Saturday, May 14, 2011

YouTube: New Canvas

©NITVShorts - "New Boy"
Standing in line for a movie ticket is a lot like standing in line for a Big Mac. Do you want the action movie with a side of comedy or the thriller with extra gore? It’s not a secret nor a surprise that Hollywood regurgitates its story lines. With over 600 movies released each year you can’t expect each one to be a flourishing garden of artistic creativity. I don’t expect it, and neither does the rest of America. Thoughtful poignant movies bite it at the box office. In 2009, Robin Williams starred in the movie “World’s Greatest Dad” which was a hit at Sundance, had a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 88%, and was rated three out of four stars by Roger Ebert, but it grossed less than $250,000. Compare that to M. Night Shyamalan’s “Last Airbender” which received a 6% rating from Rotten Tomatoes and was described by Ebert as “an agonizing experience in every category”, but grossed over $319,000,000, and you can see the difference that I’m trying to point out.

Americans like their movies like they like their hamburgers: accessible, predictable, and containing just enough substance to keep them satisfied. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year watching essentially the same set of movies. The reluctant protagonist turned superhero that saves the day, the wound-up businesswoman who marries the guy she used to hate, the grief stricken father who kills half the city after his family is killed by a gang, and the list goes on and on. Personally, I have no problem with this. I have seen my fair share of popcorn flicks, and I am not ashamed to say that I enjoy the Twilight movies. Sure the love story is unquestionably stupid, but the ten to fifteen minutes they spend showing the vampire werewolf fight scenes are cool enough.

However, like fast food I can only take so much of it before I grow tired of the same old, same old. I love my visually striking superhero movies and my charming romantic comedies, but at some point I want to be challenged. I want to be forced to take a new perspective, and reevaluate the way I think about things. Unfortunately, Hollywood is more in the business of money making than the business of consciousness raising, so going to my local cinema is basically out of the question. Luckily, all the layered content you could ever watch is already sitting in your bedroom.

YouTube has become much more than a place for your aunt to post a video of her cat playing the piano. Aspiring actors and film makers now use YouTube as a launching pad by uploading their content to the internet for free. The shows you watch on television jumped through a long and expensive set of hoops to get the opportunity to pay millions of dollars to be on the air, but the YouTuber you watch once a week only needed enough money to buy a camera, a computer, and an internet connection. Here are two notable YouTube channels that have gained widespread attention just by uploading their own work.

NITVShorts is a small production company based out of Ireland. They have a limited number of short films, but each one is produced at a professional level and carries a heavy message. The group is known to have won a few Irish film festivals, but have yet to make a breakthrough into more well known venues. Several websites displaying their videos attribute them as “raw and moving.”

MarbleHornets is a Blair Witch Project-esque web series about a college student’s encounters with a supernatural being. The videos are uploaded as entries to a web log which are segments from a collection of unmarked tapes that the protagonist owns. A second channel Totheark, owned by an unknown antagonist, occasionally uploads eerie response videos that leave clues for the viewers to piece together. Recently, MarbleHornets started to use Twitter to update its viewers about new entries. All of this creates a unique interactive experience. The audience does not get to choose which direction the story goes, but it does create an atmosphere that makes them believe they are apart of the story.

The high volume of users on YouTube guarantees that some really good content is out there. Will there ever be a day when this type of content replaces the formula driven movies we pay money to see? Nope. But that’s okay. real artists will continue to make their films because they are not creating them for a target audience, but for themselves, and as long as that motivation exists then the people patient enough to find it will reap the benefit of watching something that is truly inspiring.

-Cody Turner

No comments:

Post a Comment