One of the points Chris Anderson makes in his book The Long Tail is that the tools of production have been democratized. What that means is that tools for creating and sharing content have officially made their way into our hands, the hands of the people.
While we may take this for granted now, when the book was published in 2006, GarageBand was still a novel concept. Suddenly, anyone with $100 and a little patience could produce decent recordings and export those recordings as .mp3s files or burn them to CDs.
Today, if you fancy yourself a filmmaker, you can get a Canon T2i, a versatile starter lens, and a Final Cut Pro X license for about $1,000. As with GarageBand and the music world, finding one’s voice is no longer a privilege exclusive to studios, the classically trained, or the idle rich.
So, it’s easier than ever to make something.
But it’s as difficult as it ever was to make someone feel something.
Our job as communicators is found in the difference between those two pursuits.
I realized this the other day as I was daydreaming about going to the art supply store, loading up on paints and canvases, and creating some great artwork for our home. Painting, by its most basic definition, is easy. But to paint something beautiful/moving/nostalgic/provocative remains a special skill, an honorable craft, and a noble calling.
I have a legit copy of Photoshop CS 5, but I’m no designer. I have access to the same Instagram filters you do, but I’m no photographer. I know all the rock/folk/country/worship chords, but I’m no musician. I know how to trim clips and shuffle them around on a timeline, but I’m no filmmaker.
The object of our work is not to simply make things. We don’t sit at an Etch A Sketch all day making pictures, turning the knobs for our own benefit, only to shake it up and start all over again. The object of our work is to make people feel something — to stir their hearts, to change their minds, to pique their interests, to challenge their assumptions, to disturb their routines, to move their feet.
In other words, if I really want to be a filmmaker, I need to invest in more than just a camera. It’s easier than ever to make a video and publish it on the Internet, but it’s as difficult as ever to make a video that makes a difference.
Scott McClellan is the Editor of Echo Hub and the Director of Echo Conference. You can follow him on Twitter: @scottmcclellan.