On Saturday, June 15th, Ira Deutchman, Columbia University professor and Film Department Chair, who has been involved in the production of over 150 major motion pictures, addresses an audience seated in the Historic Palace Theatre in Lake Placid. The Palace Theatre, like many others of its ilk, is in danger of going dark, unless it can raise the exorbitant funds to convert four screens to digital.
In the span of this unknowing, Ira takes a moment to talk about the future of exhibition, and the state of the film industry. Aided by a PowerPoint presentation on the big screen behind him, Ira rattles off some shocking statistics to a collegiate filmmaking crew from Marist, seated front and center amongst the rapt audience.
“Last year there were 45,000 feature films submitted to film festivals,” Ira tells the crowd. It’s an astonishing figure, given that by all accounts Hollywood is producing fewer features each year, not more. They’re betting bigger money on bigger films – and films with greater guarantees, like sequels, spinoffs, and reboots. Yet the lowered bar for entry due to the accessibility of digital filmmaking technology has more and more films and videos bursting forth from the rest of the world.
Another sobering statistic: “There are 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute,” Ira explains.
Every minute?? There’s got to be some mistake.
There isn’t. With cell phones and iPads able to take high definition video, we’re a society of budding videographers. And while we may have the means, will honing the craft separate the art from the chaff? With a glut of videos and film circulating the scene, Ira advises that “there is still a dearth of good material.”