A 'Kill Hollywood' Idea

After reading the Y Combinator call to kill Hollywood, I thought about an idea that I've had for years that could possibly help achieve this goal.

The Problem

When I was dabbling in filmmaking back in high school the problem I faced was acquiring the resources to help implement the vision I had for a movie. I had to find a way to acquire the hardware, software, actors, scenes and props. This was a huge chore as all I wanted to do was to shoot and edit the movie. I just wished I had all the resources magically appear before me.

At university I came across a video game called The Movies, which was a simulation game where you could create and edit movies using virtual characters, scenes and props. This was great as I didn't have to source as many resources to get started. However, the problem I found with the game was that I didn't want to play the simulation aspect of the game; I just wanted to create movies. Another problem I found was that the game's movie making features were quite restrictive in the set of animations, camera angles and video editing features.

The Idea

The idea is to develop a user-friendly, open source application where filmmakers can easily create a movie using digital actors, props and scenery. Yes, there are already filmmakers doing this sort of thing using machinima. But this idea is to allow any budding filmmaker to make a TV series, short film or two-hour blockbuster without a huge learning curve and without restrictions in what they can customize.

What are the features of such an application?

At first the video editing capability of the application will probably be pretty basic. However, filmmakers will be able to export their videos so that they can edit them using video editing software such as Premiere, Final Cut, Vegas Pro or After Effects etc.

Using a very power computer the filmmaker could record near realistic graphical videos. They could use the application to create graphically realistic movies or very cartoony animations. There would be no limit to what type of movies the filmmaker can create; it is up to their imaginations.

Just imagine the types of scenes that could be shot and created, it could be as simple as a close up of dripping faucet in the dead of night, to a slow motion scene of a soldier's point of view rushing towards the enemy's frontline as explosions go off, or a fast-paced scene of a police car chase through downtown New York.

Open Source Project

To develop such an application you would probably need millions of dollars in order to acquire all the necessary resources. If you look at it, the type of people you would need for the project are software engineers, 3D animators, sound engineers, musicians, web developers, graphic designers, filmmakers for testing and many more.

You can see that this project would need a lot of cash and resources to get it running. But with the power of open source and crowd sourcing this application could actually become a reality.

We could use an open source graphic engine and hack away at it, to make it suit the purpose of the application.

Currently, there is no name for this project so maybe we could be unoriginal and call it Project Kill Hollywood?

The Corporation

Further down the road, after the initial release of the application, we could establish a profit making entity similar to the Mozilla Corporation. Profits made by the corporation would be used to help keep the application free for all and sustain the development of the project in the long run, by hiring fulltime engineers and covering administration costs.

How will this project make money?

There are two potential sources of revenue that could be developed for this project.

One source of revenue is to develop an ecosystem where users can sell or give away custom animation mods, props, scenes, textures, skins, sound effect and music that they have created. Users can make money from their creations, filmmakers can source what they want for their movies and this project gets a percentage of the transactions.

The second source of revenue is to develop a market for filmmakers and advertisers. Filmmakers would be able to make money through virtual product placements and virtual advertising. Advertisers can view what props or scenes have been used in movies, the genre of the movie and the potential exposure of the show or movie based on the filmmaker's previous work. Advertisers who want to get their products or ads into the movies would be able to bid or make offers, just like on eBay, to filmmakers.

Killing Hollywood

If such an application was to be developed and released into the world, I envision a future where high quality TV shows and films, created by the people, will be distributed online via video and file sharing websites.

It would break down the barriers that have been set up by Hollywood and allow more filmmakers to tell their stories to the world. For now this is just an idea so this is why we need your help to make this a reality.

Victor Tsen, January 2012.

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