Ladd Ehlinger Jr. produced and directed the animated cult film Flatland, now available on GreenCine.com here. The first feature film to be completely CGI animated by one person in Lightwave 3D, it received rave reviews. Phil Hall of Film Threat stated that "Flatland is a work of genius, and animation has a new force of power in Ehlinger," and Paul Di Filippo of Scifi.com called it a "glorious mathematical mystery tour." In his second article for GreenCine.com, Ladd prognosticates for us on the future of the film industry.
It's been almost twenty years since I predicted that films would be transmitted digitally, and that this would have a massive deflationary impact upon the economics of show business.
Few people witnessed my prediction, so you'll just have to take my clairovayance on faith. Luckily, these new prophecies are more public, so twenty years from now you are free to remind me of my prescience or lack thereof.
But before we discuss the future, let us turn to the past.
Gutenberg tuk er jawbs!
Centuries ago, producing a book was a laborious, incredibly expensive effort. Then Mr. Gutenberg arrived to make it less so (throwing hundreds of monks out of business, I suppose). The technology he pioneered made it possible for many authors to become vastly wealthy – if not for themselves, then for their publishers. Charles Dickens and Mark Twain come to mind.
The economic model was nearly perfect. The book was a product with an indefinite shelf life that could be copied identically. Costs to produce were deflated to a "sweet spot" that maintained balance for many years.
But the deflationary tendency of technology pushed on, to the point where we can now enjoy vast quantities of writing practically for free. I say practically because, of course, you are even now reading a work subsidized by the advertising and sponsorship of GreenCine.com.
Let us consider what effect this deflation has had on the author and the publisher, and usher in my first prediction.
Prediction 1: No More Best Selling Authors
It won't be good to be the king anymore
I predict to you that the days of Stephen King and Tom Clancy are rapidly drawing to a close (and some may say good riddance, but this is primarily an economic discussion, not a qualitative one). Twenty years from now, the entire publishing world will be as insular and unprofitable as dinner theater in Kansas.
Oh, there may be an occasional publication that does well, just as Broadway has its hits even today. An occasional silly tract will vault to the top, based upon the free publicity that fame provides. Paris Hilton, I am looking at you.
But for the most part, the days of the best selling author are nearly closed. This means that the publisher will be forced to move on to greener pastures. Perhaps selling vacuums. Meanwhile all authors will be self-published.
This is already happening, of course, and has been moving towards it in slow motion for at least fifty years. Only the most dense publisher thinks that his job is safe for decades to come. So my first prediction isn’t really all that groundbreaking. But I mention it to explain my second prediction: that the same thing is happening to the film industry.
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