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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Audio: Talking About the Future of Indie Film, at SXSW

Eight folks who were in Austin this week for the SXSW Film Festival sat down yesterday morning to have breakfast and talk about the one big idea or big challenge or big shift that we've been thinking about most these days. We recorded the conversation so you could listen in, but be forewarned that there's a lot of background noise; the restaurant was noisier than is ideal for audio recording. (It gets better as the recording goes on, as the restaurant empties out.) The order in which people speak in the recording is: producer Ted Hope, filmmaker Lance Weiler, conference organizer and producer Liz Rosenthal, technologist Brian Chirls, outreach guru Caitlin Boyle, filmmaker Brett Gaylor, producer and Filmmaker Mag editor Scott Macaulay, and me (Scott Kirsner.)

Some of the things we talked about:

- film financing
- transmedia experiences
- Creative Commons Plus licensing (ways to profit from people sharing and redistributing work licensed under Creative Commons)
- the need for more experimentation and information-sharing among filmmakers
- business models around piracy and file sharing (in particular what Jamie King has been doing with VODO)
- the desire for participation (IE, the audience is no longer just interested in passive consumption)
- the possibility of some kind of "Oprah's Book Club" movement that would involve groups of people watching and discussing films, rather than books
- the rise of YouTube, and whether filmmakers should be paying more attention to what audiences are doing (IE, watching short YouTube videos with groups of friends or colleagues), rather than insisting that the 90-minute film is the only "respectable" product to be making today

And much, much more.

I started the conversation by asking everyone to talk about one big idea or challenge that they'd been thinking about lately.

Here's the MP3, or you can listen by clicking 'Play' below.

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  • I'm sure there is stuff on this that I want to hear, but the audio quality makes it impossible to listen too.
    Any chance of a transcript, so I could just read it.

    By Blogger πR8, at 9:20 AM  

  • the quality isn't that great! sorry!

    By Blogger Tami, at 5:57 PM  

  • i braved the terrible audio quality! great conversation.

    one question though, who was talking about their 8 year old wanting to be a "movie designer"? would like to give the appropriate credit when i relay the story.


    By Blogger Mister Michael, at 10:37 PM  

  • That was Ted Hope.

    By Blogger Scott Macaulay, at 12:06 AM  

  • If there's a CinemaTech reader who would be willing to transcribe, that'd be great. I'd be happy to correct it and also add speaker names... but I'm not sure I have time to take on the whole project right now.

    By Blogger Scott Kirsner, at 4:56 PM  

  • I finally got a chance to listen to the conversation on the way back from Virginia today and I found it fascinating. That being said, I disagreed with a number of the points made. Here's my response (it's a bit long for the comments section):

    - Noah

    By Blogger Clarence Worley, at 8:53 PM  

  • QUICK NOTES from one listen to audio

    good discussion, guys and gals! I have plenty I would have added, had i been there but it does a great job of fully scratching that surface!

    In the interest not of making a transcript but merely to remind those who braved the audio (use headphones) of who said what and someof the ideas that were thrown out, here is a HORRIBLE set of notes i made listening on the fly


    first speaker:

    film maker shane meadows made b+w vignettes of
    working class british life
    eurostar financed b+w film - the last thing they paid for was "divinci code"

    brand sponsored. media agency

    tv companies, tech companies, anyone moving into space trying to build thier audience


    brian chrils, technologist

    there is an s-curve shape (to innovation)
    film, digital photography whatever has a fast ramp and then a leveling off - (film is at a leveled off place as far as narrative is concerned - features and sitcoms, etc)

    in the film world the s curve has flattened out and the next one has yet to appear

    the result of cultural factors
    corporate control, tyranny of discrtetion (hey this stinks, or this contract sucks)
    8 million dollar negative pickup deal will bless me at sundance and then i have a career
    whats needed is a cultural shift
    film industry needs to be more like the tech industry
    we can all do this on the set - there is a truck in the way - well we will work around it and it will be better
    and yet when we look at the business model, we seem paralysed

    why is a film or tv show the length that it is? business model and technical reasons

    there is a place for black and white photography - but not all work needs to be b+w

    some 18 year old kid makes a bajillion dollars, and then everyone copies it

    james spool talking - methodologies and recipies dont work
    companies that do well - here is a bag of tricks we can keep, but the main job is to set up a culture

    a culture of innovation

    a culture of information sharing
    caitlin Boyle

    take in content and make it theirs

    gates are swinging wide open, she thinks the information sharing is already there, and that audiences are already invoilved in that

    she operates outside of the corporate world, - you lisence somethng and then you see it and enjy it but that model is slipping

    health care reform - we dont have to reinvent the wheel - we can jerry rig it
    what we have now - old model break ing down - but everything goes
    in my daily life its exciting - people are paying but individuals are seeing it for free

    different fro documentaries

    brett gaylor - how do you follow the piracy approach - volunteer donations is the ultimate friction

    how to turn good press into butts in seats

    the universal lisence - released under creative commons license

    CCplus - you can share and remix for non commercial purposes
    if you want to
    tv is no good
    how to pay - here is the url
    dvd - here is this market, this market this market
    if i wanted to subtitle it for indonesia, here is my email, we split 50/50

    what happens is it gets subtitled and the translation is terrible - can you sell it to more than one person in a given territory

    the remixable film - getting around the premier idea and going to multiple festivals

    remix manifesto,
    scott macaulay
    3rd year i've been to sxsw, first i went to interactive room


    a thousand people listening to one guy wine world video blog from wine glasses with his name on them at target
    tony robbins guy

    but over here in film section it was "same old people from indie film doing the same old panels"

    people who might have been interested in investing in indie films are downstairs investing in apps and widgets

    film as brochure, film as outreach, but not film as pure art

    what I scott macauluay is about is not medium specific - its about

    the work is better than evr iin indie film, most of it happening at the micro budget level

    what i embrace at the 2 million and up level is NOT the best work

    and yet no one is really making any money

    why are some of the people who are coming up, and the established workers, not taking energy from what is going on downstairs

    i dont want to say that no one is doing it.... but how to we get back to things i'd love to make and things I'd love to do, things that have value to me

    how the business models and delivery methods inform the audiences value of the work

    i worry that the devaluation in the audiences mind comes about when it comes to the viwer so easily - seeing in a browser window

    the google book settlement -

    everything is nbeing pushed towards an ad model

    the CPM is at a good point, now its all about streaming up

    the person who will pay 100 dollars, only has to pay 2 cents

    the passionate fan has no avenue to suport

    someone 69k DVDs - 20 bucks apiece
    100 dollar fetish object

    is the object going away?

    lewis hyde's "the gift"

    10 years ago the publishing world was in a slump,the opera book club revived it with house parties all over the country watching

    individual robert greenwald brave new theaters
    how many book clubs could i join

    arts oriented community based
    it may exist but where is the "film of the month" club


    did you see the thing on you tube? at a party and everyone goes to the computer and looks at stuff for an hour and a half

    is a feature film format and its relationship to a younger generation strong enough to retain the interest

    is your aspirtation to becvome peter jackson, and make longer and bigger - the audience is moving in ghte opposite direction

    audience wants to hang around and watch 3 minute clips
    8 year old clips he wanted to be a film designer
    makes the trading cards, the action figure, the DVD
    when he says Pokemon, he means all of Pokemon
    when he says lego, he means lego community

    culturally they say "i'm into emo and thrash"

    in film there is no way to organize people
    where is the discussion group BUILT in to an art film - the conversation has already taken place - and maybe you get a bit of it in a commentary track but its an afterthought

    a huge blogging audience out there - how do you get people into the decentralized approach of an opera book club -

    sitting to the next table in a restaurant, and saked them, do you know about book clubs? they would say yes, but then ask them do you kow of any movie clubs?

    15 great under a muillion movies a year
    previously there were maybe 3

    organized not for profit community, but cant seem to lock in to where that is

    once a month undicoveded netflix model, church groups,
    there is no central data base to see where all the clubs are - yes there is, its the internet but it is decentralized

    the comunity = people
    they have certain habits, not so healthy realtionship w habits

    people would pay for music by buying a CD - now it is gone

    yet now there is a 5 dollar bottle of water

    software bill gates fm now on we will pay for software and it will come in a box

    and we all did it for 20 years!

    why does the community say "this habit is over" and also how do individuals manage to say "now do this habit"

    audieces dont care about production values anymore

    can you charge people for content or not? are we all buskers now, playing onthe subway for free?

    communities are hungry for that programming - and they will pay

    LA film festival mark Gill, the sky is falling - there are too many films -
    how can we allign the

    take down the tollgate, but sell a faster engine

    maybe the idea is not, "how can i withold my movie from you " but how can i give you a fun film and then charge you to see it with a new ending?

    we need to rely in a lot of people to come up with a

    most people use flickr for free howver there is a premium model

    we would rather a million download for free, guilt free, and 30k buy a dvd than

    3000 steal it and 10k buy it

    not unless we embrace the free

    a lot of cmes down to behavior of consuming the media

    the sooner we realize everyone at a dinner party goes to scren wathc you tube

    the interactive is booming, some came frmo the venture capital side

    innovation is similar, they create a site and someone gives them capital for it

    what happens with media, people are locked in to forms

    accessibility vs creativity

    R and D - apps and widgets, fundamental parts of the process where there is friction

    people who make more money than film makers

    yes, eevrybody experiements how do we move from experimental to $$$


    By Blogger JeanDodge, at 11:29 AM  

  • By Blogger Lorraine, at 11:57 AM  

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