Hollywood was the centre of the screen acting world
When I was growing up, American TV and Movies where my entertainment staples. England had three channels, all terrestrial. There was no cable, no satellite and– shock horror – no internet. In Michael J Fox’s autobiography (I’m a big Back to the Future fan), he writes about telling his father about moving to LA to pursue his acting dreams. His father replied, “Well if you’re going to chop wood, it makes sense to move to the forest.” I may have paraphrased that, but you get the point: Hollywood was where it was at for both actors and audiences alike. Even I couldn’t wait to get there and went several times.
Streaming has transformed the landscape
However, times have changed since the days when TV actors were looked down on by Movie stars. Now where Film ends and TV begins is far less clear and this is due to the biggest game changer for our industry: streaming. Streaming has opened up the markets from national ones to a global one, levelling out the playing field, if you will.
For example, the UK population (and therefore potential audience) is approximately 60 million. The US population (i.e. market) is closer to 310 million. Obviously, before streaming, the US had a bigger audience, meaning more money, more shows and more work. But now we are a global audience consuming through the internet and profitability trumps location.
UK desirable film location
It was clear that the UK was going to be a winner in this new business model when Netflix signed a ten-year deal to lease studios at Pinewood. And it is not just Pinewood that’s getting investment, studios are being built in Barking and Dagenham too. This is great news for UK based actors. Sure, the streaming companies are often still US owned, so the budgets are US budgets and the profits head back there, but the actors are often cast locally or globally, not just in the US.
Atlanta the new Hollywood?
Aside from the rise in streaming, and the decline in cinema attendance, Hollywood is has a PR problem. It has been tainted with multiple stories of sexual exploitation and abuse. This may have surfaced most obviously with the Harvey Weinstein scandal, but the ripples of more sordid stories still seep out from actors and producers alike. Now, it seems that from a US perspective Atlanta is the future home of the US screen industry, something to consider if you are planning a work trip to the US.
All expanding bubbles burst
The landscape for both movies and television looks so different today. Now, Hollywood A-listers appear on the smaller screen, and TV shows are cinematic in both length and production values. It seems bold to ask if Hollywood is over, but the reality is all expanding bubbles eventually burst and all empires eventual fall. It is the cycle of life. So, whilst it is fun to go to LA – sunshine, palm trees and a gorgeous coastline – you do not need to worry about visas and green cards. We are in a borderless screen industry now, the world just got smaller and big acting success can happen right here at home.
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