Discover more from Bright Mirror
It's time to disrupt Hollywood
And take matters into our own hands
Hollywood - Best known around the world for "show business", celebrities and infinite glamour. In the world of making movies, Hollywood stands above all like a towering giant - functioning as the producer of USA's greatest export to the world - American culture.
Is Hollywood going to remain the one place where the greatest stories in the world are told? Or is it a sinking ship barely holding on to the relics of the past?
Regardless of what you believe, even if you believe that Hollywood is secretly a place for elite paedophiles, I think it's fair to admit that something just doesn't feel right. While many talented, passionate individuals in Hollywood are dedicated to the craft, and it's vital to recognize their contributions, I think even they understand the sad state of the industry they’re dedicating their lives to.
The political left will say that it's because of cultural appropriation and misrepresentation why most things coming out of Hollywood is garbage these days.
The political right will say it's because of forced wokeness & liberal propaganda why most things coming out of Hollywood is garbage these days.
Ironically, both groups agree on the sad fact that Hollywood is garbage these days.
Add to all this the writers' strike, who all want higher pay, and the actors' strike, who all want higher pay, the chances of truly great films emerging is rapidly going down.
Do they realize they're asking for more $$$ from studios who have been creatively inept for a quite a while now, resorting to sequels and prequels and remakes of old hits, trying to maximise revenue instead of taking a risk on what's unconventional, rare and exciting?
We’ve never had less originality in decades.
If it feels like the economics of the film industry have changed, you’re right. The risks of creating unique and unproven stories have become too much for those in the Hollywood villas. As a result, studios are more inclined to bank on franchises and proven IPs than risk millions on original narratives - which is a shame, both for Hollywood and for art, in general.
The only numbers that matter are box office numbers, and to that end, all works of heresy against the artistic process are forgiven.
There are exceptions. We might see the next Tarantino, Nolan or Spielberg emerging out of the layers of garbage to save Hollywood again, or at least keep Hollywood relevant enough that talent still wants to work there.
But the time has come to end it all, burn it all down, smash the gates and reject the gatekeepers.
The world deserves a better version of cinema, one that's fit for storytelling in the modern age, and to do that, we need to leverage the tools we have at the technological frontier.
One of the demands that writers and actors are striking for, is to ban Hollywood studios from using AI. If you think that's going to happen, it's worth also telling them to stop using electricity and fire.
AI is here to stay and it is going to be used by all, including the actors and writers who are striking against it, whether they realise it or not.
For the rest of us who haven’t been living under a rock (or an Oscar statue), we understand what AI can do for all. It's an amplifier to all creative pursuits. The democratised access and leverage of AI tools will make an exponential difference in who can create what in the coming years.
Technology has been slowly chipping away at Hollywood for quite some time, and like all new forms of disruption - those getting disrupted are aware of it & failing to adapt.
Today, we have an entire generation of new creators making all types of content from news shows to music to movies. Every application that lowers the barriers of creation gets adapted by the masses, because at the end of the day, every human being longs to create. We’re creative creatures - some of us more than others, but because of technological progress, today there are more creators than at any point of time in history.
Sure, Hollywood still dominates & captures most of the attention thanks to their distribution channels and networks, but for how long?
Disruption is inevitable.
It happened with newspapers.
And it’ll happen whenever a new medium arrives that the incumbents are late to adopt. For example, here are the largest game publishers on consoles in 2012 -
You’d expect to see a list of similar names on mobile gaming, but it looks drastically different -
And why does this matter?
Mobile gaming is now more than half the entire gaming market.
(As a sidenote, the above numbers are from 2020, and yes, the video game industry is really big. It currently generates a revenue of $221 Billion while the movie industry generates $77 Billion and the music industry generates $26.2 Billion. Even if you were to take the earnings of both the film and music industries, double them, you would still fall short of the massive revenue generated by the gaming industry. Don’t ignore gaming.)
While Hollywood is rolling their eyes at AI right now, or figuring out how to stop AI to protect loss of jobs, what they’re not taking into consideration is that people around the world using AI will soon replace them altogether.
The popularity of short form video clearly shows that the market is willing to embrace low quality (or low fidelity?) videos, as long as they're interesting and engaging.
Some videos on TikTok have reached the peak of what consumers want -
If the above looks ridiculous, mark my words - Hollywood celebrities will do exactly what this independent creator is doing today soon. Just give it a few years.
If people can forgive quality or fidelity of the videos, tools available today are going to be enough to start producing great movies.
Here are some of them ->
1. Midjourney - Generate Images. Most of the images I use here are using MidJourney and Stable Diffusion.
2. Eleven Labs - Generate realistic text to speech
4. Runway - For image-to-video and text-to-video. Not very capable right now, but rapidly improving.
Combining the above, you also need a video editor like DaVinci Resolve - The most powerful video editing tool out there, that's free. Just learn the basics enough to stitch audio and video together and you're good to go.
This is just the tip of the ice berg. New tools and apps are coming out every week that make high quality VFX effects possible.
The greatest advantage Hollywood has right now, is labour. Large groups of people coordinate to make every scene possible, from armies of camera people, VFX artists, audio engineers, writers, directors, etc.
Of course, there's nothing stopping you from doing everything alone, but if you are to coordinate with others with relevant skillsets, like someone writes the story, someone takes care of the audio and someone focuses on video, that raises an interesting problem.
If the movie / content earns money, how does it all get split?
Having talked to many different types of creators, the answer here is complicated, and ideally, smart contracts should be used to enforce this standard. Almost everyone believes that their work is worth more than it is really, but only one class is closer to the truth.
Here's how I believe the split should be in very simple terms ->
Writers - 70%
This sounds controversial, but for most films, the writing is what makes or breaks it. You cannot make something good from bad writing. No matter how great you are at video and audio generation & editing, you can't create something good if the story is bad.
So, writers should get 70%.
Film makers - 30%
If it's one person who does all the audio, video generation as well as the editing, then this is simple. Where this gets complicated is what happens when these responsibilities are split up?
That's something that should depend on a case-by-case basis. If it involves old school animations, then that's more hard work than just creating image from text, at which point that person should get a larger percentage of that 30% pie. If a person is exceptionally skilled at video editing, that person should get more of the pie. If a person is equally skilled at audio generation, whether that's through AI or through a digital audio workstation like FL Studio, that person should get more. However, if we assume they're reasonably equally skilled, the split should be equal.
For example -
For a movie with a great audio score ->
Person who made the AI images - 5%
Person who edited the video - 10%
Person who made the audio - 15%
For an anime ->
Writer - 70%
Animators - 50%
And so on. This should remain the best possible standard. If you're not a writer and think this is unfair, I invite you to write a story and then take the whole slice for yourself. If you're a writer and still think this is unfair, I invite you to make the whole thing yourself. With modern generative tools of creation, everything will soon be possible.
If you're a writer and think you should be paying more to your fellow makers, that's perfectly fine, but based on all the discussions I've had regarding this - writing a great story is the hardest part of the job.
If there are marketers & promoters involved, they should get a maximum of 5-10%, ideally 0, as I believe you alone should be able to market & promote your film, in a world of infinite leverage and distribution.
In the end, the trends are clear, and I hope the directions are clear as well. We need to disrupt Hollywood. Now is when they're at their weakest, a crumbling empire held high by virtue signalling and fame.
The only advantage they still have is a concentration of talent - who will also decentralise when they realize that they can work on something they can be proud of, instead of another remake or subpar sequel.
This would lead to an explosion of creativity.
Every individual has a few great stories to tell, and billions of such stories contain unique perspectives that shaped their worldview. These stories aren't just limited to representing a few races or cultures, but all cultures, showcasing their intricacies and the unique stories they offer.
That's how the disruption starts. Sure, those of us who do this, we'll not produce works of the greatest quality that Hollywood is known for. And surely, it'll have less distribution than what Hollywood studios have not because of the millions they make from remakes.
But over time, the variance in media will grow to be immensely competitive than what Hollywood has now. There will be a few winners, like everything else, but those winners will dwarf everything that Hollywood has put out in decades.
I see a future where a sole writer tells a story, uses AI to create films and for every film a billion devoted fans await. At that point, the bits will win over the atoms. Theatres will no longer serve just Hollywood, but all creators from all places.
And slowly but surely, there will remain no gates to art & the distribution of it. There be no geographical boundaries. The 25 year old writer from Sri Lanka will create films & franchises better than the studios in Los Angeles.
Thank you Hollywood, for all the great memories.
But now, you must die for a brighter future of creative variance.
I'll do my best to accelerate it.
If you’ve read this far, you will as well.
Bright Mirror is a reader-supported publication, and unlike other publications, it tends to occasionally send secret emails which don’t get turned into public posts. To make sure you don’t miss out on the alpha, subscribe below -