Q: What have Film, Botox, Ego all got in common? A: Resistance to change.
In Cannes 2015 I went to a seminar by We Are UK Film on film distribution with BFI Head of Audiences, and Distributors eOne and Icon. They were discussing the impending change in the viewing habits of film audiences. Cinema-going is an expensive night out and people are increasingly attached to their own screens smart phones, iPads, computers & TVs for their movie gratification. The Hollywood Studios and Distributors alike admit that they are clinging to the old model but new technology is forcing the hand of change.
For years Theatres refused to budge on changing from 35mm projection to digital. They said the quality wouldn’t be as good and audiences would turn away in droves. It took one film, Avatar, only distributed in 3D digital to change all that. Whatever the story, the visual spectacle proved the point and the result was a box office phenomena. The Theatres were right to be afraid. Digital did change everything and perhaps the writing is on the wall for the physical experience of movie-watching in the way that we know it. But maybe the best is yet to come?
What if we resist change?
La Croisette in Cannes is filled with horror-struck-Botox-fixed or surgery-stretched faces, attempting to defy the natural changes that come with age. The needles and knives try to put a halt to the inevitable and the frozen results are frighteningly museum-like; a sort of live taxidermy experiment. Resisting change can be a self-defeating prophesy. Afraid of annihilation we become entrenched in our own idealization, blinkered to the potential of other possibilities.
Our egos are steadfastly intent in getting in the way of change. I know that when I receive script feedback notes I have to read them fast, put them away for 24 hours while my ego dances the tight lipped fandango, performs back-flips of fury and grinds its teeth on its own enameled intransigence. But give it a day and it out-sulks itself into a corner and I pull out the notes again ready to get down to the work at hand; deciphering the feedback, taking the proffered changes on the chin and allowing them to evolve the script into a better piece of work.
Humans are stubborn but we’d still be living in caves if we didn’t have that itch in the back of our brains that tells us we’re more than the sum of a bear-skin and two flints rubbed together. Not ones to rest on our laurels, we thought our caves walls were dull in plain rock and set about decorating them with fine drawings decanting tales of derring-dos. We had an instinct to tell stories and we acted on that urge to move on from grunting to entertaining. We created the start of film in pictures with narrative. We could have been content with such raw cartoons but we forged on through the centuries never quite satisfied and we leapfrogged from one mode of visual story-telling to another, fuelled by our continuous un-satiated desire to disrupt the status quo.
So here we are on the edge of another visual revolution, unsure of what the future holds, waiting in limbo until the path clears and we see the way forward. It will take one or two films and the way they are distributed, to blast audaciously through the fear of the unknown and into the Cyber-Cinema of the future. Let’s enjoy the ride along our own red carpets and embrace the possibilities to Infinity and Beyond.
5 Top Tips on embracing change
- Reflect on what it would be like to block the infinite possibilities brought by change.
- Acknowledge your instinct for safety but understand that the more we try to run from change the more it will come knocking.
- Know that nothing stays the same, it is the way of the world to evolve and grow.
- Decide to use change to create something better
- Take the leap into the unknown with an open mind and an excitement for what might be.