A Film Geek In The Digital Age

Recently an article published on Slashfilm exposed the fact that actor David Prowse spoiled the ending of The Empire Strikes Back two years before the release of the film. In 1978, Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original trilogy, told a local Berkeley, California newspaper the twist ending to the then highly anticipated film. The reveal in question is now regarded as one of the biggest twists in movie history. Strangely enough, the fact Prowes revealed this information to the newspaper made no difference. At the time no one other then the small Berkeley newspaper ran that story. This twist went no further then the readers of that paper.

If this slip happened today, the ending to one of the most beloved films of all time would have been known to millions within hours, if not minutes. Just as the internet has changed how the world functions, it has changed film and the film community forever. Blogging, Twitter, Digg, Facebook and the dozens of other social media sites available have created a whole new community for films fans, and marketing teams alike.

Almost as long as the internet has been in existence so have internet movie sites, with blogs such as AintItCool and Slashfilm becoming the primary film news source for millions of film fans. Film studios now have the opportunity to create buzz for projects years in advance of the actual release. With images, teasers and full trailers spreading across the internet like wildfire, studios and their marketing teams can generate free publicity and have their work done for them by the legions of fans online. As much as the internet, and the online community is a great opportunity for marketing, it also has huge negatives to the studios.

Often, keeping information offline is more important than releasing information. Early pictures, reviews and rumours can damage a film’s buzz and reputation months before its release. As information spreads so quickly online, containing leaked information, not to mention stopping it in the first place is becoming increasingly difficult.

As film studios attempt to create and sustain buzz for their upcoming projects, over hyping and over exposure is an issue not often considered by marketing teams. It is no longer uncommon to enter a theatre feeling as if you have already seen the film. Disney’s latest blockbuster attempt, Tron: Legacy, is a perfect example of over-hyping. With heavy marketing beginning over two years ago, film fans had been so bombarded with teasers, trailers and clips that there was no longer any point seeing the film.

Having grown up always having these sites as a reality, it makes it difficult to picture a time when blogs and IMDB didn’t exist. Previously the film community was largely made up of those in the smoky cinemas of Paris, now all it takes to join is the two minutes to sign up on Twitter. These sites allow for anyone to interact with each other, no matter physical distance. It is not only an opportunity to discuss film but also to learn and discover as well.

While my love for film would still exist, it is possible that without the internet my obsession with film and need to become a filmmaker would not. Just as I am sure this is the case with many other film geeks, the online communities have allowed me to discover many of my favourite filmmakers and films that would have been near impossible to find before. While being a film geek in the age of the internet certainly has some minor downfalls, the immense community of film fans wanting to discuss film outweighs any negative aspect.

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9 Responses to A Film Geek In The Digital Age

  1. RunningSiren says:

    Your last paragraph says it all – the internet has allowed us to explore our love for films in a way that was almost impossible before. While I may be looking up info on a new film project that has been announced or finding out the name of “that actor” I noticed in a small indie film, while doing so I’ll find so much other information that will lead me to new films I perhaps had never considered or knew about.
    And I think some of us are realizing we need to police ourselves in how much information we really need about a film project we are interested in – knowing too much and seeing too much can spoil the movie once it is released.
    And even if we see films alone because we like to or our friends/spouse hates our tastes in films, we know we can go online and discuss with others for days on end.

  2. Federoide says:

    I’ve got a question, how do you feel about watching a movie without knowing anything about it beforehand? have you ever done that?

  3. mskeito says:

    I’ve been a movie geek long before the internet. It is true that the internet is trully wonderful in its vast resources. For instance, before the internet I would have to find every available book on Hitchcock to know more about him, and now youtube is full of his interviews. I’m still impressed with the ease information on anything can be found online.

    Of course I also agree with you also on the pitfalls of over-marketing, which happens for blockbusters and small independent movies alike. I mean the fact that the latter are now called “indies” verifies that. Independent movies are marketed and over-marketed as well which of course makes the term “independent” quite relevant.

  4. dckl13 says:

    I agree with above that the last paragraph says it all. I also think that without the internet and sites like IMDB and Slashfilm, I probably wouldn’t be quite so obsessed with new movies, old movies, movie production, movie making tricks, and dreaming of making more films than my stolen free time during 4 years of schooling allowed.

    I’ve loved films since I was a child, sitting on the living room floor with my parents behind me on the couch, watching “Casablanca,” “Singing in the Rain,” or “The Fugitive” after dinner. I still remember one weekend afternoon my father rushing from the bedroom into the living room, telling me to change the channel because some strange movie named “Tron” from the 80s was on TV and I had to watch it. After it was over we talked about it. Now adays I admit I often spend as much time tweeting after a movie as talking with whoever saw the movie with me!!

  5. YJC says:

    I was born in the 90s so I grew up with the internet too and if it wasn’t for the video rental store or Netflix I definitely would not be able to afford watching any movies or films especially Scorsese or Kubrick since I don’t even have cable.

    As for the question of watching a movie without knowing anything beforehand, I always minimize exposure to movies or films before I see them. I may look at a brief plot summary and some ratings when I’m fishing around for a specific type of film to fit my mood but I usually watch movies without any previous knowledge.

    It does make me wonder though because the Greeks went into the theater knowing everything about the work, and thus I wonder not knowing anything about the film would put my experience at a disadvantage. On the other hand since I’m reviewing films it makes me think that going in without any previous knowledge is just plain fine.

    Wonderful article by the way.

  6. RobinBuddy says:

    I grew up in the 80’s so I didn’t have websites to tell me what to watch. I just watched stuff. I got my education from video store clerks and my own impulses. Those used to be the only places to acquire film knowledge. Now I’m a video store clerk and it makes me incredibly sad that my position is no longer a position of wisdom and admiration. People come in already knowing what they want, if they come in at all. I work for an independent store, which has a rather varied and extensive collection of films. Every year the recommendations dwindle. No one asks me what I like anymore. I guess I’d better start blogging. Sigh.

    • I recently wrote a blog post about the death of the video store, and you bring up a good point that I forgot to mention, the video store clerk. The one reason I wanted to work at a video store would be to have been able to recommend film to people, unfortunately, those days are done as either the stores don’t exist or no one cares what the clerk says.

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