Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes
I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again
Say goodbye to Hollywood
Say Goodbye to Hollywood
There is a lot of finger pointing going on in the film & TV business right now. (As I write this L.A. County has an unemployment rate of 12.7%, and the film industry has not been spared. The Writer’s Guild of America reported for the fiscal year 2009 that screenwriter’s earnings decreased 31%. )
Who and what is to actually blame for Hollywood’s economic downturn that has resulted in fewer script sales and a greater loss of production jobs? Is it the general downturn in the economy or the rising cost of production? Is it the tax incentives that states outside L.A. and even countries outside the U.S. are giving to lure business away from California? Is it the Internet and the fact that spending two hours on Facebook is more interesting than many two hour movies?
Yes. It’s all the above and more.
Once upon a time there was this company called Fotomat. (Yes, I’ve written about Fotomat before but it is a favorite metaphor of mine.) They started in the 60s, seemed like they were everywhere in the 70s, but by by 1980 they had peaked. Their little yellow huts in parking lots were cultural icons back in the day. Now they’re cultural relicis and every once in a while you can spot an old converted Fotomat building that is now converted into a coffee hut or a wind-tinting business. What happened to Fotomat? Well, it’s pretty simple.
They niche they careved out was turning around photos in one day. That was cutting edge in the 70s, but as one hour photo places starting gaining ground in the 80s and then the digital boom in the 90s they had nothing to stand on. (The chant “Obsolete! Obsolete” from the The Twilight Zone (1961) episode The Obsolete Man comes to mind.) In an instant world there wasn’t a big demand for people wanting to get their photos the next day.
From 1800-1840 Nantucket was the “Whaling Capital of the World.” Youngstown, Ohio was once the seventh largest steel producer in the nation. My grandfather used to work for the Youngstown Sheet & Tube and I found an old book the company put together in 1950 to celebrate 50 years in the steel industry. In the opening paragraph of the book there is this line, “This Company looks forward to another fifty years, and then another, ad infinitum….” There wasn’t a Youngstown Sheet & Tube around to celebrate in the year 2000.
Seven hundred tons of metal a day
Now sir you tell me the world’s changed
Once I made you rich enough
Rich enough to forget my name
I’ll spend the next few days looking at how Hollywood got to be Hollywood and then look from a creative and economic standpoint at where I think screenwriting, production and distribution is all heading.