As he prepares to jump from indie production to his new position as the Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society, Ted Hope has posted a strangely provocative blog piece. Provocative, because Hope is calling for a major rethink of the entire enterprise. Specifically, he is asking for a massive reshaping of the whole concept of film into a much larger - and rapidly changing -  concept of its entire infrastructure. You don't hear many people in the film industry discussing the question of “infrastructure.”  Not really.

It's not often that a low budget indie movie scores international attention. Too bad. The past couple of days have been a grim reminder that there really is such a thing as bad publicity. The current firestorm, protests, and deaths over the YouTube tape Innocence of Muslims  is a nasty tribute to the global power of the digital process. It is also an example of how much fakery and deception goes on out there. For all practical purposes, the movie doesn't actually exist. Sure, some kind of a movie was made last year but it is highly likely that the stupid thing was never completed. Aside from the ongoing international crisis caused by this exercise in provocation, this movie is also an incredible lesson in the darkest aspects of indie production. Every emerging detail concerning the making of Innocence of Muslims is a detailed study in fraud and deception.

In many parts of the country, the leaves are already turning brown. It is due to drought, not seasonal change. The same is true at the box office. The 2012 box office is at its lowest level in...well, take your pick. According to a recent report, it has been the worst box office since 1993. I seem to recall that an earlier report placed it as the worst since 1995. Some analysts predict that the final tally for the summer box office will be down by 3 per cent  from 2011, and you may remember that 2011 was already down to a 16 year low at the time. Likewise, 2010 saw the lowest attendance since 1997. Inexplicably, the mid-1990s were the golden years, and it’s all been downhill ever since. Based upon many of my past postings (see Dickens of a Mess), the steady decline of the Hollywood box office isn't exactly a surprise.

Don't you just love it when someone seriously asks if they should consider using social networks for business purposes. You can genuinely and sincerely give them a wide-eyed look and go, “Well, duh!” Yes, we are all stuck using the social networks. I say stuck because like any sane person, I have a lot of ambivalence about the whole idea.

When Fred Willard recently got busted doing his fly-fishing impersonation, the news story contained an amazing tidbit. There is actually a porno theater still in operation somewhere in the United States. Goodness! This half-dilapidated joint is virtually a museum piece. Heck, the whole concept of a porn theater is such a relic, I'm half surprised that Willard doesn't tell the court that he was simply working as a re-enactor. Just like those folks in Colonial Williamsburg. The porn industry has long been a bellwether of trends in the commercial film industry. A major example of this was the lead porn took in jumping into the video home rental market back in the 1980s. The format war between VHS and Betamax was not determined by porn. The industry went both ways and was primarily focused on moving big time into the home market, period. The reason was simple.

A week ago last Monday was the 21st Anniversary of the first web site. This site wasn't much more than an introduction to the basic concept of a web site, but it was the first breeze before the great historic storm. Back in 1991, Microsoft was just releasing Windows 3.0a, while Apple had just introduced System 6.0.8. Meanwhile, Bill Gates and IBM were fighting over control of DOS. Home computers were still viewed as expensive toys and the internet browser was still in the design stage. Typewriters were the backbone of any business and many people thought that a PowerPoint was somebody making a rude gesture. Despite many futuristic predictions, the emerging power of the World Wide Web was barely a whisper. I should know. I mostly spent my time during this period ignoring the whisper until I was literally dragged into the computer age in the mid-1990s.

Near the end of The Dark Knight Rises, a character quotes the final lines of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. But the summer box office might be better described by the novel's opening: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” For Hollywood, the best was at the beginning. The Avengers was the kind of successful big budget movie of which studio executives dream. With a current global return of more than $1.4 billion, this movie delivered the sweet promise of an endless summer that would justify the crazy model of the tent pole movie. Even better, it is still playing in first-run. In retrospect, they could have simply canceled the rest of the summer after the opening of The Avengers.

The immediate and tragic effect of the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre is grimly obvious (except maybe to Playboy models). But the long term effects are just beginning to take shape. With a dozen people dead and over two dozen wounded, it seems almost ghoulish to contemplate...

Recently, I received a comment that what investors want to see is a strong, solid script. It sounds like great advice. Too bad it doesn't actually work that way, but golly gee whiz it should. Unfortunately, one of the first things that any aspiring screenwriter...