Divining the Future

Ask a hundred industry people what they think the future holds and you get some interesting answers. Here are a few of your thoughts, from the pessimistic to the cheery.
December 1, 2001

Ask a hundred industry people what they think the future holds and you get some interesting answers. Here are a few of your thoughts, from the pessimistic to the cheery.


* Doc slump!!!

* Factual programming will try to compete with reality programming on networks. ‘Presenters’ will be action-heroes presenting stories that are only loosely based on facts. This will be ratings/profit driven for the corporate masters.

* Less buying, less paid per documentary.

* Same old shit or, More shit.

* More small TV markets will disappear.

* More outlets (digital), lower license fees.

* Hard times if the American economy goes down the plug hole.

* More of the same: consumption and recession until we find another country to exploit, the conglomeration of the mind, anti-individualism, xenophobia, global warming.

* More documentaries, fewer outlets.

* Quality of docs, television and movies will continue to decline.

* Stronger separation into quality and quantity – much average

programming needed for growing number of thematic channels, few enormous high-gloss projects with international coproducers and high budgets.

* More budget cuts, less emphasis on quality images or high production values.

* We’ll see a lot of patriotic and/or doomsday films.

* For 2002, I see nothing to change for better or worse. 2005 or 2006 is another matter. By then we should be able to circumvent the networks and cable with the internet.

* Big broadcasters getting even greedier.

* Consolidation.

* Fully dramatized, ‘what if’ scenario documentaries.

* A general economic depression.

* We’ll have to wait until after the war…

* It is going to be tough for non-fiction filmmakers. Good luck.


* There will be new avenues available, though producers, distributors and broadcasters are facing leaner times. But, these things go in cycles.

* Fewer, but multi-discipline, indies.

* Few commissions, more acquisitions, younger producers and directors coming to the fore.

* Smaller cameras, cheaper editing systems, less money for production.

* Some indies go under, industry tidied up a bit, commissioners more committed to their niches.

* Tough, but better than 2001.

* More demand for factual and the return of natural history programs.

* Reality shows dying a horrific death and quality history/factual taking over.

* Asian content will be appreciated much more than ever. Also, there’s the World Cup, so there might be further need for football-related footage.

* Someone will make a groundbreaking webdoc.

* Continued growth.

* Working hard will make it better.

* Programming will change. Not as much special effects. Most watched programming in docs will have to do with educating people about our world situation; personal stories, behind the scenes.

* People don’t want to feel scared and lonely, so whatever programming fills that void will be successful. People will be watching more programming ‘together’.

* Early steps of a new millennium of collective conscience?

* Things have to get better?

* Growth in hard-edged factual will replace reality.

* Improvement by the third quarter.

* I’ll sell my film.

* It will be an awesome year.

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.