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The Edge of Revolution
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As you've doubtless read in many of my recent editorials, I believe that 2010 will be a watershed year for filmmakers. Unless the world is finally at the brink of global collapse (at which point, all optimistic speculation is worthless), then there's a large chance that there will be a massive upturn in the global economy this year. (Since 1890, exactly every thirty years, there's been a period of one decade that's been a boom decade. The last one we experienced was from 1980-1989, so, if history is any guide, this year will begin a new boom.)

In addition, new technologies are on the brink of coming out which could be massive game changers.

After years of speculation, RED is finally on the brink of releasing their new 3K Scarlet camera, with their enthusiastic CEO, Jim Jannard, releasing screen captures from the imagers he recorded in his garage under candlelight and iPhone light. (One image--a color chart illuminated by only a tealight candle--allowed the entire color chart to be clearly visible, as well as a few items to either side.) At NAB 2008 it was originally announced for release in 2009, but most of us knew that there was no way it was coming out before 2010. Now, after two years of waiting, it finally looks like we'll finally see the uber micro-budget camera. Unfortunately, the camera is a bit pricier than it was originally announced. An all-in-one Scarlet is now going to be coming in at approximately the price of a Panasonic HVX200 ($4750) as opposed to the originally announced price of $3K, whereas a modular Scarlet that will support regular 35mm lenses will likely run around $6,000 - $7,000 appropriately equipped ($2750 for the brain of the camera with other accessories being purchased as needed). The price increase is a bit annoying, but it's still affordable to buy for the microfilmmaker with some extra cash, while filmmakers with less ready cash will find it far easier to rent than the REDOne. (And we've already received a number of REDOne films for critique here at MFM.)

At the same time, new programs are on the verge of coming out that will assist the filmmaker with making the next level of films with even cooler effects and easier implementation than have been previously available. Having been acquired by GenArts, wondertouch's particleIllusion--the program which has generated special effects in a huge number of films like Rambo and many others--will now be released as a plugin for After Effects, making it much handier to incorporate explosions, blood splatters, and professional title sequences in your films.

Meanwahile, Adobe has been working on their Story software as a way to help filmmakers with screenplay writing and integration into their Production suite. (As of our beta testing, the software is designed to allow you to incorporate meta information into your script which can then be populated through to OnLocation, where it will be encoded with shot templates, ready to be bound to your footage when you hit record!) As Adobe's CS4 Production premium came out toward the end of 2008 and they usually release the follow up in 1 ½ to 2 years, I would expect that Story would be part of the CS5 package sometime in 2010. While we don't know what will be in the package, we've got to assume that more focus will be put on x64 environments and high powered video cards (as we began to see in CS4).

In addition to these sorts of improvements, ways of thinking are changing. More and more filmmakers are learning the basics of greenscreen technology and using it effectively to create their own stylistic Sin City-type films. More and more action filmmakers are learning the power of today's highly realistic gas-recoil Airsoft guns when teamed up with something like FXHome's MuzzlePlug plugin for After Effects to create realistic gunfights. (Some are even looking into a fringe Hollywood technique of using special cartridge firing model guns that essentially use super powerful caps loaded into reloadable brass cartridges that emit smoke and eject spent shells just like real guns. While these are more expensive than Air Soft guns, they are only about 30% more at certain online resellers and don't require nearly as much post production work to look amazingly realistic.)

Meanwhile, books like Jon Reiss' Think OUTSIDE the BOX Office encourage filmmakers to think about their filmmaking in a completely different manner. Inspired to almost completely ignore Hollywood in this book, filmmakers are advised to use the online networking tools at their disposal to build a following, encourage their fans to interact with one another, and make it easy for them to get involved with the film. Essentially taking a page from Trent Reznor's book, filmmakers are also encouraged to think about ways to get their fans involved in purchasing memorabilia for the film. (Reznor now gives away his newer CDs, like the Slip, for free as high-rez MP3s. However, fans can buy expensive boxed versions that include lots of memorabilia for lots of cash and they do so in droves. His willingness to interact personally with his fans makes them want to buy the other items he sells, even though they could easily just take what he's giving for free.)

After reading Reiss' book, I'm inspired to think about a new film that I've been mulling over for a few years in a an entirely new manner. It also made me realize that, if filmmaking is thought of from the audience's perspective at the beginning, it encourages the filmmaker to create a film that is geared for real people to enjoy. Rather than selling out, this causes the creativity of filmmaking to serve an embraceable purpose.

Finally, new sites like are taking the low-budget film concepts that MFM has preached for years and trying to make a way to get scripts out to filmmakers in all budget ranges. This can be a huge boon to the low-budget filmmaker who would prefer not to have to write the script himself. Never before has the low-budget filmmaker had the ability to gain access to scripts in quite this fluid a manner!

With all of these things coming together now, it's easy to see why I believe we are now on the edge of a revolution!

So, as 2010 commences, I challenge you with this: Filmmakers, unite! Target your audiences, take up your cameras, and change the world!

God Bless,

Jeremy Hanke
Microfilmmaker Magazine

JeremyHankePicture The director of two feature length films and half a dozen short films, Jeremy Hanke founded Microfilmmaker Magazine to help all no-budget filmmakers make better films. His first book on low-budget special effects techniques, GreenScreen Made Easy, (which he co-wrote with Michele Yamazaki) was released by MWP to very favorable reviews. He's curently working on the sci-fi film franchise, World of Depleted through Depleted: Day 419 and the feature film, Depleted.

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