Tryon outlines some of the ways digital technologies and communications can make filmmaking and distribution easier, but there is also a flip side. What are some of the new challenges that come with digital technologies which more movie studios and filmmakers face today?
Tryon C. (2009a). “Desktop Productions: Digital Distribution and Public Film Cultures”., In “Reinventing Cinema: Movies in the Age of Media Convergence” (pp93-124) Rutgers University Press.
What is this article? A compilation of movie reviews? I am (so far) seeing little or no information on the ways that digital technology and communication is helping filmmaking & distribution, nor the “flip side” of what challenges there are. (mid pg102) Sure there is the information on how Greenwald distributed his documentary, but so far little else than I have seen as a stand out. Even Greenwald’s method of distribution does not take into account it’s use the digital technology and communication aspect. Sure, it appears that he has been able to produce his film in a far quicker time frame than what most would, but it is still a case of asking people to host a film and send them a copy.
Except that this is on the small scale rather than the large scale of the Hollywood movie companies, the concept is still essentially the same.
Piracy is probably the biggest potential issue that needs to be looked at today when digitally distributing material (of any kind). To digitally send an unprotected product to one person, you must essentially trust that that person is going to do the right thing and not copy it or claim it as their own. This goes for not just movies, but for any media sent via digital or electronic means. An email, or an assignment are just as potentially at risk as what a movie or music file is. The “straw in the milkshake” is not just in the movie milkshake, but also in the music milkshake, the home video milkshake, the journal and magazine milkshakes and even the student essay milkshake. Piracy is piracy regardless of if it is called piracy or plagiarism or file-sharing; if they are done without the original owner’s consent, then they are essentially all the same thing – theft of another person’s work.
The “six month window” between release of the theatre version, the tv showing and the DVD version of a movie, is in my opinion annoying to say the least. I can not watch a movie at the cinema, and so regardless of how much hype it gets, I have to wait until it’s tv or DVD release before I can watch it. As a consequence, I will often see or hear spoilers of the movie plot before I get to see them for myself. To have a movie released in the day-and-date format is highly beneficial to my at least my own viewing pleasure. While I can not see Hollywood and the theaters agreeing on a permanent day-and-date release system, I would at least like to see the time frame between cinema release and tv/DVD release reduced, and I do feel that this would be a benefit to not only the consumers but also to the film industry by helping to at least reduce piracy (as Lieberfarb mentions in the article)
I am perplexed though, as to why the big producers seemingly want to preserve the gap between releases, since there is a whole section of society that simple do not go to the cinema for whatever reason. I seem to recall reading or hearing something in the past about how some movies totally bombed at the box office, yet did extremely well through video and DVD sales, making more through the sales than what the box office took in. Surely this should be a wake up call to the movie studios, that maybe the theatre is not the be all and end all of movie release, and that to release a movie on DVD within weeks of the theatre may just boost sales and profits that much more.
I know personally, that when a movie is released, I will express a desire to get it on DVD, yet by the time it is released for general purchase, my desire has waned considerably and often I will have no further desire to buy it or even watch it. If the DVD release had been made at a similar time to the theatre release, there would have been an impulse buy made on the basis of all the hype surrounding the release.
The main challenges that filmmakers face today, I feel, are primarily related to piracy and speed of distribution to the end consumer. If the time it takes to distribute a movie could be reduced, then the opportunity for piracy is reduced and the filmmaker is liable to see a greater profit, thereby potentially allowing them to make more films.
- You: Theater operators fight studios’ plan to release movies in homes earlier (latimes.com)
- “Avatar” the most pirated film of 2010 (reuters.com)