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The NYU Cinema Research Institute brings together innovators in film and media finance, production, marketing, and distribution to imagine and realize a new future for artist-entrepreneurs. 


3 Ways Technology is Changing the Face of the Film World

Artel Great


For far too long, weekend after weekend in the movie theaters we have found ourselves stuck in the mire of the mundane.  Watching the same old thing--- tentpole films, CGI, big-budget, sequels, prequels, super hero, comic book movies about white men with super powers flying through the sky in tights. 

The question becomes---  where does that leave the talented indie filmmaker with the more meager means?  Or the microbudget filmmaker with a high quality festival recognized product?  Or better still, the multicultural or underrepresented filmmaker creating for specialized audiences? 

In the digital ubiquity of today’s world it’s all about evolution, innovation, iterations, updates, new versions, better models, and constant change.  So if visibility equals power, how do the women and men making the types of films I've described above tell their stories, in their own voices and raise our collective media visibility?

Could technology be the answer?  I think so. And here are three ways I've used technology through my Project Catalyst initiative to build community and amplify the distribution of multicultural films as well as tap into film enthusiasts and movie audiences on 6 different continents in 21 countries around the world in just 4 weeks!

1. The Democratization of Information

For the first time in history we have the opportunity to engage in a total systems reboot of the film ecology.  Project Catalyst activates the same digitally powered economies of scale that allowed iTunes to change the music landscape.

Through social media campaigns we've been able to galvanize filmmakers and film lovers around the world who share the same values and introduce them to new works by indie artists who are creating some of the most creative and socially relevant work today. Platforms like Facebook allow you to target individuals with specific interests that are more inclined to appreciate the work being made in the underground. 

Engaging these people early and often helps us consolidate the energy of those who are ready to support, but didn't know what exactly to do or where to go.  One of the marvels of the internet is how much information can be shared and exchanged to expand the reach of filmmakers creating for specialized audiences.  Use this information to test out your ideas and experiment with audience building. This is the most valuable asset you can ever imagine.

2. Content & Community Aggregation

Technology also allows you to increase your volume of content creation and output at a fraction of the cost of established media entities.  From the onset I have designed Project Catalyst to be an aggregator of content and to use that content and the followings of filmmakers who created it to build a bridge and make critical connections between like minded creatives who are also working to push the boundaries of artistic expression without compromise.


The creation of the Project Catalyst Film & Music App has allowed us an opportunity to offer the world something no one else can--- a transmedia repository of the most diverse, fresh and provocative indie cinema on the planet.  In this sense, technology has not only allowed us to trigger a flashpoint of creative innovation, but to also trigger a flashpoint of artistic expression.  Now filmmakers have a signature destination where their content can reach the people who care the most about their work.

The Project Catalyst App is a signature destination that not only connects filmmakers with their target audiences --- it also provides a customized cinema and media platform that connects multicultural communities with content that reflects a broader scope of our humanity and the true spirit and diversity present in America today.

Through technology Project Catalyst allows for the aggregation and cross platform, cross pollination of content that has drawn diverse communities together.  In this way, new communities have developed around a shared new media experience and this generates new value.  Building your film community is a vital task for the modern indie filmmaker if we are to take full advantage of new technology.

3. Direct to Audience Access

Technology is also providing a new space for direct audience access.  Particularly, mobile technology.  One result of today's hyper-mediated world, is people now carry screens around with them everywhere.  Why not place your content on devices people carry with them the most, their smartphone or tablet? 

In many countries, notably in Africa and Asia, their mobile infrastructure and usage is far ahead of the United States.  Today's American indie filmmaker must think about how can I get my work on these very important screens.  Reaching these screens offers an easy access for audiences to connect with and plug into you and share your work with others who will do the same. 

So if you’re only interested in watching or having your content appear on broadcast or cable tv, Hollywood movies, or anything coming out of dominant media you probably don’t know anything about Touch by Shola Amoo, or Page 36 by Nelsan Ellis or I’ve Been Life by Cody Chesnutt, or any of the really amazing artists featured on the Project Catalyst App who are doing fantastic work all over the world, and you're definitely missing an opportunity to connect with your audience in a new more intimate way,  a way that will only continue to grow.

By being featuring their work on the Project Catalyst App our direct audience access has provided several filmmakers with new opportunities to showcase their films in traditional film festivals.  Festival directors have approached me about films that appear on the App and I've been invited to curate a program of films in the 18th annual Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City. 

This venture, dubbed, Urbanworld Underground by Project Catalyst takes place on Saturday September 20th at AMC 34th Street Theater and is increasing exposure for filmmakers and extending the life and reach of their work. 

For more info and tickets to Urbanworld Underground by Project Catalyst go to: .  We'll be exhibiting six films, including, sci-fi, animation, documentary, and thriller genres.

So when you're thinking about your next move as a filmmaker or ways to increase viewership and build community, think about the ways I've described above to employ new technologies and take advantage of the Project Catalyst App as a platform to let your cinematic voice be heard across the world! 

Leave a comment below and tell me the ways you're using technology to spread your film and media content.

Great ideas can change the world but it requires great people to make it happen, so download the Project Catalyst App here and spread the word.