Technology has always been a the heart of cinema, and it has for long time enjoyed a game of see-saw with the art form, periodically overshadowing the content with innovations in imaging science (CGI), mechanical engineering (IMAX), and leaps in sound (Surround Sound). Between those periods of great discovery filmmaking was allowed to rest upon a set of conventions and practices that would be challenged and experimented with by the likes of Stan Brakhage, Jordan Belson, and Jean-Luc Godard. Ironically, these pioneers and tinkerers also inspired people like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron at the outset of their careers, who went on to create and help standardize the big studio production formulas that have become the measuring sticks of filmmaking. The irony rests in the particular fact that these guys embraced technology much in the same way new independent filmmakers are doing with prosumer products and home studio installations, but their brand of filmmaking has seemingly distanced them from the craft rather than given them greater access and control to develop their ideas. They appear trapped by their success despite their rise to legendary status.
The lesson that we can draw from this, especially as independents is as follows; while we should celebrate the dawning of a new age in cinema where almost anyone with a minimum of investment can become a content creator, and age where technology can help close financial gaps and leap over heyday big studio hurdles that used to keep us out, we must never forget that technology is only one component of art. No matter how many filmmaking gadgets or production software you amass in your arsenal, these things will not replace the one absolute constant element in quality films; a smart, well-conceived, honest, and straightforward kick-ass story.