Updated: Feb 13
“In today’s world, spending all of your budget on one project is not smart.” Logen Christopher
Logen dropped this piece of advice on us in Episode 24 of the MAKE IT podcast. This one really hit home for us because we strongly believe that we are now in a whole new wave of filmmaking and that traditional filmmakers need to adapt to it quickly.
Filmmaking has gone through a number of waves of content creation:
Wave 1: From 1900 - 1950 the art of the moving picture was introduced, augmented by sound and color, and pushed into the mainstream consciousness by Nickelodeon theaters and Hollywood.
Wave 2: From 1950 - 1970 filmmaking took to TV sets and the Hollywood behemoth took a hit. Independent studios began taking their share of the market and foreign films began getting wide recognition in the US.
Wave 3: In the 1970s, New Hollywood was built on the shoulders of auteur filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Woody Allen, Terrence Malick, and Robert Altman. The success of Star Wars shifted Hollywood's focus to the blockbuster film model.
Wave 4: The 1980s and 90s brought us the VCR and then the DVD. Major studios created their own "independent" production companies to create non-mainstream content.
Wave 5: The early 2000s brought us Blu-Ray, IMAX, 3D, and the proliferation of digital streaming platforms.
Wave 6: Streaming platforms are plentiful and content creation has been widely democratized by advances in technology. The major Hollywood Studios are focused on tent-pole films with large budgets and a high rate of return. Hollywood-based independent studios are making lower budget films to satisfy the growing appetite for content resulting from a surge in Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) viewing. Content creators are producing content at an exponential rate, competing with Hollywood and independent filmmakers for market share.
So, let's connect the dots back to Logen's quote: “In today’s world, spending all of your budget on one project is not smart.”
"In today's world", translates to Wave 6. Content creation is a mix of traditional media (dominated by Hollywood and major studios in India, China, Nigeria, and Japan) and non-traditional media (dominated by independent content creators on streaming social platforms). On both ends of the spectrum, content creators (large and small) are leveraging their resources to create slates of content. Big studios are using their resources to create tent-pole movie franchises while social media content creators are creating daily streams of consciousness. In the middle are the independent filmmakers who want to play on the level of the big studios (but don't have the resources) and are unwilling to embrace the new forms of social media content creation.
If independent filmmakers are to survive in this new wave of filmmaking (which is likely to shift soon once again), they need to embrace what has made their counterparts successful: leveraging their resources to create slates of branded content. Logen keys in on this idea with the second half of his advice: "...spending all of your budget on one project is not smart."
To compete in this wave of film, independent filmmakers must look to budget for the survival of their filmmaking brands and cast off the outdated model of budgeting for single, one-time projects. The field has become far too saturated and way too competitive for filmmakers to continue to chase project-based investment while betting on the success of individual films. This also translates into the types of content created by indie filmmakers. Sitting in the middle of the spectrum between studio and social, indie filmmakers need to find the balance between the feature film and the social media post. They will need to find a way to satisfy the need for quality content through micro budget, micro content.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done, especially when such a change requires the indie filmmaker to rethink everything. Feature films, short films, and laurels resulting from festival recognition no longer serve as high-probability pathways to filmmaking success. Recognizing this unfortunate truth is the first step to adjusting to this new wave of film and to making the mindset change needed to forge a new path.
As you look to build your career as a filmmaker, we invite you to take Logen's advice while considering the current wave of filmmaking we are in today. Build a budget against a slate of projects that can help to ensure your long-term survival as a filmmaker and not just the budget to get your next project off the ground. You can listen to this great advice and more from Logen on this episode of the MAKE IT podcast. We also invite you to see what Logen is up to with Stormlight Pictures.
Be Better. Be Creative. Be Engaged.