THE BLOG
01/10/2013 13:33 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

The Unique Power Of Cinema

A few weeks ago my Fearlessly Frank colleagues and I were ushered into a small viewing theatre. It's the kind of place you'd watch an early cut of a film. A place deliberately catering for no more than 20 people, to ensure that too many cooks didn't insist on a reshoot of the final sequences to appease Hollywood moguls.

We were invited to watch The Better Man, co-written by our very own Tom McInnes and produced on a shoestring (no more than £3000) by "a few mates".

Obviously we braced ourselves for a grueling hour or so watching a ham, homemade "mates" effort.

It was actually very good. And it has now been entered into a film festival.

Computing and the Internet has made armchair directors and editors of millions of people round the planet.

But many millions more just enjoy the unique communication that film offers.

After all, look at the stats; over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube--that's almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year.

Film is fast, effortless and absorbing in a way that the written word can't, or needn't be. For many young people, film is their first introduction to literary classics. Sometimes it's their only introduction.

You can watch film anywhere you like now, since screen technology has opened up viewing opportunities literally everywhere, anyhow, anytime.

Film in general, (homemade, handmade, indie, made-for-TV, blockbuster, you-name-it), is growing globally.

But despite the ubiquity and prevalence of all manner of film viewing, cinema still continues to grow in importance.

Global cinema box office revenues reached $34.7bn in 2012, up 6% on the previous year.

The UK is now the third biggest International market (behind China and Japan) outside of Hollywood's home turf: USA/Canada. In fact UK admission figures have been increasing dramatically, recently, and now peak 17.5 million, whilst revenue is at an industry high at almost £1.2bn.

The figures aren't lying. We love going to the cinema.

It's fashionable, at this point, to cite companies like Netflix and point to how Hollywood A-Listers are "deserting" cinema for TV/On-demand viewing.

But the raw data and the hard facts don't bear this out.

(If, for example, Kevin Spacey was totally in love with the power of digital TV, it doesn't explain why he's backing, as Executive Producer, this year's biggest Hollywood blockbuster movie, Captain Philips, employing cinema heavyweights Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass).

The simple truth is that Netflix et al offer exciting alternative viewing opportunities and exciting new revenue streams for filmmakers and actors.

But cinema rides above the mêlée of the six billion hours of YouTube viewing, the time-shifting TV and the multi-channel options.

It hangs serenely and separately away from "screen-overdose", for one very unique reason.

Cinema viewers sit in an Internet-free zone.

Movies in the cinema are absorbed fully without any distraction (OK, save the occasional rustle of sweet wrappers) and without any alternative opportunities to view.

I make this simple point on the eve of the BFI London Film Festival, which I will be attending, and from which I shall blogging.

The benefit of my press pass is that I shall have as much access as I wish to absorb myself in whatever movie riches I choose.

But there is more to it than that.

Just like a regular visit to the movies, the anticipation of going, the excitement of being in the foyer, the total enclosure of the cinema screen, the enormity of the experience, the perfect picture, the extraordinary sound quality and the post-movie experience all make up what "Going to The Movies" is all about.

No other medium can conjure up such a positive emotional experience and therein lies the Unique Power of Cinema.