Hacking Film

Hacking Film Poster

I spent the weekend at the Film Experience Hackathon and it was a lot of fun to try and make something in a weekend. My team, with a core of two people, were able to come up with an idea and conceptual prototype for a service that is useful and potentially widely distributable, a crowdsourcing subtitling and translation service for independent filmmakers.  More to come.

Of course, what I think many were hoping for was a magical app to solve engagement and discovery. It stands to (some) reason that there’s a lot of potential in how consumers find and share new and favourite films, as they do with music. There should be a growing market for independent, foreign, experimental work.

In some ways, I think there is evidence to support this.  There are way more film schools, film festivals and submissions to festivals.  There are new services that cater to people who make video and want to share it. These are growing industries in film.  That the distribution of film in its traditional sense is not a growth industry only represents a shift.

I understand the interest in preserving the love of “cinema” as it has been known. I love watching films in a theatre and I have a passion for cinema that led me into the career I’ve had. Can it be preserved and transmitted any more than it would be possible to convey what the cabaret meant to people in the 1930s to me?

If you’re going to focus on “saving” the film experience in an arthouse form, focusing on the theatrical experience is key.  To do that I think theatres need to understand that seeing a film is an activity choice and that making the experience more social is essential. I.e., I want to potentially meet someone if I go to the movies. Independent theatres should also be doing way more to create community- hosting meetups, doing other kinds of events, opening the experience up to the imagination of their audience and members.  They should also be partnering far more with online services.

Online services should be supporting the theatrical experience far more, not just out of love, but because customers for online services come from the core of theatre-goers and people who watch films in theatres understand and appreciate cinema no matter what platform on which its encountered. There are some services now trying to bridge this gap, such as Tugg or Gathr, but overall there’s a ton of unexplored space.

I’ve got some ideas on this front and I hope there will be more hands-on events like this to spark tech people to think about this question. Janet Pierson is bringing tech into film at SXSW (aside from the irony of having more tech in SXSW Film, this should be a constructive collaboration). Where will we go next?

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