Two guys, one named Steven Spielberg and one named George Lucas, were quoted last week as saying the film industry as we know it would soon “implode”.
This is extremely important to you as an aspiring filmmaker, especially if you are considering investing $100,000 in a traditional film school and trying to go the “conventional” route towards a directing career.
What’s funny is that their comments were immediately met by backlash from a lot of other critics and bloggers questioning the sanity of this statement. After all, what the hell do these two guys really know about movies?
Fact is, two of our favorite filmmakers are actually very tuned in to the reality of the changing marketplace for cinema. So here’s a quick recap of what they mean by “implosion”.
In Plain English
What they are referring to is sustainability, scale, and the daily transformation of media consumption. Historically, consider that from the beginning of cinema until the 80s, the only place you could really get movies was in the theater. Then you had home video. Then cable TV. Then DVDs.
Now, you have Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and hundreds of VOD options. The marketplace is expanding, production costs are dropping for indie movies and rising for studio movies.
Spielberg and Lucas paint a picture of a future where movies cost different amounts of money depending on their scale on budget. i.e. you’d pay $7 to see “Lincoln” and $25 to see “Iron Man 3”. They also imagine a future where theaters are decked out like sports stadiums and going to the movies is like paying to see a sporting event, with prices to match. They also imagine theaters offering more varied selections like tv stations.
Why an Implosion Means Opportunity for You
One thing everyone can agree upon is that studio movies continue to get more and more expensive, and are relying on franchises to recoup their budgets. That means Zack Snyder gets to helm “Superman” because he made money with “300”, even through he pretty much sucks as a storyteller. It means that a $200 budget on Superman is no big deal, so long as they are sure it will make $500 million in overseas, because what the hell… it’s SUPERMAN.
That also means the fantasy sold by film schools is becoming more and more ridiculous. Students spending their life savings to make a couple of short films and then hopefully get a job grabbing coffee for a working director are even more so on the ladder to nowhere (you can read more about this in my article on “above the line vs. below the line”). The spots available to direct studio movies become smaller and smaller, like trying to get a starting spot in the New York Yankees lineup.
The only way to even have a shot in hell of being taken seriously as a director isn’t to try and work your way up from below the line (which is like trying to become the King by working as a Paige), it’s to take advantage of the other side of this equation: the massive expansion of media outlets and the drop in production costs.
The next wave of directors won’t be from film schools, they rarely are. (For proof, just take a look at AFI’s list of working Director alumni. There are no grads listed past 2003, and most graduated in the 80s or 70s).
The next wave directors is already coming from people who skipped school, grabbed their own equipment, and started making their own projects right now. The director of the future will learn how to tell compelling stories and work with smart budgets, then reach their audience directly through the internet, build a fan base, and demonstrate their market value. They will then be able to leverage that to get more investment capital for future projects independently, or gain representation and begin competing for the increasingly competitive higher echelon jobs in Hollywood.
But hey, that’s not just my opinion. It’s just based on what a couple of guys said last week. So if you’re interested in having the film industry implode all around you while you try and figure out how to pay off your $100,000 in student loans, by all means head to a conventional film school.
But if you’d like to actually make your own movie, market it, and position yourself as a Director to be taken seriously, then make sure to check out filmschoolsolution.com and learn about our new course.