From sofa bear to gym bunny…

Our youth is a mixed bag of highs and lows. For all the frivolity, uninhibited by responsibility, there can be some game-changing, path-setting moments; those that flare up in the back of your mind, tinged with a flavour of regret, embarrassment and general awkwardness. Moments that make you glad not to have to do it all again. The moment you’re categorised as ‘cool or ‘uncool’ is one that particularly comes to mind; ‘the sorting hat’ IRL equivalent. It might come on the first day of school, or somewhat later. It might come from the peers that label you ‘geeky’ or ‘nerdy’, or the teachers that perceive you as hard-working or hard work. What’s certain is that our years of maturation undoubtedly come with the acquisition of stereotypes and expectations.

Personally, I was a geek and therefore not sporty or popular. The latter two sort of came hand-in-hand and any demonstration of academic ability was pooed-pooed as being the ultimate signifier of your inherent repellence. On rare occasions, you were both. That is sporty and academic, in which case you were treated as a demi-God, a blessing I experienced vicariously through one of my best friends. And these labels don’t mean you don’t participate. I was on the hockey team, played badminton outside of school and took regular dancing lessons. I could play sport, but I never excelled at it, and because I am perfectionist and require praise like a plant does water, it became a source of vexation for me. Reading, writing, crafting and essaying always came easier to me, and therefore indoor, sedentary skills became that which I honed.

Some of those stereotypes and confinements were unravelled at university. It’s a culture which moves along much more fluid lines, where I could glissade with relative ease from the student newspaper to dancing competitions to think tanks to acting and back again, and without anyone so much as commenting on my unsuitability for said activities. But it takes more than three years of abundant freedom and opportunity to extinguish such ingrained identifiers.

The fact that sport was more a source of humiliation (changing-rooms particularly haunt me as a place where snide remarks and dirty looks were able to fester) than of triumph had taken its toll on my confidence in myself, and of my confidence in my body.

triIt took signing up for a triathlon to reverse that. As soon as I moved to London I knew I wanted to ‘get fit’. There would be a plethora of classes in which to partake and the bittersweet anonymity of the city could in this case be a blessing. Unlike the university gym where you risked bumping into one-night stands or frenemies with a red, puffy face and your skin glistening with sweat, in London you could just get on with it amid a sea of strangers doing the same. But I needed an end game; a Kilimanjaro to climb. The kind of  ‘oh fuck’ challenge that would motivate and frighten me in equal measure as its deadline loomed ever closer. That’s where the triathlon makes its entrance. It seemed as arduous as a marathon (maybe less so), without the chore and bore of all that running, so I signed up and haven’t shut up about it since.

I can sense your hesitation. ‘Getting on with it’ is a lot easier said than done. How exactly does one go from sofa bear to gym bunny? How does one prepare for a triathlon? I suffer from something called one-track-mindedness which means that as soon as I have a binding deadline or goal in place, I will reliably motor towards it. And I’m not going to lie, it requires hella’ time and dedication. You’ve got to clock in those hours. Sometimes that means getting up at 6am, or squeezing in a session after a 12-hour day at work. Sell it to yourself in whatever package works. I rather enjoy the invigoration of a run before work, or the solitude of a late-night dip in the pool. It’s stating the obvious to say there’ll be days when you point blank won’t be in the mood. There are days when your duvet will win its battle with the alarm. But if you can push through that initial groan-inducing reluctance, beyond the end-of-the-day, one-coffee-too-many sluggishness, I promise you it will get easier. It’ll become routine and you’ll start to feel worse when you don’t go.

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Embracing the vanity.

My other tip? Embrace the vanity. In the sea of gym selfies and ab-spiration pics that dominate Instagram, it could be easy to land on the cynical side of the fence and declare this a symptom of a self-obsessed society. But in terms of providing motivation for sticking to a fitness regime, I’d say looking good is up there as No.1. Yes fitness is about more than appearance. It’s about pushing your body to its limit, getting strong, staying healthy – physically and mentally – yet the reason most people take up regular exercise is to sculpt, tone and hone their physicality. To look hotter than they did the year before. And where’s the shame in that?

Part of my ‘fitness journey’ (I’ll understand if you feel compelled to roll your eyes) has been about shedding embarrassment. Whether that’s in the changing rooms when women of all ages, shapes and sizes are happy to de-robe in your presence, or standing in front of a mirror and taking a photo of yourself without prefacing it with ‘just taking a cheeky selfie’, I feel much more likely to shrug than shudder in these circumstances than I would’ve 9 months ago.

It’s a very British trait to blush and squirm in the face of nakedness. I couldn’t ever imagine parading around with the level of unashamedness that Ryan Gosling displays in Crazy, Stupid, Love. But I’m taking baby steps. And going to the gym has helped me to shed more than my clothes. (Which I admit I still do mostly in the private changing rooms). I feel less plagued by self-doubt and body hang-ups and I’m also less prone to stereotyping. And that’s not to say that I’ve molded myself into the Victoria’s Secret-cum-Kayla-Itsines template.

Going to the gym isn’t (or doesn’t have to be) the pastime of a particular sort of person. The gym is full of differing body types; from the overweight and seriously ripped to individuals missing limbs or suffering from disabilities. Just because I was never ‘sporty’ at school and I’ve certainly never ticked the ‘athletic’ checkbox in those questionnaires that force you to assess your figure and subsequently label it doesn’t mean I’m ripe for exclusion. In school, you’re forever judged on your ability – graded, tested, compared, rated. In the real world – at least in this case – you’re your own judge. You can do it if you say you can.

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Getting ready for my first numbered run in March.

So I say embrace the vanity. Look at yourself in the mirror as you lift weights and squat, even if you’re just supposedly ‘checking your form’. Look at yourself in the mirror after you’ve gone for a run and see how those calf muscles are coming along. Take a look and learn to enjoy what you see. This doesn’t have to be about publicising your newfound confidence. I’m not suggesting you adopt Kim Kardashian levels of self-promotion. But if it means you’re more happy to be in front of a camera should the opportunity arise then that’s something worth celebrating.

And of course, the by-product to all of this self-obsession and self-improvement is that I can now write ‘Ran 10K in under 50 minutes’ on my list of achievements. That I can comfortably cycle for 60 minutes and plank for 3 (not so comfortable). Not all bodies are naturally gifted in displays of athleticism, but that doesn’t negate them from being capable. It will take practice and discipline and more sweat you ever thought yourself capable of secreting. But beneath all those labels, jibes and niggles there’s an untapped strength in us all. And hopefully come August 6th, I’ll swim, cycle and run beyond any expectations – sporting or otherwise – I had for myself.

 

If you’d like to sponsor this particularly bunny, you can do so via my JustGiving page!

I’m fundraising for WWF-UK here.

And I’m fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society here.

15 Filmmaking Predictions for 2015

Originally published by Raindance.

The film industry has often been at the forefront of technological advances and emerging trends, utilising new discoveries to create consistently awe-inspiring cinematic experiences. Our foresights for 2015 see an industry increasingly revolving around online platforms, with filmmaking becoming ever more entrepreneurial, digitalised and dictated by audiences.

 

1. Franchises

Benedict-Cumberbatch-Dr-StrangeThe monopoly of the franchise looks set to continue, with Star Wars Episode VIISpectre a.k.a Bond 24, DC’s Suicide SquadFrozen 2 and Marvel’s Dr. Strange (with Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular hero) all set for release in 2015.

Also on the theatrical agenda, Viacom’s (VIA) Paramount Pictures will release a sixth Paranormal Activity film and a fifth Mission: Impossible instalment. Besides its final Hunger Games movie, Lions Gate will open a second Divergent film. Comcast’s (CMCSA) Universal Pictures will release the seventh Fast & Furious, which will include footage of the series’ late star, Paul Walker. It’s also adding a fourth incarnation of the 1993 hit Jurassic Park. Studios aren’t exactly sparkling with originality at the moment, and seem to be stuck in a lather, rinse, repeat sort of rut.

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has stated that “Execs and producers and sometimes even directors are focused on the big picture, without perfecting the task directly in front of them – making a great movie. And studios are trying to grow franchises from non-existent films or middling successes. It’s like they aren’t taking audiences into account at all anymore”.

Whilst he’s not against franchises full stop, Gunn certainly cautions against the endless proliferation of sequels and reboots for the sake of profit over the desire to make quality entertainment. Here’s hoping that next year’s line up of superheroes and second outings puts a premium on storytelling, as well as special effects.

 2. Neighbourhood Watch

Community curation could be the next big thing in 2015, wherein ratings become a cross-section of your friend’s, relative’s, neighbour’s and even pet’s (ok maybe that’s a few years off) filmic recommendations. There are apps in the throws of being designed and crowd-funded that would utilise your social network to cross-index your friends’ film ratings then filter the results through a tagging system. You’ll be able to either search via tag (eg. movie star, subject matter, milieu, etc.) or via friend or network. The result would be the most meaningful recommendations possible. By comparing your taste in films with a friend’s, an app such as this can give you insight into any film they recommend or pan, using the tagging system and ratings you’ve both contributed to the database. Therefore rather than ratings being an arbitrary symbol of whichever critic reviewed the film, they reflect the opinion of a wider audience, with similar tastes as yours.

 3. Niche genres

Corresponding with the idea of a rating system set to become increasingly personalised, films themselves – and how they are packaged – are evolving to outgrow the obsolete concept of genre. Much in the same respect that we wouldn’t buy an outfit two sizes too big, audiences are increasingly demanding a niche experience wherein film descriptions are tailored to their tastes.

The idea in development is that a comprehensive database of tags will let a person search for (or filter out) any aspect they want. The two companies that are already cornering this market are Netflix, wherein they ask subscribers to complete genre-based surveys, giving them a basis upon which to recommend films on their roster, and The Black List. Although the latter is designed for screenplays, it’s a system that could easily transfer to the finished cinematic product. They market themselves on the basis you can ‘search by over 1000 tags to find exactly what you’re looking for’. There’s little reason the same ethos can’t be applied to the world’s growing library of films.

4. The iPhone 6

iPhone-6-renderCome 2015, there’ll probably be an iPhone 16. But Apple’s latest design – the iPhone 6 – is thought to be the sleekest, cleverest and most advanced yet. What’s more, they’ve installed a vastly improved camera that should cater to budding filmmakers. The camera boasts the ability to grab 1080p high-definition clips at 60 frames per second, take 240-fps slow-motion shots, provide cinematic video stabilisation, and offer up to 128 gigabytes of storage. The main element however, thought to wet the filmmaker’s appetite, is the addition of ‘Focus Pixels’, which Apple believes will give faster autofocus and improved clarity to your shots. There are already iPhone film festivals, which indicate a market for this sort of guerrilla filmmaking and as improvements only continue to be made, in 2015 making a film could be as simple as reaching for your back pocket.

 5. A New App For An Old Look

A vintage aesthetic could be at your fingertips with an app on the newly released iPhone 6. Last year, the wildly popular documentary Searching for Sugar Man became the first film shot partly on an iPhone to win an Academy Award. When film director Malik Bendjelloul’s budget ran dry during production for Searching for Sugar Man, he turned to the 8mm Vintage Camera app. Created by Nexvio, the app realistically mimics retro-looking 8 mm film, which he used to shoot scenes of his award-winning documentary to get an authentic effect of ’70s-style footage. So if you want your film to look charming, quaint and antiquated, look no further than this app. Like Instagram there are several filters, vignettes and contrasts to alter your image and it even offers a feature to make your film jitter to resemble real frame shakes produced by 8 mm projectors. As if celluloid film wasn’t already feeling completely irrelevant, this app replicates its signature look for a small percentage of the cost.

 6. The YouGov App

A nifty new app launched by the polling company YouGov could revolutionise how marketing teams target audiences when promoting their films. By quintessentially outlining the types of people who like certain types of things (e.g.informed stereotypes), the YouGov profiler should allow advertisers, distributors and indeed filmmakers to deliver content aimed specifically at audience behaviour. No more second-guessing or stabbing in the dark, the YouGov profiler enables you to search for any ‘person, brand or thing’ and gain a sense of where they shop, what they like and what products they use. From Kit Harington to KitKat, Topshop to Top Gun, the YouGov search engine then pulls statistics from its database of profiles on the demographics and lifestyle of the types of person who have stated an interested in said brand. The data is built on surveys conducted with about 190,000 members of the British public, giving us a fairly accurate insight into the traits, behaviours and most importantly for marketing purposes – the consumer habits of the average person. And if nothing else, the clean and efficient design of the website is a wonder to behold. I dare you not to get addicted.

 7. Branded Content

Farmed-and-Dangerous-ChipotleAdvertising Funded Programming (AFP) or ‘branded content’ could move up into the big leagues next year. Earlier this year, Viacom created an entire division devoted to it, and more brands are getting in on the action, creating sketches, short films and even TV series to entice customers. John Lewis offer a salient example in their annual Christmas ads, which lean towards emotive storytelling than promotion of specific products. 90-second commercials are expensive to make and it’s harder to see their effectiveness, with viewers able to skip ads, download episodes or otherwise eschew commercials. Branded content on the other hand offers something more in the way of entertainment for the viewer. Examples of successful campaigns utilising branded content are Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ sketches and Chipotle’s ‘Farmed and Dangerous’, as well as Samsung’s partnership with ‘The X Factor’. However, branded storytelling could diversify and expand towards feature film. Extending beyond traditional product placement or sponsorship, brands could be the sole or primary production backer. Following on from the development that Netflix are planning to fund and debut original films directly on their platform, brands could jump on this bandwagon and become more engaged with the creative process. As with the YouGov app, this could be another means by which advertisers directly target their audience. Unlike the purchase of TV spots, this enables you to target a more specific audience by only promoting your content to the right people, and not wasting money advertising in the wrong areas. Certainly, branded content is an innovation that we’re likely to see more of in the future.

 8. The Rise Of VOD

VOD continues to go from strength to strength and looks set to become an important player at the deals tables. Fewer distributors are taking the traditional theatrical route in the release of their films and there are now more companies investing in video on demand, to the extent that it’s impacting the financing of films. Though the finite details on digital success is hazy, with Deadline reporting that “distributors are reluctant to release VOD and digital receipts… [perhaps because they are] hesitant to volunteer disappointing numbers, while others suspect distribs are hiding their VOD/digital successes lest competitors or filmmakers want a bigger slice of the pie”. It’s clear that VOD is becoming integral to the conversation about film distribution and a key component in a film company’s digital revenues. Certainly in TV, broadcasters are pushing to drive growth in the digital arena, and make significant profits solely through online avenues. Some broadcasters have predicted that the future of television could be entirely Internet based, and it’s not hard to see the film industry following suit. Especially with developments such as EE dropping their 2for1 cinema ticket scheme.

 9. The Disappearance Of The Mid-Budget Film

Part and parcel with changes in home video distribution, mid-budget films are declining at an accelerated rate. Jonathan Wolf, Managing Director of AFM (American Film Market) says “the change we’re seeing more of is what we call the bifurcation of the industry… [there are] more films with bigger budgets and more films with smaller budgets, and fewer films in the middle.”

It’s becoming increasingly hard to finance movies that aren’t at two opposing ends of the budget spectrum. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, it was fairly commonplace, for either studios or independent companies to finance mid-budget fare (anywhere from $5 million to $60 million). But gradually, this dynamic has shifted to the point that mid-budget films are being squeezed out of the equation. Studios are staking all their time and money on franchises and blockbusters, operating under the belief that substantial investment promises substantial return. Genres that don’t comply with this category (basically anything not featuring a superhero) are relegated to the artistically prosperous, but resource-starved realm of independent film. As Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner has stated: “Nobody can make a movie between $500,000 and $80 million.” Perhaps this is why we’re seeing directors like Steven Soderbergh, Cary Fukunaga and Jane Campion directing shows or mini-series such as The KnickTrue Detective and Top of the Lake, respectively. That’s not to say that the mid-budget film couldn’t be revived, as trends are frequently recycled. But for the time being it appears to be well and truly dormant.

 10. Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy?

minority-reportAugmented Reality (AR) has been used in movies before in the likes of Minority ReportAvatar and Iron Man, wherein the layering of digital information or CGI on top of reality was utilised to make everything look cool, high-tech and futuristic. Essentially, it’s an enhanced perception of the world; like digital contact lenses. However as AR technology develops, we’re looking at increasingly immersive cinema, as opposed to merely the mimicry or replication of the spectacle. For cinema to really benefit from AR, the narrative must embrace this interactivity and embed the technology in a way that it feels like more than a gimmick and actually sustains audience interest. It will be fascinating to see whether films beside Sci-Fi’s can utilise this technology in a way that feels natural and organic.

 11. Scouting For Toys

Filmmaker Robert Carrier launched an online prop sourcing and location-scouting platform called ‘The Scoutr’. Essentially a service provider, it allows users to source a range of different props, tools and locations from one place. No more running around like a headless chicken ensuring everything is good to go.

With The Scoutr, the public can list homes, private businesses, cars, motorcycles, trucks and boats for rent. Creatives, such as filmmakers and photographers, can then rent these items for use in their art and commercial projects. The transactions occur directly through the website, so cash never needs to change hands, and the renter and rentee are able to communicate beforehand to arrange logistics and determine an appropriate rental period. Perhaps best of all, there’s transparency to the entire process – the rentee sets the price and the renter pays it, picking the time that works for him or her. It’s pre-production, prop sourcing and location scouting made easy. Launched earlier in 2014, 2015 could be the year it becomes an on-set must have.

 12. World Domination for Dolby

Having conquered the sound market, Dolby are diverting their attention to the world of images. Contending with industry leader Imax, Dolby are looking to launch their own cinematic experience which will combine two pre-existing technologies; Dolby’s Atmos sound and Dolby’s Vision video. Whilst the former is up and running and already in use around 800 international cinemas, the latter will require the installation of a new projection system. As a result of this rather expensive addition, cinema tickets would retail at about 50% higher than normal.

But before we get too indignant about this sky-rocketing price, there are several high-end features in the Dolby Cinema which could justify this expense. The first is a film-specific entrance, akin to the theatricalised experience of ‘secret cinema’, as well as colossal screens and enhanced sound. But what’s really piquing the interest of filmmakers is the system’s ability to project “high dynamic range,” a process in which whites appear whiter and blacks blacker. Gravity’s Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, for one, has said he’s eager to make use of HDR. In fact, many insiders from Hollywood’s technology community believe that consumers will see a noticeable difference with HDR, compared with the more widely touted “Ultra HD” 4K resolution and high frame rates.

Films will need to be processed specifically for Dolby Cinema, so the movie studios need to get on board too. Disney has been tipped as an early adopter, so it could well be that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be one of the first major Dolby Cinema films. Come December 2015, Dolby could be well and truly transporting us to a galaxy far, far away.

 13. That’s Bond. @JamesBond007

SpectreAdvertising will become digitally concentrated, and increasingly take its business to online forums as opposed to traditional print avenues. Rather than saturating the market all at once with a barrage of promotional material, cinematic marketing strategies are looking to build anticipation and audience engagement. Instead of the usual posters, billboards and newspaper ads, we’re being drip-fed announcements, teasers, and clips across online platforms. Take for instance the latest Star Wars instalment, which is already drumming up serious buzz ahead of its December 2015 release. The cast were announced 2 months ago, and the hotly anticipated teaser trailer has just been dropped. Bond 24 is following a similar strategy, having just announced it’s title and main cast and soon after, the Twittersphere was alive with debate and speculation surrounding the film. The UK is predicted to become the first country in the world where more than half of all advertising spend goes to digital media. Next year more money will be spent on internet advertising than in traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, TV, cinema, radio, and billboards, posters and buses combined.

 14. Collaborative Software

 Filmmakers have oft applauded online sharing platforms like Dropbox for simplifying the organisational process behind planning and producing a film. So Webbmedia’s 2015 Trend Report should be music to their ears. The report placed emphasis on new productivity tools which combine the best of instant messaging, email, social media and cloud storage to create a more sleek and efficient communication experience. For production companies that trade countless emails back and forth between writers, directors and talent agents, this could increase productivity and decrease time-wasting as you sift through previous message to find certain details.

 15. An Exclusive Experience

Os1_-d0__400x400One for the fan girls and fan boys out there, filmmaker and digital wizard Sarah Tierney has launched a new video-on-demand platform that connects great filmmakers to passionate fans. The platform is focused on early audience engagement, sustainable marketing and the monetisation of additional behind-the-scenes content. Like the additional featurettes, interviews and blooper reels that sometimes feature on DVDS, ‘We Are Colony’ markets itself on showcasing not just the film, but a plethora of material to compliment it. Combining the concepts of bundling and short-form content, We Are Colony packages its film alongside extras, titbits and clips to round out your film experience. Extending the outfit metaphor that’s been a running theme in this post, it would be like purchasing shoes, bags and jewellery alongside the main feature that is the dress. This new platform gives filmmakers the chance to monetize every aspect of their film, creating ancillary revenues. So alongside selling the film online for, as an example, £2.99, you could create a short behind-the-scenes documentary and sell this for 99p or copies of the screenplay or even dinner with the lead actor, though presumably that would considerably more expensive. Kickstarter and the increasing popularity of crowd funding has initiated this scheme of perks and benefits to reward those that invest in the film. As well creating a way to increase revenue, We Are Colony is encouraging filmmakers to create an ecosystem of content around their film.

If you have anymore predictions, or thoughts on emerging trends tweet me @Nicole6293 or comment below!

Filmmaking Trends Of 2014

Originally published by Raindance.

At the beginning of this year, Raindance took to the crystal ball and presciently published their filmmaking insights for 2014. So as the Christmas countdown begins and the yearly round-ups start to appear, here’s a retrospective on the trends that took flight and those that are delayed…

1. Mini Content Marketing

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Sitting comfortably at third position in the list of highest grossing movies of the year, is Warner Bros. The Lego Movie. A candidate arguably made for mini-content marketing, given that it stars, well, mini people; this is but one example wherein our prediction came true. With a budget of $60million, it made $9million profit on opening weekend in the US alone and did so with a content marketing campaign that has been labelled a triumph; remaining relevant and appealing to both children and adults.

The Lego Movie built a solid and engaged Twitter campaign, keeping a constant eye on its feeds and remaining personal to its audience. They also launched a ‘Fan of the Week’ competition across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine platforms, encouraging followers to upload photos and involve themselves in a dialogue with other fans, as well as continuing to upload their own animated content. By utilising short-form content and immersing themselves in the digital world, Lego brought themselves up-to-date and a larger audience along with it. Whilst the content itself may be quicker than a flash, this trend is certainly not a flash in the pan. Consumers and audiences have become accustomed to advertising that revels in immediacy, brevity and interaction and with a success story such as The Lego Movie’s, other brands would be foolish not to follow suit.

2. The Death Of Film

You don’t need powers of premonition to predict that celluloid, like the dodo before it, is on its last legs. Since 2010/11, the industry has recognised and acted upon, the benefits of digital filming. There are some filmmakers still clinging onto celluloid, meaning that a handful of future releases will still hark back to the golden age of cinema. Director Quentin Tarantino for instance, spoke at Cannes 2014 reiterating his disdain for digital projection and his intentions to continue shooting on 35mm film. But certainly, most cinema releases this year and undoubtedly in the years to come, are being filmed on high-tech and rapidly improving digital technology. Start practicing your ‘Funeral March’, because come 2015, celluloid could well and truly have kicked the bucket.

nexusae0_unnamed163. International Reach of VOD

Like the evil villain of the entertainment universe, one can envision the CEO of Netflix sitting in a black leather chair, stroking its pet cat and dreaming of world domination. Whether or not such lofty visions are realised remains to be seen, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that Netflix is a game-changer in the way films are released and distributed.

 Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos has claimed that “the current distribution model for movies in the US particularly, but also round the world, is pretty antiquated relative to the on-demand generation that [Netflix] are trying to serve.”

Our voracious appetite for instant entertainment has seen growth in the online streaming and VOD markets soar. Gradually evolving from a distribution, to an acquisition and production platform, Netflix is now worth more than some of the Hollywood studios that license movies to it and thus we predicted the supersession of the studio, rendered irrelevant to the process of getting content to consumers. However, Netflix has also made a sly business move that gives it an edge over streaming competitors in that it partners with established production studios to create it’s content. Therefore accruing the production know-how and efficiency of professionals, and distributing the finished product to subscribers whilst their rivals struggle to start the process from scratch. This signals that the middleman isn’t so much removed, as merged into the production process.

In Netflix’s aggressive pursuit of increased original content, however, there may be unprecedented pressure on studios, streaming services and broadcasters to acquire high-quality and innovative entertainment to differentiate themselves. Certainly, Netflix’s rise to power signals the dawn of a very different cinematic landscape. As a recent article on Forbes predicted, this changing landscape could result in “independent films [being] financed by pre-sales to Netflix, not the local distributors. Netflix may be a vibrant, important source of new financing that disrupts the studio system and bypasses standard distribution channels”.

4. Collapsing Windows

In keeping with the disruption of the studio system, Raindance predicted that the waiting time between the theatrical and home release of a film would disintegrate significantly. Whilst we have yet to see such drastic shrinkage between this gap, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg predicted earlier this year that theatrical windows would diminish to approximately three weeks in the next 10 years, indicating the industry’s awareness that they need to catch up with the demands of the internet age. Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has also recognised that “the movie-going experience is evolving quickly and profoundly, and Netflix is unquestionably at the forefront of that movement”. People dragging their heels might argue that same-day release for on-demand and theatrical viewings would impede box-office totals. Hushing this puppy however, are two films acquired and distributed by Roadside: Margin Call and Arbitrage, as well as the more recent Bachelorette. They all used a multi-platform release strategy, which saw simultaneous availability in theatres and online, and which didn’t damage profits. VOD is more than the runt of the distribution litter, and whilst it may take a while for studios to come around, on-demand could begin to coincide with on-screen more and more.

 5. Cameo

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Cameo is an app that aims to do more than just let you shoot bite-sized video clips on your iPhone — its cloud video editing platform lets you turn those clips into two-minute long short films.Cameo sets itself apart from the competition by offering features like HD recording and collaborative editing, as well as the ability to record and share videos that are longer than what’s available to Vine or Instagram users and purports to be rooted in a storytelling experience that could be appealing to filmmakers. It has yet to take-off in the way Instagram saturates our lives, with just over 2,500 likes on its Facebook page, compared to Instagram’s 25,680,837. But there’s potential for growth, and 2015 could be the year it makes more than a cameo appearance.

6. Online Video

Raindance predicted that online video platforms such as YouTube would continue to grow has unsurprisingly been proved correct. Since it’s inception in 2005, YouTube has consistently undergone exponential growth in both uploads and views. In 2014, YouTube reported statistics that they received 100 hours of content per minute, and more than 1 billion unique users visits the site each month. Whilst the channels with the most subscribers are predominantly categorised under ‘film’ and ‘entertainment’, thus suggesting that this could be a primary and potentially, widespread platform for filmmakers to distribute their product.

However, it’s not necessarily a lucrative path to go down. Most people release their films via VOD platforms until sales begin to trickle and then move to the free/subscription platforms such as YouTube. To acquire advertisements and subscribers, you need people to return to your channel and uploading one film isn’t necessarily going to generate that level of interest, especially in a landscape in which the filmmaking process has been democratised and more films are available to audiences. One way to build up a fan base prior to the release of your film could be to share the filmmaking experience or tips learnt along the way in regularly updated snippets, like DVD extras but as a marketing technique, so viewers are invested the ‘making of’ before it’s been made.

YouTube requires dedication and consistency to make it a viable film distribution platform. You can’t hit upload and expect people to come flocking to your film, like they would a studio blockbuster on opening weekend. That being said, it remains a cheap and interactive way to garner feedback and a loyal fan base, as well as being a portfolio that could lead to something bigger – like a distribution deal. The launch of the YouTube Film Festival also signifies that this is a platform that could over time proliferate and it remains an underrated, and perhaps undervalued means of getting movies to the masses.

7. Crowd-funding

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Kickstarter is increasingly used by film-makers to raise finance for movies. In 2013, producers of the Veronica Mars TV show secured a staggering £3.70m to revive the detective series as a feature film. Whilst, the Charlie Kaufman-scripted stop-motion film Anomalisa raised a then-record £250,600. In 2014, Zach Braff’s crowd-funded film Wish I Was Here released to relative acclaim. Gap-financing was used, but it relied on Kickstarter for a good portion of its budget and rewarded donors with special screening, after-parties and the opportunity to participate in production.

Whilst I can’t see crowd-funding becoming mainstream, for independent films it provides another means by which to raise money and to have their voices heard. Ultimately, it gives fans and audiences greater control over their entertainment – as evidenced when the axed Veronica Mars got a new lease of life; as well as enabling filmmakers to push creative boundaries in ways that traditional funding or studio interference might curtail. As filmmakers are forced to become even more entrepreneurial, crowd-funding is a viable solution to the money problem.

8. Lytro

This August, Lytro released their Illium camera, marketed under the banner that this was the future of photography. With a lens that allows you to shoot from several perspectives, to focus pictures later or to view in 3D, as well as offering cleaner, brighter, higher-quality images, it promises technical wizardry like no other camera out there. But technically, it’s still got a way to go before being able to compete with the DSLR, and is currently hindered by its inability to shoot video. There are impracticalities and impossibilities in terms of its design, software and capabilities that it needs to iron out before it can even consider catching on. Sure, it’s a glimpse of the future, but one that’s not upon us just yet.

9. Customised Ratings

It was suggested that films might begin to include ratings according to its result in the Bechdel Test, i.e. a level of feminism rating, which could then snowball to encompass various other causes. However, film ratings more tailored to audience niches is something that has yet to really take flight. Arguably institutions such as the BBFC have worked for decades to give audiences an idea of the levels of violence, nudity, sexuality and profanity they can expect from a film and changing this system would take a lot of hard-graft. Nevertheless, the BBFC is increasingly active in the online realm, collaborating with the home entertainment industry, to offer guidance in a way that complies with public demand, so perhaps this a development to keep any eye one. 

14039080406_cf494dec35_z10. Enhanced Cinema Experience

 Rather than enhanced, I would contend that the cinema experience has become specialised, or spectacular-ised. One example from this year was the Secret Cinema screening of The Grand Budapest Hotel, which boasted a clandestine, and theatrical experience centred around the showing of Wes Anderson’s latest film. The event required guests to dress-up in 1930s style attire, to bring an alpine postcard or pink flowers, and for those going the extra mile, to learn how to waltz. The themed night brought an air of opulence and occasion to an already impressively stylish film. Tickets are steep, at around £50, but certainly it creates something more memorable than your standard cinema-going trip and the buzz surrounding the event indicates that this trend of immersive, exclusive cinema treats is likely to continue. Equally, outdoor summer screenings are more popular than ever, with more and more venues setting up a series throughout July and August. It seems entertainment venues are cottoning on to the notion they have to provide more than just popcorn and a movie to satiate audience’s growing expectations. Cheap dates we are not.

It’s clear to see that the cinematic landscape is one undergoing constant evolution. Changes and improvements might be incremental, but they are altering the way we make, watch and think about films that will have a dramatic impact for decades to come.