We often think of the film industry as creating popular culture, but often, creators are watching filmmaking trends very closely and making their moves based on what’s popular now.
In this post, I’m just touching on some of the trends that I’ve seen (good and bad) and putting it out there for you to follow, or not.
Filmmaking Trend #1: Instagram As the New Resume
Instagram’s primarily visual medium has made it a great promotional tool for filmmakers – specifically cinematographers.
This is one that I’ve neglected (read: avoided) because I’m a crotchety old man at heart. I don’t want to spend a bunch of time crafting, curating, and boosting an Instagram account devoted to screenshots of my projects.
I have the same thoughts about reels if we really want to get into it. I despise spending time editing and re-editing reels to show people.
Is it because I’m lazy? Probably, yeah! So sue me…
But, one could argue that the only reason reels exist is because the job-poster is lazy. (So, there!)
I prefer to send links to full projects that are relevant to the job at hand. That means I’m only showing the job-poster the projects pertaining to the style, tone, mood of their project.
Plus, I think this gives them a better idea of my capabilities than a photo album or reel can. But hey, that’s just me.
Filmmaking Trend #2: Oh My LOG
When the 5D mkii came out, everyone went wild shooting wide open on really fast lenses to get that “film look”. What started out as a “film look” ended up being a uniquely DSLR look that is a dead giveaway for an amateur filmmaker.
I’m totally guilty of this, and that DSLR look got me many jobs…
Fast-forward to the release of affordable cameras that shoot RAW or LOG footage, and now there’s been a trend to leave your video looking flat and desaturated.
This is dying down slightly, now that it’s been called out by more people than just me. It got to the point where I saw national commercials using this style, and my wife (a non-filmmaker) looked at me and said, “Why does it look like that?”
Again, I can’t pretend like these particular filmmaking trends didn’t come from my own projects at some point in time. If you feel triggered or attacked, me too.
Filmmaking Trend #3: So Smooth
Much like flat and desaturated footage, I’ve recently become very aware of gimbal footage in every video out there. To the point where I hear Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana in my dreams telling me how smooth it all is.
This is one of those filmmaking trends that I get. When I was in film school, putting a camera on a dolly instantly made your thing look cinematic.
We were emulating the slow push-ins that Speilberg did to heighten the tension during a dramatic monologue or following a character down a hallway to reveal some shocking information.
Dolly moves – still great – but these days, the “oner” is the standard that people are trying to achieve. Children of Men and True Detective: Season 1 pulled off amazing oners that blew my mind at the time.
And now, there are entire movies based on this idea. (If you haven’t seen 1917…it’s absolutely worth it)
But, without the ultra-careful crafting of a beautiful gimbal shot that fits seamlessly within the vibe of the project, it can seem overplayed.
Filmmaking Trend #4: Light Tubes
It’s at this point that I’m realizing how many of my filmmaking trends are caused by new technology. This one is no different.
It was only a matter of time before someone stuck LEDs in a tube, mimicking the look of a fluorescent fixture.
Now that these LED tubes can be battery powered (aka wireless), mounted just about anywhere, and change to any color under the sun, we are seeing these tubes as practicals in all sorts of projects.
Music videos are obviously having a hay day with this, but also massive narrative films, like Blade Runner 2049.
As a cinematographer, I too love this new tech. It really is amazing to be able to have a battery-powered source in your shot that can be dialed in via an app on your phone and mounted to the wall or ceiling with magnets or tape.
This is one of those filmmaking trends that I fully support, and I hope there are more technological advancements like this in the near future.
Filmmaking Trend #5: The Classic Remix
Music and filmmaking go together like peanut butter and jelly. (Oh so good)
I’m sure you’ve noticed this next trend in about 70% of the trailers put out by studios – the slow and angsty remix of a classic song.
The latest culprit; the trailer for The Batman which features a slow and even more melodramatic version of the Nirvana song “Something In The Way”.
This is a cool tactic that gives you all the feels and is really telling of who exactly the movie is targeting.
There’s a part of me that really likes this trend when done well – particularly if it’s using a song that I wouldn’t normally expect.
Your Favorite Filmmaking Trends
What are your favorite (or least favorite) filmmaking trends that I didn’t include here? Leave them in the comments below!