Isn’t it curious in this age where more moving images get created and distributed digitally that there is this group of people who still call themselves “filmmakers”? It seems a term that is so archaic, so analogue, so yesterday’s news. But is it any of these?
I think filmmakers look for three opportunities that truly define them as filmmakers.
1. The ability to tell a visual story from beginning to end, without any interruption, as a complete, continuous experience. This is what separates them from people who create stories for TV as most TV series are produced with commercial interruptions or different viewings (episodes) in mind.
2. The chance to have an audience gather in a theater and watch this visual story together, as a shared experience in time and space. In the course of a film’s distribution it may be seen in a lot of different settings, public or private, but the filmmaker is making the film with this key audience in mind. This is the primary target of all his/her imaginings.
3. The opportunity to see his/her film with an audience. Filmmakers want to physically experience the film with an audience. The filmmaker wants to see if they laugh or cry when he/she intended, if the audience got the point–to see if their film really succeeded at reaching another human being. As every filmmaker knows who has done this–a genuinely scary moment.
So each of these opportunities really goes to the heart of what is most essential about calling yourself a filmmaker.
Think of them as a set of principles about the relationship between the creator of a film and the audience for which it is intended.
And here is what is most surprising as we move from the analogue past to the digital future.
These opportunities are not disappearing into the analogue past.
In fact, they are just beginning to open up.