A few years ago, I left my professional career to bravely try my hand at writing fiction. Thus began the legendary “lean years”… I drank way too much coffee, spent way too much time playing video games, and impressed way too many people with the lofty (and ultimately empty) promise of finishing The Great Canadian Novel.
To make ends meet (and to stay out of trouble), I also applied for a job at the local independent video store. The result? Instead of writing amazing prose and becoming a productive member of literary society, I spent all of my free time watching movies and eating too much candy.
On the plus side, I also met a lot of film enthusiasts! You have to understand that watching millions of movies is a rather isolating hobby that doesn’t lend itself well to socializing. The store where I worked was the perfect solution, providing a place where movie geeks could actually meet in person-to hang out, to share notes, and talk about what they all loved: cinema. Sitting behind the counter, I was fortunate enough to get to know a wide range of passionate film collectors, aspiring screen writers, and homegrown filmmakers from all walks of life.
The common thread throughout all their discussions? Technology.
In this brave new world of high-speed internet, digital media and online streaming, technology has become both a blessing and a curse to the film-loving community. Although you can’t argue with the superb visual/audio innovations and instant access that modern technology now provides, a few drawbacks remain.
For example, there is a wealth of low-budget movies out there that are slipping through the cracks into complete obscurity. Because the decision to convert and distribute older movies is usually based on current market trends and financial incentives, many grassroots subgenres that were prevalent prior to 1995 are at risk of disappearing from the North American canon altogether.
Sure, these movies are generally crappy and totally goofballs (I’m looking at you, straight-to-video VHS slashers). What’s the big deal if they quietly disappear?
Think of it this way: These films were made by folks just like you and me-a bunch of small-town nerds making up their own stories and retelling them far outside the glossy “Hollywood” point of view. These films only exist because someone saved up their cash, made their own sets/costumes, and got their friends to help out on weekends. These are labours of love created by our kids, our coworkers, our best friends and our creepy neighbors.
When viewed as a whole, these movies offer valuable insight into the beliefs, attitudes and social cues that have helped build the world we live in now. Alas, now huge swathes of this cultural history are being cut from today’s knowledge, simply because nobody will pay to have them upgraded and saved.
Now, don’t get me wrong! Advances in technology are what first gave these same hobbyists access to the tools needed to make such movies. Unfortunately, the speed of these advancements now spells their doom.
Have no fear, dear reader! We can still look to the future! Although we are losing reams of existing footage to the march of time, there are ALWAYS new filmmakers lining up to replace them. Thanks to accessible software like VideoStudio Pro X5, hobbyists can birth their creations with relative ease and at lower costs than ever before.
Even more importantly, low-budget filmmakers can collaborate and distribute more than ever before! Online forums, Facebook groups and large file delivery services like ZipSend help create the perfect environment for enthusiasts to compare ideas, send large files to each other inexpensively, and ultimately join forces. As a result, peer support and community awareness has increased exponentially, giving new generations the inspiration to dive in.
So, yes! I still have hope for those destined to tell our stories-our wacky local filmmakers who strive to fill in the enormous spaces existing between the giant Hollywood genres. Although I mourn the loss of access to the thousands of low-budget films already out there, at least there are tons of tools available to help new generations replace them!
Hey guys, do you have a favorite “low-budget” movie?