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Monday, December 28, 2009

A question for 2010: Does the audience want you to make a film?

Here are the big questions I'm going to be focusing on in 2010: what kinds of visual content does the audience want to see, aside from full-length features? Who's making it? And how is it being monetized?

I wonder how many filmmakers will also be thinking about those questions in 2010... and how many would rather simply continue making feature films, regardless of what the audience is doing...and sprinkle a trailer and perhaps a couple bonus clips around the Internet as "marketing."

2009 was a phenomenal year at the box office, but growing even faster than ticket sales were online video viewing, and usage of social media services like Facebook and Twitter. One more data point: in a little over a year, Apple has delivered two billion iPhone apps through its iTunes Store.

So how sure are you that the audience wants you to make a movie? That they'll show up to your premiere? That they'll buy your DVDs?

Where the audience goes, the business will follow -- we learned that when people left vaudeville theaters for nickelodeons, and when they started buying TVs, VCRs, videogame consoles, and Internet-connected PCs.

It's hard to imagine how vast the opportunities are for story skeins unspooling on Facebook pages, narratives being shaped in part by the YouTube community watching them, or hybrid games/movies that mix real-world locations with video and interactivity, and require the player/viewer to pay for the experience through the iTunes Store. Vast, yes, but scary, too -- since it is all terra incognita.

We're living through a transitional moment, when audience viewing behaviors are changing, new creative possibilities are emerging, and the business is evolving.

You can either take advantage of transitional moments and be a pioneer -- or you can be passive and simply wait to see how things play out (and potentially, miss enormous opportunities, fail to develop important new skill sets, and watch your career prospects fade.)

I'm eager to hear who you see as the leaders of this new storytelling revolution... Who will be the pioneers to watch in 2010?

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Recommended: Hugh MacLeod's book 'Ignore Everybody'

One of the great gifts I received this week is Hugh MacLeod's book Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity. That's one of MacLeod's cartoons at right (one of my faves).

The book is very much in line with the thinking here at CinemaTech about how creative work will be made in the 21st century, how audiences will be successfully built, and how you can tap into your true vision to create remarkable stuff. A short passage:

    Thanks to the Internet, you can now build your own thing without having somebody else 'discovering' you first. Which means when the big boys come along offering you deals, you'll be in a much better position to get exactly what you want from the equation. Big offers are a good thing, but personal sovereignty matters a whole lot more over the long run.

I had a chance to meet MacLeod earlier this month is San Francisco, where he was at a tech conference selling some signed limited edition prints of his cartoons. His blog, Gapingvoid, is here.

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