17 October 2011 | JvH48
Unbiased study on modern media distribution techniques. Do they set us free from formerly monopolistic distribution channels??
I saw this film as part of the Ghent filmfestival 2011. It is a study on modern techniques to create and distribute a work of art, music, film or literature. "New" means that you don't need an "official" studio, radio channel or other monopolistic intermediary, inevitable in the past to deliver your creative products to the general public. You had to know people who knew other people to get your production across. Chances were small that you got past all those stumbling blocks. And even after that were you hopelessly depended on marketing channels offered by your distributor. They could convince DJ's to "plug" your record, they could arrange interviews by magazines, they could pave ways to get you into the top-xx charts, and many other means to let you become publicly recognized.
The scope of this study goes far beyond the process of uploading a home movie to YouTube. But the easiness of the latter immediately shows the pitfalls of this media revolution: mediocrity lurks ahead due to lack of filtering and quality control. The average consumer, on the lookout for something interesting, will be quickly overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of everything produced and published via Internet. Hence you all by yourself, on the director and producer side, has to become your own marketeer, as is best illustrated by numerous recipes "How to become famous on YouTube".
This film is a documentary, which I normally hate due to the usually obtrusive voice-over and his inevitable opinion forced upon us. That is not the case here. A broad range of people from the "field" offer their opinion, just to highlight many different aspects of the issues at hand. As a bonus we get an impressive sound track, assembled from all music categories. The music underlines the talking heads some of the time. At other times there is no music at all, just the talking. Not obtrusive, just very supportive.
Some statements were very catchy, like the term "global masturbation", emphasizing that average quality tends to go down. This negative tendency cannot be helped. The volume of "amateur" productions is orders of magnitude above what "professionals" can ever deliver via their more bureaucratic channels. Which does not say that amateurs cannot make a high quality product, however.
Other observations referred to the phenomena that technology always comes first, and that its usage follows later in forms not always foreseen. Once everyone had a small hand-held camera in a mobile phone, routinely carried along throughout the day, this fact of life turned us all into a would be camera man and director in the same person. And as far as editing is concerned, a similar mechanism is in effect: Affordable hardware and software gives us the ability to edit films and music at will, and does not require expensive equipment anymore. The documentary showed several examples of what becomes possible when everyone can obtain this kind of technology and use it in their own home.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with this documentary, primarily due to the fact that the author does not take you by the hand, and certainly does not impose his views upon you. It is rather a showcase of views from several well informed people. You are allowed to draw your own conclusions, which can scatter in any direction, all depending on what you deem important and relevant.