How we're growing a new forest of film and television

 
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What is perhaps most remarkable about evolution is that its simple test-and-learn process has delivered such astonishing success, endless diversity and sublime beauty. And evolution doesn’t stop. It’s never-ending.

When we started New Forest Film Co, we carried out a thought experiment, asking ourselves how would we go about making films if they’d been invented yesterday? Given today’s knowledge, today’s technology, today’s culture, how would a start-up go about making films?

And it became clear to us that test-and-learn, the process that drives evolution, was the only sensible strategy, because everything’s changing. Knowledge, technology and culture are all changing, and the pace of change is increasing, and if you can’t continuously adapt, well, you’ll die.

And so we launched New Forest Film Co with one simple, over-arching principle: that we should apply a test-and-learn philosophy to everything we do. What we didn’t expect is how far-reaching, how radical, how joyous the result of designing a film company and a film-making process to continually test-and-learn would be.

“Art is an evolutionary act. The shape of art and its role in society is constantly changing. At no point is art static. There are no rules.”
Raymond Salvatore Harmon

Here are the beliefs that have guided that design:

We believe that film-making is both an art and a science, that creative intuition can be informed, confirmed and enhanced through testing, and that willingness to learn from the results will result in a better movie.

We believe that we must do everything possible to help directors to reduce the artistic and commercial risk that their film is not great, that their creative vision doesn’t land, that time and money is wasted.

We believe that the film-making process is inextricably linked to a film’s success, not only in the sense that a good process will lead to a good film, but that a film should not be judged to be successful unless the way it was made was good for all the people involved in its delivery.

We believe that the test-and-learn principles of Agile, the philosophy that has driven the success of Apple and Microsoft and Amazon and Google (the biggest companies in the world), and whose principles can be found within the cultures of Pixar and Netflix, can be directly applied to directly process of developing, producing and marketing a movie.

We believe that we must test ideas on audiences, and to do that we need to create testable movie prototypes - and those prototypes cannot be scripts, because audiences don’t read scripts.

We believe that the director and the team they work with must seek out and adapt to feedback and data, and that the pre-eminent characteristic they should each be selected for is high emotional intelligence.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Leon C. Megginson (after Darwin)

We believe that the ultimate measure of a movie’s success is whether audience members recommend the movie to others like them, and it’s something that should be measured and iteratively improved as early as possible in the film-making process, from conception through development and production until the movie is released.

Over the coming weeks we’re going to describe how we have put these test-and-learn beliefs into action, sharing with you how what we’ve learned and how we’ve evolved the film-making process as a result.

As we’ve developed the process over the past year, it’s felt as though the new feature films and new television series we’ve developed have grown around us - a new forest grown with the test-and-learn process of evolution that we hope will deliver as much success, diversity and beauty.