There is no denying it: the Internet has changed our world. Nearly every aspect of our society has been affected by it and has had to adapt. If telephones and airplanes made the world smaller, the Internet shrank it many times more. The ability to communicate instantly with anyone in the world—with words, pictures, music, and video—has forced us to change how we do business, how we interact with the world around us. The Internet has changed the movie business drastically as well, not only by affecting how movies are marketed and watched but also by changing the pathways and entrances to the movie industry itself.
It used to be that if you wanted a career in film, there was a narrow path to take to get there—one that involved a lot of face-to-face networking and “dues” paying. Most people couldn’t make independent films, much less get them seen, unless they went to school to get access to the equipment, or grew up on the set. Most people didn’t make the right connections unless they moved to Hollywood and were lucky enough to land a job on a movie set doing whatever.
Today, there still is a lot of networking and dues-paying to get into the movie business, but the Internet has radically changed what that looks like; and the biggest change has been in accessibility. Combined with the advent of cheap digital technology, the Internet now makes it much easier for almost anyone to do a video project and get it seen. Web sites like YouTube and Vimeo have made it so anyone with a camera can post a video, and computers now have editing capabilities to help anyone “tweak” their projects and make them look better. As a result, millions of aspiring filmmakers, who otherwise would not have the resources to get seen, can now “go public” on their own.
The Internet simplifies the process of entering films into contests and makes it possible to network with many more people. Most of all, it allows filmmakers to get their work “out there”, getting attention on the web before a movie mogul ever sees it. There are also (obviously) a lot of mediocre projects posted by amateurs for fun, but for the serious-minded, the Internet has become a virtual “calling card”. Not only does it help unknown filmmakers gain more access to the public and to industry professionals; it also makes a possible career in film more accessible to more filmmakers.
As with anything else, the movie business has had to adapt to the changes the Internet has brought and is still adapting; neither is the Internet a guaranteed ticket to Hollywood. You still have to be good to stand out, especially with all the competition on the web. But the Internet does provide much more access than before, and forward-thinking individuals may even find more innovative ways to use the web for filmmaking in the future.