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Hollywood is Living on Borrowed Time



Big movie studios have been relying on the cash generated from their 'Tent Pole' releases to keep their gargantuan circuses afloat for years now.

More productions seem to seek financial refuge by getting outsourced to places like Canada or Georgia.

Industry critics will say that film is dead. Because the theaters are filled only with sequels and remakes.

They're not entirely wrong. You look at these factors and think to yourself. Perhaps this isn't sustainable. There is a tidal wave of change crashing upon the studio system and the whole of Los Angeles as is.

[MY EXPERIENCE]

I spent the fall of 2019 living and working in Los Angeles. I woke up in my Burbank apartment at dawn's buttcrack and drove from the 101 to the 405 down toward Santa Monica everyday to read scripts and complete coverage as a development intern at two different companies. And thing is, I would get bored writing coverage around the same time that I would get curious and begin eavesdropping on conversations in the office. What exactly did I hear? More than I should have. And because of legally-binding NDAs, I won't be specific. But from what I gathered: flops happen, casting deals fall through, and Mistakes. Are. Made.




[IT ISN'T JUST ME NOTICING THIS]

If you look hard enough, anyone can see that the movie studios are no longer the leading the industry in the way they used to.

David Higgins is a producer and writer in LA known for Hard Candy and Big Momma's House. During a talk he gave on the UT campus in February of 2017, he remarked that "Much of Hollywood is reluctant to put out something different… Hollywood trusts veterans" and later added how even Hollywood wouldn't trust their veterans with just anything. His followed this by tasking the audience to imagine Michael Bay directing a romantic tragedy.

Yeah I know.

I also had the opportunity while in lala land to sit down along with some of my peers and talk to the vice-president of Bottle Cap Productions, Maresa Pullman. She like anyone else in town had opinions on the streaming-wars coming in the near future. (This was right before Disney+, HBOmax, and Peacock entered the streaming scene.) Her take was that these (then foreshadowed) streaming wars would change the industry as radically as the talkies had when they came out. Toward the end of our informative conversation, she asked us to go around the table and say what we wanted to do within the entertainment industry. Everyone complied. And after that, Maresa looked at my friend (as aspiring editor) and me (the video game writer) and said "You two are the smart ones".

Are you getting the hint?

What goes up must also come down as the saying goes. It rings true in regards to LA being the hub of all TV and Film production. And it's been going on for a while now too. In a HuffPo article published in 2012, contributor Kevin James recited two statistics which he got from FilmLA. This one stuck out to me the most:

'in 2005 … “82 percent of new TV pilots were made in Los Angeles. By 2011, only 51 percent were filmed here.” '


[ON THE BRIGHTSIDE]

The good thing is. Hollywood was never really a thing. Physically, it was a neighborhood of LA known as Hollywoodland. And as a concept, it's one word to sum up the film/TV/overall media industry. There isn't much for us to lose. (Us being the consumers.)

Film is an artform. And artists will make films no matter what. And movie lovers are going to keep watching movies. Now, the way business is done and way money is made is changing. That is okay. It's hard to say whether it's been high time things changed. But things nonetheless are evolving. I would task any filmmaker to ride the tiger and be ready to pivot their strategies!

The other good thing is that LA doesn't posses the monopoly on creativity. Again, as per my eavesdropping, even Hollywood's most successful producers won't know what going to be a hit. This may surprise you. But their guess is actually as good as yours. Every state in the America has a film commission where they offer tax-benefits and kick-backs for whatever production you're creating in their jurisdiction. And if you're willing to look even further, European countries tend to offer even better benefits.

[EN CONCLUSION]

Things are changing radically and it looks unlikely that the big studios based in LA will be able to maintain the influence they hold on the film industry. Yay! So it doesn't matter where you are so long as you're with the right people (that's a whole other ballgame). I guess I should amend that. Yes it matters where you are. But it’s important that we don't invest all of our chips in the city of angles. Do what is right for you. And simply, make art.

Merci d'avoir lu ceci!

OH AND BY THE WAY HERE'S THE LINK TO A GOOD INDIE WIRE ARTICLE:

And here's Kevin James's HuffPo article as well if you'd like to check that out:

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