Why the Internet Is Ground Zero in the Global Consciousness War
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
The Internet is ground zero in the global consciousness war, between those entrenched forces that want to control consciousness and manage perception, to maintain their power and market share, and those other constituencies who represent a range of outsider perspectives. We are in a new kind of Renaissance - a creative entrepreneurial gold rush.
Over the last few months, I've been working on the release strategy for 2012 Time for Change, our documentary, with director Joao Amorim, producer Giancarlo Canavesio and the staff at Mangusta Films. This has been a great learning process for us, and it is still underway. The transformation of media that began with the launch of 'Web2.0' a number of years ago has continued, and is accelerating. At the same time, the old mechanisms for distributing and marketing independent films have broken down. The model of a new independent film debuting at a festival like Sundance or Toronto, then getting a decent deal with a distribution company that takes the film off the filmmakers' hands and brings them success and some financial reward has become a distant fantasy. Nowadays, very few films get such deals, and even when they do, the movies rarely pay back their investors, reward the creators, or make much of an impact in the mainstream.
In the new model that is still emerging, the creative energy of the filmmakers no longer ends with the completion of the film, but continues to be drawn upon for the entire life cycle of the project. The distribution and marketing of the film become a direct extension of the process of making it, and the creativity extends to every aspect of promoting, marketing, packaging, distributing, and showing it. On one side, this means that the artist can no longer be naive about business, or distanced from it, and hope to survive.
While artists have to become business savvy, on the other side, the business people have to become more like artists, sorting through all sorts of radical possibilities that didn't even exist a few years ago. In the film world and other cultural areas, business is becoming more like art, and art is becoming more inseparable from business. Art purists may feel this is a bad thing; although it is a bit exhausting for the creative person who might like to retreat to his studio, I like these new developments and find them promising as well as exciting.
We are in a new kind of Renaissance - a creative entrepreneurial gold rush. These days, at least half of the musicians and directors I meet seem to be developing "technology plays," new software systems and mechanisms for creating revenue and making their projects stand out in a blizzard of seemingly infinite options. The entire situation is maddening in it's intricate convoluted complexity, but also fascinating. In the breakdown of the old models, media has become incredibly liquid, like mercury that runs everywhere and can coagulate into any form, at least momentarily, before it flows away again.
The model of a discrete 90 minute film as the ultimate goal is beginning to give way as well. While theatrical release remains a happy outcome, many films, especially documentaries, may soon become more amorphous "projects," where the outtakes, extras, YouTube clips, video blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook fan pages, etcetera, plus whatever comes next to replace these evanescent things, are integrated from the outset as elements of the creative vision of the whole. In the new model of independent self-distribution, films are conceived of as campaigns similar to political campaigns that need to mobilize the support of their audience even before they are finished, if possible.