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HOW WILL TECHNOLOGY AFFECT YOUR JOB IN THE FILM INDUSTRY?
HOW WILL TECHNOLOGY AFFECT YOUR JOB IN THE FILM INDUSTRY?
film industry
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Article by Martin Traz  
The Film industry is changing.

Love it, hate it, embrace it or ignore it... 

...there is no denying that Hollywood is being constantly reshaped by the technological advances of the modern age.

One glaringly obvious example is the seismic impact of sites like Netflix and Hulu on the distribution of films and television programs. These game changing innovations have helped reshape the industry beyond bounds. 

This blog post is not about distribution however. There are endless articles out there lamenting the rise of Netflix. 

What we're really interested in, is the nitty gritty of filmmaking. How have technological changes impacted the people who make the movies that we know and love? Specifically, how have jobs been affected?

This article is for people who make the movies.  

It's about the jobs of the on-set crew, admin workers, casting directors, talent scouts, actors and technicians who work hard to create art and reflect the human condition in all its extreme forms.  

Technological advance, in any field, is often heralded as either triumphant progress or depressing destruction. The nature of its impact on the film industry is contested if not outright feared to rip apart everything that is sacred about the art of movie making.

There's room to debate both sides.

You may even wish to dispute the fact that cinema as a whole is being impacted by changes in technology to such an extent. However, take a moment to consider how you are reading my words...

You’re not holding a book. 

You’re reading this article on a computer or tablet, perhaps even on a mobile phone between trips to craft services (ssshh I won't tell!)

Either way, technology has already found its way into your hands; therefore no matter which side of the aisle you're on, we can confidently all agree that...

Jobs in the film industry have been, are, and will be affected by technology as long as their are stories to be filmed.

As such, I believe this topic warrants a deep discussion on the impact of technology on film industry jobs - and at a whopping 6600+ words... this article is a DEEP discussion. 

Before you continue, bookmark (CTRL + D) this page now because you'll want to return to it later for it's insights, links, and infographics.

I'll be exploring this topic in three acts:


We explore the effect that the internet, as well as other technologies has already had on Hollywood, in the first act. 
ACT 1: How tech has already famously disrupted the film industry.
Since the late 19th century, film and technology have been inseparable siblings.

This symbiotic relationship has seen each side re-shape the other. If you had all day, I could try to list every time technology has influenced Hollywood, but you’d have to be here all night and most of tomorrow, too. So, instead I created a quick visual timeline of Hollywood’s technological evolution.
Film industry technology
The dawn of television broadcasting and the Internet have been arguably the two biggest shakeups on Hollywood's business model.

Why are they particularly important here?

The aftermath of these two inventions have taught us a recurring lesson in this industry... 
Those who ignore change are more likely to suffer, and those who embrace change as an opportunity are likely to prosper. 
Irrespective of how major a player you might be now...

If you can’t stay ahead of the curve and adapt to technological change, you will be left behind.  

During the first 50 years of the film industry from the early 1900’s to post World War II, there was little relative change to the industry.  

Sure, there were technological advances during those years but they had little influence on the Hollywood business model. The only change for the major studios of that time (20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, and MGM) was which one was jockeying for the position of the most profitable studio that year.  

Then came along broadcast television.  

From an entrepreneur’s perspective, this would have seemed like an amazing opportunity – another medium to produce more content, and make even more money.  

However not all (in fact most) major studio executives did not see it that way. 

To them, television sets were too small and the picture too snowy to qualify as a viable medium. You couldn't sell tickets and studios weren't in the television manufacturing business.

In addition there was only one hour of programming a day, and most middle-class families couldn’t afford TV’s in the 40’s, so this strange picturebox was largely ignored by Hollywood – if not downright rejected. 

In fact, a renowned studio chief (who shall remain unnamed), once claimed: 

“If I so much as see a single television set on this studio lot I will smash it, throw it through a window, and fire that person”. 
film industry technology
WOW... why the hostility?

During the Second World War, there was a lot of Nazi propaganda produced, and with the 5 major studios owning the production and the theater chains, they had a monopoly on the creation and distribution of content – so the US government stepped in and forced the studios to give up ownership of the theater chains. 

That was a big blow to the studios.

Many movie studios were pushed to the brink of bankruptcy. So, in this context it was only natural that the big studio bosses of the time were wary of broadcasting. They viewed broadcast television as another profit-stealing change in their business model.

However, the negative view of broadcast television was not shared by all. 

Universal, who at this time were a little-known, low-budget horror movie production company, embraced the changing technological landscape as a chance to earn big bucks. They began utilizing their backlots to make westerns for television, and their unused sound stages for producing television sitcoms. 

Meanwhile, another business model that legitimately should have felt threatened with the introduction of TV also jumped into the TV production business...

...that business was radio.

NBC and CBS simply reformatted their radio shows, making them suitable for TV. Shows like 'I Love Lucy' and 'Gunsmoke' were extremely successful, drawing ever larger audiences and profits. The executives in radio have since become powerful figures in the motion picture industry, fueling the start of America's insatiable appetite for television. 

So what resulted from the technology shakeup?!

While many studios stood on their heels to watch...

Universal went from a studio that hadn’t been taken too seriously, to a powerhouse studio and the premier television producer for Hollywood within 10 years. 

The radio corporations that adapted to change now generate in excess of $10 Billion in annual profits between them (as of the last quarter of 2015). 

And what about the studio that had a chief executive that through a tantrum at the very mention of TV..?

That studio would struggle the next 10 years before finally being sold. Its studio lot would be broken down for commercial development, and its film library sold to another studio.
Let's fast-forward 60 years.

(Remember fast forwarding?)

In 2000, Blockbuster was dominating the video rental industry. They had amassed thousands of retail locations, had millions of customers and a market valuation of $5 Billion.  

They were king of the home video market at a time the internet was becoming a household medium, invading the consumer’s home the same way television had 50 years earlier.

By the end of the year 2000, there were 500 million internet users online – roughly 8% of the world population. In the US the count was roughly 280 million, or 43% of the US population.

With almost half the homes in America wired to the Internet and history as a guide, you would have thought Blockbuster might have saw how this movie ends. 

Spoiler Alert: Not in time.

At the time, a relatively unknown company called Netflix had been preparing to redefine the film distribution landscape, breaking into the untapped online sphere. 

In 2000, Reed Hastings (founder of Netflix) flew out to Blockbuster HQ to propose a partnership. The pitch was that Netflix would run Blockbuster’s brand online, and Blockbuster would promote Netflix in its stores. It was a perfect balance of the old school business model married with the opportunity of a brand new market – and both companies stood to benefit from it. 

Reed Hastings got laughed out of the room...
...and the partnership never happened. 

In the next 10 years Blockbuster’s revenue would drop so drastically, that it would file for Bankruptcy protection in 2010; and be bought out by satellite television provider Dish Network.  

That same year, Netflix reported a $3 Billion market valuation. At the time of writing, the service is valued at just over $50 Billion - that's 10x more than Blockbuster was ever worth.

As with broadcast television, those who ignored technology and those whom embraced it as an opportunity would have two very different stories to tell.  

History had repeated itself and the lesson remained the same.  
Whether you embrace technology or you ignore it - you're effected either way. 
Armed with this knowledge, it is now time to look to the present and the future. Take a moment to consider how technology is affecting your personal role in the film industry. 

Seriously, do it. 

You might just discover something useful. 

If technological change was able to destroy mega-brands such as Blockbuster and a major Hollywood movie studio...

...then it certainly has the potential to crush your career.

In 2014, while I was looking to transition from my role as a Film & TV talent agent to “my next big venture”, I forced myself to ask the same question.

I found my answer in piece of technology that was already being utilized in just about every other known global industry to conduct employee training via the internet; but due to the slow adoption mindset of the film industry (and as you've now learned, sometimes completely dismissive), it had not found its way into film yet.

It was an opportunity right in front of me.

I embraced it, and built it into what is now Reel Academy's Canadian Film Industry Performer Knowledge Hub (aka Set Ready)Those who are Film & TV performers, or work in performer management and/or casting, are likely already aware of it and may even be one of its uber-cool users. 

How about you?

Are you seizing the technological opportunities in your film industry role, or are you dismissing them like Blockbuster and that studio executive did?

Please take a second to reflect on this question.

It might just save your future.

If you’re not sure of what technology is affecting your job in the film industry, allow me to shine a spotlight on some of the better known tech advancements in the second act.
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Reel Academy just opened its doors to the brand new Canadian Film Industry Performer Knowledge Hub. Now you can access the industry’s collective knowledge (30 industry advisers from every film department that works with performers), ensuring you have all the wisdom you need prior-to, during, and after your bookings to do your very best work…from day ONE. (Learn more here.)

Or, click the thumbnail below for an (11 min) impromptu video tour of the new performer knowledge hub by Reel Academy founder Martin Traz.
ACT 2: Seven ways tech is currently impacting film industry jobs.
Technology is impacting EVERY film department.

From obvious tech-heavy departments such as sound, lighting, shooting and post-production… right through to more tech-removed areas like casting, hair and makeup and props to name a few. 

Why does this matter? 

If you’ve read ACT 1, then you know the importance of being aware of embracing technological change. To ignore it would be a grave mistake (*cough cough* Blockbuster).

ACT 2 is all about awareness

It’s about working in your department with eyes wide open so you’re on top of any trends that may be impacting your future in this industry, even if it feels like hasn't yet played a role. 

I’ll be highlighting some of the more notable tech impacts like: 

ELearning for performers, casting, talent agencies
3D printing for costumes, props, set decorators
Digital cameras for cinematographers, the camera department, post-services
Cloud collaboration between writers, beauty departments, props, director, producers
Mobile apps for directors, AD’s, location scouts, crew
Virtual reality (VR) for production designers
• The accelerating effect of the internet & email on all departments

Chances are by the time this article is published another tech advancement might be trending, and we’ll have omitted it, but that’s the trouble with covering this topic – it’s changing very quickly all the time. I’ll do my best to update this post once in a while to cover these changes, but for now, let’s cover the seven tech advancements listed above. 
TECH: ELearning
Chief concern for: Talent, casting teams and agents.
Also affected: On-set teams and accounting.
As a former talent agent, I know firsthand the importance of performer education. 

The problems I was faced with are the same problems that talent agents and casting directors face every day; namely ensuring that talent is 100% trained, and prepared, for their day on set in a timely matter, and that the information is current and congruent for all performers. 

If you’re a performer, (or you're responsible for booking performers) you’ve surely realized the following challenges regarding performer education:
  • • It’s taught differently agency-to-agency and casting house-to-casting house, dependent on time, resources, and importance created by that firm.
  • • It’s taught by someone who only has experience in one or two departments
  • • It’s taught with outdated and sometimes completely incorrect information
  • • It’s taught in a single learning style (doesn’t address everyone’s unique learning needs)
  • • It’s challenging to execute in a timely fashion between enrollment and booking
Sadly, the result is that many performers are often sent to work with inadequate training, a poor understanding of the role and generally sloppy information. The impact of these problems can be witnessed daily during disturbances of on-set momentum.  

Fortunately, ELearning proposes a potential solution to this problem. 

ELearning is the process of teaching individuals over the web using online teaching platforms. In the film industry, Reel Academy is pioneering such an approach to performer education with their online Performer Knowledge Hub (aka the Set Ready Hub)

Performers enroll in online courses that have been developed through the collaboration of all film departments to ensure performers have updated, congruent information to the current filming environment.  

Agencies and casting houses can now also enroll performers at any time to the same central knowledge bank. This allows every performer in the industry to have equal access to the knowledge and resources necessary to do their best work.  

The potential benefits of ELearning are perfectly clear: 
  • • A centralized online knowledge bank means consistency of knowledge throughout theindustry 
  • • Low barriers of entry mean that any talent-related sector can access important information for their performers regardless of size and resources 
  • • Information supplied from multiple departments through cloud-collaboration provides training information that’s accurate, comprehensive and current 
  • • Taught through multiple digital mediums like text, audio, video and games to ensure everyone is learning in a way that is natural to them to increase retention 
  • • 24/7 access brings greater flexibility, allowing on-demand learning around the clock.
ELearning is changing the way we gather industry knowledge and convey if to our performers - and that’s a positive change for our film industry.
My prediction is that this technology will eventually reach beyond performers. There is room to improve training for all departments across the industry through ELearning.  

TECH: 3D Printing
Chief concern for: Props and costumes
Also affected: Production designers and VFX
3D Printing has permeated into every sector of the economy - from car parts in the automotive industry to printed human organs in the medical industry (no kidding).

Regarding the film industry in particular, there is limitless potential for 3D printing in film design; from costume accessories to prop construction. One day, perhaps even entire set builds could be achievable. 

FUN FACTS: Those super cool night vision goggles that the Navy Seals team used in the filmZero Dark Thirty were 3D printed by Propshop Ltd. at Pinewood Studios in the UK. Propshopalso 3D printed the full-scale tank exterior in Fast & Furious 6, so that the production could utilize alightweight version of the beast during the filming of the tank chasescene.  If that doesn’t blow your mind,marvel in the fact that even the canopy of Peter Quill’s spaceship in Guardians of the Galaxy was 3D printed.

Considering our insatiable appetite for fantasy and Sci-Fi films and TV shows, the potential importance of 3D printing for design with the film industry is clear. With this technology, we can make real the unreal.
3D printing affords production design professionals more imagination, freedom and flexibility to stimulate our wildest imaginations. 3D Systems in the UK supplied over 600 printed parts to the production of Edge of Tomorrow, including Tom Cruise’s exoskeleton.

3D printing technology is also creating a new relationship between artists, scientists, costume designers and prop makers. 

CAD Software and CGI, which concept artists have long used for their designs, are perfectly transferable to 3D printing. Costume professionals and prop builders can now achieve more sophisticated levels of detail in their creative pieces thanks to collaborative CAD designing with concept artists.

This technology will certainly become more widespread as costs of 3D printing decline. 

3D printing is slowly becoming smaller, more portable, and less expensive; and as the price of this technology falls and its convenience rises, we can expect to see it become an increasingly widespread phenomenon within the industry.  

If you currently work in set and costume design or with props, I would seriously consider exploring the possibility of adding 3D printing to your repertoire.  
TECH: Digital Cameras
Chief concern for: Camera operators, cinematographers, and directors.
Also affected: Editors, digital imaging processors and performers.
There is a growing consensus in the film industry that a switch to digital is the way forward, as far as cameras are concerned.

Digital cameras are a fraction of the cost of the traditional filmmaking alternatives. The lower cost of digital camera technology allows newer studios to step into the scene with new fresh creative ideas, and produce stunning movies on lower budgets.  

This is great for the film industry, as far as production diversity is concerned. With new studios able to enter the fold, a huge number of jobs are created. 

The advantages of digital cameras are not just economic however. Due to their lightweight nature and small size, digital cameras allow cinematographers and camera operators a great variety of shooting possibilities. Whereas traditional film cameras can be extremely cumbersome on set, digital alternatives such as the Red One Digital camera can fit into all kinds of tight spaces to capture high quality shots fit for the big screen.  

FUN FACTS: The sixth season finale of House was shotentirely on a Canon 5D Mark ii DSLRcamera. The theatrical release HardcoreHenry, was entirely shot using GoProcameras.

If current trends continue, increasing numbers of cinematographers and directors will make the transition to digital cameras. In fact, as lightweight digital cameras become ever more popular, the traditional alternative will probably go extinct. 

Major film camera companies like Panavision and Arri have stopped manufacturing traditional film cameras. The only way to use one on set is to rent or buy an older one until it becomes un-repairable.  Judy Doherty, Director of Communications at Panavision, confirmed that "Panavision will continue to maintain and rent 35 mm, 16 mm, and 65 mm cameras for as long as filmmakers shoot with film."

However, we have to acknowledge that Hollywood relies on Kodak and Fuji to keep making the celluloid. Now that no new film cameras are being manufactured, it is unlikely that these two companies will keep making film for too much longer. 

When these two companies deem that it is no longer feasible to produce this product, the only people shooting with traditional film cameras will be the ones that have stockpiled bucket loads of celluloid in their basements. I’m sure JJ Abrams, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino are well stocked. 

Finally, I want to go back to what I said previously in this article: The landscape of film production is shifting to a more collaborative environment.  

In the past, the aesthetic of a film would lie in the hands of the cinematographer. However, increasingly, the director has more of an input than ever before, because he can view shots on a handheld screen during or immediately after a filming. This ability to instantly review shots is a game changer and facilitates more directorial involvement.

Digital filming technology has also engendered closer relationships between the cast and the cinematographer. Often the two groups are intimately involved, as new technology allows the strapping of cameras onto the actors themselves.  

The very dynamics of the on-set work space between performers and the camera team are being transformed by digital camera technology. 
TECH: Cloud Collaberation
Chief concern for: Everyone.
Teamwork is at the heart of all good films and as result of cloud computing technology, collaboration has never been easier.

Thanks to cloud-based software, filmmaking has become a smaller, more efficient space, allowing filmmakers to draw on the very best people and resources from all across the globe.
Co-founder and creative director of Territory Studio, David Sheldon-Hicks, explained the benefits of Cloud technology as follows:
"It’s not uncommon for us to work with a production team in Los Angeles, a film shoot in London and VFX teams in Romania, Canada or China. Managed well, this can bring specialisms to the fore, which benefits everyone." 
Using cloud-based production management software, you can unlock the opportunity of cross-department collaboration in real time. 

Writers can provide notes for production designers to prepare as the script itself being revised. Costume buyers can upload new finds as they’re shopping for them, allowing hair and makeup to view and collaborate with complimentary color pallets and styles. Designs and models can be uploaded to the shared cloud-platform, where they can be instantly shared with the director, producer and DOP.  

But it doesn’t stop there… 

The benefits expand to administration and accounting as well. 

Entertainment Partners, the industry’s commonly used payroll service company in North America, has introduced an interesting suite of cloud-based software as part of its portfolio. Among these include: 
  • • Scenchronize, which breaks down scripts, creates sides, watermarks and pushes out to crew members with just a few clicks
  • • Studio Hub, which provides real-time production dashboard for studio executives
  • • Movie Magic, for cloud-based budgeting and scheduling
Casting directors, agencies and performers have been using cloud type services for a while.

Online talent databases such as Agency Click and Casting Workbook are widespread throughout the industry. Performers create online profiles for these databases, and agents use these sites as a replacement for traditional roster books. Casting directors publish casting requests on the site and the agents submit their best talent. 

Performer training is another area evolving thanks to cloud collaboration (see ELearning above). 

I believe cloud collaboration is a hugely exciting area for the future of the film industry as it continues to revolutionize the production work-flow. It’s also probably saving a few bazillion trees in unnecessary paper consumption.
TECH: Mobile Apps
Chief concern for: A.D.’s, directors, cinematographers, and location scouts.
Also affected: Everyone else.
Apps are transforming the film industry, as we know it. I’m not talking about bored crew members playing Candy Crush – I’m talking about serious, industry specific programmes that are making the whole filmmaking process go a lot smoother.

Zach Lipovsky, a Canadian director/app designer, has created an app called Shot Lister, which creates an efficient, streamlined and collaborative virtual environment for the whole crew. It enables users to plan out your shooting schedule shot by shot, minute by minute. It also allows users to re-order shots and calculate remaining shooting time for set days with just a couple clicks or swipes on your phone/tablet. The app includes a ‘crew-sync’ function, which updates the shoot schedule instantaneously as changes happen in real life. The updated schedules are available to all of the professionals involved in a production - whether they are on set, in the trailer or in the office.  

How cool is that? 

Go Canadian film industry! 

There are simply too many quality film industry apps to list in this blog post. For now, allow me to introduce some of my other favorites. 

Director’s Viewfinder 

Directors, cinematographers and camera operators and assistants will love this one. This app allows you to preview framing in any aspect ratio. While you’re blocking out a scene you can have hundreds of cameras right in the palm of your hand! You can select a camera and aspect ratio, choose between zoom and prime lenses and use the app to see what’s in your frame by simulating the field of view/lens combination. 

Helios 

This is another app that is of immense use when it comes to the shooting of scenes – particularly for cinematographers who need to plan a day based on natural light availability. The app is a kind of solar and lunar calendar, which graphically represents the position of the sun and moon throughout the year, at any given location.  

RoomScan  

Location scouts can rejoice with their own app tool. There are various versions out there, but essentially this app measures the room the scout is in, and draws a floor plan just by taking pictures. The location scout can add objects in the app, annotations, photos and attributes to generate reports or complete estimates. 

The development of mobile apps for the film industry is quickly putting new tools and new possibilities in the hands of every crew member. 
Since this is my blog and I can break the rules, here’s a bonus pieces of software.

EndCrawl.com

This is more of an "in-browser" software than an app, per se, but it is incredibly useful so I thought I would throw it in. EndCrawl.com is a SAAS (Software as a Service) solution that generates movie credits. It is designed so that people who are not tech or design wizards still get beautiful, professional-looking results. Instead of throwing money at a big credit production company, you can now use this software to get the job done in-house.

There, now your movie (and this blog sub-section) has an ending.
TECH: Virtual Reality
Chief concern for: Production designers, and directors. 
Also affected: Editors, VFX, and performers.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a hot topic right now.

Everyone is talking about it as an exciting uncharted 360-degree storytelling medium. However, there’s a crap-tone of articles already online about VR storytelling, so I’d like to instead highlight VR’s impact on extant film jobs. 

Production designers are looking at VR as a possible new timesaving pre-production design tool. With the assistance of VR, it is now possible to take a first-person journey through a set before it is ever built.
David Sheldon-Hicks from Territory Studio recently wrote on the subject in The Guardian stating:
"With the sheer amount of concept art and design that is now created in digital 3D files, VR offers production designers a new way of showing a director a full set environment complete with props, before it’s built." 
As a director, you can fully immerse yourself in the environment prior to construction.

The best part is that in productions relying on a lot of green screen to create their fantasy environments, it is now possible immerse yourself in your story like never before.  

How fun!  

Looking to the future, it will be interesting to see how performers will be impacted by an increasingly virtual filming environment.  

I predict that the actors will be fine. Stories will always be told through people. I think stunt performers will also be ok, because there will always be actors who don’t want to engage with risky scenes. 

I am curious however to see how things turn out for our often underappreciated background players. 
TECH: Internet & Email
Chief concern for: Do I even need to say it?
*Dial-up modem noise* *Ping!* “You’ve got mail…” 

Those two quintessential sounds changed the face of the film industry forever. The Internet along with email will continue to change the filmmaking for years to come (although with a lot less annoyance). 

The exponential increase in communication speed created by ever faster internet connections is the reason that I am even writing this subsection. 

The speed at which we produce movies today is remarkable, if not a little insane. 

In the past, a casting director could call an agent and ask him to book 10 extras for a shoot two weeks away. That agent would proceed to fill those spots over the next week or two at a pace that was casual if not slack. Today, the AD will call out at 3pm asking for 30 new spots the NEXT DAY. A casting director will then release a request online, and the performers will be booked by dinnertime.  

This rapid pace of doing things has massively accelerated the filmmaking process. It is also the reason that a lot of older performers can’t understand why they are never booked – despite replying to casting calls two days late (hint, hint!). 

In the turbo-charged email communication era of today, everything is moving a break-neck speed. In order to keep up, you will need to employ technology to your advantage.  
For this reason we now see everyone on a film set in all departments attached to their cell phone, even when they shouldn’t have one on set. You simply have to be dialed into the speed of requests and changes. 

To be without a smartphone these days is to be seriously handicapping your work in the film industry. 

Unless of course, you’re working craft services… everything seems to move in slow motion at craft services. (But we still heart you) 
In summary...
We are moving into a new exciting tech driven era for film production.
Film industry technology
New technology allows us to:
  • • Build set pieces with an incredible amount of sophistication and imagination without sacrificing material cost or time thanks to 3D printing
  • • Walk through virtual set environments before they are even built thanks to VR,
  • • Use lightweight digital camera technology to merge the performer with the camera as a single entity, creating authentic perspectives to our stories that have been previously impossible
  • • Interconnect every moving piece of the production in real-time through the assistance of mobile apps and cloud based SAAS solutions
  • • Centralize the cumulative knowledge of the film industry to democratize and improve the training systems within the film industry thanks to ELearning platforms
Perhaps more significant than all of the above factors is that we are beginning to see a shift in the traditional hierarchies of film production. Not only are lower entry costs allowing smaller studios to make top quality films, but the actual filmmaking process itself is becoming a more collaborative, multilateral activity. With all departments able to communicate together, the process is somewhat democratized.

SEE RELATED: The new filmmaking model (coming soon) 

Having just read Act 2, it is time to ask the logical question: 

“What new app, software, or piece of technology is, or will revolutionize my department or role in the film industry?” 

Think about it for a minute…and jot down a list of possible technologies. Your next step will be to become intimately familiar with them. 

I’ll cover this, and future-proofing your job in the film industry in ACT 3
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ACT 3: How to survive the next 5 years of the film industry.
Have you heard the term 'future-proofing'?

Future-proofing is about anticipating changes and developing the capacity to manage the shock and stress of these changes. The term was originally applied to manufactured products and software but can also be applied in the context of employment. 

By learning about Hollywood’s past (ACT 1), and maintaining awareness of tech that is currently affecting your job (ACT 2), you can begin to anticipate the future – an important step in future-proofing your job. 

The next step is to adopt principles which will allow you to stay ahead of developments, thus securing your position in a constantly changing industry.

Here's the good news…

Experts in economics (specifically the job market) have already identified the guiding principles by which we can use to minimize the climate change in our workplace. 

Among the gurus to testify on the subject are Joel Mokyr (professor of economics at Northern University), and Saadia Zahidi (executive committee member at the World Economic Forum). 

These brain boxes have suggested 4 immutable techniques for future-proofing your job.
1) Embrace Life-Long Learning
Arguably, this is the most important advice for both our personal and professional lives.
Unfortunately many workers in film industry jobs are stuck in their ways, sticking to a ‘we’ve always done it this way’ philosophy. Perhaps you’ve observed this attitude for yourself - I know I have!

However, if you've read ACT 1 and ACT 2, you know that the film industry as a whole is far from stagnant.

The industry is progressively impacted by changes in technology, resources, stakeholder demands, increased regulations - and rising costs of labour, resources, insurance and finance. Materials change, processes change, and consequently, our skills and attitudes need to evolve. 

In an article entitled, ‘Why film has not been disrupted (yet)’, HBO workflow director John Ermeric eloquently put the following:
"Moore’s Law may be gradually catching up with filmmaking. It’s our own mental habits that will prove harder to budge.”
It’s so true.

Need a little nudging to step out of your old ways? As previously stated in the first act, change creates opportunity; so if change is constant, than so are the opportunities.

You will be abundant in opportunities when you are abundantly aware of change – and for that you must be a life-long student of your craft. 
Saadia Zahidi reminds us:
"The impact of technological change is shortening the shelf-life of employees’ skill sets. So no matter what you choose to study today, expect to have to keep learning throughout the course of your career.”
Learn how to tap into the latest information, and approach it with an open mind. Stay on top of what has been ‘traditionally known’ but is now becoming obsolete; and keep updating your mental bank of new processes and resources. As Joel Mokyr suggests, “You have to know where to find that information quickly, cheaply, and effectively.”  

To meet these conditions, consider using technology to tap into online resources. It might be as simple as staying connected to dedicated Facebook or LinkedIn groups, or by tapping into a more official, organized, industry knowledge hub like Reel Academy's Performer Knowledge Hub (aka the Set Ready Hub).
2) Observe Beyond Borders
Take a step back and look at the sheer number of co-productions that happen every year in the film industry.

Canada alone has signed co-production treaties with 64 countries according to a Globe and Mail article titled “International co-productions may be the future of Canadian film.” The country also accounts for approximately $500 million in production volume every year according to the Telefilm's coproduction page on their website.

Production companies in China, France and Latin America regularly pair up with Hollywood producers to collaborate on new film projects. One recent example is The Great Wall starring Matt Damon, which was the biggest budget co-production to date between Hollywood and China at a reported $160 million. 

Young, innovative production companies are also pairing up with traditional studio giants to produce fresh content. A brilliant example is Lions Gate Studios pairing up with YouTube production company Rocket Jump Studios to produce a new line of digital content.

The film industry is becoming an ever more diverse and globalized marketplace. 

Thanks to the increased use of cloud based software solutions, companies don’t even need to open offices in multiple countries anymore to tap into new talent pools. They can coordinate teams across the world through the Internet. Regarding casting, training, administration, post-production, financing, advisory services… the list can go on… film industry workers can now plug into projects around the globe. 

The job market just got a LOT bigger.

Consider working with new teams by seeking out projects outside the traditional studios and production companies you’ve come accustomed to working with; as well as projects in other cities, regions and even countries!

New people bring fresh perspectives with them that will help you expand your awareness of the possibilities out there. Sometimes, a fresh view can really invigorate the production process. It creates an environment of constant learning and innovation.

The more experience you have working with foreign productions and innovative newcomers, the richer the breadth of your experience, and the more wisdom you’ll accumulate for your craft.
In this globalized and evermore diverse marketplace, it will be the individuals that can demonstrate the greatest breadth of cross-cultural experience that will be most in demand. 
3) Become Flexible & Adaptable
Everyone has their ‘speciality’, but there’s a good chance they also have secondary and even tertiary skill sets that allow them to accept more work.

Think for a second, how many actors you know that also do stunts; stunt guys that now have gotten into acting; or background performers that do a great deal of standing-in. Think also of the hair stylists that also do makeup and vice versa. These cross-departmental examples are abundant in the industry, because these folks have already realized an important rule... the more you know the more you’ll be in demand.

This is the mindset of the future film industry worker.

The multi-talented workers will be more equipped to navigate the future employment landscape of an industry that is adapting to the proliferation of cross-departmental collaboration. 

It’s time for every film industry worker to move from a mindset of survival and isolation, to that of a mindset of cooperation. 
You should be creating as many touch points with your neighboring departments as possible. The best way to do that is by learning a little bit about how each one functions from their point of view. This will enable you know how to best serve them to the best of your ability - therefore making you indispensable.

Regardless of what your “specialty” is, start learning the skills required to assist closely associated departments beyond your immediate domain.
4) Be Proactive
The outcome of your career ultimately falls on you.

Don’t wait for someone to tell you want you need to adapt. Avoid sitting idle waiting for your job scope to expand as new and exciting opportunities pass you by silently in the night.

If you wait for opportunity to come knocking at your door, chances are you’ll be waiting for a long time…if not indefinitely. 

Instead, take a purposeful approach by plugging into the pulse of the industry.

Scan the trends to provide a fresh perspective. Determine how your department as well as your immediate collaborative departments will respond to these trends, and actively prepare yourself for adapting to these trends.

Employers are looking for the individuals that are pushing the boundaries and cultivating an environment for innovation, collaboration, and creativity to flourish.
It’s these individuals that will find themselves in abundance of opportunities. 
The Next 5 Years...
And the next 10, and 15…

Truthfully, the three acts here have outlined a plan with no expiry date.

Technology will always impact film industry jobs and create a constantly changing environment, which will create endless opportunities for those who stay aware and embrace that change.

As long as you stay trapped in limiting beliefs, resistance to change, and blinders on to the rest of the world around you; you’ll do nothing to guarantee your future place in this highly competitive field.

A lasting and meaningful career in the film industry requires an awareness of change and the mindset of a lifelong student who takes continuous deliberate action in order to better serve those around them. 
So embrace change and proactively tap into new possibilities.

To further serve you, I have more articles as well as free and premium resources on my website ReelAcademy.com.


Let’s make movie magic together…

…5, 10, 15 years from now.

That's a wrap.
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Reel Academy just opened its doors to the brand new Canadian Film Industry Performer Knowledge Hub. Now you can access the industry’s collective knowledge (30 industry advisers from every film department that works with performers), ensuring you have all the wisdom you need prior-to, during, and after your bookings to do your very best work…from day ONE. (Learn more here.)

Or, click the thumbnail below for an (11 min) impromptu video tour of the new performer knowledge hub by Reel Academy founder Martin Traz.

About Martin Traz

Martin Traz is the founder and director of ReelAcademy.com

Since being inspired by the magic of movie making as a performer, Martin has shared this experience with principal performers, models, stand-ins, and background actors. He has booked thousands of performer set days across films, TV shows, pilots, and commercials. Today, Martin focuses on curating knowledge and developing tools for the Canadian film industry so that everyone can do their best work. Connect with Martin on Facebook.
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