From Apple’s iTunes and Google’s Play Store to Netflix and Amazon Prime and terrestrial channels and catch up / on-demand services, there is no shortage of opportunities for to view film and this is before we consider the role of the cinema.
The artistic opportunities presented across these forms is varied and gives viewers unprecedented access, wherever and whenever they like.
At the beginning of February a new dynamic was added to the mix in the shape of a series of short films entitled Shield 5, directed by Anthony Wilcox whose credits include: Hot Fuzz (2007), A Mighty Heart (2007) and Pearl Harbour (2001). The rise and development of video sharing platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo have made the sharing of short films highly democratic, so in this sense the idea of a new short film may not sound so radical.
However, Shield 5 was presented on Instagram throughout February in 28 15 second clips uploaded daily at 5pm.
Shield 5 is the story of a security driver who is arrested for a diamond heist and is forced to go on the run. Each day a new 15 second video clip and a photo are uploaded, revealing a little more of the story. You can follow the story on Instagram here.
As a platform, Instagram built its reputation as a hub for photographers when it launched in 2010, before adding video in 2013 and building on this to include their new time-lapse app called ‘Hyperlapse’. The social network offers a global appeal for artists, producers and makers to share their work and for it to be discovered.
One could say that the success of Instagram is down to its limitations: square photos, a certain number of filters, a max running time of 15 seconds for video. Limits like these often inspire creative and unusual outcomes, by encouraging the artist or maker to reduce their concept down to its essential ingredients. Video was the next natural step for a platform dedicated to the visual image.
In the same year (2013) was the launch of the Twitter-owned app Vine, which invites users to produce videos in under six seconds as opposed to Instagram’s fifteen second rule. Both apps shows how small the time frame for producing video online can be, and present a real challenge to filmmakers used to more tradtional formats.
However, according to research, it is estimated that on average our online attention span is just 6 seconds. When you compare that to the average length of a feature film (90 - 120 minutes), you can see the extremes in our traditional, versus emerging viewing habits.
In today’s world we consume film when we want to; we do not need to wait for a dedicated time to watch a film, as everything is available on demand, at the push of a button or the swipe of a screen. There is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy when it comes to watching film anymore, and Shield 5 is a great example of this. Wilcox's series is an experiment on a platform which is used to express creative ideas, and makes the most of the limits in place on the platform to produce something which broadens the artistic reach of film.
Marcus Lilley is the founder of FutrSocial. Follow FACT on Instagram for updates about our porgramme @FACT_Liverpool