If you're like me, you loved the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books as a kid. It can be exciting to help shape something you'd otherwise be passively enjoying. That practice is slowly working its way into the film world. The future of filmmaking may give you, the audience, much more say in what kinds of movies get made. "Open Source" cinema occurs when the underlying "source code" for computer software is made freely available, enabling anyone to copy a film, rewrite it, edit it, improve it. It's sort of like the film version of Wikipedia. Several full-length Open Source films have already popped up online, such as Cactuses, "a drama about youth culture in southern California," and Boy Who Never Slept, an online dating comedy. This article cites the experience with last year's Snakes on a Plane as an example that the studios are becoming more open to letting the public shape the films they make.
Open Source filmmaking aims to eventually allow the viewer the opportunity to create alternate endings and cut scenes from Hollywood movies. (So long, Jar-Jar Binks!) A film called A Swarm of Angels is one of the most ambitious Open Source projects, as it includes every aspect of traditional filmmaking, including the financing. The founder, Matt Hanson, wants 50,000 "micro-investors" to chip in $60 to make a movie. 60 bucks buys these investors the opportunity to vote on such matters as screenplay decisions and shooting locations. They can work on filming when it begins, and when the film is finished it will be made available online for anyone to download and edit. If you've got cash burning a hole in your pocket, head here to join the moviemaking process.
iPods, DVR, On Demand -- all of these things make it clear that the public likes the freedom to choose what they want when they want it, but I'm not so sure about this practice taking the world by storm. For people with a real interest in filmmaking, this could be a great way to get experience with editing and storytelling. For the married couple picking up a six pack and a DVD on a Saturday night, I can't imagine creating your own version of the movie being all that appealing. If someone wants to make his or her own movie, it seems to me that he or she will get a camera and do it. This Open Source cinema doesn't sound like a very creative way of being creative. When I'm watching a bad comedy, I'll often think of jokes they should have written in, laughs that could have been bigger, etc. If they make technology that lets me put my dialogue into actor's mouths, that I could get behind. It might not be far off -- the article includes speculation that we may be able to interact with and insert ourselves into Hollywood movies some day. If guys could, say, put themselves in bed with Halle Berry, then I think you'd see "Open Source" taking over the world.