Saturday, March 04, 2006
The Democratization of Filmmaking
Today -- as the film industry gathers to recognize the best in "non-studio" productions at the annual Independent Spirit Awards (sponsored by Pop Secret Popcorn) -- I watched (on my computer) the short film My Space - the Movie, after reading how its 21-year-old director, David Lehre received a development deal from MTVU (MTV's on-air, online and on-campus network), and calls from Hollywood managers, due to the film's popularity on the Internet. To date, the film has been viewed six million times! Now that's independent spirit! Six million downloads is roughly equivalent to a $54 million opening weekend. Not bad. Clearly, the rules of filmmaking have changed (that is, if you're willing to not use film to make your movie). The lower costs of digital cameras, desktop editing systems, and DVD burners, and the ability to easily upload and distribute a film on the Internet, have all finally converged in critical mass to revolutionize and exponentially democratize the art (and the business) of filmmaking. There are more people making films than ever before (and now the Internet gives these filmmakers an audience!) Lehre (who still lives at home with his parents in Washington, Michigan) is a prime example of this new crop of 21st century filmmakers. Lehre started making films in 10th grade, using the same group of friends, as cast and crew. Together they have amassed 50 films to their credit, many of which can be viewed at Lehre's website www.davidlehre.com (that is, of course, unless the two million hits a day the site receives don't slow you down). Lehre first screened My Space - The Movie about a month ago at his 21st birthday party. It was then posted on Jan. 28 to Lehre's site and, three days later, was placed on YouTube.com. (Approximately 20,000 films are uploaded to YouTube.com every day, and more than 15 million are viewed daily.) With 3.4 million viewings to date, MySpace - The Movie currently ranks as the site's most viewed film. Gone are the prohibitive costs of making and distributing a film. Does this mean more crappy films will be made then ever before? Sure. But it also means that a talented director, who might have otherwise gone unnoticed, due to fiscal restraints, can now be discovered. I'm excited about what the future holds in filmmaking and what treasures are out there waiting to be found!