Hollywood Up And Comers Recognizing That The Big Gatekeepers May Be More Of A Threat Than Silicon Valley

from the fighting-the-status-quo dept

Despite the MPAA's insistence that it wants to "talk" to Silicon Valley, it still seems to think that just means getting together with Google's lobbyists in Washington DC. Thankfully, the MPAA doesn't really represent the full movie industry, and plenty of young filmmakers realize that the tech industry isn't the enemy and has been providing tons of great tools and services that up-coming filmmakers rely on every day. Some of them are realizing that perhaps the real fight is between the legacy gatekeepers and the up-and-comers... and as such, the up-and-comers should have a much closer relationship with the tech industry.

Gina Hall is a young Hollywood filmmaker who reached out to me and some others in Silicon Valley to begin this discussion, recognizing that perhaps the MPAA's claims don't match up with her best interests:
I feel like the solutions proposed from Hollywood establishment just might be in favor of the status quo rather than helping up-and-comers. Call it a hunch. So while industry bosses are distracted with their fight to sustain the old business model, I figured it might be a good time to start a series of conversations between the tech sector and young Hollywood to make some sense of the seismic shift happening in the industry.
There are a few quotes from me in that article, in which she notes that it really does seem like the tech industry is coming up with all the cool stuff that actually helps young filmmakers today -- from tools (like cheaper cameras) to services (like YouTube) to ways to monetize (like Kickstarter). Old Hollywood? Not so much:
Masnick's M.O. is disruptive innovation -- or as he describes it "how we get cool stuff." Creating cool stuff -- honestly, isn't that what most of us get in the business to do? The problem is, Hollywood isn't responsible for creating enough cool stuff these days (especially locally) to keep us all employed. A lot of the cool stuff is now coming from the tech sector with Hollywood standing idly by. In conversations with those employed with the studios, production companies and agencies around town, I've heard projects worked on self-described as "lame," "derivative," or the backhanded compliment: "Meh, at least it'll make money."
I'm looking forward to her continuing series, showing that the tech industry and young Hollywood are very much in alignment. The only real problem is with the legacy players in the business who are just looking to keep making money the way they used to, without actually changing with the market.

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 28 Mar 2012 @ 3:57am

    Re: re: I'd like to keep my job as a union grip

    Do you recognize the difference economically between a $30mil feature film employing hundreds of people at family wages for months as compared to a $30,000 straight to internet production where most of the crew worked for free, for low wages or "on spec" and in the end perhaps a handful of people derived significant income to support themselves? Do you think "crowdfunding" is going to scale so much as to support 350,000 workers year after year? I agree that these are exciting new paradigms and I fully support them, but I don't see them replacing the mainstream production community any time soon.

    Of course I recognize the difference, but I think you're being a bit dismissive in an unfair way. First of all, it's not just that the new system allows for a bimodal model of $30k internet productions and $30 million features. It creates a much larger spectrum of productions that can be made... from the hugely expensive films to mid-range to cheap and everything in between. It opens up new opportunities for real, paid productions in the low to mid-range, which will need professional help and will offer new opportunities for folks like you.

    And please note, also, that I am not saying that the *only* option is crowdfunding. Kickstarter is getting some attention -- and we're already seeing more and more works close out at higher price points (over $3 million for that recent video game, for example). As the numbers keep growing, I think it's quite likely that we'll soon seen much more expensive movie productions be funded that way.

    But -- and this is important -- that's still not *the only way* that such works will be funded. I mentioned TopSpin, as that's a way of making money on the backend, not the front end, by helping filmmakers go direct to fans and bundle a variety of different options at different "tiers" to let people price themselves in at a level they feel comfortable supporting. And they're not the only ones doing that, of course.

    And there are other new forms of revenue streams, including things like YouTube and Netflix which will continue to develop over time.

    And.... let's not forget the theater. Box office numbers continue to be *fantastic* and that's a huge help for the high end of the market that you seem most concerned about. I still believe (and there's evidence to support this) that if the theaters could be brought into line, and studios could be more creative with releases (i.e., not being limited by annoying release windows), the studios would see a lot more money as well. Plus, studios could get a lot more creative, and do bundles that involve theater showing PLUS video PLUS meet a star or whatever. Lots of options once you get creative.

    Also, if you could get theaters to finally realize that they have to make the experience better, and you'd see a world of difference. I see the Alamo Drafthouse is expanding all the way to San Francisco now. That's an example of a theater that *does it right*. Others could and should learn from them.

    Point being: there's a ton of ways that filmmakers can make money, and that will clearly open up all sorts of new opportunities for you and your colleagues.

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