“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
While attending the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, I saw how much technology has democratized the film-making process. The modern exploration of filmmaking is all about breaking the rules.
Technology has allowed the average person aspiring to be a filmmaker to do the following: raise money, shoot, and produce the film that once only lived in their dreams. With new technologies and tools readily accessible to everyone who can get their hands on them, independent films have seen quite an explosion in the last couple years; over 12,000 films were submitted to Sundance this year, up from 9,000 in 2010.
Major advancements in phone, video, and audio technology give filmmakers the chance to enter a golden age, similar to what the television business is going through today, with innovative programs appearing not just on the networks but also on cable channels and even Netflix. The leaps and bounds in the actual technology that powers our phones, from companies like Apple and Samsung, have altered not only the way people behave with one another, but how people create content. Every one of us who owns a phone has the capability of being a photographer and filmmaker, and those already in those professions can elevate their skills with various apps such as Instagram and many others. Apps create a layer, on top of the technology, adding additional help to enhance this raw form of content. For instance, Instagram brilliantly transforms average photos into beautiful masterpieces that only professional photographers could do in the past.
So here are three rules that used to be sacrosanct in Hollywood, and rules that I saw beautifully broken at Sundance.
Rule No. 1: You need a traditional camera to shoot a film.
At Sundance, one particular film stuck out among the rest in regards to this new technological indie breakthrough: “Olive.” “Olive” was a film that was shot using only a cell phone. The only lens for this film was the very device that seamlessly fits into our pockets, that we all use to text, call, take photos, and record events. Talk about thinking outside the box.
“Technology is radically restructuring the film business by making storytelling through beautiful film easier and cheaper to shoot, support, and distribute,” said Chris Kelly, former Facebook chief privacy officer and executive producer of “Olive.”” With the proper support, this will mean more and better filmmaking in all lengths and genres. We’re headed toward a renaissance in independent film if we can cultivate the proper ecosystem.”
Rule No. 2: You need traditional sources of funding.
Beyond the new mobile technologies and apps that support content making, the financing of films has changed for independent films. New platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo help people find the right audience and supporters to back their movies. In turn, filmmakers can build an audience early on, gaining support from those who believe in the cause. Take, for instance another hot film (literally) that was screened at Sundance this year: “Sriracha.” The film was able to raise $21,000 from the cult following of fans of the hot sauce Sriracha from all over the world. This not only confirmed the demand in this type of film, but actually helped producer Griffin Hammond to produce this film. In addition, these platforms help build an audience and fanbase that is passionate by contributing financially to the making of the film.
“Like any filmmaker’s passion project, this is a story I needed to tell, and was willing to go into debt form” said Hammond. “But I wondered—for all of Sriracha’s fans—if I could find an audience willing to purchase the film in advance. I asked for $5,000, unsure if I could achieve funding in 30 days, but we hit our goal in eight hours. In one month, we raised 400 percent of the goal, which directly impacted the scope of the film. I was able to add a trip to Thailand to uncover Sriracha’s origin story.”
Rule No. 3: Films need to be at least 90 minutes long.
Beyond the leveling of the playing field when it comes to being able to finance, produce, and shoot a film, the length of films is also changing. “Sriracha” again broke the mold when it came a non-traditional length for a film. Perhaps motivated and inspired from his previous position at YouTube, the filmmaker limited “Sriracha” to only 30 minutes. Google, another technology giant, has managed to alter the very length of content we produce and watch. There are other apps emphasizing video in much shorter forms – Vine, Instagram video, Lightt, YouTube, among many others. It is no surprise that filmmaking is beginning to experiment with different lengths of films. Heck, even SnapChat is a form of short video making.
“At film festivals, I enjoy the short documentary category most,” said Hammond. “I like tightly edited video. Most of my work is under 10 minutes, so a 33-minute documentary is the longest, most expensive and ambitious project I’ve embarked on. A feature-length version would’ve taken me too long to complete, and that’s not my style. I can’t let length dictate the story—the story sets the length. A fast-paced 33 minutes is all I need to share everything you need to know about Sriracha.”
The Sundance of 2014 was a perfect creative storm merging the latest technologies of today, with passionate filmmakers who have a new-found ability to raise capital on new platforms, shoot on new affordable devices, and experiment in shorter forms of content that one could do before. Massive improvements in devices like phones, cameras, and videos, at a very affordable price, have given people the ability to become their own filmmakers. Additional support from apps helps to diversify the existing content and make the average person a more refined, professional and stylized editor just as much as professionals in the past.
So, where and when is the next film festival?
Read more at http://www.business2community.com/entertainment/three-rules-saw-broken-2014-sundance-film-festival-0768469#RlZ8pxvzCmpOlUXE.99