I read a lot as a kid. No, I mean A LOT. My mom was pretty amazing raising my sister, brother and I. Particularly during the summers, she had a hard & fast rule: you must read a book a week. And I loved it. To me, even at a young age reading such classics (in my mind) as ESP McGee and The Three Investigators, accessed a part of my imagination that played these stories out as movies in my mind’s eye.
As I got older, I would go on to read the stories of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, hoping for a great movie adaptation one day for certain stories, as they were too good to exist in just one medium. I even remember spending the better part of one summer trying to adapt Koontz’s Twilight Eyes into a screenplay. I had always wanted to write, act or direct movies. But everywhere I turned, I kept reading time and again how terribly difficult it was to break into film-making industry.
Later in life, while going through my Master’s program I learned the technical term for this sentiment: barriers to entry. According to Wikipedia:
In theories of competition in economics, barriers to entry are obstacles that make it difficult to enter a given market. The term can refer to hindrances a firm faces in trying to enter a market or industry – such as government regulation, or a large, established firm taking advantage of economies of scale – or those an individual faces in trying to gain entrance to a profession – such as education or licensing requirements.
Because barriers to entry protect incumbent firms and restrict competition in a market, they can contribute to distortionary prices. The existence of monopolies or market power is often aided by barriers to entry.
So imagine my great fascination in following the tweets of indie filmmaker Paul Osborne last week as he crept closer and closer to financing his latest film project, Favor. He hit his goal with two days to spare, much to the delight of his Twitter-community. To his credit, since posting about the importance of crowdfunding on his blog in mid-February, his marketing efforts have been relentless. But the victory here may not be just his.
You may be wondering: what does this mean to the typical film-goer? I mean, if your just getting back from a late screening of Thor and have stumbled across this blog – not much. Unless you want it to mean something more …
Here’s why I find it so exciting and compelling: I think crowdfunding may well usher in the next decade of filmmaking talent. Over two decades ago, filmmakers like Kevin Smith, Edward Burns, and Richard Linklater found innovative ways to break through the barrier to entry in an extremely competitive and cut-throat industry. What was the “great equalizer” for them? The same thing that will work for future filmmakers:
If crowdfunding can help usher in a new wave of storytellers, film festivals will continue to serve as the great equalizer. This is where you – typical film fan – can make the biggest difference. Sure – movies like Thor are fun, and they too should get our attention. Hell, I am one of the biggest Star Wars, Star Trek and Harry Potter geeks you will ever run into. But let me tell you something- there is no greater feeling than discovering a film no one has ever heard of and being that one person in your circle of friends to tout the discovery. Imagine finding 5 films like that; or 10.
Find your local film festival and support it. If you have never been to a film festival, don’t worry, you’re not alone. More importantly, most festivals bust their tales to produce an event that gives you more than just movies to watch.
I encourage you to keep visiting my blog. I am currently working on a guide on how to maximize your attendance at a typical film festival and plan to make it available here.
So, get out there, find a festival near you and go. Because in turn, you will be supporting independent film and the next generation of storytellers.