The Timely Death of Film in the Age of Digital Cinema

The rise of video platforms like Netflix or Amazon, YouTube, Hulu and many others have not only changed the way people are watching their favourite movies and long-form drama serials, but it has also highlighted the death of the idea of Film as Film in the age of digital cinema. No longer is film king of entertainment; indeed it is now digital cinema.

It is therefore not a surprise to see that film is fasting becoming obsolete in the age of digital cinema. Indeed, film is dead and no one; at least not the masses; is the least bit concern by it.

Indeed, film theorists like Noel Carroll advised us to think of the subject of film not as film but as and in terms of moving images. One would go further and say that it is better to think about the subject of film in terms of the specific contexts in which it is used in conversations and discussions. That is because the word film is not only a noun but it is also a verb and an adjective all rolled up into one; and where sometimes the lines are blurred without one knowing that they are blurred in the first place. Hence, it is important to divorce the different uses of the term film by identifying the specific contexts in which it is referred to in conversations.

Firstly, it is important not to conflate Film as a be-all and end-all term of not only the art and craft of making movies but also the theorization and thinking about the subject in academia. It is important to see that there is the literary interpretation of film as a unit of analysis and discussion of cultural representation. Secondly, there is the sociological study of the effects and impact of media on people. Third, the socio-economic structure and superstructure of Film as Industry. Lastly, film within the supplementary domains of film criticism, fandom, and gossip columns. But while all of these domains make for a vibrant and exciting film ecology, they are nonetheless equally affected by the advent of digital disruptions and technologies that are not only improving but changing the ways in which films are made and seen in the era of digital innovations.

Indeed, the digital disruptions that are transforming ways of doing things in many industries and corporations are equally disrupting not only the way movies or made, distributed, and exhibited. That is because, save for a selected few, no one is actually shooting on film nowadays. Even Kodak and Fujifilm, the traditional manufacturers of film stock, have either shuttered their film divisions or divested their attention away. Indeed, it is increasingly acknowledged that the business of making and selling film stock is just not viable or profitable in the age of digital devices and media technologies. Moreover, while digital systems were cost prohibitive at first, distributors and exhibitors, not to mention production companies, nonetheless realized that it is probably more prudent and wiser to invest in digital platforms. After all, the world is being transformed by newer, faster, and more productive ways of doing things; what more in the film industry.

But digital cinema, if not already, is fast transforming the way movies are thought of and conceptualized within academia. Indeed, if no one is using Film, where even film manufacturers are not even bothering with advancing film-based technologies; where film makers are not even bothering to shoot and edit on film; where distributors and exhibitors are not even distributing and exhibiting on film; where even consumers and viewers are not really watching films with film projectors or even going to film theatres; then it begs the question, as indeed it has prompted Noel Carrol to swap film with moving images; is film dead? Is it dying or has it always been dead?

The short answer to the first question has to be “Yes, film as a technology is dead”. But it only applies to the raw materials (film stock) and to its image acquisition and editing technologies (non-linear editing and coloring software). Eventually, film will go the way of vinyl records or as collector items. There is no ambiguity in terms of its obsolescence in terms of technology. But fortunately, film as an art form will survive.

If anything, the death of film technologies is not only emancipative but it is also productive in the sense that it has allowed for a plethora of filmmakers in the rise of digital cinema.

But this rise in digital cinema has also changed the nature of digital storytelling and films; especially when watching a film is no longer about just the film but also the ability to read about it on news websites, fan sites or even watch analyses of it on YouTube. And to consume it not with other people in a theatre but in one’s own space with a laptop.

Whereas one had to SHARE, now one can CONTROL when, where, and how to use a video, film or clip to suit one’s own convenience, time, and mood.

Digital cinema, and by implication technology, has liberated people from being herded and controlled by filmmakers and/or theatre owners.  Indeed, it has also freed people from the tyrannical hold of understanding a film from filmmakers and film critics and academics, by allowing people to engage with it through blogs, social media, and also allowing viewers of all stripes and colours to evaluate it without the dictates of taste-makers.

Indeed, technological innovation in digital cinema has led to the timely death of Film in the age of digital innovations and disruptions by giving control over to the people and to the individual.

But is that a good thing?

 

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Liverpool 2019 European Cup Champion- a long term process

To be frank, I am a Manchester United F.C fan.

But I will give credit where credit is due.

And that is Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp has basically done what Man Utd has not done in recent years; in terms of developing a team for the long term.

They have promoted and nurtured young players like Trent-Arnold and Robertson while recruiting previously unwanted players like Henderson, Salah and Milner, and incorporating  Fabinho, Matip, Van Dijk and Alisson into a team with Firminho and Sane to become the European Champions of 2019.

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It is an oft-repeated fact that Jurgen Klopp, the enigmatic and charismatic German manager, has lost at least 3 finals with Liverpool before 2019.

But the truth is that there is remains a sense of development and excitement at what Klopp and the team could achieve in the future even though they lost those finals.

And now they have captured the biggest prize of them all; the UCL Cup.

And the best thing about the whole thing is that; it feels like the Liverpool team of 2019 could go on to dominate England as well as Europe in the next decade.

But the trick of it all is that; Klopp has managed to set a long-term vision of not only how Liverpool should play; but that how they should go about setting up the team to achieve.

That is to find Young Players to be in a team that also include Experienced Heads along with so-called Star Players.

And Klopp is the maestro that keeps the orchestra playing in a united and concerted way.

But the thing is Klopp is also the composer who has written the music or to use another metaphor, someone who has written the script to put long-term thinking into action.

And Klopp’s vision becomes actionable through the blending of Youth with Experience and Star Power. 

Indeed, Klopp has not been shy to spend money to buy players. But he has not forgotten to include Youth into his team at the same time.

Ultimately, he has created an atmosphere that EVERYONE involved with Liverpool is part of a big family.

And that everything emanates from him; the one who set the vision, laughs, cries, and gets angry; like a fan; and sets targets for everyone to reach. 

And that sadly has not been the situation with Man Utd.

So for now, even as a rival fan, I applaud and look with jealousy at the Long Term Thinking, Vision, and Strategy at Liverpool F.C.

 

 

 

 

 

What I learnt from watching the so-called decline of Manchester United Football Club over the past 5 years?

To the uninitiated, Manchester United FC or Man Utd is an English Premier League football / soccer team.

They are not only one of the most prestigious football club in England and the UK, but they are also considered to be one of the prestigious football clubs in the world.

They have won a record 20 League titles, 12 FA Cups, 5 League Cups and a record 21 FA Community Shields. Their trophy room include three UEFA Champions Leagues, one UEFA Europa League, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup.

That’s a lot of trophies.

But in recent years, or to be more specific, ever since their greatest manager Sir Alex Ferguson, retired from the football club at the age of 72 yrs old, the club has been in freefall.

And even though they have hired two of the greatest football managers in Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourhino, the club has collapsed in double quick time after Sir Alex’s retirement. Indeed, the speed in which Man Utd has collapsed is faster than what it took Sir Alex Ferguson, from 1986 to 1993, to create a winning juggernaut in football history.

While many blame David Moyes, the manager whom many say was vouched for by Sir Alex as a worthy successor, it is also very obvious that it is not just Moyes’ fault.

Indeed, the club not only changed the manager but they also changed the CEO of the club at the same time in 2013.

To add fuel to fire, David Moyes himself swapped the entire backroom coaching staff from Sir Alex’s days with his own brand new team.

But when David Moyes started to lose matches and was booted out in less than a year in 2014, it was also obvious that it was a panic reaction by higher management.

Later when Louie Van Gaal took over in 2014, it was said that his style was football was boring and uninspiring. Indeed, Van Gaal was sacked almost immediately after he won the FA Cup in 2016.

Then the club hired Jose Mourhino in 2016, a man who is known for his Midas touch if not his football, and even when he won the Europa League Cup and a domestic League Cup in his first season, and took the team to second place in the second season, he was sacked halfway in his third season during December 2018.

So now ex-player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in charge in 2019.  But after a few glorious months of winning, the club went back to its losing ways at the tail-end of the season.

 

So what are some of the lessons we can learn from this bouncing around, panic, and a general sense of pessimism after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson?

  1. Don’t change the entire coaching and management staff at once.  Always better to have a transition or handing over period.
  2. Be resolute in staying the course. But always understand that there will be painful moments in the short term.
  3. Once a manager is selected, back the manager. Otherwise, why select him in the first place?
  4. Explain to the public the vision and importance of continuity and change.
  5. Don’t be swayed by opinion makers and news media who do not have a stake in the long-term success of the company.

 

 

 

 

 

The Awesomeness of Avengers: Endgame (2019)

 

The achievement of Marvel Studios in crafting its Infinity Stone saga over the past ten years, without losing its audience, is perhaps one of the greatest cinematic long-form projects in history.

Indeed, Marvel’s superhero films from 2008 to 2019 are not only cinematic milestones but they are also examples of how not to get lost in special effects and big-budget action sequences by focusing on the personal story arcs of each of its characters.

So while many people are turned off by the superhero genre, perhaps because they think it appeals to young children,  they should actually look closely at how the character arcs of the main characters shift and change over the years. And that has to be credited to the love and care of the writers, directors, and producers involved with the project.

So inasmuch as the awesomeness of Avengers is its longevity,  its awesomeness is also because of the intense love and care by the studio in charting and tracking the character arc, psychologically and emotionally, over the years. Thus making the series fresh, interesting, and unpredictable.

So minus its success at the box office, the Marvel films are awesome in terms of not losing its focus on its main characters.  And that is why audiences are not excited about watching the next Marvel film but they are also excited about watching what happens next to their favorite superheroes.

At the same time, they also know that the filmmakers treat the viewer with respect by also treating the characters they love with equal love and respect.

And that is what also makes the Marvel films such a delight and success because the filmmakers do not treat comic book heroes with ridicule or disdain but treat them for what they are and what they could be in terms of expressing heroism, courage, and fortitude under duress.

 

 

 

The Awesomeness of Warrior (2011)

While this film is basically about two brothers fighting each other as MMA fighters, The Central conflict of the film is also something that is rather close to my heart and life story.

It is essentially about two estranged brothers and their relationship with their guilt stricken father.

The reason I like this film, other than the fighting scenes, is the sensitive display of masculinity and machoism.