Propellor | Speednic was a collaborative working session during the Berlinale’s European Film Market 2017 and a part of the EFM Horizon program presented by Audi. 24 invited key players from the international film industry and Berlin’s tech scene discussed the challenges and opportunities of innovation. The session culminated in 11 Calls to Action for the film industry.
The film industry is a broad term that can mean a lot of things to different people. To have a truly productive discussion about the future of film and to find new, innovative approaches for the production, distribution and experience of films, we need to start by clearly defining challenges and opportunities. Which part of the value chain are we tackling? Which audiences are we addressing? Where do we want to see changes? Be specific.
It’s no longer enough for film schools to teach students how to make films. Increasingly, it’s becoming apparent that filmmaking skills need to be taught alongside new strategies to finance and distribute films, new channels to reach audiences and new ways to use technology. Now more than ever, it’s important to mix the arts with entrepreneurship and innovation to properly prepare budding filmmakers for our ever-changing cultural landscape.
The systems being used in the film industry are ripe for disruption. In order to innovate, we need to be open to tapping into different pools of knowledge, insights and inspiration to develop new ideas. We need to embrace diverse perspectives, create new ways of working with one another and combine skillsets from a wealth of disciplines.
If you’re looking to watch a film these days, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice available across countless channels ranging from film festivals and regular cinemas to VOD platforms and TV. We need to come up with new ways of filtering and curating film content so viewers can better navigate the slew of options and discover what they want to watch more easily.
In the film industry, decisions are often based on intuition or experience while data is often perceived as a threat. But data should be seen as a complementary to our gut feeling, rather than an opponent to it. With the help of data, we can better shape production or distribution strategies as well as identify and connect with audiences. In order for film to move into new territory, we need to learn how to incorporate the increasing amounts of data available to us into our workflows.
There’s typically a large gap between filmmakers and audiences because of the nature of the value chain. Rarely do these two parties interact directly except during Q&A sessions, or indirectly through measures like box office results. We believe filmmakers should have an ongoing connection to audiences — not only at the end of a project, but from the very beginning — and develop new ways of engaging them in each part of the process.
With Netflix, Amazon, numerous other VOD services and catch-up streaming platforms available to everyone, it’s increasingly difficult to lure someone away from their couch and into a cinema. We need to understand our audiences better and re-imagine a different kind of cinema-going experience that is unique and offers them opportunities for community and engagement.
If children are taught to read and write in school, why aren’t they taught to read the language of film and new media? For many kids and teenagers, commercial blockbusters are the only kinds of films they’re exposed to. Educational institutions need to put film and media literacy at the heart of learning experiences to create more informed and critical viewers.
For many established professionals in the film industry, creativity is mainly used for artistic expression. But why not channel some of this creative energy into business innovation?
For a sustainable future, the film industry needs to re-think creativity and also apply it to the development of new business models for production, distribution and experience of films.
As co-founders of the Propellor Film Tech Hub, a major film market and two festivals are offering themselves as testing grounds for new business models. This is a great opportunity to gain access to an environment where prototypes and business ideas can be tested without the risks that come with launching directly into the market. Have an idea? Get in touch with us to learn more.
If we want to see change in the film industry, we can no longer afford to work in silos. Both the film and tech communities need to re-imagine ways to engage and create a fruitful exchange with one another. So let’s step outside of our comfort zones, develop a common vocabulary, understand the disruptive potential of technology and grow an interdisciplinary network.