There is no denying that the entertainment industry is as hot as can be, and while Hollywood is still the biggest melting pot for aspiring entertainers and film-makers, it is New York that is setting the trends for where the film industry is going to go next. Some of the most creative individuals live in and get inspired by the dynamic city, but it is still a select few that truly reach the success they dream of.
So what does it take to become a successful filmmaker or entertainer in New York? Examiner interviews Eytan Rockaway for an inside look at today’s entertainment landscape.
What do you think is the greatest influence of the digital age on the film industry?
The changes are very similar to what it’s done in the music industry: a new means of production and distribution. It’s truly facilitated the production and distribution of art at a much lower cost, more than ever before.
Let’s look at the music industry as an example. Years ago it cost a lot of money to produce music, and then once you had that music, you needed to print CD’s and get them into stores which was almost impossible, not to mention marketing and publicizing that music. Then with the digital age, production changed and anyone could buy music software for a few hundred dollars and create music in their room. It also gave us digital music files, which opened up new distribution platforms creating a dominos effect that changed the industry, as we know it. People stopped buying CD’s in stores and moved to digital downloads online, which eliminated the stranglehold music companies had on distribution. On the marketing arena, sites like MySpace allowed individuals and Indy bands to market themselves online for cheap. Hence eliminating the two main reasons big record labels controlled the industry: distribution and marketing.
So that’s what’s going to happen in the film/TV industry?
The change will not be completely similar, since we are still dealing with two different mediums and consumption habits, but it definitely will be just as drastic.
Let’s just focus on the two main components of the industry, which is production and distribution. When I was in film school, films were made on 16 or 35mm film. It was very expensive and time consuming to shot on film. Editing the films was also expensive and the non-liner editing software like Avid cost thousands of dollars. Today, some of the most advanced non-liner editing software costs a few hundred dollars, and with all the new digital cameras like Red and recently the new Canon 7d you can shoot a movie that looks almost as good as film with digital cameras, eliminating a lot of the costs associated with shooting on film both in production and post production.
Do you prefer film over digital?
I know many people won’t like this, but as romantic as it is to say film, I shot my last movie with digital cameras and I really enjoyed it, so much that I’m shooting my next film with digital cameras as well. The work-flow in production and post-production is ten times easier, and being a very visual director, it allows me to experiment much more with the camera movement and the overall look of the film.
As for the quality, with the right lenses, I think it looks as good as film. You would be surprised if I told you the number of movies you saw this year shot on Red cameras.
So despite production changes, what distribution changes will take place?
If we just stop and look at what happened in the past three years we can begin to understand how significant the jumps in technology and our consumption habits are. I’ll give you a personal example. Three years ago I was still buying DVD’s throwing or giving away the ones I didn’t want to make room for new ones. My entertainment system at home had a DVD and Cable Box and I would only have access to the movies on cable or the ones I bought on DVD. All in all, I had access to maybe a few hundred films and TV shows.
Two years later my entertainment system has the apple TV, Zune network and Netflix through Microsoft. In just 2 two years I’ve been able to gain access to tens of thousand of movies and TV shows on the same television I was using three years ago! It’s pretty astounding if you think about it and this is only the beginning.
Some people say that because production and distribution became so accessible it flooded the market with bad content?
Well it was obvious that this would happen. However, the counter argument is that the audience has now multiplied by at least ten in the online and digital age. So in a sense, it evens itself out.
Are you worried that it would be harder for movie watchers to sift though all the bad content to find the good ones?
Not at all- the success of your work is determined by whether what you have to show the world touches the collective conscience. Personally, I believe that good content gets passed around rapidly, so if you have a good story, a good script and great film – people will share it with one another and the good will outweigh the bad. Sumner Redstone was right when he said content is king no matter what the distribution mechanisms are.
What do you think will happen in the next 5-10 years in the film industry?
One of the major changes in the near future is the connection between our computers to our TV screens. It’s slowly happening and it will be a big blow to cable and satellite providers, unless they get on board with the new technology and viewing habits. This could be as big of a blow as the major record labels had in the music industry.
The other big change will be more widespread use of 3D. Unlike HD, which just made the picture look much better, 3D is a whole new viewing experience. We will see many more movies and TV shows in 3D, as well as new developments in technology, which will give us the ability and accessibility to watch it without the glasses or breaking your bank account to get the hardware.