This article is a follow-up to Anybody Can Be a Producer: Part 1.
With access to inexpensive equipment, a whole new (massive) generation of independent feature filmmakers is emerging and will continue to emerge as it becomes increasingly easier and less expensive to produce quality moving images. It won't be long before people are shooting features on new mobile Apple products. Some of this new long-form content will be good. Much will be s#%t, and not because the images won't look good, but because entertaining an audience for over an hour takes some skill and a whole lot of work.
It's not going to get any easier to stand out from the clutter, either. Tools like Twitter, Facebook, etc., may make the world more interconnected, but it's tough to pay attention to all of the emails, Facebook messages, Tweets, wall-writings, etc., each and every day.
I'm an independent writer-director-producer (who recently completed my first feature), though there's nothing to gain from crying "poor me." Times change, and so do methods. Thus, I'm trying to learn as much as possible about the current and near-future states of producing, marketing, and distributing long form video content. So, I attended the Produced By Conference on the Fox lot this past weekend.
The first panel I attended was called "Creative Alchemy" and dealt with the relationship between producer and director. Accomplished Hollywood producers Bruce Cohen, Larry Gordon, David Picker, and Douglas Wick made for an entertaining "Dinner for Five" (minus Jon Favreau), though shed little light on the current state of producing. There was clear camaraderie between the men, and all were entertaining -- especially Larry Gordon, who reminded me of a Venice Beach version of George Carlin (RIP) and just seemed awesome on the whole. Regardless, I didn't really attend the conference to hear people reminisce fondly about being on the sets of Waterworld and Mousehunt. It should also be noted that in this time slot, Bryan Grazer, Ridley Scott, and Matthew Weiner (creator of Mad Men) were last minute cancellations from their panels. I bet a lot of people who paid to attend were pretty pissed.
The next panel I attended was "Mobile Nation -- Creating and Distributing Content That People Will Watch Anywhere". More and more people are watching content on mobile devices.
I don't agree with David Lynch, (who wasn't on the panel, though I wish he was.) I have no problem with people watching movies on an iPhone or an Android. If more and more people are consuming content this way -- which they are; and why not, when there's a screen in your pocket? I'm all about meeting people there. One of the main things I took away from this panel is that the content people are watching on mobile devices is...well, whatever. People are going to watch Transformers 2 on a mobile phone, even if it may look better in a theater or on an HD set. Popular content seems to transcend screen sizes.
This being said, I think there's tremendous opportunity for low-budget indies on mobile platforms. If your film doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles and doesn't need to play in a large theater with all the high-tech whatever to be good, why not get people viewing on the screen that's in their pocket all of the time? Or on iPads, or other yet-to-be released tablets? Viewing longer content on smaller, portable screens is still very new, though I'm confident Netflix didn't develop an iPad app for their health. They're currently the Macchiavelli of indie film distribution platforms. (Apple is more like G-d.) Netflix has jumped on new trends faster than anyone and continue to conquer new lands. Netflix on iPads. It's like carrying around a video store all the time, which sounds like the future to me.
Anyway, I next attended "Smashing Windows: DIY and the New Hybrid Distribution", which was interesting, though didn't offer much that hadn't already been written about within Ted Hope's (great) Hope for Film blog. The current state of the indie marketplace was, however, broken down to four succinct points here:
1. Distribution is free.
2. Choice is infinite.
3. Demand is instant.
4. Noise is unprecedented.
Working within these realities, how can YOU best advance your career as a content producer? The current system is clearly not working for low-budget independents. Every project is different. Get creative. Be patient. Keep making content, on any budget. If you're really passionate about what you're producing, you'll figure out a way that works for you to keep making progress. If you're not, you'll simply stop producing content...or you'll keep writing scripts that stay on your desktops.
I'd rather write novels and self-distribute .pdf's with fancy covers than go down that road.
("Anybody Can Be a Producer: Part 3" coming soon.)
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