Courtesy of JAke Hills/unsplash Theatergoers experience films and social connections. Courtesy of Jake Hills/Unsplash

Film competes with short-attention spans

By Erica Roa, April 30, 2024

Film has been used as the preferred medium of storytelling for decades; social media, short-attention spans and layoffs continue to threaten the once prevalent art form.

In the digital age, many individuals are connected to their phones or devices with an average screen time of seven hours and four minutes a day according to a study conducted by Cross River Therapy.

“With television and even music videos there was a constant competition, and fear of irrelevance due to attention spans, but films tell an important story and through the generations they continue to prevail,” said Solano.

Social media and television are far easier to consume than a two-hour film, the aspects of relatability through storytelling is something that films do best, explained Lu Yeh, Theatre student.

Yeh sees film as something beautiful and not something that social media can replace. Despite the convenience of swiping on a screen, Yeh believes that film holds an emotional value above anything else.

“I don’t believe in the emotional sterilization that social media plays a part in. I don’t think you can express a feeling or a thought, or even just an experience you’ve gone through over a platform you can just easily swipe through,” said Yeh.

Streaming has overtaken the movie experience, leaving movie studios struggling to keep up. Paramount, CBS, Amazon MGM Studios, and Pixar are all being impacted by the recent layoffs according to the LA Times. Paramount alone announced they were to begin eliminating 800 of their employees in their process of streamlining as of February.

Movies are becoming less and less of a theatre experience with social media in a digital age and streaming audiences are taking over. The Washington Post conducted a survey that found only 43% of adults attended movie theaters in 2023.

Courtesy of Jake Hills/Unsplash
Theatergoers experience films and social connections. Courtesy of Jake Hills/Unsplash

“The film experience has been split with the advent of streaming, it has not lost its relevance although it is apparent that it is losing its experience with the new medium being tablets and computers,” said Bernardo Solano, chair of the Department Theatre and New Dance.

In a world full of likes and content creation, Minh Tran, a theatre technical design student, strives to keep the importance of film alive. Tran is passionate about film and its art form and spends his free time creating films of his own.

“When a group of people go out and spend money on popcorn and a movie ticket, you are not only sharing your experience with friends, but you are experiencing a memory,” said Tran.

In his films, Tran understands the importance of storytelling and relatability. Films give him the power to tug on the audience’s heartstrings and display his message.

Film has continued to serve its purpose of telling stories throughout the generations. In the early days of film, there were silent movies and despite having no words, they portrayed stories and kept the audience engaged in the 1920s.

At this time films were a cheap way to find entertainment for all, fascinating audiences by telling stories with no dialogue and relying solely on action, movement and facial expressions. As the modernization of films progressed, things like sound, color and television were introduced, films became an experience and less of a medium to pass time. Film has continued to evolve and adapt to the newest mediums it competes with, introducing TV allowed theaters to focus on the immersive experience when watching a film.

The introduction of television can be compared to the competition seen within users of social media and film. Television is a shorter and more convenient medium much like social media.

With Southern California being the driving force of the entertainment industry, movies and television contribute to 367,000 jobs in Los Angeles County according to 2023 Otis College Report. With so many of the work opportunities vanishing, this may lead to a prominent blow to the economy.

With the loss of jobs and the economic downturns of the industry it is easy for many to wonder if the prominence of film is going to dissolve yet as Solano explains, film is held at a higher threshold for storytelling for many individuals.

Feature image courtesy of Jake Hills/Unsplash

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