What is Hollywood?
Hollywood, a neighbourhood in the central region of Los Angeles is the Mecca of all things movies. It is the home to several historic movie studios: 20th Century Fox , Columbia Pictures, MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), Paramount Pictures, United Artists, Universal Studios, Warner Bros.
The term ‘Hollywood’ has become a metonym for the motion picture industry of the United States and possibly even the western world.
Who makes up Hollywood?
The list could go on and on, because technically an extra, is part of the Hollywood system. Hollywood is made up of movie studios, actresses, artists, musicians, writers, producers and directors etc. In general Hollywood is made up of entertainers and artists who are successful enough in their art to be recognized by the public and their peers.
Who are the key players?
To be part of the Hollywood club all you have to do is either win or be nominated for an Oscar or Golden Globe, it’s better to win. The year to year darlings of the film industry are decided during the awards seasons, they are usually those who get the most nominations and wins. This year’s key players are: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Leonardo Dicaprio, Alicia Vikander, Brie Larson, heads of all major film studios, Harvey Weinstein and Reed Hastings the CEO of Netflix.
There are key players of Hollywood that are not on the year to year scale of popularity, these are the legends and icons of the film industry. These include Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, Robert De Niro, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese.
Hollywood is changing
There are growing concerns within the film industry that the traditional models that Hollywood once adhered to are no longer sustainable in a modern climate. The most pressing problems are declining movie audiences in the younger demographic, an unacceptable lack of diversity in the executive suites and creative rank and falling ratings in broadcast and TV.
To give you a better idea of these concerns here are some quotes from film industry elites:
“Every day we face new technology challenges. We have to look at our models – the theatrical model, the VOD model. We have to think about what we do with the lack of a DVD business“. Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Co. co-chairman
“The reality is you can look at YouTube and traditional media, and say they’re both video; they’re really the same. And there are things about them that are the same. As traditional media begin to use YouTube in different ways, it’s time for creators to embrace that format to complement the businesses they’re in“ Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO:
“Technology as it interfaces with the conventional television set has eliminated, to a certain extent, the traditional gatekeeper model that has allowed very few strategic players to reach consumers“Robert L. Johnson, RLJ Companies founder and chairman
The technology that the aforementioned film and tech Industry elites are referring to is the big scary world wide web, also known as the Internet. The Internet has become a buzzword that would strike fear into the most confident of studio heads heart. What has the internet done to give it this image of decimating any industry it comes across?
30% of the UK population has been active in some form of piracy, either through buying counterfeit DVDs or streaming online content. This type of piracy costs the audiovisual industry £500m a year. You would think that this affects the big studios, but the harsh reality is that it effects the independent film makers hardest. A decrease in revenue due to piracy results in production houses and studios making less adventurous movie choices.Studio heads pick movies they know will do well, think about the amount of marvel prequels and sequels that hit our screens every summer.
There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for independent filmmakers with the advent video on demand subscriptions services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, which with their relatively low cost could reduce the amount of illegal downloads and provide a cheaper alternative to distribute and gain profit from their films.
It is possible to argue however that the internet has opened up more doors for independent and amateur filmmaker’s films to be viewed. Cheap digital technology allows for almost anyone to do a video project and get it out there. Web sites such as YouTube and Vimeo have made it incredibly easy for filmmakers to reach a potential audience of millions. However, it is important to note that even though anyone can make a film and post online that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the views you desire, the film still has to be good to stand out, especially with the amount of competition on the web.
The internet has enabled those films that stand out to gain funding and be distributed to a wider audience. Crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter enable both amateur filmmakers and film industry elites such as Paul Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis to make their movies e.g. The Canyons starring Lindsay Lohan and ex porn star James Dean. We are moving towards an environment where the audience selects which film they want made, rather than the studios curating which films we watch.
The Pros and the Cons
The problem with the audience selecting what films they want to see, is that the audience has no filmmaking experience so they base their decisions on actors and big names attached to the film. For example, Bret Easton Ellis’s The Canyons may have looked great on paper, but didn’t work well on film, perhaps a studio head that has knowledge of film making would have recognized this and that is why they had to resort to crowdfunding.
The dilemma with crowdfunding and an increased availability to make and distribute films is that on one hand films that traditionally might not have been gotten the chance to be seen, which leads to more diverse film topics and subjects. On the other hand, because these films don’t have the traditional modes of studio backing behind them, they might be of lower quality and may be held back creatively due to financial restraints.
Traditional modes of film making and distributing involved a lot of money and money is valuable when it comes to film making. Too much or too little money, can have a detrimental effect on the quality of the film. Just the right amount money is needed to be pumped into the system to create films of substance.
The internet has completely disrupted the way in which filmmakers distribute and create films. Those who will be left behind are those filmmakers who perhaps fail to see past the negative connotations of the internet. If used innovatively the internet can be used as a creative tool that can increase interaction between the filmmaker, film and their audience. In my next post I will be tackling how social media platforms such as Facebook have changed the way in which we interact with our film, filmmakers, actors and actresses.