Where is everybody?

Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
Hello all, I have been gone from the forums for a long time, and just returned over the last few days.

I started to post enthusiastically, traveling about the forum to see if I could meet some other filmmakers.

I met one guy, chatted with him for a while, nice guy, good talk. Awesome, now time to go find the other 35 new friends I'll need to make to get my project off the ground.

When I was here long ago, just posting a video, or commenting on someone's work would usually start up a conversation, and pretty soon you were getting to know the different personalities, figuring out who's who, etc.

After the first response, silence.

oh, it's Sunday night, I'm just showing up at a bad time, and no one is on here. Late posts, time zones, etc., I just don't know the rhythms of the site anymore. I wait a full day. No comments, no more people showing up to talk.

Maybe my liberal use of backslashes has terrified the natives, this whole pin drop reaction is likely my fault, in some way I'm not yet attuned to.

So I'm going and looking at some other filmmakers work, and I come across some stuff that's really good. Looks like the guy put heart and soul into this thing, it's a half hour long, filmed like a pro, really great. No comments. No one talking. Maybe he's put in 100 hours of solid work by the looks of it.

I go over to another thread, and A guy is being kind of a jerk, it's got maybe a dozen responses. He has nothing to offer really, but at least it's funny.

So here's my question, where is everybody?

I don't mean on Indietalk, and this is in no way critical of the forum, which I like. But where is everyone in the world?

I looked on Google for a while, after seeing that only 300 users were here, because I assumed some larger independent film forum had fractured the audience, and maybe now it was split up between multiple copies of the OG indietalk.

But to my surprise there didn't really seem to be other such sites, outside of some discussion on reddit. A search for indietalk alternatives yielded sites selling t shirts and pitching educational video series on how to light an interview.

So there is a world of 8 billion people, and a large percentage are English speaking, and I've previously met people from all different countries here. If this is the world's only major independent filmmaker forum, are there somehow only 300 people talking about independent film and video at a time? I think my local Wall mart sells more Gimbal kits than that annually. Shouldn't there be tens of thousands of people here at any given time?

Does anyone know what has happened?
 
🤷‍♂️ Seems to me that the whole internet has gone quiet in recent months, and the forum style has been in decline for several years. I put it down to a change in demographics and their associated habits. In the face of unsearchable torrents of action/mindless-reaction on platforms such as facebook and twitter, I think the older generation has gone back to local real-world networking, where the value of one trusted mentor/sounding board is considerably greater than that of a few thousand bots and a bunch of random nerds.

To the extent of my involvement with them, the younger generation seem to be largely passive consumers of YouTube-type advice, streaming thousands of hours of how-to videos on whatever challenge awaits them in the day, but rarely delving deeper into the subject. The majority of those who make the videos know their audience treats their "content" as little more than fast food, and churn it out regardless of defects in sound, video, narrative, etc.

As one of the "older generation" I'm seeing the same thing happen now with video that happened with graphic design back in the 90s - those affordable gimbal kits coupled with a 1000-dollar iPhone make people believe they can shoot great video, in the same way as WordArt and cheap DTP software made them think they could design a great poster. Indeed, the marketing of these devices and apps often emphasises the notion that you can tap into an artistic potential that you never knew you had. Unfortunately, the output usually proves that that's because you never had it! :tongue:

So out of those tens of thousands that you say should be here, only a fraction will care enough about what they're doing to bother signing up; and of those who do sign up, there'll always be a significant proportion who aren't really interested in the whole scene, only their role in it.
 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
So you want to know who's where and what we do? Is that the gist of your post? :)

I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. I lived in Jersey City, NJ for many years, and now I'm in Ocean County, NJ.
I've written & produced 2 features. I post about them frequently so won't add it again - unless you ask, of course!
 
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So I'm going and looking at some other filmmakers work, and I come across some stuff that's really good. Looks like the guy put heart and soul into this thing, it's a half hour long, filmed like a pro, really great. No comments. No one talking. Maybe he's put in 100 hours of solid work by the looks of it.


So here's my question, where is everybody?

I don't mean on Indietalk, and this is in no way critical of the forum, which I like. But where is everyone in the world?

As much as I would like to, I just don't have the time to watch the posted videos, especially those that are more than five or ten minutes. Like many others, I have my own work to accomplish and a real life - taking care of the business aspects of my business, a family life, taking care of myself (exercise, etc.) and somewhere in there trying to find some time for personal enjoyment - leaves me little time for critiques for which I do not get paid.

And you are right, the world has changed quite a bit the last decade or so. As someone who was born more than six decades ago, it's almost frightening how much the world has changed. My father traveled quite a bit for his job, and when I was in grammar (primary) school it was an event when my family got a transatlantic phone call from him when overseas, enough so that my classmates and teachers were very impressed. I remember in the 1980s when a fax machine was a status symbol and a cellular "brick" was only for the very wealthy. Now you can contact anyone in the world with a little device in your back pocket. Well, enough of that.

And, since you haven't been here for a while...

 

Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
I wasn't expecting such an interesting reply. lol.

looks like the matrix is allocating me 2 cores today.

The last thing you mention is interesting. That ratio. The ratio that breaks the entire world. My problem is not so much that so few actually care about anything, but that all the worlds resources seem gravitationally drawn to those that cared, that tried, that thought, the least. I think Van Gough died alone in poverty, and the guy that said the earth was round was burned alive by his neighbors.

Rant Redacted for the sake of brevity.

In short, replying to CelticRambler, I'll see your rant, and raise you several additional rants, lol.
 
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Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
So you want to know who's where and what we do? Is that the gist of your post? :)

I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. I lived in Jersey City, NJ for many years, and now I'm in Ocean County, NJ.
I've written & produced 2 features. I post about them frequently so won't add it again - unless you ask, of course!
Hi, sorry about the above ranting. Like Alcove and CelticRambler above, I am getting old, and have a tendency to go on the occasional rant.

I've seen some of your posts and read through them, and I must compliment you on your unusually sane and well mannered behavior. I can see why you became a moderator. And of course I'd love to see some examples of your work. Educating myself as to what and who is out there, is the reason I'm here. I met some cool people on Indietalk over the years, even yesterday. I try to take an interest in the work of others, especially the more serious ones that I can identify with more. I'll take a look at your post history. Anyway nice to make your acquaintance.
 

Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
As much as I would like to, I just don't have the time to watch the posted videos, especially those that are more than five or ten minutes. Like many others, I have my own work to accomplish and a real life - taking care of the business aspects of my business, a family life, taking care of myself (exercise, etc.) and somewhere in there trying to find some time for personal enjoyment - leaves me little time for critiques for which I do not get paid.

And you are right, the world has changed quite a bit the last decade or so. As someone who was born more than six decades ago, it's almost frightening how much the world has changed. My father traveled quite a bit for his job, and when I was in grammar (primary) school it was an event when my family got a transatlantic phone call from him when overseas, enough so that my classmates and teachers were very impressed. I remember in the 1980s when a fax machine was a status symbol and a cellular "brick" was only for the very wealthy. Now you can contact anyone in the world with a little device in your back pocket. Well, enough of that.

And, since you haven't been here for a while...

Hi Alcove,

You and Indietalk are the only names I recognize from a decade ago. I don't think we interacted that much, but I used to read your posts. I'm also an audio engineer. It's good to know that there are at least a few other lifers in here!

I fully understand about not watching every video or screening every script, it gets to be a lot even if you want to do that. Perhaps it's just the rose colored glasses, but it did seem like there used to be at least a few comments on each video posted. I guess I felt bad for that particular guy, because he was clearly really working at his craft, and getting literally thousands of times less attention than when someone reviews a bottle of hairspray on YouTube.

I really don't expect people like yourself, or for that matter myself, that have worked professionally for years to spend a lot of time on forums, for the exact reason you mentioned. But i came back here looking for a new generation of people, that I could perhaps teach, or even learn from, and was simply a bit shocked to be met with such deafening silence.

Anyway, hope you are well, nice to hear a familiar voice after such a long absence.
 
My problem is not so much that so few actually care about anything, but that all the worlds resources seem gravitationally drawn to those that cared, that tried, that thought, the least.

Just to kind of artistically foreshadow the madness I will likely descend into in the next decade as I repeatedly fail to raise even the smallest amount of funding or support for one complex and innovative project after another.

In short, replying to CelticRambler, I'll see your rant, and raise you several additional rants, lol.

Hey - I did my ranting last week, in real life! :angry: And the two weeks before that. :bang: But it was all in a good cause (I hope) as I finally got a signature on a proposal that I've been trying to make happen for three years, two hours after close of business on Friday. That proposal has nothing to do with film-making ... and yet it does, and addresses your original question too: I had hoped to spend those three weeks happily locked down with nothing better to do than come on here and present/discuss a project I've been tinkering with for the last two years. But, as @Alcove Audio remarks, real life has a habit of getting in the way of the creative process.

These two ventures will hopefully pave the way for a third, not obviously related to either; and yet they all stem from guidance I received three years ago when trying to build a pitch for a "complex and innovative" project. My mentor explained that even though he could understand the concept, there's huge resistance in all walks of life to innovation, and adding "complex" to it just forces brains to shut off. His advice was not to abandon the project, but to identify the key elements, to build a pillar out of each one, and (only) once they were in place, reformulate the "complex" innovation as something that was really just a simple evolution of what I'd already done. "If you want to operate a fleet of aircraft, you need to buy that restaurant first." :shocked:

It took me a while to get my head around the logic - and even longer to reconcile myself to the idea of shelving something I'd put a lot of time and mental energy into - but he was right. Last week's agreement paves the way for future developments, and the business case for the original concept has been strengthened by the pandemic, so nothing has been lost. But you won't find me today hanging around the forums I used to frequent back then, when I was fired up and ready to take on the world.
 

CamBlamo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
I avoided film as a craft for a bit because I was in a negative head space during the pandemic. Some people may still be in that headspace. A lot of us would like to think people easily move on and get on top of things when worldwide things like this happen, but I feel like that just isn't reality sadly.

No matter how much we push ourselves to be motivated and happy, I think reality is always hiding around the corner. I think that reality might be low budget and commercial/produced projects are getting further and further apart.

Although I do see a light at the end of the tunnel with how commercial Hollywood is becoming.... And the possibility that more and more great stories are going to come from the Independent/Small budget realm. However, the pay is going to be tight on both sides in the future.

I also think crowdfunding has probably taken a huge hit on people willing to throw random cash at projects that don't present some immediate change or novelty. We might be moving toward an age where art is considered luxury....

Course I'm randomly spitting thoughts here... Sorry if I sound confusing.

After speaking with an organizer of a local film group that lost half of its members and is currently doing most meetings online... You can definitely tell that he may be a little jaded with all that has happened. I mean, that film group was amazing and had tons and tons of content and opportunities happening before the pandemic. Now its one virtual meeting a month... And is more of a promotion for local projects rather than a place to practice filmmaking on multiple projects with multiple teams.

They are however gearing up for a 48 hour film fest soon, which is going back to in person format... So it may be like nothing happened.
 
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Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
Interesting stuff, I'm sure the pandemic has affected a lot of things on a lot of levels. And there will likely be shockwaves in a lot of areas that no one is anticipating. Flipside, there are always going to be people that want to tell stories. Film and animation are the main mediums, the tools are becoming more accessible than ever before, and I just don't see creatives worldwide just shrugging and giving up.

Certainly this was a bad year financially. In terms of moving towards an age where art is considered a luxury. I think it's always been that way, and is actually gradually moving in the other direction. I want to write out a 3 page essay on why I think that, and could make some great points. But I seriously have to get some film work done tonight. I'll leave it at this, make it super simple. Technology and robotics/ai specificly are hurtling us towards a day when their actually isn't a ton of Farm\scrubbing\mowing\selling\driving work left for humans. When AI truck drivers are fully phased in, that's 1/3 of all jobs gone.

Some are super exited about jobs, but I'm not. I don't believe that a world where there will be more baseline resources, requiring less work and maintenance to produce, needs to be full of poverty stricken people. Legacy logic from 50-100 years ago would be that if you aren't killing yourself in the bottom of a coal mine, there would be a systemic collapse and everyone would starve.

Maybe when people were using hand tools that had to be true. Remember that about 85% of the progress in human history happened within the last hundred years. People are still passing down ways of thinking created in a time when the world was more than a little different. 1901, 1 guy can produce enough food for 3 people if he works 10 hours in the sun. 2026 1 robot combine can work 24 hours a day for no pay and output enough food for 1800 humans a day. Obviously no one has to starve anymore because they want to take some time off to paint.

Assuming we don't do something catastrophically stupid like set up a fascist state based on ancient religion where we sacrifice the public as a tribute to human gods forged in the fires of nepotism, we should be fine. And I'm certain we live in an intelligent society where nothing like that will even come close to happening. People are just way too smart and decent at their core to take the greatest age of overabundance in human history and turn it into an unprecedented nightmare where 95% of the resources went to less than 1% of the people.

Anyway, no reason to worry, because even if the super rich do get all the worlds resources funneled to them, I'm sure they will use that power to save lives and make the world a better place. I mean, what are they going to do, Hoard all the money out of pure greed and narcissism and the start a tv network where they scream at poor people for asking for a $1 raise? That just doesn't sound like them. The reason they were born into money is because they are 1000s of times superior to us, or else sky lord wouldn't have set it up that way.
 

CamBlamo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
Funny thing is... All that you are saying supports the notion of paying people less... The companies that own the systems and machines will make more than the lower user base... Just how business works.

With all your thoughts on computers and AI..... You do know an age is coming in which an AI could possibly write a better script than any human ever could???

People might scoff now, but what happens then if lets say that does occur?

Netflix and Disney are already pretty close to formulaic entertainment, and people are still speaking with their wallets in a bad way.... Example... Zach Snyder's new Zombie movie. Did well for views and clicks, but panned by critics and the general public. Even had major flaws (dead pixels) that would tarnish an indie studio or student film in obliteration... But somehow it all still works out for Netflix???

Now add AI and machine learning to this..
Boom, a sequel script based on hype generated is created... And at the speed of light? Well, so much for the artist.... Now its the programmer behind the artist that matters.
 

Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
It's not just likely that AI's will eventually write better scripts than some people, it's a certainty. I founded a successful AI company in 2000, and work with various emerging AI technologies to this day. Though as a side note I would have to add that they are a tremendous pain to work with.

It's really a matter of the quality level of some humans being low, and the AI tide constantly rising as it overtakes the weaker scritwriters, and shortly thereafter, the best.

However, even at their best, they will only be able to perfectly mimic the greatest humans. At a certain level, that will be more than good enough for a studio, vs paying an excellent writer to do the same. In this way people with no talent can keep an even larger share of the money, and they will.

What they can't mimic is chemistry. And I'm not talking about on screen chemistry. They can set that up. But they don't have organs and adrenalin like we do. So when a person comes up with a truly phenomenal, creative, or original idea, we get surges of dopamine, adrenaline, etc. The computer has no such way to recognize a good idea. It must be told or otherwise learn what a good idea looks like. It's not the same.

And then we must look at other factors that often make cinema great. All humans are some percent insane. Maybe the sanest person I've ever met was 90% sane. Most fall significantly short of that number. But from these deranged minds comes Pulp Fiction, Game of Thrones, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The City of Lost Children, Time Bandits, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and for that matter every truly creative thing you've ever seen. And humans drink coffee, and liquor, and sugar, and take heroin. AI's don't do that, so basically I'm saying that they can't ever write like a person would, or come up with an original idea that wasn't just filtered randomness. It's also worth considering that we are the machines, and that earth is simply a chemical computer designed to provide entertainment for a race further along the timeline.

As far as saying people should be paid less, or that it points to that, by conventional thinking that would be true. As the world shifts into a new age though, it would make more sense to think of money in an entirely different way than we used to. We don't need to shoot every drunk person that steals a cow. My elderly parents watch a lot of western movies, and that's basically where their polotics come from. Movies made in the 1950s about the 1910s. I ask them why the sheriffs in these films keep murdering drunk 20 year old kids because they stole a cow or horse. The reply was educational, they told me that in those days many families had a single cow or horse as their main possession in life. When a thief stole it, that entire family could end up dying over the winter.

I said ok, but in the age of grocery stores and refrigerators, we don't murder people in the street for stealing a cow. Things change, and when elements in society keep chanting the same phrases regardless of that, the rift between ideologies and what makes sense in reality widens.

I think if the world forks in a good way, we'll see a society like Star Trek TNG, where progress and cooperation is at the forefront, and money had simply vanished. On the other end is something along the lines of Demolition Man, where corporations own the public and there is no government outside of Amazon.
 
... an age is coming in which an AI could possibly write a better script than any human ever could???

People might scoff now, but what happens then if lets say that does occur?

Netflix and Disney are already pretty close to formulaic entertainment, and people are still speaking with their wallets in a bad way....

A better script? Better by what measure? Doesn't this take us back to my assertion that there's "art" and there's "fast food" in terms of visual entertainment.

I was thinking earlier today, while earthing up my potatoes (a good way to unlock creative brainspace), that there's another aspect to the demographic divide that I referenced above: the "younger generation" have been reared on the idea that if you don't know something, you ask an AI assistant, and you'll be given the answer. I you want to know how to do something, you look for a video, and a helpful algorithm will present you with a ranked set of videos telling you how to do it. If your question is a tiny bit complex or personalised, a Q&A forum will allow you to pick the "best" answer.

And away you go, fully informed by the whole weight of humanity's five thousand years' collective experience and knowledge.

Or not.

Back in the olden days, we had to either trudge down to the local library and find a book that'd explain the how-to, or we had to ask someone who had the knowledge. Sure, there were plenty of gurus back then for whom there was only ever one right way, but
when a person comes up with a truly phenomenal, creative, or original idea, we get surges of dopamine, adrenaline, etc.
and the direct human-to-human interaction allowed the possibility of channelling these surges into art. According to some definitions, Art is meant to challenge us, which is the polar opposite of today's algorithms feeding us only "stuff" that reinforces our preconceptions.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Hi Alcove,

You and Indietalk are the only names I recognize from a decade ago. I don't think we interacted that much, but I used to read your posts. I'm also an audio engineer. It's good to know that there are at least a few other lifers in here!
I remember you. You might remember me. Been here for a while...

I eased up on commenting on videos and scripts and even general questions in
the last couple of years. Far too many people ask for feedback but never return.
Or if they return they don't reply back. I now wait until a new member posts a
dozen or so times. It just isn't worth taking the time.

But I get ya. This forum used to be crazy active, but over the years people seem
to be looking for quick looks and likes and not much discussion so forums are
less active. I was once checking in a couple of times a day and posting daily. Now
I only check in once or twice a week. This is a great forum with some really great
people who offer terrific advice.
 

CamBlamo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
Great points, and a lot to think about for the future! It could go any direction... But in all directions, I see the future as uncertain regardless... And with that, why not just have some fun and make some kick ass content, whether it gets recognition or not.

I can sleep well at night knowing I enjoyed making a film... Damned if people like it or not or see value in something I enjoy.

That's probably exactly what happened to this forum. People stopped having fun, and started caring more about stats and feedback. I know I unfortunately went down that route starting as a new filmmaker, but that's just how it is taught on the tube now. Stats matter, money matters, what jim and joe think of me matters...

When in reality, I highly doubt all of our favorite filmmakers cared about those things.
 

Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
Definitions of art. lol.

As far as algorithms feeding us exactly what we want, this is the future of most things. It's a rational trap, where it makes complete sense to do this, but also has the byproduct of wrecking the entire world. I'll be honest, I liked most people a lot more before the algorithms got them.

I think you can make art that tailors itself to it's audience, and I'm actually one of the people that does that. I see the problems with it, but it has a great side as well. I have a great deal to say about the topic, but have to pass on this one for time's sake.

I think a powerful technology is like a gun, not evil in and of itself, but in the hands of a person of inferior ethics, or intelligence, very dangerous. There's also a lot of slippery slopes that test your character when you get into such technology. I have stories from silicon valley. I was actually surprised how rare character seemed to be amongst the others orchestrating algorithmic campaigns. Sometimes I'd talk to the other CEOs at the bar down in Mountain View, and I had people literally act startled when I'd talk about the honesty and integrity we owed the public. Like no one had ever said anything like that to them before. When I saw that scene in The Big Short 6-7 years later, I did at least feel vindicated, like there must be a minimum of one other person like me out there for this scene to be made.

They're bragging "and we built it to scan elderly peoples facebook profiles, so we know right when they're venerable to our time share ads" "The software can detect when they're drunk, and we can target them with ads for impulse investments before they have time to get sober" And I'd tell them that they should learn to provide something beneficial to the public, rather than just constantly trying to game the system at everyone's expense and their profit.

I can't say I was ever very popular there.
 

Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
Great points, and a lot to think about for the future! It could go any direction... But in all directions, I see the future as uncertain regardless... And with that, why not just have some fun and make some kick ass content, whether it gets recognition or not.

I can sleep well at night knowing I enjoyed making a film... Damned if people like it or not or see value in something I enjoy.

That's probably exactly what happened to this forum. People stopped having fun, and started caring more about stats and feedback. I know I unfortunately went down that route starting as a new filmmaker, but that's just how it is taught on the tube now. Stats matter, money matters, what jim and joe think of me matters...

When in reality, I highly doubt all of our favorite filmmakers cared about those things.

That's a good answer. It all cycles back to end justifies the means vs means justifies the end.

I had an example from my life, that does provide insight into how the world went to hell. I call it Chad's Law.

So I'm a somewhat responsible person these days, A big shift from my younger self. And one day I bought a delicious pie at the store.

I try to practice moderation in all things other than work and guitar, and I had a plan on how to eat the pie. I'd have maybe one piece every few days, and could probably enjoy it without a lot of consequences. The pie had 8 slices.

My roommate at the time was an old friend I was splitting rent with, and he unfortunately had gone downhill a lot since our younger days. He was drunk and on pills all the time, and his IQ had taken a major hit across a couple decades of daily drinking. He weighed maybe 285,

So the first day I bring the pie home, and put it in our refrigerator. Later that night, I eat one piece of pie.

The next day I wake up and find that Chad has eaten 4 pieces of pie at one sitting while drunk. There are 3 pieces left.

My initial plan was to eat a piece of pie about once every 3 days. But upon discovering this, I quickly did the math. At this rate, where Chad got wasted every day and ate 4 pieces of pie, If I acted responsible, I would never get a second piece of my own pie.

I had paid something like 14 dollars for this pie, and while I never mind sharing, I felt it unfair that I only get 1/8th. So what did I do? I sat down and ate all 3 remaining pieces of pie in one sitting. Now chad and I were both thoughtlessly gorging ourselves on pie, because he was selfish and stupid, and there was no pie left for anyone.

The phenomenon I'm trying to illustrate is that once one person is greedy, or shallow, or stupid, and starts grabbing up attention or money or subscribers or whatever currency you're after, you're only left with the option to start acting like they do and claim your share, or sit back and watch the worst people cannabalize the best as a function of their sociopathy. We've built a flawed world I think.
 
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Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
I remember you. You might remember me. Been here for a while...

I eased up on commenting on videos and scripts and even general questions in
the last couple of years. Far too many people ask for feedback but never return.
Or if they return they don't reply back. I now wait until a new member posts a
dozen or so times. It just isn't worth taking the time.

I remember you also. It seems like you were kind of a central member of the forum back in those days. I seem to recall people having a lot of respect for you, and you giving a lot of good and helpful advice. Anyway, good to see you're still out there, fighting the good fight.
 
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