Now that filmmaking technology has moved from actual film to digital media to computers to handheld devices it's fairly safe to say that Movies can come from anywhere. It used to be that movies got made in places like Los Angeles because the process of filming was prohibitively expensive to do anywhere else without the resources and crew to support it. Nowadays cameras fit in our phones and editing suites fit on our laps. We can do this movie magic pretty much anywhere we want.
The question of where movies come from became especially relevant to us at Blue Damen Pictures not too long ago. Several years ago we made a fanciful little film called "Mattress World". We took it around to some film festivals and then put it out to pasture while we worked on our next project.
Things like films never really go away, though. Some people call this "a project having a long tail" meaning that even though the bulk of the excitement is done there is still a trailing interest in what was created just because it continues to exist. Sometimes a new organization will even take a project by the long tail and launch it in a new direction: which is what happened with "Mattress World" when it was discovered by the Visionare Corporation for a mobile app they were developing called Worldwide Mobile Movie Theatre.
The premise is simple: the app would be free to download and would feature a program of short films just like a traditional festival. Viewers would be able to watch the first minute of the film for free and, if they liked what they saw, they could download the remainder for a feel of $1.
Using these downloads to create a digital box office the box office "hits" would move up in ranking and the box office "bombs" would move down. Eventually only the most successful films would remain and would compete against one another for additional prizes and recognition.
A lot of this is still in beta.
But back to the question of "Where Do Movies Come From": another feature of the Worldwide Mobile Movie Theatre App is the fact that it divides the films up by region- based on where the film's director was born.
"What's the big deal?" You might ask. "It's good to recognize our roots and celebrate films that come from other places besides Hollywood, right?"
This is true, but what if the director's place of birth has nothing to do with the film? "Mattress World", for instance, was filmed in Chicago, is set in Chicago, made by a Chicago production company using Chicago actors (and OK, the writer was from Wisconsin, but that is still the same neighborhood) and the director grew up in Chicago and lived there most of her life.
But "Mattress World" is listed under the category of Southwest. Because the director was born in New Mexico.
In a competition environment such as the Worldwide Mobile Movie Theatre setup this comes as a great disadvantage: if the cast and crew and supporters of the original film want to support and promote their own film they have to answer the question of "Where Do Movies Come From" by selecting a region where they don't live and possibly know nothing about. Or they might not be able to find the film at all! Who would think to look for a Chicago film under the New Mexico category?
The bottom line is that movies don't come from one place or one person: movies are made by teams of people and can happen all over the world. Perhaps we shouldn't be focusing on where the director was born but rather where the movie was born.