Thursday, January 21, 2016


Men are sending so many pictures of their willys these days, that someone has created a website rating the artistic qualities of the photographs.

Yes, that is the world you now inhabit.

"Who would participate in such an exercise?" you may ask yourself, bewildered.

Well, by the authors account, she is being inundated with submissions. The quality ranges from a 'D' for 'lazy effort', to an 'A' for well taken and conceived'. Strangely, this writer is far from alone in the experience of receiving anonymous 'wedding tackle' photography.

How times have changed.

I was born in an era without the internet. The dark ages, surely, but there was truthfully a time, in the early days of global connectivity, when a simple internet chat room was titillating enough. Knowing that you were bandying words with someone across the globe in real time, human connection, was its own simple thrill. That honeymoon is clearly over.

Now, I'll grant you that the sheer volume of modern communication makes it almost impossible for seedier behaviours to stay segregated. Even if you apportion a small percentage of total world traffic to the sordid arts, say 1/2%, you are still referring to 0.005 of the estimated 18 trillion instant messages, and 21 billion text messages, sent in 2014.

That's a lot of filth.

What tickles me in particular is considering how difficult this phenomenon would have been only twenty years ago. Grainy, pixely photos (painfully) slowly uploaded via the hiss and squeak of a dial-up connection; just so you can send a poorly composed image of your junk to an unwilling and unsuspecting recipient.

Too. Much. Effort.

But now?

A smart phone and three clicks.

Some tech-savvy entrepreneur even created Snapchat to capture the lewd photo market amongst teens. Oh, I know you have adopted Snapchat late, and use it for nothing but wholesome purposes, but you are NOT the primary demographic. What other need could there be for an App that deletes photos in 8 seconds? Storage space on a 32GB device?

Please. If you believe that, I have an Opera House to sell you.

But how did we get here? Did the culture transform on its own? Or did the improving technology force a metamorphosis in behaviour?

Personally I believe that, as the tools to spread your photographic amour became cheaper and of higher quality, this trend was always bound to happen. If you build it, debauchery will come.

What is more perplexing, to me, is how this same level of adoption and adaptation has not transferred to other protagonists who trade in the moving image. Particularly, the screen storytellers.

In an era where the digital cinema camera means no longer needing to go through the slow and expensive process of developing film negatives, NINE of the top fifteen most expensive films ever made were released in the last five years.

Yes, almost two-thirds of the most costly films to make were all completed after 2010.

The highest budget ever? An eye-bulging $378 million.

By comparison, the cheapest of the top fifteen came in at a paltry $220 million. And if your heart hasn't gone into arrest by this point, keep in mind that NONE, zero, of the films in the top fifteen 'most expensive' list were made earlier than 10 years ago.

The 2000's are a tidal wave of excessive spending. Even if you try to broaden the data set beyond the top fifteen films, for balance. Of the top FIFTY most expensive films of all time, only three (Titanic, Spiderman 2, and Troy) were made before 2005.

How could this be? The tools of production have fallen in cost, dramatically since 2010, and yet the industry is spending money like it has an expiry date. Production budgets with numbers that make each film almost 'too big to fail' for the major studio bankrolling it.

Is this the business model that will see the film industry survive the vastly evolving demands of audiences?

No, it isn't. This is the business model that eschews risk and creativity. It's the big studio system that avoids creative experimentation and instead delivers thirty-two planned DC and Marvel comic book movies over the next five years.

This paradigm is the absolute antithesis of the 'develop a great idea and then make your film for nothing because the cavalry isn't coming to save you, so you have to save yourself' world view, articulated by filmmaker/actor Mark Duplass at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival.

But it's still coming, to a cinema near you.

This is the world you now inhabit.

So the question, the critical question, for you filmmakers and screen storytellers out there is: what are you going to do about it?

Will you do nothing to improve the film culture with your art?

Are you seriously going to leave the incredible array of cheap and professional tools for filmmaking at your disposal, right now, for people taking d**k pics to send to strangers?

Or are you going to get off your a*s and make something?

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