The new generation of filmmakers has emerged – children of The Digital Age who grew up with access to a new form of storytelling; video games and the means to broadcast these stories. But much like these ever evolving filmmakers, broadcast platforms have also changed, for better or for worse.
Deep in the archives of YouTube are completed serials fully animated using the Sims and voiced by teenagers with too much time on their hands. In the early days of YouTube, writers and gamers could make free puppet-like animations using The Sims’ capture software built into its simulation games, but as these creators have gotten older, the old way of free distribution is no longer beneficial to their stories.
These days, YouTube is full of videos from Vloggers to high budget short films. It is no longer a niche to be a “YouTuber”, and many filmmakers who use YouTube as a distribution platform may find that without extensive promotion, their films become lost in the millions of videos uploaded every year.
It’s in the film industry’s best interests to help this emerging generation gain the audience that they need to kickstart their careers to ensure the longevity of their medium. Look no further than streaming platforms such as Netflix, Stan and Presto, which are leapfrogging television in terms of popularity. This is where the future lies. Companies such as these should be helping to promote and distribute independent shorts and features, and paving the way for the next generation of filmmakers. Imagine if Netflix had an “Indieflix” curated section, enabling filmmakers to profit share in a pay-per view system, ensuring that their films aren’t lost before they’ve even had the chance to build up an audience. It is up to these platforms to create the demand of the future.
There are two defining groups in the industry who have been influenced by the storytelling capabilities of games. There’s the younger generation, who grew up during or just before the nineties, and the large companies who see turning video games into movies as big money. Look no further than the Michael Fassbender-led Assassin’s Creed blockbuster, which uses an almost decade-old game franchise as its source material. Although there is no doubt that the film will be visually spectacular, its appeal will be short lived as the selling points of the original games are what the individual player can experience. Losing the most important character – the player – tends to alienate the game’s original audience and loses the appeal of the story. The story is no longer personal, and it’s no longer yours.
The other group grew up with a whole toolset to use these games to tell stories with. The internet gave them the means of creating inexpensive stories and a way to broadcast them to the world. With the introduction of YouTube, Windows Movie Maker, Snapchat and Vimeo, people of any age could tell a visual story and instantly reach an audience of thousands.
However, using these sites to self-distribute your films is no longer career defining or groundbreaking. To gain an audience on YouTube, you must constantly be generating new videos each week; it is no longer the place for projects that take as long to make as short films. Perhaps YouTube’s YouTube Red will be the answer to our problems if it doesn’t just favour the famous vloggers making thousands of dollars off of their loyal fan bases. Increasingly, YouTube is favouring money over quality. In the end, it’s up to the big guys to invest in the future creators, and not just the viral hits.
Lilliane Moffat is a Sydney based filmmaker and actor. She’s currently in preproduction for her next short film The Volunteer. This mockumentary follows Courtney’s extra-credit project, as she trains a bunch of teens serving community service to sing and dance for a local talent quest competition. The team also includes co-writer and cinematographer, Stephanie Furdek, and producer, Andrijana Blazevic. At present, they are crowd funding vital funds to help bring this vision to life. To stay updated with the project, you can Like their Facebook Page.