Filmmaker == Hacker

Having split my professional life between the tech and movie worlds, I’ve always been struck by how similar filmmakers and hackers are. For example, both groups:

  • Think about the world as a collection of fascinating material to be mined / problems to be solved;
  • Disdain things that are boring and have already been done;
  • Distrust tradition/authority as a sufficient rationale in and of itself;
  • Respect competence and support meritocratic structure;
  • Work collaboratively and share ideas and solutions (even with ‘competitors’);
  • Are willing to put in huge amounts of work, even when unpaid, just for the love of the game.
  • And, most importantly, want to share the things they pour their hearts and souls into making with as many people as they possibly can.

In the tech world, that’s easy for hackers to do: they start startups, build stuff on their own terms, and then share their stuff with users by building direct customer relationships.

In the movie world, however, filmmakers haven’t had such a direct route; instead, they’ve traditionally had to rely on studios and distributors to build those relationships for them.

Now, sites like YouTube allow filmmakers to share directly. But those sites also don’t generate real filmmaker revenue. And while filmmakers (like hackers) don’t actually care all that much about getting rich, they do at least want to make enough money making their stuff that they can live comfortably, and show their investors strong enough returns to play again as soon as they come up with their next big idea.

With more and more films being made each year, it seems almost inevitable to me that new solutions will emerge somewhere between the studio and YouTube models – solutions that help filmmakers build broad audiences, profitably, and in ways they directly control.

I’ve been giving that a lot of thought of late. Because it seems like that’s a big problem waiting for a solution – and an equally big business waiting to be built.