In a move that may have marked the start of a new era, the legendary former Disney CEO Michael Eisner unveiled plans to produce 80 episodes of a serial called "Prom Queen." This by itself may not have caused a stir except that each episode will be just 90 seconds. "Prom Queen" is a serialized mystery and will begin on April 2nd and roll out over 80 days. It has been billed as “a blend of love, gossip and betrayal". The series will run on the studio's own site Vuguru.com, on a show site promqueen.tv, on Youtube the popular video sharing site, on Veoh a file sharing site and arrangements are being made to distribute it on wireless and handheld video devices. Ads will run before and after episodes. Eisner also announced this week the formation of a studio, Vuguru, that will acquire and develop short videos for the web.
User created One Minute videos have been around ever since the dramatic drop in price of video cameras. But what makes the Eisner move different is that he plans to have his 1-minute videos "professionally produced", using top
What this will do to the movie industry that has marching towards ever larger production budgets and ever lengthier durations and ever plusher multiplexes is too complicated to imagine. Are we going to now see the movie industry subjected to siege by the internet folks just as the newspaper and magazine industry has been?
Those with a longer view of history will not be surprised at these developments. Movies as we know it now, a projector projecting things on a screen and a group of people watching it, is the invention, in 1890's, of the French Lumiere brothers. Up until then, movie watching was a different experience: Thomas Edison that indefatigable American invented his Kinetograph that shot movies but these movies had to view using another of his inventions, the Kinetoscope, through a peep hole one person at a time.
The Lumiere brothers had the brilliant idea of projecting films on a screen so that many people could view at the same time and, in addition the idea of charging for this experience. Their first screening of films to a paying public happened in 1895, at
The Lumiere brothers were enthusiastic promoters of this idea and soon undertook a promotional tour of several cities in the world, including
What then made films bloat from their elegant 45 second origins to the current multi-hour blockbusters? Early American entrepreneurs quickly figured out that extending the early 45 seconders to longer durations immediately lengthened the queues waiting to watch them so much that these queues had to wind around whole
There are several insidious trends that are eroding this tried and tested block buster model that
Even more insidiously, the viewing occasion is also changing. Wired magazine quotes a recent study that lists the many new venues for movie watching: the 15 seconds that you are in a lift, the minutes you spend at the bus-stop waiting for your bus to arrive, the 30 minutes of the bus ride, even the 5 minutes you are in the loo. The 1 Minute Movie is clearly an invention that is overdue.
The size and duration that we take for granted for art forms: the short story, the novel, or the newspaper column, for instance are grounded in technological developments and human attempts to adjust to them.
Take, the last, the newspaper column. Websites of many famous newspapers in with world are by now free-to-use ' except their columnists. Because, it takes a user about just 5 minutes to read a column of 800-900 words, like this one, they may be signaling that this is about the bite size of time they can invest on a topic and consequently are ready to pay for.
The One Minute Film movement may just be one such signal to the movie establishment.