Director of narrative, commercial, and virtual reality

Film Portfolio

Project Greenlight finalist | Short about sex, death, existence, time

Lily in the Grinder

Shabbat Dinner

Comedy short about coming out | Featured in 55+ festivals

Search is Back

Featured on TechCrunch | 7k users per day

Global event handing out nametags on first Sat in June

Nametag Day

Uber Forecast

Tracking Uber's surge pricing to guess what the weather might be

Archive for October, 2009

I have seen the future of film, and it is glorious.

The Red One, which costs $17,500 for the base unit and another $15,000 or so to make a complete kit. Compare this to $85,000 for a 35mm Arriflex body, easily twice that for accessories and film.

The Red One, which costs $17,500 for the base unit and another $15,000 or so to make a complete kit. Compare this to $85,000 for a 35mm Arriflex body, easily twice that for accessories and film.

I’ve seen a future of film, and for once I like what I see.

I’ve bemoaned in the past the challenges of film in the distribution sphere and my thoughts on the exciting places the industry is going, specifically what I call the Youtube-ization of feature film. That’s on the distribution side, but some recent conversations and thoughts have made me consider the even cooler changes coming with film production.

First the trends: filmmaking is getting cheaper and cheaper — with advances like the RED One, we will begin to see films that equal the quality of current studio films at 1/10 the cost. Hollywood and its institutions, which have formerly operated as an oligarchy, will be faced with more and more microbudget competition.

Hollywood’s got a sickness in the production realm, and it is a paranoid fear of failure. Their model was built on making a few expensive films per year, advertising them to the hilt, and counting on them for profit. I can tell you from my experience working at Universal Studios that executives are encouraged to ride the status quo, lest something they suggest flops. They look at what has succeeded recently, call it a trend, and try to replicate the movie — even though it will take three years to get the movie into theaters; they have a list of top actors and actresses that predicts how much money they will bring at the box office, and cast slavishly to that list. They have a process called “development” which is really a quagmire of rewriting by committee, hemming and hawing, and extending options on scripts they will never make. In short, they’re not thinking very hard about how to create a brilliant movie.

So what?

It’s a defunct model, and as I see it the big financiers who want to compete in this new world have two options. The first is to create flashy special-effects films that the little guys can’t compete with. It won’t be long before even 3D is within reach of almost everyone, but franchises such as Batman are likely to persist.

The second option is more exciting. Use the enormous amounts of money you have (Warner Brothers Pictures has a yearly operating income of $845 million) and devote a large amount of it to microbudget films. Rather than close off your industry, open it up and encourage innovation. Take in independent directors, producers, and actors, help them develop their scripts, and fund scores of films per year at $2 million apiece. Studios can put any restrictions on it (requirement to attend film school, etc.) that you think are necessary to get good quality output, but as long as they keep their process open and don’t stifle innovation, they will get a number of really incredible films. All that is left is picking the winners (finally time to break out the focus groups) and throwing massive advertising campaigns at them. Rolled into the bargain, you build a community of filmmakers loyal to your brand, encouraging and supporting fledgling talent.

Sure I’m a little biased – this shift would help me immensely as a budding filmmaker. Maybe I’m inspired by having just started work for Ted Hope. Maybe it’s having been blown away by watching The Fuel Film. But the writing is on the wall. The massive centralization of control and profit in this industry is shifting. If you have any doubt, look at the success of the open source model: Wikipedia, Firefox, and now the upcoming Google Wave. Opening up your process has always been the way to find success, but these new tools make it more an imperative than ever before.

The golden age can’t come quickly enough, and when it does it will be glorious.

Machacks: Some recommended apps

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On the theme of mac use, I’d like to share some of the productivity apps that I have found useful and productive. I’ve been asked a number of times what I use and others have found these recs helpful – and they’re all free! Feel free to share your own in the

Monolingual – This saves about 3 GB from your hard drive by going through and deleting all the language files that you won’t need. Check which languages you want to keep (don’t forget English!) and which apps you don’t want to remove it from (be sure to disable Adobe and Microsoft apps) and watch as your computer sheds the gigs. You can even strip applications of their PowerPC code and gain a LOT of space, though I don’t recommend it.
Cocktail – clean up your computer’s dusty parts and fix things like preference files to solve problems (free trial version, have to buy it eventually.) A great tool if you’ve got some problems on your mac.

Adium – I use Adium for chat, and it’s the best client I have found to integrate Google Talk, AIM, Facebook, Yahoo!, and MSN. It’s even got Skype plugins!
TweetDeck – If you think you don’t like Twitter, withhold your judgement till you try it with TweetDeck. The ability to see @replies, search for things on Twitter, segment friends into groups, and even translate tweets!
Evernote – a great way to take notes and keep them in sync across different computers and phones.

Tree Style Tab
for Firefox – Put your tabs on the side of Firefox. Tabs show up as a tree and you can tell which tab spawned which tab. Try it – it’s awesome.