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in Filmmaking
on May 12, 2008

After just a few postings, Jamie Stuart has reached a conclusion at his nascent blog over at Wonderland: user-generated video is dead. (Oh, and by the way, long live user-generated video.)

From the piece:

Well, so much for that. Hope you enjoyed it. And I’m sure you never even realized it was over.

Trends rarely last longer than 4-5 years, so by that measurement this recent burst of online DIY activity is finished. By my estimation, this trend in film culture and filmmaking encompassed the period spanning roughly from 2002-2007, give or take….

During this same period, sites like MySpace and YouTube surfaced offering users the ability to generate their own content within the context of a community. Once both of these companies were bought, their respective owners immediately began studying what was so successful about the user-generated content and culture to mine it for profit. And ultimately, what’s happened is that the DIY aesthetic that came about during this brief explosion (not unlike indie film/music in the early-’90s) has been co-opted by the professional media and subtly marketed back to the community without its consciousness of this take-over. Just like switching tracks on a train.

You’ll have to read the piece to get his whole argument, and one can certainly debate this several different ways, but Stuart’s main point seems to be that the possibility that user-generated video held out — the possibility of a new way of making work (when filmmaking reached the level of “pencil and paper,” Stuart writes) — has been quietly snuffed out and that, in the brevity of its lifespan, it has failed to offer the only occasionally reachable utopian dream that most successful indie models briefly promise.

What do you think? Has user-generated video been co-opted before it has even had a chance to develop and grow?

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