The Future of Film Making

We no longer live in the era of ‘plantation-type’ movie studios or recording houses, but large private companies still have considerable power over content production, distribution and promotion. Technology has been slowly changing this state of affairs for almost 30-40 years, however certain new technological advances, enabling systems and cost considerations WILL change the entertainment industry as we know it.

Update: I have put up a new post partially answering some of the questions raised in the comments and on slashdot: A Clarification About The Future of Filmaking

Consider the following

This Amazing Full Feature Film Was Made with Footage Entirely from Grand Theft Auto IV

French filmmaker Mathieu Weschler spent two years making The Trashmaster. And that’s not the crazy thing. What’s insane is that the film’s footage (an epic 88-minutes of sex, drugs and violence) is made entirely from scenes in Grand Theft Auto IV.

The $300 Action Movie

Director/writer Michael Ashton took $300 and an obvious understanding of cinema basics and special effects and made this 12-minute short film called Lazy Teenage Superheroes. It’s quite impressive! The acting, not so much.

Dunia Engine

The Dunia Engine is a game engine, based on CryEngine, but heavily modified by the Ubisoft Montréal development team for Far Cry 2. A heavily modified version of the Dunia Engine is used for James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game. Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood also uses Far Cry 2’s vegetation technology, although it doesn’t use the Dunia Engine itself (the game runs on Anvil)

have a look at this video

iPhone 4 Music Video – for FLAKJAKT “Cascades”

and this article..

Mail service costs Netflix 20 times more than streaming

Netflix currently pays up to $1 per DVD mailed round trip, and the company mails about 2 million DVDs per day. By comparison, the company pays 5 cents to stream the same movie. In other words, the company pays 20 times more in postage per movie than it does in bandwidth, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Now consider that social media such as Blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc can help advertise for almost no cost, especially when compared to traditional avenues for advertising.

Can you see what I am trying to point out?

Think about how reality TV shows and other low budget shows displaced sitcoms.. Could you have imagined that shows like jersey shore, mythbusters, dirty jobs etc would have become as big as they are now in the mid 1990s?


PS: Hi Slashdotters

  1. NeeJ
    January 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    You’re pointing out something that has been apparent to most people for years – what is the point, I hope this wasn’t just a revelation that just happened for you.

    And you’re also joining the rest of the idiots that think that new technology and the internet are going to enable “everyone to make entertainment” and the “corporate overlords will lose their grip” etc and so on. Which is an absolute load of crap actually – you can ascertain this just by the amount of independent material that is actually good.

    There is almost nothing – and this is relative to millions of hours of content that is just terrible and demonstrates why just making the tools available to people does not mean anything good will be produced.

    Also the phrase “slowly changing this state of affairs for almost 30-40 years” need to be fixed, it’s logically inconsistent. If it’s almost 30 years then it cannot be almost 40 years and so on …

    • Joe
      January 23, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      Hey, just because you suck at finding good content (hint – youtube’s “what’s hot” isn’t going to cut it) doesn’t mean it isn’t everywhere. Indie content has been better than mainstream since time immemorial.

    • Todd
      January 24, 2011 at 12:29 am

      NeeJ, you are spot on. What people forget is that tools do not beget talent. And sorry to break it to ya heher, but the people who work on blockbuster films are some of the most intelligent and gifted storytellers to walk the earth. Post us all when maturity knocks this “mainstream” chip off your shoulder and you realize that “good” really isn’t that subjective.

      • Dan
        January 24, 2011 at 4:30 am

        The availability of tools does not beget talent, but the lack of availability of tools does inhibit talent expression.

        If the cost of entry is low, much more talent will try its hand at being creative.

  2. heher
    January 23, 2011 at 7:05 pm


    “Which is an absolute load of crap actually – you can ascertain this just by the amount of independent material that is actually good.”

    I could say the very same thing about material that is released by large companies. A large amount of it doesn’t appeal to me and is instead made to appeal to the brainless masses (no surprise there).

    Also, ‘good’ is highly subjective. It is very, very possible that someone other than you (shocking, I know) believes that most independent material is actually good.

  3. January 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    We think the premise of this article is good; however, the execution appears incomplete. We would, respectfully, submit that the traditional model will not necessarily change. Rather, the increasingly shared and online environment in which all stakeholders operate (from content producers to content consumers) will mean that those independent content producers with quality content will rise to the top at a vastly superior rate to those of the past.

    In the end, the relationship between high-quality and high-cost content is often direct (with notable exceptions). Large media conglomerates will always exist for two reasons (at least):

    – funding: the investment in content is more valuable when directed to those producers with a proven track record or mechanimsms for minimising loss, as opposed to smaller independent producers.
    – crowd-sourced funding models are unlikely to be largely successful in media markets that involve a large amount of stake holders with largely different intentions. The traditional corporate structure allows for vertically structured decision making and delegation.

  4. NeeJ
    January 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    The fact that you consider most other people (“the brainless masses”) to be stupid compared to yourself (presumably) marks you as quite immature in age, if not outlook, and to carrying a chip on your shoulder IMO. Odds are that you are no more intelligent than the average person.

    An individuals taste in entertainment products is no indicator whatsoever of intelligence despite your little fantasy that because you like independently produced media that infers that you are smarter than others who don’t. In other words you’re not that special in my estimation.

  5. Amos
    January 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I’m surprised you did not cover the whole Creative Commons aspect of filmmaking…

    Check out the feature-length film made by a 17 year old:

  6. Deo
    January 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    @NeeJ – Yes the masses are stupid and I don’t have a chip on my shoulder. I don’t like chips. And you are quite wrong about there being no link between intelligence and choice of entertainment; not everyone needs a bouncing call on the subtitles so they can follow along at home. How many people with below average intelligence will sit through a subtitled movie even if the movie has an amazing story? None that I know.

  7. Paul
    January 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    This is a nice idea in theory, but anyone who has ever tried to market their own productions knows that doing so through social media has a very minimal effect. No one cares about something my friends and I did, but they’ll chatter and share links and opinions about major productions starring their favorite actors. If you’re creating something with the expectation that it’ll go viral, you might as well buy a lottery ticket, because your odds are about the same.

    True, but you are forgetting two factors.

    1. social media has reached a critical mass only within the last two years,
    2. playing the “lottery” is easier if the ticket is inexpensive.

  8. siener
    January 23, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    The very first video:

    “This video contains content from UMG. It is restricted from playback on certian sites.”

    I hope that this is NOT the future.

    • Dan
      January 24, 2011 at 4:33 am

      hope dies last

  9. NeeJ
    January 24, 2011 at 12:16 am

    “And you are quite wrong about there being no link between intelligence and choice of entertainment; not everyone needs a bouncing call on the subtitles so they can follow along at home. How many people with below average intelligence will sit through a subtitled movie even if the movie has an amazing story? None that I know.”

    I’m sorry but you’re wankery in the name of proving your own intelligence to yourself based on whether you watch subtitles or not is just ridiculous. I’m surprised that you cannot recognise this within yourself and suggest a little bit of self-analysis beyond providing reasoning within your own mind as to why you’re more intelligent. Sure, no one likes to feel stupid but the fact is a well balanced person doesn’t justify their own intelligence based on the fact that they like something others don’t and therefore the people that don’t like it must be stupid since you like it – see the rather idiotic circular logic there yet?

    I watch many foreign features (mainly European and Central/South American) with subtitles. I also watch some anime although I’m by no means a die hard fan of the genre as a whole – much of it seems childish to me. For some reason I find watching anime with Jap soundtrack and subtitles extremely distracting although this is not true of non-animated material hence I watch dubbed content where possible. (yes I can almost feel the die hard fans cringing right now heh)

    You cannot make any judgement on my intelligence based on the above so please stop deluding yourself about indications of your own intelligence based on whether you prefer subs or not or whatever other choices you make about entertainment. It’s simply self-adulation which possibly is based on a niggling fear that maybe your not so intelligent after all.

    “No one cares about something my friends and I did, but they’ll chatter and share links and opinions about major productions starring their favorite actors. If you’re creating something with the expectation that it’ll go viral, you might as well buy a lottery ticket, because your odds are about the same.”

    The key element in content going viral is good content. Many major productions are liked by a large number of people and hence achieve this. It simply has nothing to do with whether a major industry players are involved – for example just look at how many Youtube clips go viral. It’s just that major players often produce good, compelling content which naturally many people like.

    Despite what many people believe there is an art and a science involved in producing content that usually takes years and years of hard work and skills. Simply going out and purchasing a video camera capable of studio quality shots is no way to make content despite the widespread belief in the democratisation of audio and video technologies and how this will make anyone a gifted film maker or musician and so on. Certainly there are exceptions to this but few and far between – lottery type odds as you point out.

    Turns out there’s really no shortcuts the vast majority of the time.

    • Deo
      January 24, 2011 at 10:26 am

      I don’t remember mentioning anything about my intelligence or yours. I also never claimed I was well balanced. Then again being well balanced has little to do with intelligence. I also didn’t say I preferred watching movies with subtitles.

      I’m not saying intelligent people don’t watch the Simpsons; I’m saying stupid people don’t watch movies with subtle or complex storylines. They just don’t understand them.

      • Ana
        January 25, 2011 at 6:16 am

        Is not like that. Here in Argentina most people prefer to watch movies with subtitles rather one dubbed. And I really don´t think Argentinians are smarter than people from other Countries. But we got used to it, and sometimes the dubbed versions are so awful that slowly we began to love watching the movies in their original language.

  10. January 24, 2011 at 2:38 am

    So, who paid to make all the GTA footage in the first place? Wasn’t that film maker. Who is going to pay to get a decent cast in for Lazy Teenage Superheroes? Anyone can make a film with a home HD cam and a computer. But can they make a blockbuster/professional looking one? I have my doubts.

    • Theo
      January 24, 2011 at 5:21 am

      They can, but whether they can make any money from it is another thing entirely. While a band can use the tools out there to get an album recording better than any studio and at a fraction of the cost, they also have a completely different economic model.

      But I think we will see the big feature films become cheaper and as that happens there will be the opportunity for greater story depth as your sci-fi blockbuster doesn’t have to pull in such a vast amount of cash just to break even (necessitating you aim for a bigger market at the expense of ideas).

      Just as the age of incredibly rich musicians seems to be coming to an end maybe the age of hyper-rich stars will do likewise and the best talent will be available to the smaller film maker on the basis that everyone makes a bigger cut of less but they have more fun doing it.

  11. Agr
    January 24, 2011 at 2:55 am

    What’s needed is not better tools for creating content, but better distribution and evaluation mechanisms, with reviews, reviews of reviewers, playlists, if-you-liked-this recommendations and micropayment systems like iTunes. There is more good indie content out there than anyone has time to watch, but finding it among all the junk is too hard.

  12. Magdala
    January 24, 2011 at 5:31 am

    If you think modern day film making/development happened over night then you need to get out more. Most of the big boys have been around longer than I’ve been alive… The tools studios use are far more bespoke than either retail software or free/shareware options available, this is changing though.
    What this report does show however is that there are a huge number of creative people both inside business and outside who want to tell their story. It’s only now the people outside of the commercial film industry are gaining more exposure due to their story, originality ‘and’ the easily available distribution channel of the web. If that distribution availability was around when the big companies ruled the industry would be nothing like it is today.

    Wake-up, it’s happening and gaining momentum quickly.

  13. next_ghost
    January 24, 2011 at 8:53 am

    The technology was supposed to change the entertainment industry in 5 years over 10 years ago. So far, we’re still waiting. And unless something big happens (like a copyright law reform which recognizes the importance of public domain over copying monopoly), we’ll have to wait for several more decades before technology finally outweighs the huge pile lobbying of money.

  14. Dude
    January 25, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Some comments have touched on a this a bit, but most have missed this entirely.

    Talent takes *years* to hone!

    All of the free production tools are utterly meaningless. Comparing to carpentry, you can give all the free tools you want to anyone you want, but you won’t see them making cabinets of quality for a long time.

    You can certainly self-teach, but here’s another thing. Most films do NOT exist in a vacuum. Someone needs to come up with a treatment, then the script. Dozens of fields of expertise are required to then shoot the film, edit it, and publish it. Each of these fields needs to be staffed by experts, with *decades* of experience, lest your film suffer.

    On top of those *massive* numbers of *extremely skilled* professionals that enable even a novice director of great promise to see their vision, there are things called *actors*. One would be quite foolish to believe that many young actors have any appreciable skill. There are exceptions, but almost all actors when older, comment on how *green* they were when young.

    One might look to the likes of say Tom Hanks, to see how he relied upon facial expressions, body movement and humour to cover up inabilities to emote in his younger days. One only has to look at Tom today, to see how he has matured into an incredible actor… one which can truly act.

    So, sure.. you can put together a script, you can get together your friends, but I think that this sort of production will not reach any reasonable pinnacle until people with decades of experience start working on-the-cheap.

    Until then, most productions of this nature will serve as resumes for those looking for paid work.

    (note, I do find some of these productions to be quite amusing, and even enjoyable. However, holding a candle to a professional production? Pfft. A few rare exceptions do *not* make the rule)

  15. RomanticPoet
    January 25, 2011 at 10:14 am


    The kind of infantile drivel that the entertainment (or should i say info tainment) industry and hollywood

    put out as “films” and “cinema” even the stuff that’s for children (or especially)

    is utter garbage, all of it.

    The entire span of very gifted storytellers in hollywierd, still continue to broadcast mainstream utter mindless moronic infantile stupidity!

    It’s all the fault of hollwood, which has made infantile homersimpsons of too many sububurbanites.

    Dissention cannot be stopped.

    conformity is worse than anything!

  16. January 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm


    My name is Alexander Raye Pimentel; I am an aspiring Filmmaker and military Veteran. I am the Guild Ambassador of the DSLR Filmmakers Guild and have won “NYIIFVF Award” and a “MGIFF Award” for best dramatic short. I know you are very busy and I hope that you will view my most recent SAG Short, “Beyond the Ropes.”
    The link is below and best viewed on a 720p/1080p monitor or television:

  1. January 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm
  2. January 24, 2011 at 6:53 am
  3. January 24, 2011 at 7:32 am
  4. January 24, 2011 at 4:05 pm
  5. January 26, 2011 at 7:30 am
  6. January 29, 2011 at 9:35 am
  7. August 13, 2012 at 10:08 am

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