3 Big Things We’ll See in the Film Industry in 2021

The film industry went through quite an upheaval in 2020, as did we all.  I never would have imagined that film production would shut down for months, as the year started off so busy with filming before the pandemic hit.  I was working in Los Angeles during the tumultuous events of the 1992 riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and the film industry saw little disruption from those events compared to the impact of COVID-19.

We’re still in the midst of the pandemic, with COVID-19 diagnoses continuing to rise in many places.  Exactly what that means for the film industry in 2021 remains to be seen.  However, I believe the outlook for our industry in 2021 is actually quite bright, especially as more people continue to receive vaccinations.

Here are 3 things I expect to see happening in the film industry in 2021:

  1. More work, as the demand for product continues to increase.

In the months before the pandemic, the industry was going through what the union local 728 newsletter called another golden age of filming. Industry unemployment was at historic lows and production flourished, both within and outside of Los Angeles County.  Of course, the pandemic put the brakes on that incredible roll, as it did on the rest of the economy.  As the industry finally has a workable safety plan in place for filming, I believe production will once again continue to expand.  The demand for more shows in various formats hasn’t disappeared.  If anything, demand substantially increased during our time at home.  Filming will continue to grow in markets other than L.A., too.  Film hubs like Albuquerque and Atlanta will continue to thrive and even places like Arizona, with no film incentive, may see a boost in production.  The future looks bright for film production, once we get over this pandemic hump.

  1. More diversity and inclusion, in front of and behind the camera.

I’ve been in the Directors Guild since 1991 and spent years volunteering on committees designed to expand diversity in filmmaking.  Until the last couple of years, little had really changed in the industry in terms of diversity.  It now seems that societal forces and social media are increasing demands on the industry to include more women and minorities at every level in the filmmaking process and the industry is responding.  Young people in particular are demanding a diverse and inclusive workplace, and they’re not shy about calling out individuals, productions and even awards shows that lag on these issues.  I predict we’ll be seeing more diversity in shows, in the manner of the show Bridgerton.  Even though the show takes place in an aristocratic 1803 Regency setting, the lead actor playing the Duke is black, as are other aristocratic main characters.  This may not be absolutely historically correct for the time period, but such diversity makes the show more accessible and more interesting.  Expect to see more shows following the example of Bridgerton.

  1. The continued expansion of streaming.

Streaming has really grown in 2020.  Disney+, Peacock and HBO are all now in the streaming space, and we’ll see more content appearing on streaming venues in the future.  The NFL recently aired their first game of the season exclusively via streaming on Amazon Prime Video and got decent ratings.  Wonder Woman 1984 was released through theaters and streaming at the same time.  Although every film won’t be released this way in the future, the window of time is shrinking between a films theatrical release and release to streaming.  The pandemic was a boon for streaming outlets, with everyone bored at home and looking for entertainment.  There were jokes on social media about watching out Netflix, and they weren’t that far off.  Streaming became an essential part of our lives in 2020.  It still will be in 2021.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic success of the video gaming industry in 2020.  While not technically filmmaking, it is entertainment and it’s growing fast.  Video gaming was on a tear before the pandemic, and its popularity has only increased this year.  In 2020 the industry grew exponentially, and is expected to reach $160 billion in worldwide revenue.  This year video gaming went fully into the mainstream.  Players come from every demographic, with even the number of players over age 50 increasing.  This industry will continue to grow in 2021.

While we’ve all had to adapt both our finances and our lifestyles to the unpredictability of 2020, 2021 will hopefully see an improvement in both.  We and the film industry have survived this turbulent year.  I look for 2021 to bring new opportunities to those of us who work both in production, and in the businesses that rely on it.  Here’s to a safer, more prosperous 2021.


By judymoore100


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