Posts Tagged ‘Brian Newman’

Crowdfunding won’t hurt you

Monday, June 20th, 2011


At SpringBoard Media, the ever-thoughtfully provocative Brian Newman posits that Kickstarter and crowdfunding may have some unintended negative consequences.

I agree with the premise that film has been a privileged art throughout its short history and that “independent” film (the kind we crowdfund) has usually been the sport of people who didn’t need to actually work for a living.

However, the crowdfunding campaigns I’ve seen seem to have a more democratic flavour, relying more on a reputational economy than a strictly upper-middle-class paradigm. In general I think it’s good to call this out, but almost everything right now in the indie film world is affluent/white. Crowdfunding has potential to shift that dynamic. Plus, it is just way cheaper to realize a well-executed project now that has the chance to be seen by at least as many people as an old-school “independent film” was at a fraction of the cost. The old rules about film length and format can change when films don’t have to go through funds, festivals and distribution to be made and seen.

I have mixed feelings about subsidized arts. On the one hand, as a filmmaker, I could not realistically hire even a tiny crew without finding outside support. Ideally, that support would come from people who felt I could ultimately turn a profit, not an easy feat for documentaries, shorts or indie films. But what Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and other crowdfunding platforms show is that people are willing to pay/donate for the potential of supporting an experience they will enjoy (and feel a sense of ownership of, even if they don’t receive stock or title). Feeling a direct connection to the work being made is the first step to greater power for the artist, as has happened in music.

I’m about to start crowdfunding for my documentary Acceleration and the idea that the project will be judged on the campaign’s merits does feel scary. On the other hand, from a distribution standpoint, I think the more information filmmakers have about the viability of their projects in the marketplace, the better off they are. Kickstarter does not work like a “popularity contest” in which projects are compared against each other. Projects are weighed against the passion of their own specific audience and fanbase, so a more obscure project can still be important to a fanatical if narrow group.

Brian Newman builds your audience

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

The fabulous Brian Newman will be presenting a panel on audience building at DCTV on Monday, February 22 at 7:30PM. As this falls just a couple weeks before my own audience engagement panel at SXSW, I will totally be mining Brian’s mind for great ideas- and it’s sure to be a fun event.

5>50 – Who gets it in new distribution?

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Recently I was honoured to be part of a list made by Brian Newman of 20 media people under the age of 40 whom he felt were leaders. What’s interesting to me is the frequency that I hear people who are young (on the list and otherwise) saying how older people “just don’t get it” and by virtue of their age, they will naturally be left behind in any digital revolution.

Even having crossed the big-3-oh-mark, I can feel a little anecdotal truth to the notion that the youth have a more natural, ingrained facility with technology and social media. However, I’ve also learned that the people who went before me usually know a lot more than me about the big picture and how people behave in general.

With that in mind, I thought I’d begin a list that I hope will be appended of leaders over 50 in film- who get that ineffable “it”. (I know that 50 is pretty young still, but gotta start somewhere). Sorry if these are the “usual suspects”- that’s why I need everyone else to bring this list up to 20 or more. And these are all lions in the industry- but with the kind of changes that we’re experiencing now, it’s interesting to try and predict who can roll with the digital world order.

Ira Deutchman- he does it all, producing, distribution, sales agent-ing, marketing, running a business- and still finds time to blog and twitter (@nyindieguy). He’s also raising the next generation of the film biz, quite literally. But Ira is accessible in the way that the new media promises everyone should be.

Richard Abromovitz- he does tend to be ubiquitous on various panels and festivals, for the simple reason that he and his company Abramorama have been involved successfully in a large percentage of the successful self-released films of the last few years. Last year’s Anvil was a good case in point- it hit on so many points, with sponsorship, promotion and social media working together (can I say “in concert”?)

Robert Greenwald- On the marketing side, filmmaker Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films have been a master at capturing the power of emerging social media to make a huge impact with issues like the Iraq war, health care, the economy, and other causes. He’s also adapted to new filmmaking technologies to get quick, inexpensive work out to social media sites.

Jonathan Sehring- The president of IFC Entertainment, Sehring is both blamed by some for the demise of the old school theatrical model and lauded for his irreverent and iconoclastic approach to distribution. IFC’s ‘buy more pay less’ model is not beloved by all filmmakers, but their approach to the marketplace is aggressive, flexible and innovative. He had a great quote in the NY Times last year:

I never hear anyone in the music industry say there are too many songs, no one in publishing says there are too many books, no gallery or museum says there are too many paintings, no one in fashion says there are too many designers — why too many movies? When my colleagues say this it sounds like the anti-immigration, protectionist rhetoric from the far right.

OK, so I didn’t really mean this to be five white dudes over 50.

How about Sheila Nevins- though many documentary filmmakers struggle with HBO’s unyielding lockdown on digital rights, Nevins and HBO are developing a digital strategy that will benefit the network and prolong the brand’s dominance. I’m not sure they “get it” in a filmmaker-friendly way, but without HBO, many great docs would not have been made- and Ms. Nevins’ great instincts are the essence of HBO’s success.

Still not extremely diverse- but 5 is a mere starting point. Who are your picks?

Brian Newman at DIY Days on Free

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Missed Brian’s presentation at DIY Days so it’s great that our new online video technology can bring it to us on demand.