Film in four dimensions

Gabrielle Giacomo '15

Gabrielle Giacomo ’15

Think back to the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, when silent black and white flicks were driven by casts of powerful actors and unpredictable plot lines.
Now, jump forward to 2011 and the dawn of Blu-Ray. I remember bringing up the topic to my filmmaking teacher at the time, expecting him to share in everyone’s general excitement. Instead, he dismissed the new technology, saying that soon it would become obsolete. I couldn’t fathom why, unable to see any drawback of crystal clear and uncannily realistic images. What could they possibly invent that people would want to have more of?
“4D,” he said with a glint in his eye. “That’s something people would pay money for.”
I am one to associate 4D with those corny rides from Disney that had the characters spit and burp on you. Not really the norm for dramas or thrillers. I for one would not be a fan of wearing a poncho the next time I see a movie with a fight sequence, and I figured that this would be the same for most people. I quickly assumed that my teacher was joking.

Gabrielle Giacomo '15
Gabrielle Giacomo ’15

The truth behind his words, and what this meant for the future of film, did not dawn on me until an economics lesson in my Calculus class this year.
“Have you girls ever heard of 4D?” Upper School Math Teacher Mrs. Judene Pendergast asked, her curious expression meeting our confused gazes.
She elaborated that movie companies were facing increasingly low box office numbers, as a result of factors such as teenage enthrallment with iPhones and online streaming.
The first thought that crossed my mind was, has it really become this bleak? I knew that my friends tended to watch a film on Netflix rather than head over to the theater, but I never figured that the structures of theaters themselves had to be altered in order to simply get people to see a two hour movie.
Besides, what’s wrong with the standard 2D film? Does this new technology really alter the message of the piece? Do we really need these ploys to draw viewership?
Apparently, the answer is yes. I don’t know if or when these theaters will be built, but even proposing the idea says something about society today. Between pirating online and a generation that simply does not have as long as an attention span as it used to, a two hour stretch in a movie theater does not have the same enticement as it once did.
As a creative filmmaker myself, viewership is hugely important to me. In fact, this lack of viewership sparks an even greater desire to draw people in.
The news here to me is not that the next time I see a Marvel movie I might feel wind in my face as a superhero flies by, but rather that we as a society need increasing stimulation in order to feel anything at all.
I do believe it is important to consider the movie’s venue. Would Gravity have been as compelling if featured on a small screen? On the other hand, movies are all about connecting with the audience on a personal level. I think that people would always be delighted to make the trip to a theater, without the promise of an elaborate gag, if the idea behind the piece were to be compelling enough.
With media readily available on so many different platforms, people crave the ever elusive unique plot line, yet alas, we live in an age of sequels and remakes. Now, I think that the film industry itself needs a reboot. It needs a generation of creators who don’t need technology to tell timeless stories. It needs ideas that don’t rely on explosions or gimmicks to succeed in the box office. As an artist in this era, I am inspired to tackle the challenge of telling stories that will make people shake in their seats, and not because the chair is motorized by mechanical gears.
– Gabrielle Giacomo, Video Content Editor