Thursday, December 22, 2011


This time of year, every woman, man, blogger, columnist (and his dog) is publishing a "Year in Review 2011" piece. Why?

Surely looking back on the year, when it's not even finished yet, is somewhat of an exercise in futility.

What if aliens invade on December 30th?

And really, what value do you get out of someone reviewing the year that has just past for you?

The time to reflect, and the lessons you feel you need to learn, surely are your own. For your own time.

Unless, of course, you are someone who likes being told what to think. I hope not.

So, what if we reviewed 2012 in advance instead? Looking forward with an open mind, instead of backward with nostalgia.

What to expect in the year to come?

Starting with the bad news. Well, first of all, movie piracy will continue ad nauseum, but I think you are going to hear more stories about prosecution of movie pirates. The film industry is getting more aggressive than ever before on this, with Internet service blocking deals and legislation against pirates. And then, there was the news, just in the last week, of the film pirate who put 'XMen Origins: Wolverine' online (before it was released in cinemas) being sentenced to a year in Federal prison in the USA.

He could have at least pirated a GOOD movie.

In the world at large, the economic news is going to get gloomier, as we break through the European Debt crisis and feel the aftershocks of unravelling the messes caused by 30 years of poorly regulated financial markets. But new ideas will start to come, as bright and optimistic new minds start to think of ways to sustain our economies without bankrupting people who are already below the poverty line (read "Prosperity Without Growth", if you don't believe me). For filmmakers, expect this to result in more and more cries of "There is no money out there for films!", "it is too hard to make films!" and "you should get out of the industry and get a job that pays!". All of these are true in part, but have always been true in an industry of high risk but high rewards.

DVD's will be almost dead in 2012. The sales of DVD's are PLUMMETING fast, and the next big thing, watching movies via the internet, doesn't require any new players or technology (e.g. like a DVD player) for people to purchase to make the switch. They can just use the computer they already have. Blue Rays will likely keep up sales due to their HD Quality and price decreases of late, but there is still the inconvenience factor of having to go out and physically buy them, as compared to just going online and watching the film you want.

As far as the quality of films being released, I can't say whether they will improve or not. I am encouraged by the number of quality independent films coming out, but there will be just as many super hero movies: Spiderman (rebooted), Superman (rebooted), The Avengers and, of course, Batman 3. Overall, expect 2012 to be 'the year of the bat' as the last Christopher Nolan Batman film 'The Dark Knight Rises' makes an absolute fortune and is most likely the highest grossing film of 2012.

Which brings me to the good news for the year ahead!

People will start to watch more and more movies on the internet. As a result, 2012 will see much more positive news about the money being made in online video-on-demand (VOD) distribution for films. As a matter of fact, it has already started, with films like Lars Von Trier's 'Melancholia' making as much money in VOD as he did in the cinemas!

2012 looks like it could be the year of new original films! This is because major franchises like Harry Potter and Twilight have run, or are running, out of books to adapt into films. This is great news for people with original movies to make, or original scripts to sell. In Hollywood, for example, 2011 saw the highest new original (i.e. 'spec') script sales in 4 years.

2012 will see the continued return of our cinema audiences and will be the year of the highest worldwide global box office! 2010 was the highest ever, despite the Global Financial Crisis. The 2011 box office is down overall, but are having a record US Summer/Christmas that is being touted to bring them back to record breaking territory. As economic conditions first worsen then improve, and the major blockbuster 'The Dark Knight Rises' is released mid 2012, audiences will flock back to cinemas for cheap (relatively) entertainment.

And finally, the technology to make films will keep getting cheaper. This will mean more people will be making films in 2012 than ever before, with their high quality cheap digital cameras. But, this will also mean that filmmakers who are creative, dedicated and work hard will have the chance to rise to the top. Also, with crowdsourcing now seeing filmmakers raise over $100,000 to make their films, purely from donations from supporters of their film, 2012 will see more filmmakers engaging with their audience to produce great films that people have supported financially AND want to see.

So, what should you be doing to make 2012 your most successful year?

First of all, CREATE!!! No matter whether you are a filmmaker or a plumber, the world is crying out for people who are good at what they do and are actually out there completing great work. Stop procrastinating and make something. The world needs you to take your brilliant new ideas and then use your work ethic to polish them into something amazing!

Second, the bullshit era is failing. The 'hype with no substance model' is a dying, as seen by the catatonic ratings of the once-successful reality music TV shows. The pervasiveness of social media and the internet has changed the world, because finding out if you are a "fake" (or that your film is terrible) has never been easier. 2012 will see the return to being judged by the quality of your work. So, don't be a hype machine with no substance. No matter what your industry, 2012 will reward people who focus on being the best at what they do.

Most of all, be aware! In the era where you can make high quality films cheaply and talk directly to your audience with technology, you need to know what is going on in the world and take your destiny in your own hands. You may not think about the world at large, but the world most certainly has an impact on you and your success. For example, did you know that the Free Trade Agreement with the USA has an impact on how much Australian TV stations can require there to be Australian shows on TV? This has a direct impact on how much Australian TV production there is, and therefore how many Australian TV Production jobs there are. If you didn't know this, why not? The information is freely available, you just have to shake off apathy and be informed enough to make good career choices.

2012 will be big, shiny and new. There will be challenges and opportunities. Winners and losers.

Aliens are unlikely to invade, but you're going to be a winner. I can feel it.



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