When the two forces of nature Silicon Valley and Hollywood collide, the resulting culture shock can have interesting results. The strange dynamics of these influential power houses are in the process of changing everything we will see on screen and the way we feel about entertainment.
Even before you start to think about this, let us align ourselves with an interesting fact. New kid on the block WhatsApp was recently bought for $22 billion. Lionsgate Studios is valued at $4 billion and has has earned 47 Academy Award nominations and 10 Oscar wins over the past 10 years, more than any other independent studio. So, by the sounds of it you can get five A list established Hollywood studios for the price of one good app start up.
One thing is clear, what ever your views on films or apps, the tech guys have the money, and what we have now is an insecure Hollywood and an overconfident Silicon Valley.
It’s hard not to visualise the bedroom bound geek after years of isolated coding rising above the awesome power of the film industry, but both camps are in dependence of each other. Silicon Valley knows it needs content and Hollywood knows it needs money. George Lucas has been reported to say that technology has made film making so cheap that film will be created and distributed by everybody, cutting Hollywood out of the process. This may seem like a stretch at the moment, but because Silicon Valley is so much richer than Hollywood, Silicon Valley will effectively be able to buy and reshape Hollywood’s infrastructure.
Hollywood has for generations produced high quality content, the sort of material that makes world class excellence look easy. It’s always there appealing for our attention. We love it and take it for granted. Our appetite is never satisfied and as a result there has to be a constant churn of production. There is no absolute cookie cutter theory for what makes a film good. A box office flop is an everyday occurrence and only happens after the money has been spent and the film is released to the public. There will be always one film out there that will loose money. Hollywood is a high risk investment business. When £80 million is sunk into a film the potential for serious loses is much more likely than in most industries.
Via the on-demand streaming media company Netflix, the “House of Cards” is the first major TV show to not use the usual system of networks and cable operators. Now we see that the way producers can reach people’s screens is affecting the type of content being produced. Hollywood investments are moving towards YouTube-related companies like Maker Studios. Starting with a shoe string budget and a YouTube account that eventually attracted millions of regular viewers, investors recognised the potential and got involved. Maker is now a producer and distributor of online video with 6.5 billion+ monthly views. This suggests that all you need to start you own world class media channel is raw talent and some free hosted software like YouTube to get your content out to billions of potential viewers. Once the views start publicly clocking up and you’ve proved your worth the rest is academic. What’s interesting is that the ones who produce the content are often the ones who are performing in front of the cameras. The convergence between the digital world and savvy talent is where Hollywood’s attention is focused.
And none of this has even considered the infinite might of the gaming industry. With the added platform of mobile for games this is going to have to be a whole new article.
One last thing. Its 2014 going on 2015 and Hollywood hasnt exploded. How quickly we forget that shortly after the cold war and the daily threat of nuclear annihilation, came the threat of another new technology that was to wreaked havoc across our fair lands. The DVD burner had the ability for anyone to mass produce pirate films which would obviously reduce the film industry to ashes before the end of the millennium. Then came along bit torrents and broadband and yet we are still getting our fair share of quality studio films. It would seem that with piracy, viewers are more likely to watch things they would never buy, increasing desire and widening tastes for the real thing. Dare I say it, there now seems to be an unspoken truce between tech and film. The panic has settled and no one has died (to my knowledge) and now the dust has settled it would appear that there are digital routes to market to supply films to people as cheaply and more safely that copied black market fair. So on this last point can I suggest that we all shake hands and be friends, take a step back and realise how magical this new friendship is going to be.