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    Writing for Film's New World Order
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    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    This following response in is ref to this ...

    "or long short at 65 pages"

    Well Jesus Christ, add 15 more pages and make it a feature. There are no 65 minute shorts!


    Response ...

    My predition - and I could be wrong - is that we will see shorter features become more common. Say 60 to 90 minutes, and I base this on our shorter attention spans thses days due to the internet, and the YouTube (and other delivery systems) phenom that dumps short and quick entertainment in our laps 24/7. It is the new norm, and I think we will see the full-blown absorbtion of it into mainstream 'film' in a very short time (since I am always late to the party, some of you will be thinking 'Uh, we've been saying this for ten years, Alex')

    Also, with all these cut-loose creative minds at work making entertainment, who knows what techniques will come out of it - techniques the big camera folks will want to somwhow adapt?

    The two newest 'film' mediums are web series and pocket filmmaking with cell phones (I think there is a term for this using a series of 15 second clips with cell phones), both leaning towards short blasts of entertainment. If one can tell a story in one minute, they can cartainly tell one in under three epic hours.. Anyways, I am looking at writing shorter features - or longer shorts. Change, it is a comin'.


    Maybe this cell phone thing is the answer to my director-wannabe prayers?


    History of movie length ...

    http://www.randalolson.com/2014/01/2...ey-used-to-be/


    A few pocket films ...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4FRujDeqFw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgkE_wgr5HI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7epE7etrtA



    I'm waiting for this ... have been for YEARS

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YWTtCsvgvg


    Alex


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    uh...weren't most features 90 mins to 2 hours until the mid 2000s when everything, including dumb comedies that absolutely didn't merit it, started clocking in at 2.5-3 hours? I mean I know there were longer movies before but they seemed to be the exception and not the rule.


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    Many silent era films were shorter but were often shown as an "opening act" to longer headline features. By the 1920, features were their "usual" 70-100 minutes, with many going over two hours. Sound and color made films even longer.

    I sort of agree with Alex though. Given the democratization of film making and content delivery, there'll be more short films. And more long films. And more medium length films. And more web series, et cetera, et cetera.

    Equipment ceased being a deterrent to entry. Even location renting is no longer the obstacle that it once was due to cheap, efficient lights and high ISO capable cameras. The only problem I am seeing is the gap between the super-big budget films and the low/no budget independents. I speculate this gap will be filled by the filmmakers outside of the US, where a $1M-$10M film can open in theaters and still be financially feasible due to the size of the market.


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    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Bass View Post
    uh...weren't most features 90 mins to 2 hours until the mid 2000s when everything, including dumb comedies that absolutely didn't merit it, started clocking in at 2.5-3 hours? I mean I know there were longer movies before but they seemed to be the exception and not the rule.
    I have been watching film for a spot over 50 years, with the release of 'The Sound of Music', 1965, as my first big movie experiece. This was in the days when the theater was the main source for film, and intermission was still a part of the experience. That film clocked in at 174 minutes, and I sorta remember that being pretty typical. Not all. I remember seeing 'Brighty of the Grand Canyon', which was 89 minutes, but had mostly a kid audience.

    I grew up on B&W television, and films just were not available beyond the theater. I think film made for TV didn't really get going until late 60s or early 70s. Around there. There were still a lot of animosities between film and television in those days, with little will to cooperate - not unlike we saw again with new ways of creating and distributing entertainment with the advent of the home computer and internet. I hasn't exactly been a group hug, but it's finding it's groove.

    The only exception that I remember was The Wizard of OZ, 1939, which aired on TV in '56. Scared the piss out of me, too. I'm sure there were others, but that one sticks out in my mind. I can't rememebr if we watched it in color or B&W. Color was around, but I really don't think we had a color TV that early. 99% sure.

    These were rough times for the film industry, accepting televisions plopped into every home (reminds again me of the computer), and the big studios were not going to let their actors work for TV. Actors - as well as screenwriters - have Ronald Reagan to thank for residuals and softening the gap between studio and TV.



    To name just a very few that I remember from my early days ...

    Sparticus, 1960, 184 minutes
    Psycho, 1960, 109 minutes
    The Magnificent 7, 1960, 128 minutes
    Cleopatra, 1963, 248 minutes
    2001, 1968, 142 minutes
    Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961, 114 minutes
    Dr. Zhivago, 1965, 193 minutes
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 1966, 177 minutes


    Some variation to be sure. Anyways. I don't think we have seen the full impact of computers yet on feature film. Maybe a few years once some of the short-but-sweet methods really take hold. Longer films were a reaction to television. My prediction is that film's reaction to today's changes and content availibility will be shorter films in general.}

    Jus' sayin'
    Last edited by alex whitmer; 10-07-2016 at 02:00 PM.


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    thats my bad then. I guess I'm thinking if the era that I grew up in, 80s and 90s. And of course the features I chose to see. Just seems liek even the super mainstream stuff has gotten really long winded for the last 10+ years. I am all for shorter features.


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    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    For you, yes, they are (were) getting longer. The average time dipped in the 80s/90s, then up again in the 00s. The bummer about this graph is that it's missing key dates (2014 to present) that include significant changes in content style and delivery.

    Point is, as writers we need to guess what filmmakers will be looking for. and adjust our paradigms on page limits and three-act structures.


    avg-feature-film-length-1906-2013-sliding-avg.jpg
    Last edited by alex whitmer; 10-07-2016 at 02:26 PM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    ... Point is, as writers we need to guess what filmmakers will be looking for. and adjust our paradigms on page limits and three-act structures...
    A few days ago, I found a few short stories by Ivan Turgenev, who is considered one of the grands of the 19th century Russian literature along with Gogol, Tolstoy, Chekhov and Dostoevsky. He was a favorite of Henry James and Joseph Conrad. The accusation against Turgenev that, while his prose was of the highest quality, he really didn't give a flying fig about the plot. And this was a valid accusation. And a valid praise. Great big budget 3-hr+ films of the 1950's and 60's were likewise more than a plot. The underlying milieu and the story settings were just as important (part of it was the ability to have a film unlimited by the commercial interruptions of the TV industry but then the studios figured out that shorter films allow for more daily showings).

    IMO, with digital movie making and the ability to stream content on demand, some of the "long form" films will make a comeback. It'd still be a traditional 3-act play but with more time/pages given to both the exposition and to the characters. However, with the overall entertainment industry moving toward streaming as, at least, an alternative to the theaters, audience may also see more live theater, more audio/video books, more one man monologue shows, etc.


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    I think there are several problems with the 65 minute movie. The first is perception. It feels short to everyone, being raised on 90-130 minute movies. It seems like the story is unnecessarily thin, for whatever reason (budget).

    The next reason is distribution. Distributors mostly require at least 80 minutes. That relates directly to the first point.

    There are a variety of formats to explore. Maybe the idea could be the pilot of an ongoing television series? Or split up into segments? It doesn't have to try to be a straight 65 minute film. I would find that undernourishing and come away with the feeling that it could have been expanded a bit.

    There isn't enough screen time for decent characterization in the standard format. If you go shorting it, I'd expect it to be vapid.


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    I thought Alex was saying the shift was already happening and there was a need/demand for content that short, and that writers needed to adapt to it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by mail4joeg View Post
    ... There isn't enough screen time for decent characterization in the standard format. If you go shorting it, I'd expect it to be vapid.
    A while ago, there were several major anthology features like "Creepshow", "Twilight Zone" (remakes of the classic TV episodes) and "New York Stories". A short was under 40 minutes. The "Creepshow" - and there were several sequels - episodes were even shorter. Of course, they were packaged as a "single film" in order to fill out the entertainment quotient. For streaming purposes, however, these stories can easily be broken up into the independent features as the subscribers will probably binge watch them anyway.


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