Event preview: Future of Film

The online Summit is taking place 18-20 November, 2020.

It’s pretty clear that so much has been changing in the past few years with film and filmmaking. Technology-wise, with the advent of more virtual production techniques. Distribution-wise, with a lot more streaming going on. And those things only touch the surface of the changes in the industry.

Future of Film’s Summit Online, which is happening on 18-20 November, is aimed at examining these big changes, and what’s ahead. It has already announced some major speakers, including Blumhouse founder Jason Blum, production designer Alex McDowell and producer Diana Williams.

befores & afters asked Future of Film creative director and founder Alex Stolz to dive a little more into what the event is all about.

b&a: Right now, some might say it feels like the future of film is kind of bleak, but there’s also a lot of technical and artistic innovation, and change happening in distribution as well, isn’t there? How would you sum up at least the immediate future of film?

Alex Stolz: On one hand, I agree things look pretty challenging. Film feels like it has been in a state of crisis for years and in a way what has happened over the past 6 months has just exacerbated the problems that were already apparent – like the inflexible release patterns, the cumbersome and expensive production process and creators becoming disenfranchised from their films.

Alex Stolz.

The problems that the pandemic has exposed are really the problems that we needed to face anyway – we just didn’t expect to have to do so all at once!

And on the other hand, we are seeing storytellers and filmmakers over this time adopt much more nimble and innovative approaches to their craft, experimenting with new channels and strategies to get their work out there which is very exciting. And then there is the revolution in virtual production which potentially changes EVERYTHING.

I started Future of Film having seen the incredible opportunities that are emerging for film and wanting to share these. Film has for too long been too insular, expensive and frankly elitist and I see there being an emerging creative revolution full of new storytelling voices reaching new audiences. I am no less optimistic about this now, in fact I think we’ll get there faster!

b&a: The Summit certainly taps into the area of virtual production and real-time – what can you say about some of these planned talks?

Alex Stolz: Absolutely. As I alluded to above, virtual production plays a key part in the future of film.

The term virtual production is really an umbrella for various techniques and tools driven by realtime game engines like Unreal. At the one end you have the incredible LED volume in-camera effects being utilised by shows like The Mandalorian – and we are going to be looking at this with some very exciting sessions with people who have worked in this space as we figure out how this changes the entire creative process – which it may well do.

But this is the ‘glamour’ end of the spectrum. Our mission is to create pathways for independent creators and so we will also be focusing on how realtime is being used by independent creators (like HaZ Dulull, who is giving a masterclass on this), to gain more control over their work and to push this forward in new ways. In our panel session Democratising Virtual Production we will be asking how can we put these incredible tools in the hands of more creators?

Lastly, we also have one planned talk which I can’t reveal just yet (sorry!) but we think this will blow the minds of anyone interested in the history of visual effects and the future of realtime filmmaking…!

b&a: Can you talk a little about the format of the Summit in terms of online sessions and any opportunities for interaction and Q&As? What do you hope attendees will be able to walk away from the Summit with?

Alex Stolz: This is November 2020 so the last thing anyone needs is stuck in a series of Zoom calls! That’s why we have designed the Summit to be an immersive, engaging experience with interactivity at the heart of it. Our broadcast partner Hovercast are experienced at running massive interactive events and we are working on some really fun and exciting ways to keep people engaged – and of course provide LOTS of opportunities for questions. We’ll also be offering networking spaces and deep-dive breakout rooms where people can meet and explore topics in much more depth.

We want people to come away with their minds a little blown (!) but also with the drive, strategies and inspiration to push their work forward in new ways. We can’t wait to hear what people end up creating or building as a result of attending the Summit!

You can buy tickets to the Summit here

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