiences show up for sequels (Source)

How to include this trend in your own film projects:

In a perfect world, we’d all be sitting on the rights to a classic story, ready to write the screenplay for a famous novel. In reality, though, most of us are scrappy, relying on our own knowledge and creativity to make a project successful. 

So, how can you emulate your favorite stories and characters? Maybe you use a lost and beloved shooting style, a la Anna Biller or Quentin Tarantino, or maybe you utilize tropes, creating new characters in an age-old situation.

Anna Biller’s The Love Witch implements a mid-century filmmaking style (Source)

4) People who are looking for catharsis may be getting it from gritty realism

Although escapism goes hand-in-hand with suspension of disbelief, there’s something to be said for catharsis. For those not embracing escapism through amazing stunts or CG adventures, they may find entertainment through gritty realism.

Not only did we see people go to incredible lengths to watch Contagion—a haunting reminder of the outside world—but we’re also seeing the release of unapologetic dramas like Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You and the Dardennes’ Young Ahmed. 

Audiences love to be entertained, but most importantly, audiences love incredible characters with an important story.

How to include this trend in your own film projects:

Unlike many genres, hyper-realistic stories can be told on a simple budget. Maybe you have a personal story only you can tell. If the story’s set in realism, you might be able to shoot it cheaply, renting equipment, splicing in stock footage, and doing much of the work yourself.

5) The ability to stream is more important than ever

As we’ve limited our exposure to each other this year, streaming has become paramount. Films originally set for the theater pivoted to streaming devices; local art theaters have turned to the Criterion channel, using Zoom for previously live Q&As. 

We’re seeing what Netflix has known for years (and what other companies have embraced); streaming is more than a fad. It’s a boon—and it’s here to stay.

How to include this trend in your own film projects:

The perfect audience for your next project could be streaming right now. Consider brainstorming ideas, creating content, and uploading to YouTube or TikTok. See what others are streaming and use that data to move forward. 

Conclusion

This year has been strange for filmmakers and cinephiles alike, and it will likely get stranger. Still, there’s one thing that isn’t changing – film’s ability to engage and entertain.

As we see more film trends of 2020 emerge, consider using the points above in your own projects. Whether you’re a writer, editor, or just a film buff, use what you’re seeing to market to the people around you. Who knows? You might even become a trendsetter.

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