This week Caffeine Nights announced a first look deal it has made with Richwater Films, an extremely vibrant and exciting British film production company, and I was drawn to thinking about the parallels between the digital revolution happening in both of our industries.
Publishing and the film (or movie) industry is being transformed and democratised by digital. I use the word democratised because that is exactly what is happening. Not only is digital giving greater access to people who would have been shut out of the old worlds of film and books but it is also transforming the way we are working. High definition cinema-quality images shot through DSLR can be purchased by companies, meaning that the treadmill of forever loaning equipment and buying film stock, let alone the worry of processing the shot footage and storage of negatives, has been swept away by digital. Digital in publishing means so much more than e-books. It has affected every part of the book-making process from design to the finished product. The same can now be said of the films you watch.
Because something is new and presented from new sources it should not be dismissed; quality, as ever, will always out. The democratisation I speak about also includes gaining access to creative input from people who would never have been accepted by the ‘old school’. This is not just the working classes but bright young, middle-aged and old film-makers and publishers from all sorts of different backgrounds, classes and ethnicities. This is the true democratisation.
The new punk
The ingress of digital is reaching many of our visual and audio arts. I see digital as the new wave or punk revolution for our time and it is a breath of fresh air. It opens a world where ideas can be discussed more freely and investment in those ideas more attainable through the cost savings digital offers. This brings new art, and obviously here I am talking about books and film and all each encompass, to the masses.
Straddling the divide between publishing and film is the author or screenwriter. Authors like our own Dougie Brimson, who has carved a career in both industries through his bestselling books such as The Crew and Top Dog, selling thousands of copies and writing screenplays for features such as Green Street starring Elijah Wood and the forthcoming screenplay of Top Dog for Richwater Films. Dougie is a prime example of an author who has capitalised on digital in both industries through talent, hard work and determination.
This digital era defines success in different ways and offers different channels for success. While it is great to have film distribution to a network of cinemas or book distribution to a network of bookshops, it is no longer necessary for that to happen to have a hit on your hands. There is an eager audience devouring new digital content. At Caffeine Nights and Richwater Films we are lucky to be working in both the traditional and new world of distribution. Our books will be available in stores as well as online. Films such as Richwater Films' forthcoming "Vendetta", starring Danny Dyer and Vincent Regan will get a theatrical release (through distributor Anchor Bay) before it reaches the consumer shelves as a DVD, where it will be seen by many thousands of viewers and of course eventually online.
The book industry used to sneer at entrepreneurial authors who went down the self-publishing route and called it ‘vanity’ publishing. Now it has a new respect through the sheer force of numbers in sales it can command. The film industry is also battling with an entrepreneurial spirit that is embracing digital, those roughneck mavericks with their low budget features and guerrilla style film-making techniques. Arguably some of the output may be less slick than their big rich cousins and I really do mean arguably—in some cases it’s difficult to tell the difference between a £1m movie and a £30m movie - but it is also fresher and doesn’t feel as sullied or tainted by a corporate shroud which often stifles originality and creativity. It is this democratisation that frightens the establishment .
Digital is the common factor that drew Caffeine Nights and Richwater Films to work together - combining our talent pool so each can benefit. I am equally sure that other arts have been brought together in similar fashion. Without this revolution neither company would exist, or at least not in the way they do today. We have chosen to ride the technological new wave flowing through our respective industries and seize the opportunities each is presented with. It is without doubt one of the most exciting times to be in publishing and film-making in the UK ever.
Many years ago Paul Weller wrote: “This is the modern world, we don't need no one to tell us what's right or wrong”. For me this sums up the democratisation of digital.
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