Archive for the ‘lanceweiler’ Category

Hacking Film

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Hacking Film Poster

I spent the weekend at the Film Experience Hackathon and it was a lot of fun to try and make something in a weekend. My team, with a core of two people, were able to come up with an idea and conceptual prototype for a service that is useful and potentially widely distributable, a crowdsourcing subtitling and translation service for independent filmmakers.  More to come.

Of course, what I think many were hoping for was a magical app to solve engagement and discovery. It stands to (some) reason that there’s a lot of potential in how consumers find and share new and favourite films, as they do with music. There should be a growing market for independent, foreign, experimental work.

In some ways, I think there is evidence to support this.  There are way more film schools, film festivals and submissions to festivals.  There are new services that cater to people who make video and want to share it. These are growing industries in film.  That the distribution of film in its traditional sense is not a growth industry only represents a shift.

I understand the interest in preserving the love of “cinema” as it has been known. I love watching films in a theatre and I have a passion for cinema that led me into the career I’ve had. Can it be preserved and transmitted any more than it would be possible to convey what the cabaret meant to people in the 1930s to me?

If you’re going to focus on “saving” the film experience in an arthouse form, focusing on the theatrical experience is key.  To do that I think theatres need to understand that seeing a film is an activity choice and that making the experience more social is essential. I.e., I want to potentially meet someone if I go to the movies. Independent theatres should also be doing way more to create community- hosting meetups, doing other kinds of events, opening the experience up to the imagination of their audience and members.  They should also be partnering far more with online services.

Online services should be supporting the theatrical experience far more, not just out of love, but because customers for online services come from the core of theatre-goers and people who watch films in theatres understand and appreciate cinema no matter what platform on which its encountered. There are some services now trying to bridge this gap, such as Tugg or Gathr, but overall there’s a ton of unexplored space.

I’ve got some ideas on this front and I hope there will be more hands-on events like this to spark tech people to think about this question. Janet Pierson is bringing tech into film at SXSW (aside from the irony of having more tech in SXSW Film, this should be a constructive collaboration). Where will we go next?


Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

A few FlipCam conversations from DIY Days 2011 NYC. Host Lance Weiler, filmmaker and D-Word Captain Doug Block, and branding and business expert Jennifer Warren sum up.

DIY Days returns to NYC

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Lance Weiler brought his popular free new media and film conference DIY Days back to NYC today, with discussion of Transmedia, Net Neutrality, monetization and freedom. What has changed from last year? Not much, it seems, other than more familiarity and comfort with the issues at hand. I’ll be posting some brief snippets and longer clips as they emerge.

Online Viewing Can Be Social

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

The chance you will watch an independent ‘film’ in a theatre has decreased significantly just in the last 10 years. The sheer volume of titles available on Netflix Watch Instantly, not to mention VOD IFC, HBO, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and countless other streaming and on-demand services means viewers no longer need advance planning to watch at home (or anywhere they have a laptop or iPhone).

Filmmakers can find this a bit depressing. Watching a film in a theatre is exciting. It’s big! It’s usually calibrated to look as good as it can. And most importantly, there are a bunch of people—strangers!—watching it together.

Creating this sense of spirit is a challenge for independents and perhaps the main opportunity to compete with the mainstream industry. We don’t have studio-size spends, but we can understand our audiences more precisely and have a more personal relationship.

For live settings, event screenings work very well. But can we make digital screenings social? We generally have little to no control over when people watch the films online, their physical circumstances, who, if anyone, they are with, or even if they watch the whole film.

Still, filmmakers have come up with some innovative ways of bringing the audience for digital screenings together. Transmedia, expressing your story in a different context, can play a great role. Lance Weiler’s Head Trauma featured a game that embedded clues in flash frames of the film itself, so viewers had to watch the film repeatedly to play and engaged with each other on the film’s site. You could offer live events to viewers of the movie during a digital rollout, such as a Skype-based Q&A. Using a technology like CrowdControls, viewers could identify their location and you could plan post-screening events in popular places.

Do you have other examples of ways to make online screenings exciting or social? Or are we doomed to living in a room with a virtual helmet?

DIY, all Y

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

At DIY Days in Philadelphia, Lance Weiler‘s traveling post-distribution networking conference, I may be drinking too much of the haterade*, but what seems to be emerging is kind of three-path future for film.

Path one is gigantic studio films that cost a lot and still rely on a certain level of lockdown on copyright and general control of dissemination.

Path two is the small filmmaker with an emerging set of tools to reach an audience, whose work must be made cheaply and flexibly, and who must include an element of interactivity and audience participation.

Path three responds to an audience demand for aesthetically pleasing, well-made films. Since there won’t be a revenue model to create these anymore, we’ll have more sophisticated delivery systems for the catalogues already out there.

I kind of think it’s a little bit apocalyptic, but the general consensus at the conference seemed to be in agreement. Now, the consensus would probably be different at Sundance or Cannes, where the DIY model has the kind of science fiction quality of the singularity, despite various panels promoting self- and digital-distribution.

Perhaps the most engaging event at the conference had less to do with mobile app development or website technology and more to do with storytelling and economics. Douglas Rushkoff, while not imparting information I always agreed with (or in certain cases, was entirely happy to hear), was fascinating to watch and dynamic and had the level of engagement and expertise that are worth getting up at some ungodly hour for. His thoughts about alternative systems of consumption are essential for anyone interested in producing in the DIY model. AND he played with PTV; you really can’t get more cred than that.

*term by Astra

I want to rock and roll all night (and wake up in the gutter)

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Ben from Shooting People was weighing the piracy issue a couple of weeks ago and its impact on independent filmmakers. The first dilemma is whether independent filmmakers can transition in the way indie bands have to be able to make money in other ways besides money for product transactions. In theory, this seems like it is the wave of the future- Robert Greenwald or Four Eyed Monsters-style. Filmmakers can, in theory, sell events versus selling DVDs, and potentially can make some money. No doubt touring in a bus is not as easy as having some record company shill a CD, either.

There is a part of me that feels a bit sad that there seems to be numbers of films that I think are good that would have a hard time reaching an audience in the emerging climates and I wonder if they will continue to be made. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that the spectrum of music that has awareness in general has really broadened in the past 20 years. The more people feel a direct relationship with the films they are accessing, the more they may be willing to branch out and explore.

Also, Ben suggests filmmakers have nothing else to sell? Why not? They could have games, ala Lance Weiler, cool swag like T-shirts for festivals or the web or speaking engagements for the filmmaker. Online they could give away the film and sell the extras, or create a community for the film with something value-added, or do contests or giveaways. Look at breakfast cereal- companies have been able to charge many times the cost of production because of packaging, extras, and perceived health benefits– filmmakers can learn from all kinds of marketing sources.

That said, it isn’t like a $5 million budget is redeemed with cracker jack prizes, but for filmmakers working on the cheap, making shorts or iTunes-friendly films, the indie rock model may not be that far-fetched.

Content is King?- Panel at DIY Days takes on the outlets

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Highlighting the eternal “this is my art” versus “this is a product” tension that is only getting more acute as online markets grow (and do not necessarily make more money per film), this discussion from the recent DIY Days isn’t exactly new info, but it does give a sense of what some issues are for filmmakers.

The somewhat deer-in-the-headlights initital reaction of the audience to Arin Crumley‘s demand to know what filmmakers need in the digital distribution realm I think is pretty reflective of where we’re at right now.  Also, small point, I don’t think Current TV is the only one following the online –> TV acquisition model- SuperU was one that came to mind.

Having The Conversation in October

Friday, July 25th, 2008

I’m super jealous of anyone who will get to attend The Conversation, not to be confused with a Francis Ford Coppola film, though it’s in San Francisco) a very cool conference on the ways new technologies are allowing filmmakers and others to connect to audiences- in other words, subject matter near and dear to the heart of this site. Hosted by Scott Kirsner from CinemaTech as well as Ken Goldberg (Berkeley Center for New Media), Tiffany Shlain (The Webby Awards), and Lance Weiler (you know, Lance Weiler)- it should be a fabulous time and a very fertile field of new distribution ideas.

Perhaps we can think about an East Coast 2.0?