Monday, June 19, 2006

What's the Future of Film and TV?

It's interesting what's happening to the film and TV broadcast industries. When I was in high school, I got in the habit of being particular about what films I saw in the theater and what ones I rented on good ole VHS. To this day, my decision is often made by the big screen-ness of a film. Star Wars and Lord of the Rings trilogies; big screen. The Wedding Crashers and The Break Up; small screen (unless there's a lady involved, of course). Overall, I divide it between what I want to see now, now, now and what I can wait for. Years ago, that could mean a year long wait, so you had to choose wisely. Now, three months is a long time for distributors.

The other habit I got into way back when was recording my TV shows with a VCR so I could fast forward through the commercials. I hate commercials during shows because most of them are loud/obnoxious and it makes the show you're watching, these days, 15+ minutes longer. I want to sit in a chair as little as possible so, the advent of the TiVO/DVR made things even easier.

Today, for whatever reason, these habits are becoming the norm in our country. Enough so to make the major films studios freak about decreased profits and to switch to a more blockbusters-only production mentality. And enough so to make the TV advertising industry go ballistic and to make companies move more and more ad dollars to the internet (or even to a $0, net-buzz-only ad methodology). Not too long ago, with the lack of investment in the film industry and the rise of HD television, I thought that maybe broadcast would be a viable alternative to the theater for my films and I reconsidered creating TV shows, in addition to or instead of film. Now I'm not so sure it would provide more opportunity. A lot of investment dollars have moved to the small screen (including broadcast and DVD) and with increased on-demand possibilities and online DVD rental, it's understandable. But what's the future? I mean, if companies won't sponsor shows, then will we be subscribing to our shows or buying them on-demand? That could have a huge effect on the 1000 channel system we have now. Even the Senator McCain-backed idea of paying only for the channels you want could be huge. Local affiliates could be in danger if we're ordering Stargate SG-1 direct from NBC. Will cable providers (which we all hate, but...) still exist if we're ordering our shows through our broadband-enabled Media Center PC system? (Some people have even criticized Time Warner for writing its own death certificate by offering DVR's). Will people just wait for their shows to come out on DVD (just like movies)? Lots of people are already doing that. If any of these things happen, it makes one wonder how content creators and distributors will get the word out about your film or program. The whole paradigm could change! For the better?

What do you think? Will on-demand services rule the TV? Will HD discs or Intel's Viiv-type computer systems become the default delivery mediums? Will the movie theater exhibition make a comeback? Hey, it's simple, it's big, takes no set up or software installation and they make real popcorn fresh:) (Yeah, I know it's too expensive, but the theater distribution paradigm, which needs a big overhaul, is a query for another day).

This entry originally appeared in my Myspace blog. Here are the comments as posted:

Posted by Terse Films on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 at 4:32 PM
Some interesting points & excellent questions... I'm not sure who can really anticipate exactly how the corporate dynamics will play out until they materialize, but I will say that I definitely home entertainment continuing to move in the direction of customizable, on-demand content, whether it be via the Media PC or simply retooling of cable/sattellite subscription options (I highly recommend The Dish Network for anyone who is looking for an inexpensive alternative to their current Cable provider). As for movie theatres, while I don't see them going away anytime soon, I do hope and anticipate that the recent industry shifts will force theatres to offer a better value for your buck for viewers, because patrons definitely deserve either lower prices or a much better theater experience than they are currently paying for.

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