Whilst everything seems to be changing some things stay remarkably the same. This is so often true, and no more so than in the world of filmmaking. Here, Virtual Reality (VR) and crowdsourcing are both shaping the future of the medium but are themselves constrained by and ruled by a factor much older than film itself.
First, Virtual Reality, long predicted in cinema from Tron to the Matrix, is finally here in affordable headsets whose movement latency is less than you’re brain can notice, so you’re ‘there’. Debates rage in the filmmaking world about what it means when audience members EACH become the protagonist and the scenes unfurling are not so much watched as they are experienced. Is VR really the descendent of cinema or just another enhancement of video games? One thing both the technologists and the traditional filmmakers can agree upon is VR’s ultimate success will depend on STORY and whether the journeys audiences are making in virtual worlds are ones that they perceive to be worth their while beyond the novelty of being immersed in a brave new world with not much to truly learn from being there.
Crowdfunding has exploded in the last decade, with great pet projects and big business ideas being funded through those first few steps of infancy to sales. Independent filmmakers have flocked to the likes of Indiegogo and Kickstarter to pitch their latest film ideas and raise the money to cover their productions. Success stories like the Veronica Mars Project which raised nearly $6m on Kickstarter and Zack Braff who raised over $3m for his ‘Wish I Was Here’ in 2014 are evidence that enough fans can make it happen with small donations. What funders avoid, however, is a lack of STORY. Case again of a very modern solution to the film funding challenge coming up against the wall of the age old core challenge of filmmaking. Is the story you will like to tell, in the way you’d like to tell it likely to inspire your audience and fans to trust you before you’ve even started? In the end, story will determine 90% of a crowdfunded project’s chances of success.
We can conclude from VR and crowdsourcing and the promises they hold for filmmaking in future that while the equipment and sources of finance around making and distributing films will continue to evolve drastically, the core purpose of the industry: to tell great stories that fire our imaginations and entertain us is the timeless ultimate purpose of the whole sector.