7 Problems With The Movie Industry

My experiences on the periphery of film industry in Hollywood, has highlighted several issues with our current filmmaking system; issues which substantially decrease the chances of a quality film actually getting made and reaching us at the cinema. In no particular order…

1. Lack of Single Strong Voice – the best films originate from a singular place of passion, yet studio executives who have never written screenplay(s) seek their own fame and significance by meddling with the vision of the writer(s).

2. Popcorn & Coke – it is a well know fact that cinemas make the majority of their money off these two commodities (1000% plus mark-up), because of this the cinemas and studios demand a large portion of films appeal to the young male demographic as they are the biggest consumers of these commodities.

3. The Celebrity Culture – unfortunately the art of casting has become far more of a commercial decision than an artistic one; the best actor for the part doesn’t get the role, the biggest celebrity does; this results in diluted, weakened storytelling.

4. The Financial Model – there is way too much money spent first making films and then marketing them; they are still using the model of the 80’s & 90’s, where box office success was determined solely by the opening weekend performance.

5. Risk Aversion – because people without a creative skill-set are making the final decisions on casting & green lighting there is a strong tendency to stick with the known and the proven, the results, more boring, generically made films without a soul and without anything significant to say are being made.

6. Visual Effects – our stories are become so effects heavy, that our filmmakers are losing the ability to work with actors, and our stories are light on subtext and becoming increasingly filled with clichéd performances.

7. The Popular Culture Infusion – great films cut us in a way that we need to be cut, we need to see ourselves, we need to be uncomfortable, we need to be challenged; where are the filmmakers willing to plant their roots deep, to look both inside and outside of themselves and then make a provocative statement?


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28 thoughts on “7 Problems With The Movie Industry

  1. On comments 1-7 … Yes, yes, and yes again. I wish my cognitive fog caused by MS didn’t happen, so I could write as well as you on various subjects. There is so much I want to say on this subject, yet, my brain cannot find the words I need to express myslef.

  2. I feel the film industry is lagging behind what is happening in the music industry. Free distribution, innovation, middlemen, meddling, and inefficiencies are rife. Technology/Internet offers a possible solution, but those parties interested in maintaining the status quo will fight this losing battle until the bitter end.
    How about 7 solutions for the music industry?

  3. I agree very much. I think that the movie industry caters to the 10 to 25 year old group much too much. It’s more about the FX then the story. Look at the comic book movies today. The last good one was was Blade II before the latest Batman movies. All three of them were good on many levels but look at The Avengers and all the back ground movies that came before them from Marvel Studios. All kids movies. If they took 1/2 the money they spent on those movies and made great anime movies from the Japaneses studios and came up with great stories they have movies that are great and could be marketed world wide. At least that’s what I think.

    1. Thanks Allen,

      You make several good points. For me the moment, an effect becomes “cool” or noticeably out of character with the characters in the movie… then it becomes like a filmmaking brag and it takes the viewer out of the story…

      The best way effects were used in character in my mind was the first matrix; all the effects were about the world and the characters… so the first time I watched it I actually didn’t think wow that was a cool effect (although it was) I thought “I wish I could do that!”

      Now Matrix 2 and 3 were a whole other story…

  4. I agree. Number 3 is probably the issue that bugs me the most. Actors with less talent and screen presence are getting more/better roles just because they can bring in the money. I think this is changing a little bit with actresses like Jessica Chastain, who seems to be making a new film every day and is extremely talented but is not in the tabloids and not yet a household name, but it’s never going to be a problem that completely disappears.

  5. I agree there is a dearth of originality in films today, and a glut of vampires, comic book heroes and other stuff that’s been done. #3 may be true for the creative mind, but the general public doesn’t care who plays the part. As one friend told me, “I just want pretty people on the screen that I have seen before, because I want to keep looking at them.”

  6. Agreed. I work in the film industry in both the states and these points are evident in both cases. In particular having to compromise your vision for what someone else believes ” will sell” is why I decided to start creating content for YouTube instead. Now Im a partner with them and I am building an audience producing my shows (and soon to be films) exactly the way I want them to be done.

    Love it.

  7. Numbers 1 and 5 are the biggest causes of the problem in my eyes. If we can get rid of those then the world will be a much better place

  8. In my humble opinion, most of the flaws that we can point out in today’s film industry can be traced back to the fact that (just like in the music industry) big studios dictate what gets done and what gets binned. While it is imperative that we understand cinema as both art and entertainment, it’s unhealthy to bias one in favour of another. I think there is a place for VFX-heavy action movies like The Avengers and the like on big screens, but the process – as you pointed out precisely – lacks severely on all fronts.
    I hope it is merely a matter of time before we see a revolution in cinema, because the model we see now is doomed. It saddens me, however, that it all happens at our – the viewers – expense. I’d rather see the money that was pumped into the latest instalment of the Die Hard franchise (the fact Die Hard became a franchise illustrates the sad state of the industry, because originality bears risks and big studios like revenue, not risks) go into propelling young ambitious aspiring film-makers before they get brainwashed into thinking that they need to conform to the existing model in order to ‘make it’.

  9. #5 isn’t a fair statement… the movie-going public shares the blame on that one! I’ve worked on a number of large Hollywood films and I learned very quickly that the statement “this movie is going to be/do great because it’s so different/creative” is a huge falsehood. The movie industry is a business. Why should anyone in it go against what works and lose money just to do something new and unfamiliar, when people will only show up 1% of the time to even try to appreciate it?

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