“In the future, everybody is going to be a director. Somebody’s got to live a real life so we have something to make a movie about.”
The global health crisis has many victims, including the film making industry – at least for the time being. With global production crews at a standstill, Mr. Crowe’s cheeky quote is from a more innocent time – where abundance and optimism was prevalent.
African filmmakers on set.
It’s true, film technology innovations have provided higher quality cameras and lenses, lighting, audio and post-production tools- in effect lowering the barriers to filmmaking. Video story-telling has grown around the world as measured by total units and hours produced, the streaming and traditional distribution channels available (and the big audiences they reach), and the ability to produce videos in an affordable way.
While younger generations embrace video as content creators and viewers, various economies have been taking advantage too. Quick, what are three biggest film industries and the countries they launched from?
Did you think Bollywood (India), Nollywood (Nigeria) and Hollywood (USA)? Nollywood is number two producing about 1,000 films per year.
Forbes8 spent some time exploring the Nigerian, Ghanaian and South African film industry in a new series titled Indie Nation.
Produced by a team from Miller/Datri Entertainment, the series goes behind the scenes with leading filmmakers, directors, producers and actors to demonstrate the economic gains and democracy of access to this industry’s business of story-telling.
There is much to be proud of with this series. It’s visually stunning and incredibly insightful. Yes, these African markets have challenges when it comes to production (think about getting good audio when there’s a constant hum of an electric generator nearby) but as entrepreneurs know, with challenge comes opportunities.
“I think the pandemic will bring to light new opportunities, some new norms, and ways to go about production. For example, the type of Instagram live, film-yourself-on-your-iphone-at-home, type stuff we’ve been seeing throughout the pandemic will probably stick around.”
A common theme in the series – streaming services are game changers in reaching audiences. In most of the countries, the number of traditional theaters (screens) are small compared to more developed countries (like the U.S. or China) making it hard to monetize and recover fixed costs.
So while the distribution model may even be enhanced by COVID-19 (and the stay-at-home health demands creating more demand for streaming video) enter the next challenge – actual filming.
Anyone who has watched a feature film knows the length of credits at the end… the people behind the cameras that make the whole production work. It’s really hard to create movies with social distancing. Much like sports, concerts, live conferences and a variety of other industries, film production is on hold.
Stuart Hart, Producer at TNC Productions in NYC has worked throughout the world in film production.
Stuart said this is the first time in his 20 year career he’s been out of filming for nine weeks. More, he’s wondering what the “new normal” will look like post-pandemic. In some segments (like high-budget advertising commercials) the industry has been slow to change. He thinks we’ll see far fewer clients, ad agency members and crew on shoots.
People haven’t questioned what “essential” is and the same efficiencies for other film segments (better, cheaper equipment) is available to commercial production companies too. We’re bound to see the industry change forever, get leaner, and find a new acceptance of visual story-telling.
“We’re bound to see the industry change forever, get leaner, and find a new acceptance of visual story-telling.”
Keru Kisten, Managing Director of Sandman Film Productions in South Africa agrees about finding the new normal.
Times are tough during South Africa’s lockdown and film crews are usually independent contractors – which means they are not working. Her advice: look for more corporate commercial video work (companies still need to communicate) but if you can’t find sustainable work – use the time to learn more skills.
Her “new normal” thoughts – entrepreneurs always find ways to solve problems and will likely be creating the new solution. Creatives, almost by definition, have no boundaries.
Colby Reed Miller, Co-Founder and CEO of Miller/Datri Entertainment says…
Colby Miller is also bullish. “I agree the pandemic has forced filmmakers to get creative and I think valuable innovations and points of views will come out of this challenging period. Filmmakers are a resilient bunch.” While there may be some cuts and reductions long-term, he doesn’t see a replacement for premium content other than using high-quality film equipment and a skilled/creative production team. “An extreme example to make the point: you simply can’t shoot Game of Thrones on an iPhone with a lean crew.”
One thing everyone agrees on, the Film Industry will continue to change, find a new normal and keep up with the demands for sight, sound and motion communication that brings audiences into other worlds.
Indie Nation has some of the most thoughtful industry executives and creatives balancing local needs and global stories. If you like the sizzle reels on this page, check out the full episodes on Forbes8. There is a free 7-day trial and new shows addressing the challenges of global entrepreneurs with deep dives into many vertical industries.
During the pandemic, make the most of your time at home. If you’re an entrepreneur (or thinking about becoming your own boss) get lots of advice and learn new skills. Join the Forbes8 community and start growing.
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