November 29, 2022

The pandemic changed the way we view and consume entertainment. In 2020, movie theaters and concert venues shut down worldwide, causing an abrupt pause in releases and revenue. The pandemic’s disruption of the film industry left many without work or paychecks for months on end. But once things began to open up and people resumed filming, things accelerated like never before. The number of films and shows released on streaming platforms tripled from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020, and theaters continued to struggle. As the industry fundamentally changes and becomes more competitive, filmmakers and actors alike are pivoting in real-time to keep up with its demands.

Two crucial components that have changed in the last year and a half are the rate at which projects are released and the way they are financed. Finances are a critical piece in the movie-making equation. At Stage 32’s State of the Industry: Virtual Film Finance Summit, leaders in entertainment from across the globe gathered to discuss emerging trends and industry changes taking place.

One key finding from this event is that the most common deals going through are primarily between $1-3M. Projects in the $15-30M range are not as common as they used to be. Since the average cost of a major studio production is roughly $65M, this puts many producers in a difficult situation. A limited budget does not change the consumer’s expectations of excellent, compelling content, or the actor’s need for a competitive salary. An undue amount of pressure is put on filmmakers to create excellent work on leaner budgets. While industry experts and financiers cited a number of challenges, some also see new opportunities for producers to compete as never before, especially in the independent film arena.

“Right now you have to do more for less. We’ve seen so many independent films in the last year get derailed over COVID, and people everywhere are increasing their budgets for it. We all know what filmmaking means to us, but we have to move into thinking of it as more of a business and a profession.” Tatiana Kelley, a producer at Serena Films, said during the summit. Filmmakers also expressed frustration with the cost of COVID precautions and how lockdowns or mandatory quarantines cause an extra financial burden on production.

The fiscal burden of movie-making is exacerbated by an overall change in how people consume content. Theaters are challenged to attract patrons amidst the draw of at-home streaming. Distribution strategies are changing nationwide. Many theaters are opting for shorter release durations, a change predicted to stay. While streaming platforms like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) are slated to release a record amount of films in the next few years, theaters must find ways to deliver their offerings in a unique, compelling way.

The summit also highlighted the power of knowledge and networking in order to stay competitive. You no longer have to be a Hollywood insider in order to effectively network and get a job. Platforms like Stage 32, the largest networking and educational network in entertainment, provide ample opportunities for connection, which is—perhaps—what this industry needs most of all during these times.

Image Sourced from Pixabay

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