Film Production And Digital Transformation

Film production and the industry is changing constantly since its very beginnings in the 19th century but the digital transformation is a fundamental change like nothing before. Most of all there are unparalleled hopes and fears; on one side this is the Yukon, the great gold rush, on the other side it’s overwhelming if we do not commit ourselves to a constant learning process we don’t survive.

Digital transformation can mean a lot of things. There is no simple definition. It’s both a challenge for artists as production companies or any distributor. Endurance Entertainment GmbH approach was from the beginning to be an open-minded learner. Being in Berlin and in a constant exchange with digital companies some insights formed over the last years. There are no golden rules here, but things appear to become more clear over the time and we might find a sort of a “survival guideline”:

I. First of all, any discussion or any attempt to adapt means a lot of organized thinking. Since the early years, things got easily mixed up often in public panels. A good example is video-distribution. Even it’s very obvious content produced for platforms like Youtube is a completely different thing like Netflix. It’s true that change is constantly happening and it takes some effort to be informed about new business models or new platforms.

II. Second, don’t be intimidated because you are not a digital native and ask questions. A lot of film producers didn’t have the time or see any sense in investing their precious time to understand what a multichannel-network is or how they should develop an online marketing campaign. Today, there are many possibilities for digital marketing but we need to know if it serves the intended purpose. Even if you don’t want to do your social media work yourself it’s always good to understand how it works. If we understand something it enables us to ask the right questions.

III. The 4K Age – Anything is possible: Yes and no. Digital transformation in the first place is a massive change in technology. Not so long ago at the time of “Super-8” there was an eternal border between the “amateur” and “the professional”. That changed (even if some people will protest here), but its good to differentiate. Basically, there are a huge variety of standards here. And its true that smartphones and DSLRs can do amazing things and yes we can do the edit with freeware. The question is what do we want to achieve and/or what is the client’s expectation. This means we need to do our homework and have the necessary info about our equipment before we make choices, i.e. DSLRs might do great pictures but could pose problems in VFX-postpro.

IV. Try harder. If we like it or not but digital transformation requires more technical understanding for many professions in the industry. The producer today needs technical knowledge and you need to be a fast learner. This is often a frustration for people who want to use things and not always to learn “how to”? The experience is that many technologies need time to understand or some attention but learning-by-doing works more often better as expected when we overcome the first difficulties.

V. Long-Term Commitment: sometimes it appears that efforts with video/film in the digital world do have no clear business models or being completely unpredictable. It’s true there are often very short time spans or anything appears fast-paced but it’s also true that successful format development often needs a lot of time.

The conclusion is that it’s always better to be active rather than waiting for what is happening.

This was about scratching the surface. In the blog section of Endurance Entertainment GmbH more will come up about Film and the digital age hopefully helping professionals as interested people.

Why We Need Pandemic-Themed And Dystopian Movies And Series In The Future.

In a moment where there are still questions if and how to produce movies in the times of a deadly threat, Adam Goodman and Michael Bay announced “Songbird” a pandemic-themed thriller set in the near future. This sounds very courageous since there are so many open questions. We read in online magazines also “warnings” addressed to screenwriters not to write corona-themed screenplays. That’s completely wrong. First, nobody really knows what the industry or an audience wants. Second, it is crucial that we create stories about what really matters. In the aftermath of 9-11, there had been many US shows and movies dealing with the subject of a changing world in a very substantial way. What we definitely don’t need is meaningless escapism with masses of romantic comedies or affirmative culture products. These are political times and movies and series should help to a better-informed public. It should also work in a commercial sense as long as we avoid some of these pitfalls.

Where are the traps?

We are living in a fluent situation where nothing is for certain. We don’t know about economic development, there are uncertainties in science we even don’t know what kind of world we live in one or two years. Is it too early to start creating, filming, or writing about something which relates to the pandemic? No, it is the perfect time to start, because we need to “record” experiences as long as they are fresh. And soon, we need fictional products which help to cope with the changing world. The trick is getting not getting to close to uncertain facts or developments which could be wrong from a perspective one or two years in the future.

One way of doing this is to cover the conflicts and issues in science, politics, and society in a more general or broader sense. It must not necessarily a corona-dystopian-series or movie. We could bring it to the archetypical core of what it means. Furthermore, we could also show the challenges of scientists in another situation. Movies are about long term value. Therefore they should have a timeless quality.

Corona is not the only substantial crisis. There are a profound ecological crisis and a crisis in society with growing injustice and a growing poor-rich gap. Shows and movies can deliver deeper insights and can create a deeper awareness of the values at stake. If we do a pandemic-themed series or movie it’s not necessary to focus so much on certain facts but to know about what ethical values are at stake.

In the aftermath of 9/11 the envisioned sci-fi series “Battlestar Galactica” addressed the political issues and moral dilemmas in a very intelligent way. It also informed the audience about threats like a cyber-war. This is also what is needed now: Audiences need to be on alert since the risks are rising. This is why we need movies and series which addresses the big themes of our time. What we certainly not need is some sort of “feel-good pills” as we had seen it sometimes. The trick might be to present the challenges in different settings as sci-fi worlds.

The rise of conspiracy theories is proof that we need to foster the science and entertainment industry exchange. It is crucial that a broad public gets a better understanding of natural sciences and how scientists work. “Dr. House” is a prime example of how this could work and that these types of series and movies can also be extremely successful.