Is streaming incompatible with film?
Over the past few years, there has been an ever increasing amount of people who disparage streaming. Claiming that it is not truly compatible with the medium of film. Luminaries of the medium such as Spielberg, Scorsese, and Almodóvar have complained that watching their films on ever smaller screens is doing a disservice to the art. Is there an argument to be made? Or are we looking at a generational disparity in the same vein of Rock’n’roll not really being music.
Scorsese just released "The Irishman" on Netflix. Does this mean he has made his peace with streaming? Not really as he begged people not to watch the film on their phones. Perhaps some of the push back has been in relation to awards. However, the recently released "Marriage Story" is now largely touted as an Oscar contender. It was released in cinemas for a month before appearing on Netflix, but does this approach mean people avoid the cinema to get their own private screening?
Some films are better enjoyed in a cinema. There is little doubt in my mind about that. It is however hard to pin down which ones. My initial feeling is that big budget action films are best suited to the big screen but there is something to be said for a quiet, sombre, contemplative film plastered on a giant screen where every inch of the frame can be taken in.
I have also enjoyed the communal experience of a good scary film. You can almost feel the tension in the air and the jump scares are that much more jumpy.
In defence of streaming. I love streaming. The convenience, the variety, and the possibility of seeing things that I may not have had the chance to see in the cinema.
The democratisation of film has meant that the technology to make film has become cheaper and cheaper and as a result more artists are able to express themselves. And yet, cinema ticket sales have decreased year on year. More and more cinemas are closing and yet more and more films are being made. This means that there has to be a new outlet for these films beyond the cinemas. Streaming seems, to me at least, as a necessary development.
One problem that arises is the amount of noise that a good film has to cut through. How do you find them? You are very reliant on the platform and it’s algorithm. Add to this the current situation with everyone and their mother starting up a streaming service we may be entering another media war, similar to the cable wars or the VHS vs beta max saga.
Streaming has its issues that’s for sure, but it does seem that more of those dissident voices are turning to streaming to get their films made. For many of us trying to make films any outlet that will distribute our films is welcome. Awards are far less in our mind than just getting as many people to see our films as possible.
Edward "Enano" Burgos - 17th December 2019