Thursday, December 18, 2014

American Filmmaking: The Era of Accessibility

After completing our final readings and considering our film screening - you decide: what new era is American cinema in today? Feel free to come up with your own name, and also please explain what defines this era. How is it different from previous eras (or perhaps how is it the same?)? What are those changes in criteria (biz, technology, culture) and how have they affected the art form? Are we in the middle of a transition, and if so what might be in store for the future?

If there was a word to sum up the current era of American cinema, that word would be accessibility. The shift from film to digital, along with the introduction of quality consumer video cameras, online streaming, and advancements in 3d modeling/VFX have impacted nearly all areas of the medium. Primarily, this is because all of these things have enabled filmmaking to be accessible to the masses. It is easier than ever for anyone to pick up a camera and start edit some clips together on the computer, and already made videos and movies are available right off the couch. This has led the industry to make several significant shifts.

First, free video streaming sites like YouTube have introduced entirely new genres of filmmaking and a new generation of internet video stars. Remixing and vlogging have become practically commonplace online, with viral videos turning into worldwide phenomenons that spark clothing lines, posters, apps, and nearly any kind of merchandise imaginable. Many individuals have made millions of dollars just posting videos they've made by themselves online, a feat the notice of which has not been escaped by high profile hollywood studios. Many industry-made films have been marketed through viral video attempts and online promotion. With paid streaming programs like Netflix, Amazon on Demand, and iTunes, some industry-made films are decided not be released in theaters at all, skipping straight to an online release. This decision is only becoming more feasible, cheap, and popular with each year. In the past, much of the filmmaking process took into account how the film would be projected and marketed. But with the introduction of instant entertainment, neither of those is an issue. 

Also, surprisingly enough, big budget studio films have also been significantly effected by the new accessibility of filmmaking. To compete with the online video personalities, these films have begun to rely on digital filmmaking and new technologies to stand out. This has become more and more possible through the increasingly easy to use software that is coming out to edit, color correct, add effects, and mix sound. Even beginners can take on these roles rather quickly as technology continues to improve. 

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