The Feature Will Never Die
There is a depression spreading like a virus in the indie film community and I don’t like it. People are watching the rise of new media and see the four horsemen on the horizon. I want to say to filmmakers out there who want to work in long-form narrative: do not despair! You have a future…
I acknowledge, and eagerly support and participate in, the emergence of new media in all its glory. Multi-threaded story telling, ARG’s, interactive media and the rest are fantastic but they are opening the door to a new cultural medium that we haven’t fully defined yet. These new media methods will have an interplay with the current narrative forms and we’ll see more variation in the classical notion of “film” as transmedia and cross-media approaches proliferate.
However, lately I’ve read a plethora of articles like this one averring the end of the feature film. As is typical of this style of shock-doctrine scare-mongering, Scott Brown declares:
Brothers and sisters, we are gathered here today to mourn the death of Story.
Well I’m here to say that he’s wrong. Why? Because cultural methods never die. They only rise and fall on the waves consumption trends through history. What’s important to understand is that technology evolves the means of cultural consumption but does not kill the underlying form.
What do I mean? Let me ask you a question. Name a method of cultural expression that has existed in history that no longer exists in a commercial form. I don’t know that you can. Yes, there are many that are at the fringes of society or have dropped in their importance and/or financial viability but dead? Hardly. Let’s take a look:
Books: We were told TV and film would kill the book but, despite it’s pain, the book industry still exists and thrives in many cases through its interaction with more contemporary media. Gossip Girl anyone?
Classical Music: It may not be at its height but check out the renovation of Lincoln Center.
Art: Before the financial crash galleries were flourishing in Chelsea (NYC) and Soho (London).
Dance: Alvin Ailey, the Bolshoi, even the Nutcracker Rated R.
And on, and on…
The heyday of the feature film may ultimately be seen to have just passed but it’s not a dead medium and won’t be so get out there and make some features.