Thank you Today is Boring.
I know that this sentence doesn't sound as though it makes sense. But when you realise that 'Today is Boring' is the name of a one time specialised film and video shop, which is now a film consultancy, film events and production company, and film archive it becomes clearer. And why thank you? Well, this is where I invested £3 for approximately 40 DVDs on Sunday. 'And how is this a help to cinemas?', I hear you ask, well...
"The implications of this for the film industry are frightening. Outside the Hollywood studios and their marketing machines, the problem of sustaining our cinema has not been one of production - that can be subsidised, supported, relieved of tax or otherwise encouraged - but of distribution: how do films get seen, where and by whom? And above all, how are they paid for? In a world of fragmented moving picture consumption, we're still groping for an answer to that. What we can be sure of is that the trend will not reverse itself".
I think, in this discussion, we need to start where Mr. Busy ends and I think we all agree: now that we can watch films on assorted devices at times and in places that suit us, I don't think we're going to experience an analogue revolution and throw our iPads in the river whilst dancing round a Maypole draping ourselves in reels of 35mm. As delightful as that may sound. And rather than lament the bygone era when cinema goers would shout at the screen in collective integration with a film as Mr. Busy does (and I understand his point), I think we should celebrate the now.
So, where do my DVDs come into this? Well, Today is Boring was having a sale. DVD hire shops (tsk 'old media' now) are a tricky business these days, what with LoveFilm and VOD, Mubi and the like. It's not lucrative, (hence TIB's move into film events consultancy). But the very fact of this turnover of media means that I have been both a) exposed to a wealth of content that might otherwise have passed me by and even worse, been thrown away, and b) been reminded of all the films and directors and genres that I really should see more of.
In fact, in a nutshell, the effect of this purchase has been to reinvigorate my passion for specialised cinema and mobilise me to actively seek out ways to consume it. For example, remembering how exciting it is to discover avant garde, experimental or unusual film experiences, I woke up this morning and jumped on the ICA's website.
(Old media * reduced price * mass accessibility) + passion/curiosity + new media = ticket sale!
Now of course, I'm probably in a minority, having worked in and studied independent cinema for almost ten years now. But, I know who's in a much more extensive demographic: Playstation owners. Mubi know this too and have recently launched a partnership with Playstation providing independent films on demand to users via the device, that essentially maximises the equation above, and targets an audience who are less familiar with independent cinema than perhaps people like me. This can only be good thing! And, it's a result of the current forward shift towards merging platforms.
The turnover of media is good for us.
Basically, this assertion holds true because: 1) nothing will ever replace the experience of going to the cinema and 2) nothing will change the fact that we've got a million other options at our very fingertips.
We need to see ourselves and all these technology and media platforms as channels for independent film - part of a flow that has diversified from one river to many tributaries. Via all these means, films come to me, I learn more about what I like or what I don't yet know, and my passion increases. And that passion drives me to talk about film, seek out film, encourage my friends to watch and recommend films to each other. But ultimately, it drives me to go and watch films at the cinema. With any luck, I'm not a minority in this pattern.