Sometimes it seems as though Hollywood is just deluging us with sequels, remakes, reboots and spin-offs. As though our beloved pop culture is just a relatively small number of properties, being endlessly milked for every last drop of cash. But you're just one consumer, and even if you vote with your dollars, you only get one vote. What can you do to encourage Hollywood to develop more original projects?
You can do plenty, actually. One consumer can make a huge difference, in today's media landscape. Here are some things you can do, as an individual, to get more original SF movies.
Top image: Forever War by Bad Brush on Deviant Art.
A lot of the stuff listed below has a few elements in common: a single good review on Amazon can give a project a big boost, a single person's funding can make a big difference via crowdfunding sites, and a few voices can make a big difference if they are loud and eloquent enough. We're living in a world where social media can magnify your impact as an individual.
Also, a lot of Hollywood projects are based on graphic novels, webcomics and novels — and increasingly, those things are being created as ways to pitch movies. So if you want to see more original projects on the big screen, you actually have access to the movie pitches the studios are looking at.
With that said, here are some ideas based on stuff I've actually seen happen before:
Every day, there are more people trying to raise some scratch to make a cool indie SF movie or webseries, or put together a cool graphic novel. And when a Kickstarter raises more money than the creators asked for, or generates a lot of spontaneous enthusiasm online, that in turn gets a lot of attention that could get a project on the radar of Hollywood people.
There are so many cool webseries going up now, including a lot of stylish science fiction and fantasy series. There's an explosion of content out there, and a lot of it could easily become the basis for a new movie. So don't just pick a webseries and watch the hell out of it — pimp it to your friends and to random people on the internet. Appoint yourself the volunteer publicist for some tiny labor of love webseries, and email everyone you know about it, and try to get it covered on more pop culture sites. Tweet about it, create cool fan art about it, and so on.
Like I said, nowadays, people are pitching more and more movies in comics form. A bunch of huge-budget movies are coming out, based on comics that you may never have read. (Off the top of my head: Oblivion, Cowboys and Aliens, R.I.P.D.) And meanwhile, Image, Oni, DC, Dark Horse and other publishers are putting out scads of ultra-weird science fiction comics, which cry out to be handed to a young wannabe David Lynch or David Cronenberg. I'd love to see a movie version of Mind MGMT or Manhattan Projects. And just like the other stuff on this list, these are publications that can really benefit from being blogged and tweeted and shouted about more.
And similarly, most authors are struggling to get the word out about their books — whether they're self-published or put out by one of the major publishers. There's less and less traditional promotion for books nowadays, and a ton of great books slip through the cracks. If you come across a really groundbreaking space opera novel or a cyberpunk masterpiece that's just not getting the love it deserves, commit to spending a chunk of time on Goodreads and Amazon and your own blog, putting the word out. If you can convince 100 other people to buy a particular book, all of a sudden there's a sales spike that people will notice.
These days, it's become a regular occurrence for a short film to get picked up by a Hollywood studio to be expanded into a full-length movie. Oftentimes, these projects are announced, and then you never hear about them again — but then the directors of those short films may get to create new projects for Hollywood. Short films are another way that newbie directors and creators get their foot in the door, and you have an immense amount of power to make a particular short film a hit by helping it go viral with some well-placed buzz. Image via Drained.
Most of us are going to watch smaller indie movies and foreign imports on DVD rather than on the big screen — which means that reviews on Amazon and other similar sites are way more influential. If enough people start renting or buying the DVD of Trollhunter, maybe Hollywood will get the idea and decide to make its own movie along similar lines.
If you discover a bunch of great films that actually deserve more exposure — and write about them in a super eloquent, fascinating way, your blog could get added to lots of people's RSS readers. The world of movie blogs is pretty dynamic, and new entrants still seem to break out pretty often. And only focusing on non-remake, non-sequel genre projects might actually be a niche that makes you stand out.
With Tugg.com, all you need is to have 100 people who want to see an indie movie at your local Cinemark, and they'll set up a showing. And I'm pretty sure there are other similar projects out there. You can turn a screening of the latest weird post-apocalyptic thriller into a major local event, and get your local newspapers and culture blogs to cover it.
Used to be, every city had a few theaters that specialized in indie movies and imports — and now, those are a dying breed. But if your city is lucky enough to have a rep cinema along the lines of the Drafthouse or the Brattle, then get your buns into those seats on a regular basis, so there's still a place for smaller, weirder projects to show on a big screen.
The movie studio people are all still flocking to Comic Con and other big fan blowouts, trying to figure out what the fans are excited about so they can monetize the shit out of it. Mostly, they see people dressed as lots of characters from big media properties — but if they suddenly see a ton of people doing Forever War cosplay, they might start noticing. Especically if the fans all start talking and blogging about it. Just a thought.