Any tech is only as good as the good it helps you do

The first day of global film school association CILECT’s conference on the challenge of digital is nearly over and is ending where cinema began – with the camera. Over the day we’ve heard from sound design, editing, producing and cinematography teachers on how digital technology has and hasn’t changed what they teach, what students learn and what students do. The eternal virtues of good storytelling, compelling images, sounds and montage have been in a dialogue with the exploration and resolution of unstable business models, fragmenting audiences, big data and audience interaction beyond the wildest imagination of Edison or Eisenstein. On the other hand many of the ‘new’ things are also reboots of early cinema, from the audience choice of peep show emporiums to the first crowd funded movie way back in 1938 ( see this post from 2012) and the early business model where film was rented by the foot. How to persuade people to risk their money on what can easily be an expensive hobby is an unchanging aspect of making films, whether its cast and crew deffering fees in the hope of being a ‘profit participant’ or the audience investing in a film before its made, technology cannot remove risk from the creative process even if it can make it easy to involve more people in the risky decisions.

Tomorrow it’s screenwriting, direction and production design’s turn. No doubt previsualisation, the virtualisation of design through cgi and many other aspects of the digital revolution in live action moviemaking will feature but sometimes it’s the simplest things which are the most eloquent – the cinematography tutor from a small Philippines film school who loves celluloid but loves the fact that shooting on a canon 5d DSLR means his students don’t need the expensive lots they don’t have to get rich images. “So if one of them wants to shoot in a prison isolation cell with a single actor, they can”.

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