In 2010, Michael and Mark Polish picked up a Canon 5D and shot a feature film on the streets of Paris.
The twin brothers had no budget, no permits, and for lighting, they used their iPhones.
Their case is a perfect instance of the embracing digital cinema and the positives of the recent shift from film to digital. There’s a certain sense of accessibility that has been made available with digital cinema. The tools and resources are out there for the taking. It’s simple for filmmakers to come up with excuses and reasons for not being able to make their films, such as an undeveloped screenplay or lack of good resources. If the Polish brothers show us anything, it’s that we need to stop making excuses.
I have once before discussed how our national cinema can grow. I still believe institutional funding is useful. It’s a way of recognizing cinema on a national level and having support from the nation. The shift to digital cinema, however, also makes way for smaller, more independent projects, such as the Polish brothers’ For Lovers Only.
The impromptu filmmaking style the Polish brothers adopted for this film is homage to the French New Wave filmmakers, who also disregarded the rules and conventions of cinema. The film was distributed through iTunes (talk about changing the scope of film distribution) and made over $500,000 through digital sales. If we’re going to establish a sense of identity for our nation, if Armenian cinema is to reemerge, embracing digital cinema and rewriting the rules for production and distribution is our hope.
I see a hopeful future for independent filmmakers, but I am much more concerned with young Armenian filmmakers. I’m more interested in the creative storytellers who are sitting in their homes with wonderful ideas, who think they don’t have the means to express themselves. In today’s world, filmmakers need to be less concerned with quality. If you don’t have a camera as good as the Canon 5D, use a camcorder you have around your house. If you don’t have a camcorder, use something as simple as your iPhone.
The simple fact of the matter is the business of cinema is changing. It’s being influenced and driven with digital technology (for better or for worse). We’re going through a revolution, a digital revolution, and once we have emerged with all the rules in place, the shape of cinema will have been forever changed. We will be experiencing films and stories from around the world the same way we consume media on YouTube.
In fact, YouTube has shown us that we can all be consumers, producers and distributors. We can be our own production studio. The only thing standing in our way is ourselves.