Hollywood’s current state of failure and the reasons for it

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Pepperbone

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A discussion about what we perceive, what we know, and what we don't know about an industry that is meant to entertain us.
The good, the bad, the ugly, what we would do to fix it, what we wouldn't change, and what we would like to see next.
 
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Alright, then—let’s do this.

I have my popcorn popped and am just going to sit back and wait to see how many members get themselves banned by launching into broad and rambling monologues on this topic; connecting the ills and failures of Hollywood to the broader social and political issues of our times.

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What I hope for, and I emphasize the word hope, is that during such an uncertain time in the industry that we'll see innovation. Perhaps the technical side of filmmaking will never be quite as explosive as it was in the late 1970's and 1980's with ILM creating movie magic, but maybe some ingenius filmmaker will come along and use the tech in a way no one else has before. I also hope to see a new generation of filmmakers step up to the plate the way Lucas and Speilberg did when they bucked the Hollywood system. Perhaps YouTube content creators and smaller independent makers will start being able to take the torch and roll with it. I would LOVE to see that!
 
What I hope for, and I emphasize the word hope, is that during such an uncertain time in the industry that we'll see innovation. Perhaps the technical side of filmmaking will never be quite as explosive as it was in the late 1970's and 1980's with ILM creating movie magic, but maybe some ingenius filmmaker will come along and use the tech in a way no one else has before. I also hope to see a new generation of filmmakers step up to the plate the way Lucas and Speilberg did when they bucked the Hollywood system. Perhaps YouTube content creators and smaller independent makers will start being able to take the torch and roll with it. I would LOVE to see that!
YES! YES! YES!!!!!
 
I think filmmaking is in deep shoot.

In the last 25 years musicians have mostly lost the ability to get paid for their work (in digitally recorded form). I don't see why it won't happen for filmmaking too. Only filmmakers don't even have the option of performing live shows to pay their bills.


It's a larger issue for all the arts. A.I. is coming and it won't be pretty. I am not optimistic that people will pay extra for human-produced art on principle; not if they can't tell the difference.

I've heard all the arguments that AI will never truly match human artistry. I don't buy them. AI doesn't have to be 100% perfect, it just has to be good enough to kill most artists' ability to make a living. That point looks inevitable to me.
 
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I think filmmaking is in deep shoot.

In the last 25 years musicians have mostly lost the ability to get paid for their work (in digitally recorded form). I don't see why it won't happen for filmmaking too. Only filmmakers don't even have the option of performing live shows to pay their bills.
The problem is, that's not sustainable. They are desperately trying to cling to the past, which doesn't work in the present. Remember, this has been going on forever. Remember DiVX? They attempted to sell you DVDs that you had to pay them for every single time you watched it. It failed miserably because nobody was going to do that. Now, that's really what they're trying to do with streaming. They want money, not every time the movie airs, but every time anyone watches it. It's one thing to be paid per airing, but since streaming, it's always airing, they want to make money every time any individual watches it.

That is not sustainable. The fact is, in the modern world, the idea of residuals are not realistic. The idea that you are going to get paid for the rest of your life for something that you did once, that's just stupid. Now I agree that it's probably just as stupid for studios to continue to make money on these things forever. That is not the world that we currently live in. Instead of standing there with your hand out, why not just go DO SOMETHING NEW? Produce new music. Produce new movies. DO SOMETHING! Just because it worked in the past, and probably not even well, that doesn't mean it will continue to work in the present.

There has to be a new model for Hollywood because Hollywood is dying.
 
While I'm in adjacent industry (I write scripts and design for video games), I can see many factors at play.

The (western) world has had, in general, fairly good quality of life since the dawn of the internet. When the Berlin wall fell, we all kind of assumed it would be smooth sailing***. Young scriptwriters, directors and creators have lived their lives through mobile phones, online, and I think that limits the imagination. The horrors of WW1+2, Korea, Vietnam and so forth are so far in the past that their influence is not felt any longer. And the horrors of 911 are too close and raw, with no room for "legend" or myth.

Naturally, I'm not arguing that it applies to everyone, but the lessened need for the basic struggle for survival, has given more people the opportunity to delve into other things- some might argue (without going into specifics or politics) that many current areas of 'activism' are far more ego-driven and shallow, compared to things like the movements back in the 60s (for example).

The Cult singer Ian Astbury wrote: "You have to bleed a little while you sing, lest the words don't mean a thing." A tad cheesy perhaps, but very true.

Social media and various "content generation tools" makes creators lazy. "Googling" is now regarded as legitimate "research". Standards have fallen- people now use casual, everyday language in serious articles.

At the moment, movies and TV are dominated by pretension, activism, nihilism and pessimism... but most of it seems to come from an area of shallow creativity, with zero 'joy' or playfulness. So many young writers today are full of nothing but surface-level ego. With all the shakeups in Hollywood happening (with metoo and aftershocks) it's basically pushed out all the 'old' writers (both innocent and guilty)- the ones with actual life experience to draw from. I mean... they even made SUPERMAN brooding and depressing! (I SO would have loved to see Cavill in a bright, upbeat movie.)

Current times are very much like in the early-mid 70s in terms of movies and TV. Dirty Harry movies, Inferno, Poseidon Adventure, Rosemary's Baby... all cold, gritty things (even though I love the Dirty Harry movies).

The came Lucas, Spielberg and others who first skirted the old studio system, but also made movies that were pure adventure, joy, escapism.

Look at the 80s- any child growing up then kind of expected to be nuked at any moment, which was a very real possibility. So a lot of films went for pure escapism or, when they did contain 'grit', they also had some gung-ho elements to them. What movie today has an audience yelling "YEAAAAH!!!!!" at the screen when the hero triumphs? The last time I remember that happening was when Captain America picks up Mjolnir in Avengers: Endgame.

Somewhere out there is a new George Lucas with some wacky idea that can usher in a new era of bringing the FUN back into filmed entertainment. Hopefully, there's also an Alan Ladd Jr. out there who will give that creator a chance.

For my part, I am sick to death of negativity. Anything and everything I work on has to have a 'feelgood' element to it. You can have fun in joy even in the most serious story as evident in (for eample) Tarantino's movies over Fincher's. Or shows like Firefly.

I've heard all the arguments that AI will never truly match human artistry. I don't buy them. AI doesn't have to be 100% perfect, it just has to be good enough to kill most artists' ability to make a living. That point looks inevitable to me.

I worry about AI too. I have zero interest in being entertained by something without a soul, something without a human, emotional need to tell a story. (Even when it comes to video games, I have a general dislike for "procedurally generated content".)

Recently, there was a video game released through kickstarter that apparently had some AI generated elements. Supporters of the game went ballistic, feeling as if they had been 'cheated'. My hope, a small one though it be, is that people will not be willing to pay ANYTHING for AI stuff, because they will think "It didn't cost anything to make this, so why should I pay for it" but who knows.

George Carlin said: It's not enough to play the blues, you have to know why they need to be played.

Even when AI gets better, for it to create anything 'meaningful', it still needs guidance. And AIs are already starting to break down because they are feeding off other AI generated content, effectively in-breeding.

In my view, any creator relying on AI for their creative output is a hack and a fraud, not deserving of attention (never mind being paid for their output). (I have similar views on singers who rely on Autotune... I freakin' hate that with a passion. )



***small addendum: I'm not advocating we go back to fearing the end of the world every day! ; )
 
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I have my popcorn popped and am just going to sit back and wait to see how many members get themselves banned by launching into broad and rambling monologues on this topic; connecting the ills and failures of Hollywood to the broader social and political issues of our times.

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Well, I rambled. (But since it directly affects my day-job, I've been thinking about it a lot.) :)
 
You know, I've noticed in the last few years that a handful of films that are #1 in the worldwide box office being labeled as flops within 3 of 4 days of release. Most recently The Flash and Indiana Jones were labeled as flops and I just can't help but think the industry needs to re-evaluate the definition of success. At least in the short term.

I've wondered, during and after covid, if the film industry would pull back on mega budgets and mega salaries. They haven't, and that means they are using the same metric for success, and that's too bad.

During the pandemic I started producing props for films professionally. This was a big step for me, and the very first thing I noticed is that people don't trust you if you quote them a fair price. Like, at all.

I've been a professional artist for 20 years and I don't over charge for my time. In that industry, it gains trust and over time a consistent client base can be established.

But the film industry is the opposite. They expect you to inflate your costs enormously, and if you don't, they don't hire you.

I'm still getting used to it.
 
Cinema is over a century old so it's to be expected that every story has been told...a dozen times over. Lucas and Spielberg were lucky to be in the right spot at the right time to put their spin on those stories and genres.

It's hard to blame Hollywood entirely. Those poor hapless souls trying to entertain us are up against a jaded audience. We've seen it all. It's hard to wow us. Sure, there are some movies that come out of nowhere and make a dent, but it’s rare now.

We live in an era that has become a free for all. In one hand it's a great time to be a content producer. You can make your indie film and upload it on YouTube and BAM, you have access to an audience of billions of people.

One the other hand, that audience is being bombarded with content daily and you as a producer have to fight and claw your way through millions if not billions of other content creators to be seen. If you don't grab someone's attention in the first few seconds (yes seconds), you don't stand a chance.

We as an audience, are so jaded that we are expecting to be wowed on a level that makes us feel like the first time and Hollywood can't do it anymore. Lucas and Spielberg found out the hard way. Lucas knew he couldn't please us anymore and cashed out. Spielberg handed over directing duties to someone else on his beloved franchise. Smart guys if you ask me. Can't blame them for not wanting to take more beatings.
 
If anything I hope it motivates people to try new things. Whether that means you start your own YouTube channel, etc. I've toyed with the idea of making a film out of my novel. I'm in a position where I'd have the freedom to do it. Maybe I will. Screw relying on Hollywood for my entertainment. I can make my own stories. lol
 
It's a larger issue for all the arts. A.I. is coming and it won't be pretty. I am not optimistic that people will pay extra for human-produced art on principle; not if they can't tell the difference.

I've heard all the arguments that AI will never truly match human artistry. I don't buy them. AI doesn't have to be 100% perfect, it just has to be good enough to kill most artists' ability to make a living. That point looks inevitable to me.
Correct.

Arguing that AI won't kill art is like a phonebooth repairman in the early 2000s arguing that cell phones won't kill his job. It's a delusion. And I don't know what's more concerning, the fact that it's happening or the fact that some people don't see it happening.

Those who don't see it happening base their arguments on excellence. "No AI system will ever be able to inspire the human spirit that way a human artist will." I won't argue with that.

What I will argue with is that 99.999% of all that is written, illustrated or composed is far from excellent, but represents the near entirety of the life economy (paying for food, rent, education, etc). That's the disconnect they don't realize or ignore.

That doesn't mean human art will be abolished. It just means making art for a living will be even more difficult.

AI will eventually be regulated to protect past works from being used (without compensation) to expand its ability to develop art - whether it's music, visuals, literature, etc. But that doesn't change the fact that it will eventually outperform humans.
 
But the film industry is the opposite. They expect you to inflate your costs enormously, and if you don't, they don't hire you.

I'm still getting used to it.
And at the same time, you still have 'civillians' wanting fully working all the bells'n'whistles Proton Packs for $300! (Or, as in my case... complaining about paying the same amount for a game that will give you dozens, or even hundreds of hours of entertainment, as you would for a meal at McDonalds!)

Cinema is over a century old so it's to be expected that every story has been told...a dozen times over. Lucas and Spielberg were lucky to be in the right spot at the right time to put their spin on those stories and genres.

It's hard to blame Hollywood entirely. Those poor hapless souls trying to entertain us are up against a jaded audience. We've seen it all. It's hard to wow us. Sure, there are some movies that come out of nowhere and make a dent, but it’s rare now.

We live in an era that has become a free for all. In one hand it's a great time to be a content producer. You can make your indie film and upload it on YouTube and BAM, you have access to an audience of billions of people.

One the other hand, that audience is being bombarded with content daily and you as a producer have to fight and claw your way through millions if not billions of other content creators to be seen. If you don't grab someone's attention in the first few seconds (yes seconds), you don't stand a chance.

We as an audience, are so jaded that we are expecting to be wowed on a level that makes us feel like the first time and Hollywood can't do it anymore. Lucas and Spielberg found out the hard way. Lucas knew he couldn't please us anymore and cashed out. Spielberg handed over directing duties to someone else on his beloved franchise. Smart guys if you ask me. Can't blame them for not wanting to take more beatings.
It's very unpopular to say so, but I'm actually of the mind that some gatekeeping is actually healthy for any industry. I see a lot of "AI defenders" saying "it will enable me to tell my story" and, in those cases, I kinda think... well, if your story is worth hearing, it's also worth you making the effort to learn how to tell it!

The flood of 'content' (I've grown to hate that word) is also to blame. It's not "Do you have an exciting story to tell?" but "We need more content!"

After all the shenanigans of the last 5-8 years, the audience doesn't trust the creators any longer. They feel like they are being played for saps, being milked without effort.

Ironically, IF Lucas came back to Star Wars right now, I'm pretty sure we'd all get excited about it again!

And there are a few bright spots. I mean, James Gunn made me feel like a "Star Wars kid" again with the Guardians movies.

If anything I hope it motivates people to try new things. Whether that means you start your own YouTube channel, etc. I've toyed with the idea of making a film out of my novel. I'm in a position where I'd have the freedom to do it. Maybe I will. Screw relying on Hollywood for my entertainment. I can make my own stories. lol
I already do that... records too... but it's a different kind of entertainment because there are no surprises. (And at least for me, it feels pointless in the end if there isn't an audience that will be entertained by it.)
 
That doesn't mean human art will be abolished. It just means making art for a living will be even more difficult.

AI will eventually be regulated to protect past works from being used (without compensation) to expand its ability to develop art - whether it's music, visuals, literature, etc. But that doesn't change the fact that it will eventually outperform humans.
A large portion of the public will probably not care... just like the ones who turn on the radio to any random station just to have some noise. but I wonder if there will be a difference between a human using AI prompts to tell a story, or an AI that generates something without input. Will humans really want to be entertained by a soulless machine?

If AI can make sex robots, I'm all for it
Ahem... Cherry 2000.....
 
I've toyed with the idea of making a film out of my novel. I'm in a position where I'd have the freedom to do it. Maybe I will.
Do it.
Shoot a short teaser for it and see how it feels.
Start by using your smart phone. Consider it pre-viz, just to set a pace and vibe.
Import it, edit it, put a soundtrack to it, see what comes out of it. See how it feels to you as you're doing it and once you're done with it.
Start there.
Do it.
 
When the camera was invented people thought no one would ever buy a painting again. Painting became a much, much smaller market... but it didn't go away. When digital art came out people thought no one would ever buy a painting again... but people still buy real paintings. It is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH harder to make a living painting, but possible. And to be completely honest, some of the greatest painters in history were poor and unappreciated their whole lives WITHOUT all the modern competition.

Making a living in any of the arts is risky, and most don't succeed. A lot of us have to have a day job and sell the occasional prop or painting on the side. If you're looking to make a decent living, get an accounting degree. If you just love to create, do it because you love it and maybe make a little money on the side.
 
A large portion of the public will probably not care... just like the ones who turn on the radio to any random station just to have some noise. but I wonder if there will be a difference between a human using AI prompts to tell a story, or an AI that generates something without input. Will humans really want to be entertained by a soulless machine?

It's why 20th century and earlier media is so prevalent in Star Trek. It has a certain cachet because you know it wasn't created with the help of AI, which is ubiquitous in the future.
 
When the camera was invented people thought no one would ever buy a painting again. Painting became a much, much smaller market... but it didn't go away. When digital art came out people thought no one would ever buy a painting again... but people still buy real paintings. It is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH harder to make a living painting, but possible. And to be completely honest, some of the greatest painters in history were poor and unappreciated their whole lives WITHOUT all the modern competition.

Making a living in any of the arts is risky, and most don't succeed. A lot of us have to have a day job and sell the occasional prop or painting on the side. If you're looking to make a decent living, get an accounting degree. If you just love to create, do it because you love it and maybe make a little money on the side.
The big difference, if we're talking about "AI", is that in all of the cases you mentioned, the skill and creativity of a real person is still needed. They weren't taken over completely by something artificial that, to boot, exploited, essentially leeched the hard work of real people that came before.

The thing is... artists doing things on the side isn't going to cut it. The occasional good creation from one talented person isn't going to be enough. (We've gotten precious few great things even with major backers and systems in place.) Imagine if Tarantino only ever made Reservoir Dogs, or Spielberg only made two movies. Even with the talent, you still need resources. Yes, amateurs and fans all have movie studios in their pockets and Soderberg has shot movies using iphones, but those are oddities. Do we really want a future where every filmmaker is essentially a one-hit wonder OR is turning out the comparative of direct-to-video movies, or 5 minute shorts that are (mostly) badly acted? I dread a future where all we get are fan films... and fan films made with AI!

It's why 20th century and earlier media is so prevalent in Star Trek. It has a certain cachet because you know it wasn't created with the help of AI, which is ubiquitous in the future.
Well, hey didn't want to 'date' Star Trek. (Well, at least before Kurtzman and Abrams did a steaming #2 on that notion.) Classical music keeps us immersed in the future world of Trek instead of reminding us of the modern day. Aside from the occasional iffy costume or hairdo, TNG and what came after is pretty timeless design-wise.
 
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