The View From Way Out Here

Part One in an Ongoing Series of Observations on the Current State of Filmmaking and the Film Industry.

The music industry figured it out, albeit kicking and screaming. But the movie studios refuse to see the handwriting on the wall. While they spend millions attempting to devise and disseminate protection schemes in their war against the internet, they’re fighting on the wrong front. The long-term threat to their hegemony — the highly centralized production and distribution system that we’ve known for nearly 100 years now as Hollywood — won’t be our ability to download studio films. Far more dangerous is the fact that Hollywood’s stranglehold on professional-level production and widespread distribution is withering away, bit by bit, inch by inch, day by day.

Case in point: Fallout: Nuka Break web series (on which our own Jason Moloney worked as a Production Supervisor). The acting’s decent. The production values are quite good, especially given the ultra low budget. And taken together, the six episodes, plus the original “fan film,” have garnered over 2,000,000 hits on YouTube.

So who cares if it strikes me  as a derivative rehash of Mad Max, The Postman, and a dozen different comic books, with a pinch of Star Wars and a dash of Saturday Night Live thrown in for good measure? Probably a lot of studio execs would have had a similar reaction. And you know what? It doesn’t matter!

With little or no help from the powers that be, the filmmakers behind the series did what comes naturally to them. They found their audience on YouTube.

YouTube is celebrating is seventh birthday this month. Think about that. How much has the media world changed in seven years because of YouTube?

We’re in a revolution, and I don’t use to the term loosely. Either the studios open their eyes and find ways to accommodate the democratization of film, or Hollywood will relive the agony of the 1950s. Within the span of a decade, from 1950 to 1960, television remade Amercian society and changed the landscape of American entertainment: over half the movie theaters in the country disappeared, never to return.

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