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Thursday, March 06, 2008

SXSW ... 1,000 True Fans ... HBO's 'In Treatment' ... Movie Production Costs Keep Rising

Just a few links before I head to Austin on Friday morning for the SXSW Film Festival.... I'll be heading up two panels, one on Saturday called Digital Cinema for Indies, and one on Sunday called Animation and Digital Effects on a Budget.

- Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired, has a wonderfully thoughtful essay titled '1,000 True Fans.' Here's part of the opening:

    ...the long tail is a decidedly mixed blessing for creators. Individual artists, producers, inventors and makers are overlooked in the equation. The long tail does not raise the sales of creators much, but it does add massive competition and endless downward pressure on prices. Unless artists become a large aggregator of other artist's works, the long tail offers no path out of the quiet doldrums of minuscule sales.

    Other than aim for a blockbuster hit, what can an artist do to escape the long tail?

    One solution is to find 1,000 True Fans. While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply:

    A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author - in other words, anyone producing works of art - needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

- Michael DiBasio is cheesed that HBO seduced him with free episodes of 'In Treatment,' then turned off the tap. I'd argue that HBO is going to have a very hard time offering its content online in any form ... whether paid downloads at iTunes, or ad-supported streams ... because its biggest revenue stream is cable and satellite companies, who want that content to be their exclusively. (Why else do people pay $100 a month for cable, except for HBO and Showtime?)

- The average cost of producing and marketing a studio movie in 2007 hit an all-time high, according to the Wall Street Journal (based on data from the MPAA): $106.6 million. Releases from studio "specialty" divisions, like Fox Searchlight, was $74.8 million, a big jump from the prior year. But it was also the best year ever for the US box office, led by Sony Pictures' 'Spider-Man 3.' The studios raked in almost $10 billion (and that's ticket sales only -- no home video.)

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