Has technology started replacing
jobs in the Film Industry?

By Tara van Zyl

For the last 20 years I have been living the dream working in the movie business. I have loved every minute of my time on set working as a costumier. The costume department is just one of the craft departments involved in a film production. Departments such as hair, make-up, props, art department, production design, sound, special effects (just to name a few) all have one thing in common: they consist of highly skilled craft technicians who create the world that brings a script to life. I am a craft technician who loves technology.It was a natural progression that my creative path merged with technology.

I have become the founder of a Tech Start-up and I am now devoted to developing software for the film industry.Since changing my direction from working on movie sets to embarking on developing software, I am surprised to have encountered some craft technicians who have expressed reluctance in adopting digital tools for their work. But more common is the concern that technology is going to take our jobs.

Being both a creative person and a tech person, I can understand why that fear is there.  Technology is often a cheaper and faster way which replaces the old way of doing things. I believe technology is making life easier by introducing ways to help us do our jobs. These efficiencies save time and time is money.Technology will never replace creativity or create art. The craft of movie making is a visceral one. There is a tactile hands-on approach to creating a world in which a story is set. Creativity is right brain thinking, it draws upon feelings, senses and intuition. Computers do not have the creative faculty or human intelligence to bring a vision to life.Besides, these skills come from years of beating on your craft to perfect. They are handed down from one experienced technician to another. There is no cheaper or faster way to produce an outstanding achievement in filmmaking.

Technology has made our everyday lives so much easier, we have embraced technology all around us outside of work.I don’t know anyone, especially working long film hours, who would prefer to go back to pre on-line banking days. Off the top of my head, on-line banking has got to be the biggest time saver ever! Do you remember waiting for your cheque to arrive in the post, then standing in line at the bank to lodge it? Technology has made that processes seamless. Why not make work life easy too? We work in an industry notorious for excoriatingly long hours. I always had hours of (unpaid) work to do at home after wrap.I have been around long enough to remember breaking down a script without the luxury of a computer program. Yes, I have done script break down manually and I would not wish that on anyone! I am very happy to let software do that grossly time consuming job.

There is a new generation of film technicians coming up the ranks that were raised with smartphones in their hands. Digital is already changing the way we work. We have not yet eradicated the pen, paper or digital cameras, slowly but surely it is happening.Digital will never replace the talent or skill that is involved in film making. The magical experience we all visit the cinema for comes from the heart. Computers don’t make craft technicians redundant, they make life easier.

I would love to hear your thoughts about your experiences with software in the film industry.