Rise of the Planet of the DSLRS: Why the studio system is dead

on September 7, 2014

Recently, I have been getting more and more gigs from companies that are looking for what would have traditionally been called a “Creative Agency”.

Maybe it’s the internet, the popularity of social media marketing, or the progression of the microchip, but more and more, the creative class has been democratized in a way that destroys the old business model completely.

And there a lot of people unhappy about that.

By “a lot of people” i mean, bug fat companies that have cornered the market for years.
Philip Bloom most recently brought this to my attention in his “defense” of locking out 4k from Sony f55 owners- feeling that he paid 30 grand for 4k, so it’s unfair for other people to get that kind of quality for any less. It destroys his business model, he says.

That business model is crap.

Cameras are getting better and cheaper. Computer that you have at home can deliver the kind of work only bug studios could deliver just a few years ago.

The gap is closing between “amateur” quality deliverables and “professional”.
Nothing could be better for the talented artist. It’s as if all the oil paint in the world was incredibly expensive, and someone just found a way to make it cheaper. Anyone who made a living selling paintings to museums would get pretty nervous, I imagine.

Right now, I’m working with a director to bring his latest piece to fruition, and we are encountering the same pushback from older production houses. He hired a junior editor doing at an apprenticeship in post production to put together his piece- and they want to use Avid.

Avid is an incredible editing system- with lots in its corner. Most major studios edit in Avid, and it wouldn’t still be around if it weren’t able to at least compete. But Avid is used almost PRIMARILY in studios. Most independent filmmakers are using Premiere, some version of Final Cut. With any other NLE, the editor could just collaborate with the Director and share timelines for review and input. But because NO ONE else in the post production pipeline is using Avid, it becomes a nightmare. The obvious solution would be to export AAF and just open it in Premiere, or even Resolve.
Natural to the mentality of old system, the junior editor is reluctant to let the project out of Avid, in order to keep that ecosystem intact.

This has been the mindset of too many of the old guard. There are too many gate-keepers at the door trying to preserve their own positions that they have created a digital Maginot Line- and that line can no longer hold.

First it was 180 degree shutter and 24p in the DSLR.
Then came 60FPS
Then RAW.
Now 4K.

We have been fighting with our rudimentary tools for too long, and the reign of the Old Man will fall now that we have mastered their technology.

We do not need these tools in order to win the fight- it only serves to shorten our battle.

The war will be won by those with the Creative Vision and drive to create new media, not by those with the technical stewardship of their masters.

DSLRs have brought filmmaking- QUALITY filmmaking_ into the reach of every talented student in the world today.

When I was at NYU, the only kids that could make a student film were the ones that had rich uncles to foot the $50-75 necessary to make their short, on top of the resources the school gave them.
I shutter to think about how many potentially genius filmmakers were out there that just didn’t have ACCESS to a camera or the means to make a movie.

In the palm of your hand, you have a movie making machine.
In your lap- a whole post production studio.
On your phone- a marketing team and distribution network to MILLIONS.
The only thing stopping you is knowledge.
Don’t know how? There are THOUSANDS of hours of tutorials for FREE online. There are DVD and BLU-RAYs with Directors commentaries that are film school dDREAM lectures. I remember going to a screening of “Scarface” and hearing Oliver Stone speak- I literally felt sick because I had so many film-geek friends that were never going to be able to hear him talk about how he creates.
That problem no longer exists.

Filmmaking is about storytelling- it’s not about the machination of positions that Hollywood has turned it into. You can Direct AND DP AND edit. Production is short staffed but you have a well put-together wardrobe girl? Chances are she has a really good eye and would LOVE to give some input on production design and set decorating.
Don’t learn just one thing. “That’s the job” is something you hear from people coming from over-budgeted sets. It’s because of union rules- and God Bless the Unions- but let’s just get this DONE.

Of course the studio people hate hearing this- it threatens their jobs. Their 15 people will be replaced by one very talented individual and a laptop. I’m not too worried about the guy with the multi-million dollar contract who has trouble programming his phone.

He decided spend money to make “Chipmunks, the Squeakquel”.
The people have spoken, and the people didn’t see it.

The wealth of the land will be redistributed to those that are worthy.
It is time to render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s.
monkey selfie