At this point it can be said that the documentary film market is booming. There are more documentary films being made and more films being watched than ever before. They are also more culturally and politically influential than they were in the long time.
However, this has led some of the industry insiders to believe that we’re experiencing a bubble and that it will burst pretty soon now showing that the industry isn’t doing as well as everyone believed. Will this really happen? It remains to be seen but there are some indicators that it can be the case.
One of the reasons there are more documentary films than ever is the so called Netflix effect. There are more ways to find and stream a movie than there were ever before and that’s mostly because there are streaming services such as Netflix that make it easier to obtain audiences.
This however, isn’t a way to measure the engagement with the audience and there are upcoming changes in the video on demand world that might upset this seemingly successful run. Part of it is the fact that the playing field is getting crowded and a part is that there’s a saturation kicking in.
There’s money to be made in online content streaming. Other companies besides Netflix have figured that out and there’s a proliferation of these streaming providers happening right now. The biggest competitor out there is currently Disney + but there’s also Amazon and a new services provided by Apple.
All of this will affect the average documentary watcher, but not always in a positive way. There will be more steaming sites to choose but most users will limit themselves to one or just a few.
The state of the festivals
There are a lot of important festivals that are shaping the industry. These are big events in the industry and lately there’s more and more of them and they became more popular and more visited. There’s another big part of the rise of such festivals and that’s they are often used to help fund small and struggling filmmakers.
It also provides a different and equally glamorous industry scene for independent and small scale filmmakers, that’s in a way a counter part to the traditional movie industry based in California. Even though it’s a smaller scale industry that sort of glamour is appreciated.
This phenomenon is noticeable bot in fiction filmmaking and in documentary film making as well. The traditional movies are no longer the dominant and serious artistic form. Great story-telling is happing in serialized form and that’s because there’s more time and space to express a complicated idea.
This is a great thing for documentary film making since they are tackling such ideas and the viewers are tuning in to watch. That’s partly because the way the media is delivered has changed and is more accommodating to this new form.
The societal issues
The time we’re living is what’s called an interesting one and the saying goes that it’s not a good time to live in. There are major changes in our society, some brought about by politics but others by far more complicated forces such as technology and ecology. All of this isn’t always a pleasant thing for the citizen but it is for the documentary film industry.
There’s a lot to explore, explain and unpack and documentary filmmakers are one of the ways to do it. This is one of the reasons that the genre is gaining popularity and profitability lately.
Is it bubble?
In the end, the question remains, is this a bubble or an actual long term trend that will remain a fact of the industry for years to come. There are experts claiming both that it is and that it isn’t. There are some facets of the industry at this point that may point out to the fact that this profitable streak of the documentary filmmaking.
However, many of the changes that are facing the industry are about the changes in technology and the society at large so it may seem as if that these are here to stay.
There’s a lot of demand for the documentary films and there’s money in the industry at least more than it was before. This is partly because Netflix and other streaming services are making it easier for the viewer to find what they need. The industry is also more connected and better funded than it was before.
At the same time, there are those who believe that this will change soon and that it’s just a bubble that’s about to burst as things change. However, if this change is about the new tech and the new set of issues to be explored in the documentary film making, this isn’t the case.