New Technology & Old Hollywood

Hollywood has always been weird when it came to new technologies. It was slow to accept the home video market (and easily available video recorders), yet overzealous to try processes like colourisation. As noted in a previous issue of this publication, the cinema as we know it has begun its fall from grace, as prices rise to exorbitant levels. You could say this isn’t anything new, that this began in the 40s with the decline of the studio system, but that shows Hollywood’s reluctance to notice and react to trends in its own industry.

As ticket prices for your local picture-house soar, one alternative looks better and better: Netflix. It would be wrong to call Netflix the new kid on the block, as the online streaming service launched in 1999, although a lot more limited in both price model & selection. In the 15 or so years it’s been going, the movie industry has yet to really respond. As a result, Netflix has had very little opposition as it captured the entire rental market, replacing the local Blockbusters or Xtra Visions. The only roadblock that’s been thrown up in front of them has been a rapid increase of licensing costs for the films & tv shows on Netflix, which is why Netflix recently began producing their own original content, most of which have either been nominated or won several awards. The potential for Netflix to become the destination for new movies, particularly indie films, is huge. One could see them becoming the new Miramax, funding the new wave of directors. Let’s just hope Netflix doesn’t also become bought by Disney…

Netflix is an obvious thing to have such an influence on the film industry, but a new take on an old medium shows that video did not necessarily kill the radio star: podcasts. Director Kevin Smith was one of the first members of mainstream Hollywood to take to podcasts, and it’s paid off in creative spades for him (in addition to the monetary spades). Following the release of his film Red State, an excellently gory film about a Westboro Baptist Church-esque cult, Smith announced his retirement following the release of the third & final part of his Clerks series. Fast forward a few months, and Smith has added at least 3 film projects to his plate, all coming from ideas discussed on his various podcasts. The first of these, Tusk, is an exploitation film about a man who answers an ad about renting a room and ends up being slowly sewed into a real walrus suit. Smith wrote the film while waiting on approval on the script of Clerks 3, and has actually shot & edited the film in the meantime. The idea came from an episode of his premier podcast, SModcast, in which he & his co-host Scott Mosier joked about a Gumtree post that offered free rent if the lodger would wear a walrus costume at all times. Encouraged by the popularity & fun of the project, Smith dug into the archives of his podcasts & came up with Helena Handbag: Jesus has come back to bring about the rapture, and humanity & hell must team up to stop him. The final project is a Creepshow-esque series of horror shorts based on the Dutch/German tradition of Krampus, a demon who steals bad children away at Christmastime. Just shows you that inspiration can come from pretty much anywhere.

CircleGuy (34 Posts)

Hey! My name's Rob, aka theCircleGuy! I'm a guy who loves the Beatles, so much so that sometimes it seems like I'm crazy. I have more to say, but not now- the owls are listening. I've been told I have to note that I'm from Ireland, which is not in Britain. Shame, shame on you... geography teachers...