I've always attributed this love of films to Dead Poets Society, which I watched for the first time just before my 16th birthday in 2004. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning in towards the screen and thinking, 'if anything happens to Neil, I'm actually going to cry'.
For those of you who haven't seen it, shame on you, but I won't spoil the ending by telling you whether I cried or not. However, I will tell you that in that moment I was suddenly aware of the mighty power of film.
I can now trace my love affair with movies even further back, probably to 2001 and the release of The Lord of Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. When it came out I was just at that age where I was allowed to go to the cinema without my parents and I think me and my best friend must have gone to see it at least three times. We also spent an entire day during the school holidays watching it and rewinding, yes, rewinding, the part near the end where Aragorn chops off an orc's head, something we found inexplicably hilarious.
It was this movie that changed the course of my future as I'm sure I wouldn't have had the same drive towards New Zealand without it, and I bet I'm not the only person who has been greatly influenced by a film they have seen.
But as well as making us laugh, cry, and scream, movies also have financial benefits. According to a report on the economic impact of the film industry, in 2011 more than £4.6 billion was contributed to the British economy. On top of that £1 billion was thought to be generated by film-inspired tourism and 117, 000 jobs were sustained. Similarly, the annual tourist influx to New Zealand rose from 1.7 million to 2.4 million during The Lord of the Rings years, a jump of 40%.
A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report from last year shows that there are 361,900 wage and salary jobs in the motion picture industries which include 23,700 producers and directors, 11,000 actors, and 5,400 writers and editors. I know that's a lot of numbers but you have to see these to really understand what comes next.
We've all seen the warnings about film piracy, most of the time we dismiss them simply as those annoying little messages that we can't skip through at the beginning of our DVD. However, the people behind the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills in the United States estimate that in America alone online piracy costs the economy between $200 and $250 billion per year. That's almost $800 for every single man, woman, and child living in the States. On top of that the numbers also estimate that piracy is responsible for the loss of 750,000 jobs, twice the number of those employed by the entire film industry in 2010.
The article where I found these statistics goes on to suggest that these figures are greatly exaggerated and that the actual number sits somewhere around $58 billion. This is still a massive loss that puts people out of work and actually prevents the making of more movies.
One such example is Zombieland, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin. The movie was a hit, making about $85 million. However, the movie also became one of Bit Torrent's most downloaded movies. Writer Rhett Reese posted on Twitter "Zombieland currently the most pirated movie on bit torrent. Over one million downloads and counting." This was quickly followed by "Beyond depressing. This greatly affects the likelihood of a Zombieland 2."
So here it is; a short but sweet article as a reminder to be responsible. The film industry has delighted people of all ages for a long time and I hope it will continue far into the future. However, this depends entirely on people taking the time to go out and buy the real deal instead of downloading illegally.
Gemma Margerison is an aspiring author from the North of England. Gemma worked in Auckland New Zealand in Christian journalism for almost three years and has returned home to the UK.
Gemma Margerison's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/gemma-margerison.html