19 décembre 2008

Futures of Film in the Age of Digitally Infinite Reproduction (#1)

Roger Erik Tinch of CineVegas has a great post today on 'Distribution & Consumption in 2009.'

Here's a salient tidbit:

Short form content is online king

Duh, right? Then why are companies still trying to push for feature film distribution through widgets and the like? Who wants to watch a two hour movie on a 2-inch by 2-inch size player? Go to what’s this year’s success story, Hulu, and see what the top 20 viewed videos are. Most are between 10 - 20 minutes with a smattering of 44 minute episodes. The first feature film doesn’t show up until #27 with the THE FIFTH ELEMENT. The fact that a big Hollywood film on a popular video site that’s being shown for free can’t even break into the top 20 reveals a lot about our viewing habits.
(thanks to Harry for sending this along)

The feature film's market dominance was a historical contingency, a result of combining the facts of distribution and production with the facts of the market. We're often fooled by this dominance. This dominance covers the majority of cinema-time, but an eye-blink in human time. Human narrative forms long predate even the novel.

The future of cinema online is closest in format to advertiser-interrupted television. Think of any tv show - any show at all - and format it for air with advertisements, and you get neat little 8-minute segments, each with a narrative arc all its own. The relationship between segment and show is something like the relationship between one episode of Mad Men and the season in which it appears. What online content does is increase the importance of the miniature narrative arc.

One of the brilliances of The Da Vinci Code is the way in which it creates another cliffhanger on every third or forth page before breaking away to another portion of the narrative, changing perspectives or introducing new information. Dan Brown's chapters are perfectly suited to the reading format of the present age. A cinema of the future will need to embrace this format to be (financially) successful.

This comparison to The Da Vinci Code should not be mistaken for pessimism. This format of the future, this future of cinema, can also be thought of as a variation on the structure of Out 1.

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