The Film Industry Shifts to Auto-play
July 19, 2021 6:21 AM   Subscribe

Is Netflix's distribution model changing the content of what we watch? (Peter Labuza, LA Times; archive link). Labuza writes that "giants such as Netflix are positioned to control which films get made and how, without necessarily following the preferences of consumers."

Previously, the Hollywood Reporter covered how Netflix is affecting what equipment is used to film movies. "Netflix’s size has allowed it to touch and influence everything from hardware and software development to industry display standards."

Meanwhile, Kara Swisher of the New York Times writes that she's not going back to the movies. (Archive link)
posted by kingoftonga86 (38 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I guess this is the cycle.

Initially, Netflix was uniquely poised to make bingeworthy content because they could see what people *really* watched. "Big bets informed by Big Data" (NYT from 2013). So if David Fincher and Kevin Spacey (10 years ago) and political dramas are the hottest things....boom, "House of Cards."

I guess eventually the pendulum would have to swing from "we'll make this because people will like and watch it" and it makes Netflix stickier in your house to "people will watch this because our weird interface will dump whatever we want into their faces when they open our app."

FWIW, I'm still figuring out my new-ish Chromecast, but my kids are naturals at just pressing the button for the mic and saying what they want. So they don't even have to know that Netflix has property X and Disney has property Y, etc. They just say what they want.
posted by adekllny at 6:36 AM on July 19 [10 favorites]


Netflix productions invariably give off a tacky Olive Garden vibe, but one thing I'll applaud them for is representation -- if you are a member of a major ethnic group there are probably multiple shows available where someone who looks like you is the lead character, and I don't know if that's true for any other paid service, much less broadcast television. To that extent, sometimes if you're looking for a certain type of program, they're the only game in town.

Yet despite that and despite subscribing to most of the big streaming services and a few smaller ones, I probably wind up spending >50% of my screen time just futzing around on YouTube.
posted by xigxag at 8:23 AM on July 19 [12 favorites]


I know what they mean. But, "Post Technology Alliance" may be among the goofiest sounding titles serious people wearing suits have ever said in public. Someone should pitch that as a film title.

This is frustrating. I'm curious if it's worse than the theater distribution industry.
posted by eotvos at 8:27 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


I don't think I've watched much of their original programming otherwise, but I would not say that either Queen's Gambit or Sense8 gave off a "tacky Olive Garden vibe."
posted by tavella at 9:10 AM on July 19 [18 favorites]


I'm immunocompromised and the vaccines don't seem to work well for people like me, so I'm not sure I'll ever go back to the movies. But I'm sad about it. I still remember how glorious it was to watch Lawrence of Arabia on a big screen. People who can't afford home theater setups can't replicate anything like that experience outside of a real theater. It's sort of like closing down all public pools and writing an article saying it's fine because I'm just going to swim at home. That leaves a lot of people out of the experience altogether.

As far as Netflix's control of what movies get made, maybe I'm not understanding this, but what does it mean to suggest art should be driven by consumer demand? It seems bad to have corporations making those decisions, but if what art gets made gets decided by some kind of consumer vote, I'm not sure that's a great idea either. I know it costs a lot of money to make a movie, and we don't live in an ideal world where everyone who has a great idea for a film or TV series can bring that to reality and have it actually available to people, but that's really what I'd like to see.

I remember hearing once that the reason there are many more female authors than female painters and sculptors before the twentieth century is because painting and sculpture are expensive and take up a lot of space. Historians of women's art can tell me if I'm wrong about this, but it does strike me as true that the affordability of materials affects what art gets made, and making a movie has got to be one of the most expensive art forms - maybe writing symphonies would be another. I think live theater as a popular art form has really been pretty much destroyed by how expensive it is and how few people you can reach with a production compared to what you can do with a movie (Tip: do not say this in a graduate theater class. People will get really mad.)
posted by FencingGal at 9:29 AM on July 19 [11 favorites]


"giants such as Netflix are positioned to control which films get made and how, without necessarily following the preferences of consumers."

I hate to break it to people... but this is how it has always been. Consumer preferences are created by business, not the other way around. Before the iPhone existed, people didn't have a preference for smartphones, you know? Business created the product and created the preference.

If businesses ever actually functioned based on consumer preference, and not abject profit, I think things would arguably look and function a lot differently.

Out of touch men telling us what is an isn't appropriate to watch is basically the entirety of American cinema. The ratings guidelines imposed by the private group the MPA is a perfect example. This is not a government group, this is a business group dedicated to promoting their own moral worldview onto film through "ratings." While "ratings" generally make sense, (we don't want five year olds watching Showgirls with no context or knowledge of sex), they still exist as a way for a private group to dictate what is and isn't appropriate for others to watch, up to and including the ability to have scenes cut from films just to make a certain rating.

Also, as some mentioned upthread, art being driven by consumer demand doesn't necessarily make good art. While this "traditional" method of a few people being in charge of what art gets made isn't great it still at least leaves the option open for brilliant art to be made. Art completely controlled by the market becomes anodyne and listless.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:33 AM on July 19 [8 favorites]


Also, the film industry catering to the "lowest common denominator" isn't about audience preferences, it's about every-manning the hell out of everything so you can cast the widest net and gain the most profit from the most eyeballs on the screen. It has nothing to do with catering to audience "preferences" and everything to do with catching as many dollars as possible.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:38 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


Another article that is basically "the things the major Hollywood studios have been doing for decades are Very Bad when Netflix does them!" But the particular gripe I have is that he's comparing apples and oranges - comparing Netflix to the indie theaters, when it's far more accurate to compare Netflix to the big mainstream theater chains (which have always done the same thing he's worried Netflix might do, in terms of promoting some movies and leaving others to languish) and compare the smaller, more indie-friendly streaming services to independent theaters.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:39 AM on July 19 [15 favorites]


Is the model now like the 1950s, where studios are stuck in "properties"? Only in the 1950s it was the royalty-free Bible and now they have to license IP, paying for (and thus being required to show ROI on) every new product?

So - is it not the people with cameras and scripts and lines but the producers, the ones who actually get a product from brain to outlet, the ones who will have to lead the revolution? Where would George Lucas have been without Kathleen Kennedy and Gary Kurtz? Despite all of their a##holery maybe producers are the ones who lead revolutions because that's where the money comes from.

Also about Kara Swisher - I like Scott Galloway's insights when he's not strutting for the likes, but I stopped listening to Pivot because I find Kara Swisher intolerable. She is the poster child for the tech hangers-on, name-dropping who she likes and doesn't like and endlessly singing from the Kara Swisher hymn-sheet.

Maybe she did good reporting in decades (and I mean decades) past, but watch her fawning, PR-like interviews with the likes of Andy Jassy and Dara Khosrowshahi and see what a "celebrity journalist" turns into without merciless editing. At some point a journalist with experience in the industry turns into Mike Royko or Robin Leach, and she is definitely Leach-y.
posted by lon_star at 9:41 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


So, if I want to make a film (video) in B&W, 4:3 not 16:9 as its an intimate portrait of people talking to each other, and lo-res as I don’t want to display nose hairs in close-ups, then I’m out of luck for getting any distribution despite the genius quality of the film? Yes, technology does affect art, but it should do so in providing more choices when making aesthetic decisions, it shouldn’t limit those decisions as demonstrated here. What next? No less than 4.63 explosions per film?
posted by njohnson23 at 10:14 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I don't expect every Netflix exclusive to have the same production value as, say, Stranger Things. In fact some of them have production values closer to straight-to-video films of years past. But that's just fine. When I was watching network TV I didn't expect every show to meet the same standards either, and I did laugh a lot at some sitcoms where the scenes in the "backyard" or "camping" were OBVIOUSLY done on a sound stage with fake trees and astroturf for a lawn. Didn't stop me from enjoying them.

What has stopped me from enjoying films and shows has been the utter lack of creativity. Movies more often than not are 'Sequel XXIV: The Sequeling', or 'Remake of a Film that was Just Fine the First Time Around'. If not one of those, it's 'Thinly Veiled Advertising for a Kid's Toy Brand' or 'Screw It, We Have a New Leading Actor, Let's Reboot and Pretend the Earlier Films Don't Exist'. Network TV became a morass of Cop Show followed by Doctor Show, tomorrow night's lineup is Lawyer Show and then Idiotic 'Reality' Show. And don't forget to end your night with 'Edgy' Talk Show!

Don't get me wrong. There are lots of the above on streaming channels too. But there are also some really big risks being taken, creative strides that established studios are not willing to take due to the financial risk of failure. We've seen movies and shows that would never have been given a chance in theaters or on network TV. And what happens? When these start winning awards, movie studios complain and try to change the rules to stop the streaming channels from competing. Well, that's... progressive I guess.

I'm happier as a cord cutter to have the chance to see stuff with limited appeal, with diverse casting, with new and risky premises, with plots that are not afraid to get complicated (and won't be dumbed down in Season 2 because mass audiences couldn't be bothered to pay enough attention to keep up). Streaming channels don't have to put all their eggs in one time slot, and can afford to take the risk of appealing to a smaller audience.

This may be a bad model, in the long run. But mostly it's bad for the established studios and network syndicates. The FPP read a lot like newspaper folks complaining that people are reading the news online for FREE now (*cluches pearls*). There are some points I'll allow - yes, I too hate the proliferation of streaming channels because who can afford to subscribe to ALL of them?? - but as a whole, it rings hollow for me.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:14 AM on July 19 [8 favorites]


> Fat old out of touch men

Eww, fat people.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:36 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


Mod note: One comment deleted. Using "fat" and "old" as a pejorative term is not OK.
[Update]: comment has been reinstated with the necessary edits.
posted by loup (staff) at 10:40 AM on July 19 [12 favorites]


without necessarily following the preferences of consumers...

You know what happens when you follow the preferences of consumers? You get Snakes on a Plane, and other stupid, focus-grouped, comic-con-hyped plates of tapioca pudding that everybody gets SUPER EXCITED about prior to release and then drops from #1 at the box office to an also-ran by the next weekend.

Worrying about the preferences of consumers is how we get nothing but sequels, remakes, reimaginings. The work Netflix et al have done to change the attitude about what constitutes a tv season, how much content you should try to squeeze out of a brand before trying something new, the sheer amount of good content that you can create once you don't have to worry about the limitations of only 3 hours of broadcastible content four nights a week... I welcome Netflix's shakeup of how things work.
posted by nushustu at 10:55 AM on July 19 [6 favorites]


I unsubscribed to Netflix just before the pandemic. Bojack Horseman was ending at that point and I wasn't following any other show on Netflix, except Aggretsuko. And that show wasn't worth paying subscription to wait for the next season to come out. Honestly, having to find and follow shows got kind of annoying and it was easier just to occasionally ask a friend what was going on in "X" show if I wanted to find out.(And that's free advertisement for that show, so they should really be sending me a check!).

During the pandemic until now, other than trying out HiDive (anime streaming service) and getting a complimentary two months from Mubi for their anniversary (who begged me to come back at the end of the free period), I haven't tried or paid for any other subscription service. The local libraries have Hoopla and Kanopy when I do want to stream something legally. And I'm already the kind of person that appreciates lesser known international and indie stuff, so that works for me. And of course as mentioned above, there's always YouTube.
posted by FJT at 11:02 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Even though there is the concentration of capital, etc., there's also a diversification of resources, production and distribution, reaching places and people they wouldn't have otherwise.
I'm friends with a lot of Chilean filmmakers, including a few oscar winners and nominees, and streaming has been a boon for them, giving them access to a a wider international audience than they would have ever been able to reach through the festival circuit. Money, too.
posted by signal at 11:08 AM on July 19 [8 favorites]


So what I got out of this article was that the in-house production model of Netflix et al. is a threat to midsize indy-like production houses like A24. I'm not 100% sure I buy this, in part because A24 at least has successfully worked with Netflix before (Uncut Gems); but I do see the concern that continued build out of in-house production capability will crowd out the indies, and this would certainly be unfortunate.

The stuff about "following the preferences of consumers" seems less urgent, but I'm guessing the preferences of consumers will be the Marvel Universe for another couple of years before the superhero movie goes the way of the western.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:13 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


TBH, the one that concerns me is Disney+: they seem to be very keen on being the world's dominant streaming platform, they're putting a lot of work into it and there's a tremendous amount of entertaining stuff on there. But it's all American (except, off the top of my head, The Full Monty, Calendar Girls and one other film like that, which are sort-of British), and consequently is a bit of a monoculture.

(Another fun party-pooping game in a similar vein is to see how many major MCU characters you can think of that are a. Human; b. From a country that isn't the U.S.; c. From a country that's not imaginary. I'll spot you Natasha Romanov. And I love MCU movies, and am rather overdosing at the moment. But still.)

Netflix at least features content from around the world, and produced films like Roma and Okja.
posted by Grangousier at 11:23 AM on July 19 [6 favorites]


But it's all American

They produce a bunch of regional stuff that isn't available in the US. Mostly for Latin America (including Spanish- and Portuguese-language productions) but trying to get into Korea and Turkey as well.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:30 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


There’s so much more tv and better tv than ever before. And even if the box office champs are dumb sequels, there are also tons of other movies. And people can get access to huge libraries of popular and not popular stuff from all around the world that were never accessible before, and small filmmakers can access audiences that were never available before. There is mediocre stuff out there, and I guess if you only watched what Netflix suggested to you, you might watch a lot of it. But that would be your own fault.
posted by snofoam at 11:41 AM on July 19 [6 favorites]


I'm sure that Netflix chooses and develops movies and shows a few different ways. Some will be more traditional versions that we recognize and we should expect the same spread of great to bad.

But there seem to be some Netflix produced stuff that feels like it was spawned by an algorithm. Like they start with some demographic data that says period crime dramas are real hot right now so they start developing a script. What needs to happen in a period crime drama.....?

Criminals: Focus groups suggest Emily Brobst and Edward Bossert are good fits
Lawmen: We need older veteran actors with highly recognizable names: Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner!
Script: Browse TV Tropes.org to make sure we have all major expected plot points covered

Okay, can we find a real historical event to base this off of?

Presenting: The Highwaymen!

The movie itself was fine but it was like a color-by-numbers version of movie making. The more recent movie "Army of the Dead" was the same. It hits all the notes that kind of movie is expected to hit and nothing more, it's just souless and it comes through in the final product.

There will probably be the same mix of good:bad art as always. Most of it will suck, some of it won't. It's just that the reasons for it are going to change a bit.
posted by VTX at 12:01 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


They produce a bunch of regional stuff that isn't available in the US.

I'm in the UK, FWIW. I suppose that explains The Full Monty, but I'd like to be able to see what they're showing in, say, Mexico. Or maybe not, I have no idea what it is. I'd like the option, anyway. US + a little bit of the local culture isn't that different from just US.

(With a bunch of the Netflix-produced stuff, though, yes, it does sometimes feel like they miss out on a stage of the editorial process, and stuff goes into production with ungainly corners left on.)
posted by Grangousier at 12:08 PM on July 19


Netflix offers Mexican film and TV.
Flixwatch Is useful.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:51 PM on July 19


Netflix productions invariably give off a tacky Olive Garden vibe, but one thing I'll applaud them for is representation -- if you are a member of a major ethnic group there are probably multiple shows available where someone who looks like you is the lead character, and I don't know if that's true for any other paid service, much less broadcast television. To that extent, sometimes if you're looking for a certain type of program, they're the only game in town.

A Qanon-brainwormed older relative considers Netflix part of the Cultural Marxist conspiracy against Western civilisation for this reason. They used as a data point Midnight Diner, and the barman and patrons in the izakaya addressing each other in a far more casual Japanese than would be appropriate (from the POV of a westerner who last spent much time in Japan half a century ago) as part of the tactics of undermining traditional norms, alongside mixed-race gay families and such.
posted by acb at 1:51 PM on July 19


Netflix and Disney+ originals are pretty much all we watch, since nothing else in the US has Japanese subtitles which my wife requires.

So we have watched a LOT of Netflix shows. The nice thing is they do the all-languages approach regardless of origin country, so we can even watch shows from South Korea, Germany, etc.

[The only other way we can easily watch movies is to buy and import physical BluRay discs from Japan. VPNs are not fast enough and/or get blocked regularly --- I've tried many]

I'm not sure whether other services are not doing this because of licensing restrictions, UI decisions, or laziness. [I'm referring especially to movies where I _know_ there are official translations, because I own the Bluray from Japan that has them....].

But as far as I'm concerned, Netflix is the best thing to happen to multilingual households.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:52 PM on July 19 [12 favorites]


Criminals: Focus groups suggest Emily Brobst and Edward Bossert are good fits

Seems really weird to use them as the example of being chosen by committee but not the Big Name leads who got top billing, Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:20 PM on July 19


Some of the most fun and memorable moviegoing experiences of my life would never have happened in a Netflix-only world.

• The audio dying during a screening of Ben Affleck’s Daredevil, then listening to the audience gigglingly supply their own a cappella sound effects for 5-10 minutes until the projectionist noticed.
• Being one of two middle-aged doofuses who wandered into a screening of the first Paranormal Activity full of college kids on various dates and substances. The screams were epic and put the jump in jump scare.
• And yes, yelling the signature line from Snakes on a Plane along with everyone else excited enough to go opening night.

Netflix does fine work, but they set their sights lower than those sorts of crowd-pandering thrills. I’m not ready to go back to theaters yet, but I’ll be sad if those experiences get lost.
posted by FallibleHuman at 3:13 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


>I know what they mean. But, "Post Technology Alliance" may be among the goofiest sounding titles serious people wearing suits have ever said in public. Someone should pitch that as a film title.
"They wear clogs on the weekend, and one of them is going to shove the clogs into the system the bring it down.
S A B O T . A G E
optioned August 2021”

I'd watch a remake of Tron with a boomer digitised into the cloud and has to fight Netflix's Chaos Army.

"That's Steve, he fights for the shareholders."
posted by k3ninho at 3:30 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I'm in the UK, FWIW. I suppose that explains The Full Monty, but I'd like to be able to see what they're showing in, say, Mexico. Or maybe not, I have no idea what it is. I'd like the option, anyway. US + a little bit of the local culture isn't that different from just US.

Yeah, the regionalization is frustrating. One interesting thing with all of the streaming services in the US is that we're seeing many more UK-produced shows . The only big non-English-language show that made a splash here that I can think of is Lupin. (Maybe Terrace House?)

The Latin American push is pretty massive. Disney+ is producing 70 original projects.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:00 PM on July 19


American Disney+ has a surprisingly shallow catalog, at least if you aren't into repeatedly rewatching Star Wars/MCU/Disney/Pixar stuff. I'm sure it's great for households with kids, but I had it for two months while we were Teleparty watching Mandalorian, and I had totally exhausted the stock of the above that I had not yet watched and wanted to, well before the end of that period. As well as anything else of the otherwise limited selection.
posted by tavella at 5:19 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


> but what does it mean to suggest art should be driven by consumer demand?

comic book movies till the end of time
posted by glonous keming at 5:46 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


American Disney+ has a surprisingly shallow catalog, at least if you aren't into repeatedly rewatching Star Wars/MCU/Disney/Pixar stuff.

Yeah, as an adult with no kids and a very limited interest in Marvel (thus far I've enjoyed Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Wandavision), Disney+ is verrrrrrrry thin for me. I keep meaning to cancel it and then I'm like "I just want to watch Hamilton one more time" so I'm spending $10/month or whatever to watch Hamilton once every few months. But yet, I haven't canceled it yet, so I guess they're doing something right.

Netflix OTOH has a mind-boggling amount of content, and you'd never know about most of it unless you trick the algorithm into thinking that's what you want to see. It's in these wormholes you find the "Olive Garden commercial" shows/movies. A gazillion movies and shows for teens that appear to have been assembled in a factory. But like others have said, it's no different from all the direct-to-video or made-for-syndication shows we used to have.
posted by lunasol at 6:24 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


I miss theaters, but I don't miss rude patrons and the ear splitting noise levels.
posted by Beholder at 7:57 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure people are really responding to what Labuza feels is alarming about the situation -- it's not so much that Netflix and Disney+ and Amazon aren't making the movies/shows that consumers want, but that they're deliberately moving to restrict the marketplace so that people are watching more content financed by Netflix and Disney+ and Amazon and less content financed by, well, anybody else. This is possible, as Labuza notes, because the U.S. government has essentially lost interest in the kind of antitrust enforcement that, once upon a time, ensured that studios didn't own movie theaters and thus couldn't build a monopoly across both production and distribution.

This might not seem like a big issue -- who really cares if Netflix buys the Paris in NYC and the Egyptian in L.A. and starts pushing out the usual arthouse programming in favor of their own premieres and special events? But Labuza also suggests that what's going on can be more insidious than it seems by linking to that World Records Journal piece that explores the "ideological and stylistic pressures" being placed on documentarians who want streaming distribution. The streaming services are documentary kingmakers, increasingly dominating a market that used to be served by smaller theatrical distributors like Cinema Guild, Icarus Films and the like, but they are also demanding a certain type of doc -- more eccentric/interesting characters (ideally celebrities are involved), less political content that might offend certain viewing constituencies -- or governments. As Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings infamously put it after the company pulled Patriot Act with Hasan Minaj from Saudi Arabia due to official objections to its content, "We’re not trying to do ‘truth to power,’ we’re trying to entertain."

It's a real monkey's-paw situation for filmmakers. The streaming services have legitimately expanded the market for documentary feature films, but they're demanding that filmmakers who want a shot at streaming distribution spend more money (shooting 4K even when it's not necessary or even desirable) and make less politically provocative films.
posted by Mothlight at 11:15 PM on July 19 [7 favorites]


I think articles that take an American only perspective on Netflix (in particular) are missing out on the important global dynamic. Netflix now counts most of its subscribers - and the revenue they attract - from countries other than the USA. Because content is usually released everywhere at once the same series is going to be hitting Buenos Aires, Belfast and Bangkok on the same day it reaches Baltimore. That is an interesting cultural phenomenon in its own right - but it also means that content can come from any of those places and reach everybody else. Neither of those dynamics could happen in the world of national broadcasters or of slow moving international cinema releases.
posted by rongorongo at 4:36 AM on July 20 [3 favorites]


What people are afraid of is that streaming services want to develop and buy feature films the way that television shows have always been developed and bought.

A huge amount of the vitality in features is how ungated and unfenced it is to make an independent picture: all you need is a script and someone(s) willing to write a check to make it. Everything you need to cast, shoot and finish the picture can be bought ala carte, and there's a robust and accessible infrastructure to distribute and market it theatrically and then to license it for pay TV, premium VOD, and subscription screaming.

Television does not, and never has, worked like that. The networks/streaming platforms dictate what they generically want, a prequalified and filtered cohort of prospective showrunners (almost all of whom have worked for many years in other television shows) directly or in partnership through studios pitch compliant materials, and if the network/streamer likes it they then buy it in a highly prescriptive manner, with final approval for plot/setting, episode lengths, all above the line staffing (writers, cast, directors), and production values.

It makes complete commercial sense for streamers to think about features the same way that they think about serials - product that has to fill niches which the streamer will always understand far better than any creative could. That has no place for the independent feature model, and that's saddening for everyone who has loved what the indie cinema has been able to do.
posted by MattD at 10:42 AM on July 20 [3 favorites]


The streaming services are documentary kingmakers, increasingly dominating a market that used to be served by smaller theatrical distributors like Cinema Guild, Icarus Films and the like, but they are also demanding a certain type of doc -- more eccentric/interesting characters (ideally celebrities are involved), less political content that might offend certain viewing constituencies -- or governments.

But functionally is this any different than the way it was for documentary filmmakers in, say, the 80s or 90s? My impression is that very few docs actually got seen by a wide audience, and those that did were often the ones that featured eccentric/interesting characters, and were typically not very explicitly political.
posted by lunasol at 10:51 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


the "ideological and stylistic pressures" being placed on documentarians who want streaming distribution.

That's not only Netflix or streaming related, it's always been this way, it was this way with broadcasters, and it was this way with distributors long before Netflix existed. The pressure of distribution on independent filmmakers, documentarians or not has always been enormous. I don't think Netflix makes it worse than it was before. It's just another player with its own agenda. For me the real problem is that there is never enough distribution, so Netflix or Amazon are a good thing in a way because they are new players on a field that always has been composed of a tiny group of very influential actors. When the group gets bigger it means more options. The ideological pressure is still there but it was there in 89 when Michael Moore made "Roger & me" except there were even fewer options back then. The problem of the system is still the same : lots of producers vs very limited distribution options which puts a lot of power in the hands of those who own those distribution channels and can therefor influence what people get to watch.
posted by SageLeVoid at 12:53 AM on July 22


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