Refn Talks Filmmaking’s Streaming Future

Refn Talks Filmmakings Streaming Future

Whether you like it or not, streaming seems to be the future of films – especially for non-tentpole features. Many filmmakers have embraced it with both arms, some play in both arenas, and some are dogmatically sticking to the tried-and-true theatrical release window strategy.

While supporters of traditional releases like Spielberg, Nolan and Tarantino have made headlines in recent times, some from the other camp have weighed in including Steven Soderbergh and Ben Affleck. Another is “Drive” and “Only God Forgives” filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn.

The director, who is making the jump to streaming with his upcoming Amazon series “Too Old To Die Young,” spoke at the CPH: DOX festival this past week about the current state of the industry and the future. As usual, Refn doesn’t hold back or sugar coat his thoughts which can be summed up succinctly – adapt or die:

“We have to destroy the past by wiping the slate clean and saying that, ‘yes cinema is dead, but filmmaking is very much alive’. It’s alive at year zero, it’s like the third Lumiere brother saying, ‘we’ve just invented streaming’.

As an industry, we’re trying to take our past into our future, and we’re constantly failing both financially and artistically. It doesn’t mean that going to the cinema isn’t beautiful or wonderful or something we all like to do, including myself, but the reality is in the future the audience will consume content on their telephones.

Instead of fighting that or trying to villainize that, we have to embrace it and say that the telephone coexists with the cinema screen. Neither is better or worse, it’s just coexistence. If you can’t make content that’s as good on a smartphone as in a cinema, you won’t survive.

The cinema world needs to adapt to the future, [filmmakers] don’t need to adapt to the old system. The cinema industry has to embrace the cellphone. Through that, we’ll get a much more harmonic idea of what the future will be like. If they don’t, it will continue to demise. Right now the only thing keeping cinema alive is American superhero blockbusters.

I have a theory that very soon people won’t be watching anything in its entirety, not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t have to.”

Refn also said lovers of certain types of cinema should be on their knees thanking streaming for saving some whole genres of films – most notably documentaries:

“If you’re into documentaries you should thank Netflix every single day. They’re the company that bought the market back to documentaries, it’s a huge business now, including theatrically. You have docs grossing $10-12m in the US and they’re not even that great. Netflix has introduced documentaries as ‘entertainment’ to a mainstream audience and have been enormously successful in doing so.”

Refn’s “Too Old to Die Young” series will hit the streaming platform in June.

Source: Screen Daily