September 22, 2010

Here Come The ‘Next Gen’ Movies

With the emergence of "Ëœnext generation' cinema, consumers can not only watch movies on their mobile and other electronic devices, they will also exert a direct influence on the success of the film by sharing it with their friends.

In the digital age next generation films are breaking down the traditional boundaries of how films are made, distributed and consumed, says Dr Mark Ryan, a researcher with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) at the Queensland University of Technology.

No longer restricted to traditional screen content like feature films or TV series, filmmakers do not have to shoot films with sky-high budgets and are no longer reliant on distributors "“ the gatekeepers of the film industry who take most of the profits.

"We now have an emerging generation of filmmakers who are producing short stories for mobile phones and the internet release, growing up in the world of digital media, this is how they understand "Ëœcontent'," says Dr Ryan.

"Filmmakers can connect directly with their audience and build a global network through social media applications. Dealing directly with the consumers enables them to keep the audience's attention by facilitating discussions, posting updates and sharing the progress of their work."

One of the most successful cases is the short clip Beached Whale, also known as Beached Az. Produced by young Australian filmmakers, the two minute animation cost $16 to make and was meant to be shared among friends. It has since earned millions of dollars for its makers through merchandising and has been picked up by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Other leading examples include the online OzGirl series, now screening on flights between Australia and Los Angeles on Virgin Airlines, and the online Mordy Koots series created by brothers Clayton and Shane Jacobson behind the successful Kenny movie and television series.

"It shows that filmmakers can now make films without the pressure of time and cost, and without distributors," says Dr Ryan. "Apart from avoiding risky long-term investments where returns are often low, their films can reach the height of success without traditional cinema release."

"In other words, filmmakers can now have direct control of what they make and how they market it "“ plus they can have a larger share in the profits, which provides an ongoing income stream."

However, he says that the emergence of next gen movies does not imply the death of cinema.

"Despite ongoing predictions of "Ëœthe death of cinema', theatrical release of feature films is likely to retain a prominent position in the entertainment industries. But next generation filmmaking suggest new possibilities for filmmakers beyond the box-office, and new ways to make money."

The ARC Centre for Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) is helping to build a creative Australia through cutting edge research spanning the creative industries, media and communications, arts, cultural studies, law, information technology, education and business. It is funded through the Australian Research Council (ARC).


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