This past Saturday, Director Stephen Soderbergh gave the keynote address at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival. In his address on the “state of cinema” Soderbergh spoke about the nature of art, movies vs. cinema, studios, and budgets among other things. He also discussed online piracy’s impact on indie filmmaking:
Theft is a big problem. I know this is a really controversial subject, but for people who think everything on the internet should just be totally free all I can say is, good luck. When you try to have a life and raise a family living off something you create…
There’s a great quote from Steve Jobs:
“From the earliest days of Apple I realized that we thrived when we created intellectual property. If people copied or stole our software we’d be out of business. If it weren’t protected there’d be no incentive for us to make new software or product designs. If protection of intellectual property begins to disappear creative companies will disappear or never get started. But there’s a simpler reason: It’s wrong to steal. It hurts other people, and it hurts your own character”.
I agree with him. I think that what people go to the movies for has changed since 9/11. I still think the country is in some form of PTSD about that event, and that we haven’t really healed in any sort of complete way, and that people are, as a result, looking more toward escapist entertainment. And look, I get it. There’s a very good argument to be made that only somebody who has it really good would want to make a movie that makes you feel really bad. People are working longer hours for less money these days, and maybe when they get in a movie, they want a break. I get it.
But let’s sex this up with some more numbers. In 2003, 455 films were released. 275 of those were independent, 180 were studio films. Last year 677 films were released. So you’re not imagining things, there are a lot of movies that open every weekend. 549 of those were independent, 128 were studio films. So, a 100% increase in independent films, and a 28% drop in studio films, and yet, ten years ago: Studio market share 69%, last year 76%. You’ve got fewer studio movies now taking up a bigger piece of the pie and you’ve got twice as many independent films scrambling for a smaller piece of the pie. That’s hard. That’s really hard.
You can find the transcript of his entire address here or listen to it or watch below:
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