Technology, Storytelling and Innovation
By Jim Stern
When I began my career in film as a director 13 years ago, it was a hugely different world. Mounting a feature film production required significant time, money, equipment, and manpower, none of which were easy to come by as a first-time director from Chicago.
Today, budding filmmakers are blessed by the extraordinary technological advances our business has experienced since my first moments behind a camera. You don’t need a $100,000 Panavision behemoth to capture your stories anymore. Instead of a crew of hundreds, a handful of friends can suffice. Rather than releasing your film on thousands of screens in theaters, you can release it on millions through YouTube. Young directors now have the ability to shoot, edit, and even distribute their films completely independently using the tools available to them at any Best Buy. Plus, most of the technical expertise necessary to wield those tools effectively can be acquired with nothing more than a willing mind and the most basic of Googling skills.
In short, thanks to mankind’s innovation, my 14 year-old daughter has the same potential to be just as successful a studio head that I do. In fact, given what I’ve seen of her negotiating skills, she could probably get a better Netflix deal than I could! As scary as that may be, I’m actually not kidding for the most part. With the quality of consumer cameras, editing software, and computers at an all time high, aspiring filmmakers suddenly find themselves on as equal a playing field with the studios as they likely ever will.
But the more impressive and groundbreaking our filmmaking technology becomes, the more I expect from young storytellers. Because despite all these advancements and exciting opportunities, the truth is that the future of film will always be based on story. When I reflect on what all this new technology has brought us, I’m of course thrilled to experience more spectacular visuals and special effects. But what really excites me is that, thanks to what has to be one of the most rapidly evaporating barriers to entry of any industry, I am more likely than ever to discover original, innovative voices among the many new artists now coming to light.
I believe we are living through the most exciting moment in history for the film industry, and it’s not because I can go to a movie theater and witness mind boggling 3D (even though that’s pretty darn cool, too!). It’s because I can go online to any number of outlets (YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu, Netflix, etc.) and experience fresh, exhilarating storytelling that hasn’t been churned through a development process or evaluated for its franchise potential. It’s because for the first time ever, filmmaking has become a truly populist art form, and the possibilities are endless.
I can’t wait to see what’s next.
________________________________________________________________________Jim Stern serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Endgame Entertainment Company, LLC and oversees all Company operations, including the financing, development, production and other activities of the Company. Mr. Stern is a veteran film producer and director. Since founding Endgame in 2002, Mr. Stern has produced film projects, including An Education, Every Little Step (which he co-directed), I’m Not There, and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Mr. Stern has a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A. from Columbia University in New York.