The words “boobs” and “Academy Awards” have often appeared together in a sentence. Normally we have meant the non-anatomical meaning of boobs. But not this year. In a pitch to a younger demographic audience model, the Oscar presentation went on a bumpy joy ride combining its usual institutional blandness with an occasional bitch slap at the audience. I don't mean the TV audience. I mean the fancy-dressed folks sitting for more than three and a half hours like hostages in the Dolby Theatre. I am not particularly interested in debating Seth MacFarlane's handling of the hosting duties at the Oscars. Hosting this show has to be one of the most thankless jobs around. An Oscar host is expected to be a toothless court jester. They are suppose to spoof the business but not the egos as they provide biting commentary but only so long as they lack either bark or bite. No wonder Billy Crystal doesn't want the lousy job. To be honest, MacFarlane was better than David Letterman. But then, a colonoscopy was funnier than Letterman. Of course, I also thought that Chris Rock did a swell job back in 2005, so I am not speaking from a mainstream Academy perspective. However, the fallout from this year's Oscar presentation has been a singular spectacle. Granted, every Oscar show has its controversies, things like, “How did the movie Crash ever get nominated, less alone win” etc. But this past week most press reports have been so obsessed with women's breasts and Anne Hathaway's nipples, I'm beginning to confuse the Oscars with lunch at Hooters.

According to a recent Sky News report, China will soon outstrip Hollywood in film production. In a recent piece from the Agence France Presse, China is now number two to the US market in ticket sales. Though Hollywood movies produce the stronger revenue at the Chinese box office, there are increasingly powerful exceptions. The biggest current hit in the Asian market is the Chinese movie Journey to the West. Of course, all estimates about who is number one in the international market is always open to debate. It depends upon how you frame the question. The American box office is number one in the amount of money made primarily because of the cost of tickets in the US. In reality, American movie attendance has been in steep decline for years (and will continue dropping). Heck, that attendance decline is one of the reasons why theaters keep upping the ticket cost. Likewise, American mainstream movie production has dropped. Currently, Hollywood only produces about 15 per cent of the movies made internationally. We are way behind India in the amount of movies made, and almost as far behind as Nigeria. Eventually, Nollywood will surpass Hollywood in sheer terms of output. But does this matter?  After all, we have Johnny Depp and they don't. More importantly, Hollywood has the kind of money that can buy Johnny Depp, and they don't. Money – and lots of it – has always been the secret to Hollywood. In theory, the Hollywood cinema took global dominance because of its superior quality. In reality, it had to do with a series of extremely convenient historical factors.

Previously, I outlined some major actual or impending changes taking place in the film industry. Many of these are related to distribution strategy.  But there are even more significant changes in the works. These will affect not just the production of films but also how the creative process is conceptualized. Some impending changes may even alter our conception of humanity.  But, before we lose our grip altogether, let us go back and look at film's early beginnings, since the patterns of the future usually can be found within the rubble of the past. The first film experiments were conducted in the late 1880s, with moving images.  These were very simple bits of film, like Roundhay Garden. The link I've included is to a reworked version with added title cards. The surviving version of the original is about 3 seconds long.  By the mid-1890s, Thomas A. Edison and his company were experimenting with sound movies.  Developed for Edison by William Dickson, these short films attempted to synchronize the moving image to a wax cylinder. The first step toward the development of color motion pictures took place at the end of the 19th Century.  An early form of color film stock was successfully created in 1909.  A version of Kodachrome color film was tested and available by 1922.  Experiments in color were used in various silent films such as the 1925 version of The Phantom of the Opera. Almost all of these early experiments were half ignored and, in many cases,  forgotten. The clips I have provided links to are all relatively recent discoveries. Yet, in many respects, the technical history of the entire first century of movies can be found within these early experiments.  It just took a long while before the industry caught up with the implications. The same process is happening today.  Two recent little films on the internet are major examples of the future.  

For some, the glass is half empty. For others, it is half full. But for a few of of us, the real question is: What glass?  I see only water. Which partly sums up my own attitude when assessing the possible future developments involving the film industry and the digital revolution. Three recent blog articles do an excellent job of summarizing several key issues that have formed over the last several years. In a post titled The Independent's Guide to Film Exhibition and Delivery 2013, Jeffrey Winter of The Film Collaborative does a superb job of describing the rapidly emerging digital system for commercial movie distribution. He is especially good at outlining how a new distribution system that could (in theory) be a plus for indie filmmakers is actually being designed for increased control (as in near total control) by the major media companies. The digital distribution system that will be standard by the end of this year is a top-down structure that excludes virtually everybody (including the theaters) from any real and active say into the system. The major companies do not particularly like the digital form. In many respects, they don't really understand it and they are actually half afraid of it. But by gum, they are going to own it by hook or by crook. The glass is half empty and they want the glass. Which brings us to the other must-read blog post of the month.

Low budget indie movies are hot. That is supposedly the message from the recent Sundance Festival, where distribution purchase records were being set. Titles were being grabbed at $2.5 million (Fruitvale),  $4 million (both Austenland and Don Jon's Addiction), and finally hitting the grand jackpot of $10 million for The Way, Way Back. Are they sure this was Sundance? Sounds more like a sweepstake being worked by Ed McMahon. But hey, it's a great boom for a few indie filmmakers. The question is: Does this help the indie business? It certainly suggests a resurgence of interest in medium budget movies. Take for example The Way, Way Back. It's not really low, low budget. It was directed by the two guys who previously scripted The Descendants, which means that they are not exactly newcomers. (If you count TV, they've been around for a while). It's designed to be a slightly quirky, mildly feel-good, low key crowd pleaser. In other words, it is the kind of movie that mainstream Hollywood use to make on a more regular basis several decades ago.  

Gun violence in movies and media is a hot topic. Just ask Robert Redford, who devoted part of his opening address at the current Sundance Festival to this issue. In his address, Redford frames the question in terms of social responsibility. Questions concerning sex, specifically sex...

Legendary film editor Dede Allen was once asked by a student, “Who is your agent?” Allen's reply was quick. “I don't have an agent. I have a lawyer.” Not a bad answer, though it works best if you are Dede Allen. Most people could use an agent....

It may be a new year, but we are still limping through the same old battles. At least, that is one reaction I had to Ted Hope's recent additions to his original list of things that are currently wrong with the indie film business (The...

We are already well into the second decade of the 21st century and I still don't have my own personal jet-pack or robot. Heck, I don't even have a lousy iPhone. But 2013 is almost here, and everyone is beginning to peek ahead at a coming year of changes within the film industry. Of course that means looking back at the immediate past in hopes of second-guessing the imminent future. It's a tough call. 2012 feels a bit like the year when many of us were run over by a truck and we hadn't even left the house.

Question: What does a producer do? Answer: 5 to 10 if he's caught. Putting bad jokes to one side, it ought to be a pretty simple question. After all, everybody knows that a director directs and a screenwriter writes. But credits for producers are often stretched out in various – and often confusing – ways. For example, take my title (used occasionally) here at R&R Consulting. I am sometimes referred to as a Production Consultant. What does this mean? Got me. I have performed