For under $2,000 -- for a digital video camera, a copy of Final Cut Express, and a low-end Mac -- anyone can make movies. This has been true (with appropriate substitutions of software and hardware configuration) for several years now, and many people have wondered what it would mean to Hollywood to have thousands of talented young punks making movies.
But if the advent of cheap, powerful hardware and software for filmmaking has, in the US, led to the explosion of "fan films," it has the potential to be far more revolutionary elsewhere.
In Nigeria, according to the Washington Post, a home-grown movie industry has sprung up, with large expat audiences consuming the resulting DVDs and VCDs (Video CDs, a cheaper-to-make medium common outside of the US). Referred to as "Nollywood" -- a nod to both India's Bollywood and the original Hollywood -- this new genre of Nigerian films has become increasingly popular among the growing African emigré population in the US and Europe.
The stories are, for now, fairly straightforward, intended primarily to remind viewers of their homeland.
"They remind you of everyday life back home," Ziebono Nagabe, 26, originally of Ivory Coast, said recently as he browsed Simba's collection of movies. In the Nigerian movies, the Maryland resident observed, "there's always hope for good-hearted people. They're going to win over the wicked."
This revolution has been a bit slower to happen in India, where Bollywood producers see themselves as the wavefront of a transformation of the global entertainment industry. India has been somewhat unfriendly to up-and-coming filmmakers relying on cheap digital hardware. Issues of commercial pressure against digital distributors, censorship (usually aimed at topics not found in mainstream Bollywood movies, such as homosexuality), and rivalries between independent filmmakers have strangled the digital video revolution.
Ironically, just as Bollywood considers itself poised to take over dominance of global movie culture from the United States, its own successors, armed with digital cameras and cheap distribution, may soon be breathing down its neck.