CANNES, France As the film industry prepares for the world’s largest film festival, a shift in technology has given the power to independent filmmakers on a global scale.
Independent short filmmakers, documentary and feature directors now have the tools to create huge fan bases for their projects before they are even made using social networks and building high quality websites with tools available on the web.
The Hollywood studio system that has dominated for so long will have to adapt, and studios are shifting towards 3D blockbusters to reinvent the way they approach the market. High budget movies with massive marketing budgets and unbeatable reach have always had an advantage until today. Now it is inexpensive for independents to market their films and gather support for unknown movies using the web. This dynamic shift is still in its early days, but there is a growing realization that the internet is fast becoming the answer to getting a film distributed, and there is a huge audience hungry to watch indie films.
Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity are two non-star movies that have become international successes on the back end of using traditional methods, but more importantly, an internet marketing push. While studios and powerful agencies representing big actors will not want to admit the shift, it is clear that independent films can be more lucrative than blockbuster movies.
So how does an independent film go mainstream? The answer is: People power and film distribution. Distributors have a vital role in how films get seen and are keen to have the elements that make a film a successful sell. But with low budget indie films making massive profits, does a star vehicle have the same appeal? As the internet provides unprecedented accessibility to reach millions of people, surely the college student and his/her friends have the same opportunity as the marketing department of a large studio?
Here is another interesting fact. It took one video on youtube for a special effects genius to make his mark internationally (Ataque de Panico!) . It was a viral hit reaching millions of people in days. Compare that to marketing a trailer with an advertising budget of several million, and you can quickly see why paying for posters on subways, billboards, TV ads and more is no longer cost-effective.
Time will tell how the independent film industry comes together, but the days of major motion pictures dominating our cinema screens are coming to an end.