Independent cinema has grown exponentially since the arrival of the digital/prosumer market. These affordable tools, once exclusively in the hands of studios and requiring million-dollar installations are now available in such a wide array to the everyman that it has become a impossible to keep track of every technological development.
Ironically, the proliferation of all these independent filmmaking tools has given birth to a gigantic “tutorial” scene on Youtube where enterprising artists can find pretty much everything they need to get started, and perhaps even beyond. Product reviews, product tests, equipment rigging, camera techniques, screenwriting; no aspiring artist has to toil in solitary confinement ever again.
In the best case scenarios this movement has given valuable resources to those without the means to access formal institutions, and even provided seasoned pros with an idea of which way the wind is blowing artistically. It has created a live discussion about the craft and showcased the creativity of hundreds of thousands of newcomers from around the world.
In the worst cases social media has invited a kind of disembowelment of filmmaking techniques and flooded the internet with clever looking films that sound and feel like the real thing, but that are largely hollow behind the slick camera movements and dramatic dolly/slow-motion bonanzas.
There is something very cool about learning how a complex shot was executed by a professional or how to light a scene in the style of some iconic movie, but there is also a very real danger of killing the innovative spirit and ending up a generation of skilled imitators.
An artist’s work will naturally be coloured by the images and sounds that inspired him/her to create, but it is another thing entirely to relentlessly replicate great classics.
It is instead high time to try and create classics of our own.