The First Thing You Should Learn in Film School: What It Means To Be Connected

As many of you know, I've been teaching in South-East Asia. I'm delighted that I've been asked to come here and talk about 21st century filmmaking. Today? While I was sitting at a desk on a mountainside in rain-drenched Taiwan, helping a friend in NYC crew up his last-minute overnight shoot (half-a-world away), I had a thought that I want to spread as widely and as quickly as possible...

My thought? 

Our new global connectedness via mobile devices is not just changing how we do what we do - it is actually changing what we do as non-studio filmmakers and how we must treat each other. 

In other words, our global connectedness is not just creating new opportunities for fundraising, marketing, and monetizing

In addition to the obvious aesthetic and business changes, it seems to me that the emerging 21st-century non-Hollywood film culture will apparently also require that we accept new responsibilities to the people we used to call our audience and to each other. 

Most indie filmmakers today understand (from bitter personal experience?) that the old revenue models for indie film are collapsing. 

But many of us still cling to our Old World ideas about film production and circulation. 

And, to my knowledge, there isn't one film school in the world where the new relationship between filmmakers and our users are at the center of everything. 

And yet, the way we NOW connect with each other (e.g., as co-creators, in dialogue with our core supporters, etc.) online is probably the most important thing to happen to filmmaking since 1895. 

Mobile devices mean that filmmakers can create or join existing tribes that self-identify around ideas (not age, or gender, or race, or location on the planet). 

And, as my Facebook dialogue tonight with Darren Dean and my earlier Skype conversations with Ilkka Jarvilaturi in Beijing, and the email I'm about to send to Siobhan O'Flynn in Toronto all illustrate, our tribes are now global. 

The web makes it possible to connect. But filmmakers must learn HOW to connect with other filmmakers and - perhaps most importantly - how to forge lasting bonds with the people we used to treat as passive consumers.

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