Has Netflix Democratized the Film Industry the Way Ava DuVernay Says It Has?

Ava DuVernay
As filmmakers, we want to reach as many people as possible. Netflix provides that global scale. 

Audiences can be hard to find. There's so much taking up people's attention span that you really have to fight for eyeballs. And these are not just eyes here domestically, but also abroad. Well, one streamer is allowing filmmakers to focus on making a good product, because they are pulling people from all over the globe. 

Netflix.  

The streaming giant has been courting many directors like David Fincher and Martin Scorsese, giving them the reach they desire to tell their stories. 

And no one is using those stories to change the world more than Ava DuVernay

Speaking about her documentary 13th during a BFI London Film Festival panel, DuVernay said, "That film has been seen in more countries than all of my previous work put together, including Selma, distributed by Paramount, God bless them, nice people, and Wrinkle in Time, distributed by Disney, lovely people. But it was not seen around the world, from either of those studios, and Netflix did it."

She went on to say, "Don’t get me on a Netflix conversation, because it is less about Netflix and more about the democratization of the delivery of our work to people."

'13th'
'13th'

Not that Netflix needs a hype-person, but DuVernay is great at it. With them as her partner, she has created some groundbreaking work, expanded her global fanbase, and used her influence to make a difference in our culture.

She said, "I mean, you can change generational behavior, you can change the way we think about ourselves and other people, if you’re just thoughtful about how you make the money. If you take two seconds to make sure that more people are in the room, take a little bit longer to look for the person to fill the position that doesn’t look the same as you, or is not the same person who’s done it 90 times before. It doesn’t take a lot to be better."

So why are there so many mediocre projects out in Hollywood? DuVernay said that it is "a lot of white men who are just sliding by because they have not been challenged by more people, more ideas, more points of view."

We definitely are on the cusp of change. 

Hollywood is beginning to listen to a more diverse set of voices, and we're seeing equality begin to take form. 

But I believe Netflix is much further ahead than most people think. Not only are they partnering with huge directors like DuVernay, but they're also listening to voices from executives around the world, figuring out what their audiences want to see. 

'Money Heist'
'Money Heist'Credit: Netflix

This global reach has nullified their idea about box offices. They can take chances on stories and shows, hoping someone will watch. Their hits are not resigned to one geolocation, but able to be enjoyed globally. 

This year, a show like Money Heist transcended that and had people watching even if they didn't speak Spanish. Dark was similar, appealing to German audiences and also the global front. 

DurVernay and other Netflix filmmakers are the first wave in a much larger movement. 

And we're all clicking to tune in live. 

Let me know what you think in the comments.      

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1 Comment

No. No it hasn't.

To be fair, Ava isn't the right person to ask, so her opinion is going to come from a position of privilege having been in Hollywood for years before becoming a director, then directing a $100 million film.

To get an honest answer we need to ask the people who are more at the bottom. People who have the opportunities to pitch an idea to Netflix and other streaming services. They may not sell their ideas, but they have a chance.

October 21, 2020 at 12:32PM

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Justin Gladden
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