Over the last 5-10 years, our industry (film) has undergone a massive change. The tools are cheaper than ever, their quality continues to rise, and it is easier than ever to deliver content directly to specific audiences. On the one hand this makes for an exciting time, as we creatives are no longer beholden to the "big studios" telling us what we can and cannot produce. We have the tools, and we can create!
A Bit Of History
Before we move forward, I think it is important to examine where we've come from. By stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, we can make smarter choices.
In the beginning, it didn't take much to be an artist. All that was required was one individual and a few simple, affordable tools. With some charcoal, pigments, or a sharp knife, and some spare time, anyone could paint a cave drawing, or carve something out of ivory. Distribution of that artwork was immediate and instantaneous- you showed it to your fellow community members (a.k.a your audience). Those that told stories, and embodied those stories in the visual form, did well in their communities, and were rewarded for their work. However, with small communities, the biggest limitation was the size of the audience.
Over time the scale to complete great art grew exponentially, even though the tools remained affordable and accessible. It was only through the direct funding of governments and religious organizations that great works of art were commissioned. As wealth spread out from those institutions into the aristocratic society, individual patrons began commissioning works of art. To complete the Sistine Chapel required a lot of time and resources. It also took the influence of the government, religious organizations, and aristocrats to draw an audience together that would be large enough to make such an endeavor even worth considering. The artist could now reach a much larger audience than before, but it became more prohibitive than ever to create a work of art.