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From silver screen to touchscreen

From silver screen to touchscreen

Metamorphosis of the film/TV industry – part 1 in a series of 4 articles. Marta Eleniak takes a look at how within the last decade the whole industry has changed.

For decades in many countries the world over, a trip to the cinema was a key part of people’s lifestyle. Films continue to be very much core to today’s culture but not the cinema – not anymore. Ask someone now when they last went to the cinema and even pre-Covid they may well struggle to remember. Cinemas are seeing lowest ‘bums on seats’ figures in years and if they were struggling before, Covid-19 has been the last nail in the coffin for some chains. Chances are the last film might well have been watched on an ipad curled up in bed with a cup of cocoa, and not a shred of popcorn to be seen.

“Have You Seen…?”

When I was growing up there was never a need to utter the words “Have you seen [insert film name]?” as once a film had been on general release for two months most people had seen it. In the United Kingdom we as a nation went to the cinema regularly and there were only so many films available at any one time. It was pretty easy to keep up. We therefore all saw ET, Jaws, Bambi, the James Bonds, etc – it was just a given and nearly the same for TV shows. Now there is just so much available to watch that when you go out with your Tinder date, finding a match on films or TV series you have both seen is like playing bingo.

Technology lowering the bar

The technology advanced and simplified such that the entry level is much lower. Nowadays you can make a video on your smartphone as well as watch it there. I personally long for celluloid – I am not a fan of 4k and seeing every flaw of someone’s skin. Plus it always looks homemade and cheap to me. Please take that detail and all those pixels away. I preferred my film SLR camera too – much more forgiving and pleasing. But we are only going to keep moving on.

This is probably the most exciting change in film and TV. It is so easy to create content and to get it out there with social media that one is left with the high adrenalin feeling that anything is possible.

You don’t need film school, you don’t need an apprenticeship at a TV station, you don’t need to be related to an A-lister, you don’t need expensive equipment. Everyone has a shot!

And when it comes to TV you are spoilt for choice with channels or networks to watch – they all need content. That content can be accessed every which way and how these days. The demand for fresh ideas is insatiable.

Cinema is an experience, not just a screen

There is still firmly a place for the cinema as the place to see certain movies and while TV may have taken over, there is still a healthy appetite for movies and movie theatres. I will always want to see the movies of my favourite directors at the cinema and movies that just have to be seen on the big screen like the war story epic 1917. I left the cinema exhausted as if I had been on their journey with them dragged by my lapels along for the ride, which was the intention of the intimate filming style I am sure. Of course the beauty of the cinema to see a film is nobody walking in disturbing you, even if it is to offer tea and biscuits. You can be absolutely in the zone. I remember I literally stumbled out of a cinema in Warsaw aged 19 having seen Luc Besson’s Nikita because I had been holding my breath so much I was oxygen deprived.

“The movie industry is going to continue to carry on. Has it created some different viewing habits? A little bit. But you know the film industry survives these things; it always does. And part of it is because we need a collective experience and it’s still a great date night. Dinner and a movie is still pretty great. And kids still like to get in the dark with whoever they’re seeing. They want to get away from their parents. So young people are still going to go to the movies.” – told by George Clooney in an interview to Variety recently.

Photo: Getty images


» Coming up next: Streaming digital: the on-demand experience

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