Film world zooms in the future in a digital world

18th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, May 18, 2007 (AFP) - With 10,000 film types huddled in Cannes for the world's biggest filmfest, the industry took time off to mull its own script for the future.

CANNES, France, May 18, 2007 (AFP) - With 10,000 film types huddled in Cannes for the world's biggest filmfest, the industry took time off to mull its own script for the future.

Twenty years ahead, who will be watching movies if small screens win out over traditional cinemas?

Imagine a remake at Cannes 2026 of this year's opening film -- Wong Kar-Wai's "My Blueberry Nights" -- cut and paste in a bedroom and screened on video-sharing website YouTube, while the famed red-carpet ceremony screens on on Second Life with a crowd of black-tie avatars.

This scenario is already at hand, industry analysts said this week.

"The digital revolution has already happened," Michael Gubbins, editor of British trade mag Screen International, told a business round-table on the challenges of the digital age.

"The changes we are seeing today with digital are much more profound than all the changes we have seen over the past 100 years," he added.

It is key for the movie industry to avoid repeating the mistakes of the music world, decimated by the arrival of digital technology, the experts added.

Take cinemas, traditionally the place for people to gather to watch movies. They are faced with the explosion of new Internet communities like YouTube and MySpace, the rapid growth of video-on-demand and the imminent arrival of TV on the Internet.

But on the other hand, sites such as YouTube and MySpace have injected a new dimension into the film world -- interactivity -- while film critics are fast being outpaced by blogs offering word-of-mouth commentary.

Today's teenagers post images of favourite films and stars on Internet blogs just as they used to pin up posters on bedroom walls, and these teenagers, the audiences of tomorrow, have learnt to socialise from their homes online rather than go out to a movie, said US film academic Danah Boyd.

It's not necessarily that teens don't want to go to the cinema, said the ethnographer. They often do but cannot get there or afford it in the United States, where multiplexes are located far away on the outskirts of towns and families have less disposable income than before.

Analysts emphasised however that digital, because of its innovation and creativity, could spin off extra cash if professionals know how.

Many films currently are being re-mixed, or mashed, as the industry puts it, by a digitally savvy, mostly young, audience for fun, and mostly for free.

Rather than screaming about piracy, film-makers should see that sharing of "mashed" movies on the worldwide net was actually helping publicise films.

One of the latest crazes is "machinima," which uses real low-cost filmmaking techniques to make films in a 3D virtual world, often also using 3D video-game technologies.

On the plus side, a slew of old and sometimes forgotten movies are being dusted off and viewed around the world thanks to multiplying digital viewing screens. And new films that fail to wow audiences or even flop can make it on to the Internet.

Art-house films are also doing well, said Francois Yon, whose Film Distribution firm has distributed many award-winning films including "La Tourneuse de Pages" by Denis Dercourt.

People don't like watching movies on their own and want to share the experience, said sociologist Emmanuel Ethis, who said one interviewee in a five-year study about cinema habits stopped going to the movies when he broke up with his wife because he no longer had anyone to discuss the film with afterwards.

And interestingly, online dating services are helping film. The first date for most people connected on Internet dating sites is an outing to the cinema, Ethis noted.

Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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