DFM 2018: A bird’s eye-view of global industry trends with Stephen Follows

Durban FilmMart 2018: A bird’s eye-view of global industry trends with Stephen Follows

On day one of the 9th Durban FilmMart – taking place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, from 20 to 23 July 2018, alongside the 39th Durban International Film Festival – Stephen Follows presented an informative and highly entertaining two hour session titled ‘A bird’s eye-view of global industry trends’.

An experienced film industry consultant and active researcher based in London, UK, Follows is no stranger to the industry. In his two-hour session he gave attendees an incisive overview of the current market shifts and trends shaping the film industry across key markets. Using current stats, he discussed and demonstrated what’s being made, what’s changing and how we (filmmakers) can apply this knowledge to our benefit.

Key take outs from the session:

  • In the past 10 years the global supply of movies has increased greatly: Thanks to camera phones, changes in the sharing of information, and the fact that – in Follows’ words – people are getting richer on average, the amount of films being made has more than doubled.
  • Even though there is a vast increase in the number of films being made, the bulk of these are coming from independent filmmakers.
  • With regards to which genres are winning and which are waning, in general there are a lot more films made of every genre. However, Sci-Fi, horror, and history films are on the rise while romance films are becoming less popular. Why is that? According to Follows, if you take a look at what’s currently happening globally – be it politically, economically, socially or culturally – that should give you your answer. Viewers are favouring subject matter that challenges, opens their minds and educates.
  • Over the past 20 years, the number of Hollywood studios releases have stayed the same and continued to dominate the list of top 50 grossing films – this despite more independent films being made than ever before. This means that regardless of changes in the global film industry Hollywood – for the most part – remains the same.
  • Notably, China has shown the greatest percentage increase in cinema admissions between 2012 and 2016. This thanks to changes in their legislation.
  • In the past 10 years men and women have occupied a more or less equal share of cinema audiences, with women moviegoers leading with 51 per cent. Women are dominating the audience share for romance, family and animation films, with men dominating the audience share for crime, action and Sci-Fi. This has resulted in a rise in targeted films being made, meaning that there are more films being made aimed at the female audience alone, as well as more films being made solely for men.
  • Interestingly, fewer young people are going to the movies than ever before.
  • In 2017, 25 per cent of films released in US cinemas did not feature the English language. Of that 25 per cent there was a decline in French, Italian and German films and an increase in Hindi, Mandarin and Korean films. Why? Because China is influencing the film industry more than ever before. Not only is China producing more films than ever before, they are also purchasing more than ever before and with this, making their own rules regarding content.

In conclusion Follows urged filmmakers to not focus on the data itself but to use these statistics to understand how the world is changing and how we are changing as humans, and let that influence the kind of films we make.

“Don’t focus so much on the money… make beautiful films with universal appeal because we are more similar than we are different in this world,” Follows concluded.

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