Being the change: shifts in filmmaking that go beyond tech

Our new report, The Future of Filmmaking, notes four shifts in the industry which go beyond tech. So, just what are these forces creating such change?
A man wearing a black zip-up fleece and black durag holds a Canon cinema camera, the bare branches of a tree behind him.

Written by Sarah Vloothuis

Senior Manager External Communications

Right now, there is barely an industry that hasn’t been touched by some level of disruption, whether that be through advances in technology, the pandemic, a difficult global economy and wider political or cultural shifts. However, there is one industry that, because of its very nature, is undergoing a seismic transformation as a result. Filmmaking is the one industry that must quickly reflect society back at itself but must achieve this while it too is enduring some trying times. This is no mean feat. However, creative industries are known for their ability to shapeshift, adapt and adopt the new.

Our new state-of-the-industry report (written in conjunction with The Future Laboratory),The Future of Filmmaking puts all these factors under the spotlight. It examines the nature of current and imminent changes in the industry and how it can find its feet in a turbulent world. However, a particularly fascinating aspect of the report lies in the human landscape – people and the way they mobilise and activate change. It identifies four crucial happenings that have been driven by technology, but do not put necessarily put tech at the forefront of change. Their impact can be felt across many industries, but in filmmaking and content creation they have a very particular set of nuances. Perhaps you recognise your own experience and practice among them?

Prolific creativity

Are you one of the 50 million? According to venture capitalists SignalFire, “More than 50 million people around the world consider themselves creators, despite the creator economy only being born a decade ago.” It’s contributing to what the report calls the “new Creative Class” – people who know the significant collective economic contribution of the creative industries but are frustrated that this is not widely recognised. While it’s clear that technology has facilitated this upsurge and the resultant creator communities, the cultural shift towards self-identification and absorbing ‘what you do’ into ‘who you are’ is uniquely human. As such, the community are channelling their efforts towards fair working conditions, equitable payment models and setting new standards in the industry that are commensurate with what should be their respected position.

Two women are crouched in a clearing in the woods, looking through the viewfinder of a Canon cinema camera. Both wear warm winter coats and woollen hats.

The climate emergency isn’t just the subject of films and documentaries, it’s a growing issue for the industry overall.

Moving closer to home

While amazing technologies, production methods and streaming can take us everywhere and give us the means to collaborate from anywhere, it seems that there can be too much of a good thing. The vast amounts of global content available are seemingly overwhelming to audiences, pushing them to seek out the homegrown. This has opened doors to independent crews and creators, who are discovering a fresh demand for shows, films and content that resonates with local and regional audiences. Of course, this hasn’t gone unnoticed by the streaming giants and the importance of locally focused productions was ratified in 2020 by the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which ruled that all streaming companies must offer 30% of European content to European subscribers. Together, these underpin the report’s belief that media and entertainment organisations will increasingly turn their attentions closer to viewer’s homes.

Impact consciousness

The climate emergency isn’t just the subject of films and documentaries, it’s a growing issue for the industry overall. When you consider that every hour of streaming video is the carbon impact equivalent of driving around 300 metres in a car, it brings the scale of the challenge into sharp focus – think about the billions of YouTube views every day. Or Netflix streams. And given that we already know there are 50 million self-confessed ‘creators’ out there, as well as the giants of the industry, this is an issue that requires joined up thinking on a global scale. On the front line of this, The Future of Filmmaking report concludes, is consumer demand. The sustainability awareness of audiences will be a key driver of new industry standards, as they understand the scale of the issue – and what it will take to address it. They demand action and this means a wave of regulatory shifts and new industry standards.

Two young men face each other, as they stand by a cement wall. One films the other using a small camera with a fluffy wind muffed microphone attached.

“More than 50 million people around the world consider themselves creators, despite the creator economy only being born a decade ago.”

Inclusivity everywhere

Actions speak louder than words and today established broadcasters would not dream of simply issuing a standalone mission statement about diversity and inclusion. However, for the new generation of filmmakers and creators this is still not enough. Their approach to inclusion is inherent and, as a result, far ahead of the detailed – and very welcome – corporate frameworks being put in place by the old guard. This new generation looks to technology as a means to harness the collective power of creators seeking social change, to shine a light on injustice and provide an alternative to traditional media. Decentralisation is the word to watch, which will touch every aspect of the industry: financing, contracts, rights management, licensing and distribution. It’s a model that opens up real opportunity for traditionally underrepresented creators and creates a closer connection between them and their fans.

Transforming the way we tell stories

If this all seems like a huge step change in the industry, you may well be right. However, it’s important not to lose sight of the fundamentals: the stories that need to be told. The beauty of these shifts lies in the freedoms they will create for future storytellers, for whom responsibly and inclusively produced content will meet audiences halfway – responding to their tastes, locations and ethics – in a way that has never been possible before. These are exciting times to be a creator.

The Future of Filmmaking is a Canon x The Future Laboratory report and is available to read in full at The Future Laboratory website.

Sarah Vloothuis Senior Manager External Communications

Read more articles like this from Canon VIEW