I recently listened to two very (very) different podcasts, but which really highlighted something kind of amazing: it's so much easier to make a movie today. We're talking a completely different world. Of course, most of us knew that already, and it's why we see things like many more movies
being made today than ever before in the past. But between these two podcasts, what's driven home is how much the old system relied on gatekeepers, and how little the new system needs such gatekeepers.
The first podcast was a recent episode of Kevin Smith & Scott Mosier's Smodcast
, in which Smith digs (deep) into his archives to find a ton of old voicemail recordings
that give you a taste of the process of making his original film, Clerks
and actually getting it picked up and shown in theaters (it comes after the discussion of the war against sharks at the beginning, which is entertaining too...). At first I just thought it was kind of awesome to get that kind of behind-the-scenes look (or, listen) to all the people that had to "appreciate" Clerks
before it was picked up by Miramax and became that indie film classic it shall forever remain. It's amazing to listen to all of those voicemails and go back 20 years and learn about what happened. But there are all sorts of people who have to get involved and become boosters of the film. Smith and Mosier were lucky that one influential guy caught the movie at their original showing in NY, and then he helped get a writeup by an influential reporter, who helped get others interested in the film, but each step of the way, a champion had to say "hey, you should send a tape to so-and-so."
But then I thought about just how different the world is today. While people can
go through gatekeepers, we see an entire new generation of filmmakers (and other content creators) who don't need to hope that someone influential catches the flick in its only theater showing. They don't have to find "the" guy who sold indie films to studios. They don't have to find "the" reporter who writes about indie films. Yes, some of those things can help, but they can now use sites like YouTube and Vimeo to post the work (or snippets of it) online for free. They can use social media to build a following. They can use Kickstarter and TopSpin and other tools to make money. It's an entirely different world.
point was driven home when I listened to the very next podcast in my playlist, from Alec Baldwin's Here's the Thing
podcast, in which he interviews two documentary filmmakers
who basically made (controversial) films on effectively no budget at all. While the types of movies are quite different from Clerks
, listening to the two podcasts, one after the other, you realize that the documentary filmmakers probably wouldn't even have attempted to make those films two decades ago.
It's an amazing new world for creative arts, with tremendous new opportunity. Those who are complaining that things are worse these days seem to be living in an alternate reality. If things are "worse," it's only because there may be more competition for attention -- which is a real challenge. But there's so much more opportunity and so many fewer gatekeepers needed, that it's difficult not to be excited for the kinds of creativity we're seeing today and will inevitably see in the future.