PTTP09 London Film Fest Workshop


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A workshop on how to make a sustainable living as a filmmaker in today's marketplace, and in light of "free." Good for organizations and other artists, and not just about free, but about how to survive a bad marketplace using new tools. Some new stuff, some old

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  • I want to speak today about the future of film and media. Everyone keeps talking about the crisis affecting independent film, indeed the entire business. But computer scientist Alan Kay once said that the best way to predict the future is to build it. So I suggest we take a deep breath and think about how we can invent the future
  • Digital has been a disruptive innovation.
  • I spoke yesterday about how free is impacting the business - now when most people speak about free, they simply mean free as in Chris Anderson’s free - piracy, increasing downward spiral of costs to zero, ad supported models and free-miums. I’m speaking more about free as in the business of film is a bad business. In the words of Warren Buffett, you don’t see who’s really wearing pants until the tide goes out, and it has in film...
  • I showed this slide yesterday, which I think nicely summates the world as we’ve thought we’ve known it.
  • And this one which is more the reality, not just of today, but for a long time.
  • And the internet isn’t saving indie film just yet - here’s some numbers recently quoted by Scott Kirsner of Cinematech in a Variety article. and you should read his book.
  • So, how do we move forward? What are they keys to making a living in this environment? So how do we make a sustainable operation in today’s environment? I think it helps to take a look at where we are now, and along the way, glean some insights into what might work for all of us. I would ask that everyone think of this change as opportunity vs stability - times are changing, so it’s odd, but we can use it to our advantage. A side note - while this presentation is geared towards filmmakers, this all applies to other artists, nonprofits and corporations.
  • The mainstream press is no longer the only one in control of the story. They’re also not in charge of how things get talked about it culture anymore. Things have become disintermediated.
  • First, we all know that blogs have become a huge phenomenon. This graph shows that there are now over 133 million blogs, with almost a million posts daily.
    That's about 1.4 blogs created every second of every day, and over half are still posting 3 months later.
    Whether you look at a phenomenon like the TechCrunch story, or the number of blogs with heavy traffic, one thing is clear:
    To not be involved in this phenomenon is suicide –
    To not be involved is like not returning a call from the NYTimes or not appearing on tv when the BBC calls up.
    The blogosphere is now the place where dialogue about the arts, find out about culture. Find out about your film
    Print isn’t dead, but you can no longer ignore blogs and internet culture.
    It’s also how people connect now, to share stories. And some of the more popular bloggers are becoming their own brands – DHD, Hot Blog, Huffington, etc
  • Print isn’t dead, although it’s seriously hurting, but you can no longer ignore blogs and internet culture.
    This Dec 2008 Poll by Pew shows the Internet has surpassed papers for news, and is equal among youth, and gaining on tv
    It’s also how people connect now, to share stories.
    You may ask where do they find the time? From not passively watching the boob tube anymore…
  • This means you need to pay attention to blogs as much as you do the NYTimes, in fact, for indie films they may be even more important. That’s why IndieWire now features other people’s blogs as much as their own. It is where the conversation is taking place.
  • It also means you need a website for your film. It needs to have constantly updated content - i.e., blogs - and needs to have everything about your film. ways to buy it, etc. It needs to be up before you begin making the film. You should always be updating, building audience and letting them easily connect to you
  • And your website should make it easy for people to take the content to other websites and blogs through widgets, etc. Notice how Vanishing of the Bees has a blog, a petition, twitter, facebook, etc. and a widget to take the content elsewhere.
  • You also need one for you, not just your film. It’s how you start building a fan base. Note that Lance also has multiple blogs and sites for himself, his company and his film. He also let’s people subscribe, so he can always contact them, and he includes his twitter feed at the top. Now you may think this is a waste, but millions have started using it, and it can build your audience, so start using it now.
  • Fastest growing 1382% increase in one year, 42% over 35. oprah just joined it on April 16, meaning 55 and over will explode
  • Since February – 17 million, thanks Oprah
  • Here’s my Tweetstats. Obviously, I use it mainly when stuck at my desk, and almost never on the weekends, but I don’t think this is average.
  • Zoe Keating has used it to amass an audience of over 1 million followers, and she now has a self-sustaining career. Notice here she is replying/thanking a fan who cued her in on how to watch some media. She’s not just working a one way street, she’s communicating with her audience.
  • Because this is all becoming more participatory, a conversation
  • Social networking takes it to the next level

    Here’s just 7 of the social networks I use regularly –The Filmmakers Workshop one is created on Ning – where anyone can create a social network, and over 1 million have
  • But of course, there are many more. Thousands more, and growing. While any one social network may disappear, the social networked environment is here to stay. And this doesn’t even touch on second life…

    People are using this tool to connect and have conversation. They are building a community, and perhaps you can use it to build a network of fans
  • Because this should be your ultimate goal - not to think of building an audience for just one film, but for you, your career - people who will continue to follow you, be in dialogue with you and support your career.
  • Here’s Meet-up, for example. Doc films in NYC there are at least 27 groups near here. Some have hundreds of members.

    So, how can we use Perhaps, simply, by building your fans, not members necessarily, just fans as a meetup group. There can be a meetup group for your film. But more importantly is not to just use meetup, but to think of how this tool can work for what you want to accomplish. Let’s look at some success stories
  • Filmmakers are doing it on their own. Here’s 4 Eyed Monsters, and we can see they are using blogs, comments, fan contributed info google maps and even old fashioned phones to push their films.
    Four Eyed Monsters Story – got into Slamdance, no distributors bought the film
    Self-distributing and building word of mouth online and through podcasts
    Combining a bit of everything – my space, youtube, google maps, audio, podcasts
    they teach people to help them market their film – building their community
    Tshirts, widgets, etc
    Note that they come to you – you don’t have to go to the theater, you can go directly to them
    Use the power of friends and fans to promote your film
  • Using google maps to crowdsource screenings - crowdsourced their audience. Now, people can crowdsource their financing as well
  • Here’s Indiegogo
    Not the best or only such site, but using these same ideas to help people build audiences and funders for their films
  • Here’s the age of stupid; Franny Armstrong designed “crowd-funding” strategy that has raised over $1 million dollars--£590,000 for the production and distribution of her new feature THE AGE OF STUPID and £164,321 for the Not Stupid social action campaign.
    228 people who gave over $2500 could get money back by making loans that don’t have to be repaid, small contributors got anything from feeling good to credits in the film
    Thanks to Peter Broderick for turning me on to this story
  • So they built a fan base that raised their funds, and they’re having a green premiere and then screening on 64 screens in London via satellite – to an audience likely that is already fans
  • One of the people behind Four Eyed Monsters has now launched OpenIndie - a project that is being crowd-funded on Kickstarter that will help filmmakers band together to share data and crowd-source audiences across multiple films. Note here that they are also relying on micro-donations, something else that’s popular and easy online
  • Creative commons is using its community to build donors to their organization, and has done something novel – timed monthly small contributions from credit cards – you can do the same
  • The internet has also allowed for a relatively new phenomenon - it’s not just about participating through blogs, social networks, etc. People are also sharing the actual media
  • Here’s one of the most popular videos from YouTube. A relatively amateur dancer that lasts about 6 minutes. 127 million views, but there are multiple versions, each downloaded over 100,000 times.
    And this doesn’t count how it has been virally spread and shared.
    600K people have rated it, and 240K commented on this one posting. Thousands have posted video responses as well.
    Let’s put this in perspective.
  • Spiderman 3, most popular of 2007 – 56 million. Pirates of Carrib 2006 – 50 million, Batman – currently about 83 Million
    Vs 100 million plus of the YouTube dancing video.
    If we look at the lowest rated of the top 100 videos on YouTube, it had been seen about the same amount of times as most hollywood films in a week
  • Even with DVD sales, more people will probably see the crazy dancer than this film. – and they shared it with their friends, talked about it, uploaded spoofs and participated with it.
    Something’s going on here – participatory, contributory culture
    It is cultural democratization – people are not just passive consumers anymore
    It is also bottom up
    It’s also launched a new era of people expecting to see things, when where and how they want it
  • The audience can participate – via video comments, live video chats from their parties, talking on the phone, sharing favorite music, downloading stickers
    They also make it available in every format
  • Here’s a recent mash-up of their video responses – they’ve built so many true fans that this video has been seen over 200K times, thousands of fans have added more footage and the phenomenon continues years after their screenings.
  • And they want to mix it up, mash it together and sample it and share it like crazy
  • Make their own versions, commenting on it and trade those as well
  • thruyou
  • Rip – a film on remix culture (and girltalk) encourages mash-up and remixing
  • here’s the page on Open Source Cinema where you can remix the footage
  • As mentioned earlier, people expect their content on multiple platforms, they want to see it when, where and how they want to see it and they wanted it yesterday
  • Here’s Katie Couric interviewing Sarah palin on CBS. 6 million people tuned in on tv that night. Here we see that 2.6 million have watched this clip online, but all told estimates hover near 10 million having viewed them online since that time. This doesn’t count the 4 million more who watched the SNL parody, or the hundreds of thousands watching home made spoofs of the interview. (old numbers btw)

    So, the audience isn’t going to watch it when you want them to, and why should they. The only reason you’ve had to watch the news at 6pm is because that was easier for the networks. In a theater, because that’s the easiest way to get 60 million people to see the same thing. But the audience doesn’t have to watch it in your theater, on your broadcast, but when they want to watch it. This doesn’t mean they won’t ever go to theaters, but they won’t stand for your windows, and we need to accommodate this, not fight it.
  • They want it when they want it, from whatever portal they like and on whatever device they like, and they want it yesterday
    They want to share it virally with their friends
  • and they want to time shift their watching to their convenience
  • and they may even still buy the film on a DVD or other method - but they want access to all of these platforms. Here’s one filmmaker who is using that to his advantage - Cory McAbee with Stingray Sam - offering easy ways to get it in multiple formats and with value added.
  • He’s also doing this to fight the idea of free - which I spoke about yesterday. The fact that increasingly whether it’s through piracy or from ad support, people expect to find content for free.
  • Chris Anderson has proposed that everything is trending towards free, and this has profound implications for cultural production. We all know a bit about this, so I won’t elaborate, but I don’t think free is bad. The famous maxim that information wants to be free was only half the statement, Stewart Brand actually said, it also wants to be very expensive. I think there’s a medium
  • So yesterday I shoed how Kevin Kelly’s idea of Generatives can help fight free - by giving people value that goes beyond just cost, giving them things they can’t get for free.
  • and I gave the example of Tiffany Shlain
    In November of 2005, filmmaker Tiffany Shlain got word that her short film “The Tribe” was selected for the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. The short documentary film, a jazz-like riff on the history of Barbie, the history of Jews, and Jewish Identity, would be playing one of the more prestigious film festivals in the world, but there was a catch. In order to play Sundance, she had to agree to have her film screen for free on iTunes concurrent with the film festival.
  • For free. She was fine with this as it was a short. She was still selling DVDs from her own website and then had an interesting unplanned experiment
    Tribeca Story
    Shortly thereafter, she became the #1 film on iTunes.
    You can access that presentation online, so I won’t go further, but the point is you need to give them added value.

    Rick Prelinger Story
  • and that’s the key to cross-media in this environment. It let’s the audience get involved across not just multiple platforms in terms of screens, but in terms of story access points. That’s why the point of this conference is cross-media
  • Cross media allows them to become active participants in multiple parts of the story. It allows them to delve deeper into the experience if they so choose, or access it from their preferred medium. I won’t go into this in detail here because the entire conference is giving examples, but the idea is to expand the story line into multiple media. It doesn’t have to be just games, ARG, graphic novels, etc it can be the rock concert in the film as a separate disc, or the mobile extension, for example
  • Occupation Dreamland realized that their film wasn’t just about the Iraq war, but about recruitment. They found a scene where soldiers in the war are being asked to re-enlist, and one speaks up and says to the recruiter that he lied to him before and said he wouldn’t see action, wouldn’t see his friends die and he did. He calls him a liar. It’s powerful, so they made that clip available as a downloadable cell clip and gave it to anti-war activists on campuses, who could go up to recruiting stations and show it to potential recruits, to expose the lies. The point is, cross-media isn’t just flashy games, but engagement and impact.
  • So here’s a quick summary of where we are thus far.
  • or in plainer english
  • <<Note - will continue to this section only if time allows>>
    And this is where we need to stop and look at the bigger picture. I’d like to contextualize all of these changes.
    Let’s pretend this line is the history and future of the internet,
  • This is a fancier picture, but let’s use my simple line
  • The future of the internet and digital is way off.
    It’s a lot of possibility we aren’t even sure about yet
  • We are actually very far behind now. This is maybe the beginning
  • And we’ve been progressing
  • Where are we going?
  • I would argue that we’re still at the beginning and very far behind where we should be.
  • If the internet started in the 60s and we’re now here with social networking and facebook, I’d argue we’re still in the bailing wire and duct tape mode.
  • Putting your film online, building some audience, these are just the beginnings of a much grander picture.
  • If we’re at web 2.0, we need to be dreaming about web 4000.0
  • It’s not that hard. Greg Ulmer proposed it in the 80s. He argues, and I agree, that what we’re really moving towards is Electracy.
  • Following Ong, we’re going from Orality to Literacy and now to Electracy.
  • Following Ong, we’re going from Orality to Literacy and now to Electracy.
  • Where all thought processes, cultural production, business models, thought and communication are mediated by digital technology.
  • Where all thought processes, cultural production, business models, thought and communication are mediated by digital technology.
    It’s not putting your film online, it’s creating an entirely new form of thought.
    This transformation is why we’re seeing battles over reading/writing in schools, why our cultures clash over the depiction of our god in an image – you don’t say it, or write it, and now you don’t show it. It’s profoundly affecting our culture.
    And this is why this all matters.
  • The big changes we’re seeing aren’t so scary when you contextualize the internet and film within this paradigm. So in the most simplistic terms, we’ve slowly progressed from being just an oral culture
  • to one that could form other art forms
  • and put them in writing - which was controlled also by the ideas of scarcity and power
  • the printing press came along, and disrupted that structure, but it remained relatively expensive to print, still we developed a literate culture
  • before long, we also had photos to enhance our stories and add visualization in a broader way than before
  • and of course film, which further disrupted society and brought new forms of storytelling
  • the internet has come along and furthered our possibilities for connecting, for sharing stories and of course it will merge with the old
  • cross-media is just a first step in this merging. It doesn’t mean film will go away, anymore than poetry or call and response orality, or any other medium has gone away. But it does mean that story will evolve, our ability to connect and interact will change. And power structures will once again change. This is the simplistic version of course, but I think we can all understand how this fits together.
  • If we are to progress as a society we need to embrace this change. We, cultural producers and arbiters, curators, exhibitors, need to lead the change to electracy because if we don’t, the wrong people will. Alan Kay has said the best way to predict the future is to invent it.
  • and this is why I think it’s important we embrace these changes and that we, the independent, creative community take the lead. All of these potential futures can be blocked. they aren’t a certainty. In fact, if history serves well, we have little chance of controlling them going forward. All change gets taken over by the powers that be. There are many roadblocks. The need to ensure net neutrality is central to this, but so is the need for indies to creatively embrace these changes.
  • Those most threatened by the disruptions of digital aren’t aging dinosaurs
  • they’re actually vicious, blood-sucking beasts hell-bent on staying alive and thus far they will use policy and their power to wrest back this control. We’re living in a wondrous moment of change. It can seem scary, but it’s not. What’s scary is the future that might be built instead of the one that could.
  • <<if no time, skip from above to here>>

    There’s an old marketing theory that says people don’t go to the store to buy a hammer. They go there because they want to hang a picture, to get something done, and the hammer just helps them do it.
    Likewise, people haven’t come to our plays, our movies, our museums, to see a picture, to see a film, to see an actor
    They’ve come to experience a connection, to change their life, to be entertained. We’ve had tools – films, plays, etc. and these tools have in some ways been steps along our evolution from orality to literacy to electracy. And they won’t disappear, but if we really are honest about it – they’ve been broken tools. They can only get part of the job done, and we now have new tools to help us accomplish the task of living – and remember the duct tape, they are still progressing as well.
  • I love seeing a movie in a theater, but let’s face it – that was a tool for Hollywood to pack as many people into one space and make money off their desire to escape. It was a tool to have a fun night out, but it was only one tool.
  • we now have many tools at our disposal. So whether you want to use them to change the world, change the nature of storytelling or just make a living, embrace them.
    Now I’ll open the floor to questions and give us a chance to apply these ideas to your projects
  • how to contact me
  • PTTP09 London Film Fest Workshop

    1. 1. Inventing the Future
    2. 2. Disruptive Innovation Disruptive technology and disruptive innovation are terms used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by being lower priced or designed for a different set of consumers. Clayton Christensen via Wikipedia
    3. 3. $
    4. 4. Old World $ Myth • Play Festival • Sell to Distributor/Broadcaster (s) • advance • percentage of revenues • They sell to audience • Who pays for film • $ to distributor • $ to filmmakers • $ to investors • Everyone is happy
    5. 5. Old World $ -- Reality • Play Festival Maybe • Sell to Distributor/Broadcaster (s) Maybe – forever, everywhere • advance $0 - $15,000 avg • percentage of revenues 30% - 60% after expenses • They sell to audience Hopefully • Who pays for film If theaters book it or buyers buy • $ to distributor But, Marketing, P& A, staffing, cross-collateralization, fees, delivery, • $0 to filmmaker • $0 to investors • you don’t even own your film anymore
    6. 6. Some Numbers “Some data from an anonymous source about indie content on Netflix and iTunes: • Per-title agreement [for two years] with Netflix can go up to 5k-20k, especially if we give them a 60 day pre-dvd release window • Standard on one-year day-and-date ranges from . 8-2k and catalog renewal can go as low as .25-.5k per if the titles is 5 years old or more... • Per-title revenue on iTunes for one year has proven to range greatly, from $ 50 to about $ 2000 with the average well below $1k thus far, but they have only been offering indies for just over a year so let's allow them to continue to build steam.” Scott Kirsner, Cinematech and author of Fans, Friends & Followers
    7. 7. Photo Credit: FFFFound
    8. 8. DISINTERMEDIATED Rise of the Crowd
    9. 9. Pew Research Center
    10. 10. IndieWire SpoutBlog
    11. 11. Franny Armstrong Age of Stupid
    12. 12. Langworthy & Henein Vanishing of the Bees
    13. 13. Twitter Usage by Age Group US and Int’l Growth
    14. 14. US and Int’l Growth thanks to Oprah Source: ComScore
    15. 15. My TweetStats by Day and Hour Source: TweetStats
    16. 16. Zoe Keating @ZoeCello 1.13 million followers on Twitter
    17. 17. Participatory A Conversation
    18. 18. Building Community Friends & Fans
    19. 19.
    20. 20.
    21. 21.
    22. 22. CrowdSourcing Turning Community into Funders
    23. 23.
    24. 24.
    25. 25. Participatory II. A Viral Video Conversation
    26. 26. Remix Culture Mash-Ups and Sampling – Participatory Cinema
    27. 27. Kuitman: Thru-You
    28. 28. Gaylor: RIP! A Remix Manifesto
    29. 29. Multi-Platform Agnostic and Viral
    30. 30. McAbee: Stingray Sam
    31. 31. Free (Plus fee)
    32. 32. “On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.” Stewart Brand at the first Hackers' Conference in 1984
    33. 33. Generatives • Immediacy • Embodiment – Give them something – Speaking Fees now • Patronage • Personalization – Support the artist; Radiohead model – To their needs • Accessibility • Interpretation – Make it easy to get – with study guide, or – Convenient commentary • Findability • Authenticity – Work with partners who – From you directly, signed make you findable by you Adapted from Kevin Kelly’s Better than Free
    34. 34. Tifany Shlain: The Tribe
    35. 35. Cross-Platform Cross-Media, Transmedia
    36. 36. Olds & Scott: Occupation Dreamland
    37. 37. Where We are Now • Disintermediated • Participatory - a • Viral Video Conversation • Remix Culture • Community & Fans • Multi-Platform • Crowdsourcing - • Free Plus Fee Audience & Funding • Cross-Platform
    38. 38. Easy Translation • Have a website for • Consider value of you and your films allowing remix • Blog, tweet and • Be multiplatform join the • Expand the conversation experience through • Build your fan base cross-media • Use them to raise funds, to promote • Remember what you and your film will make people • Use Viral Video pay $ for your film
    39. 39. The Internet
    40. 40. The Internet
    41. 41. The Internet
    42. 42. Future
    43. 43. Arapanet 1969
    44. 44. First use of term Internet 1974
    45. 45. Internet opened to commercial interests 1988
    46. 46. Facebook 2004
    47. 47. Google YouTube 2006
    48. 48. Twitter, etc
    49. 49. Today Future
    50. 50. Electracy Today Future
    51. 51. Orality
    52. 52. Orality Literacy
    53. 53. Orality Literacy Electracy
    54. 54. Electracy electronic enabled thought, processes, writing, storytelling, business practices - all based on electronic, visual, motion media communication. Greg Ulmer, Teletheory, 1989
    55. 55. Orality
    56. 56. Poetry & Discourse
    57. 57. Writing
    58. 58. Printing Press
    59. 59. Photos
    60. 60. Film
    61. 61. Internet
    62. 62. Cross-Media
    63. 63. The best way to predict the future is to invent it Alan Kay Future
    64. 64. Potential Roadblocks: Policy - need Net Neutrality Lack of Vision & Creativity Lack of Business Models Established Players Future Thanks Jenny Toomey
    65. 65. Blog: Twitter: @Bnewman01