The other night I attended an event sponsored by New York Women in Film and Television, entitled “Digi Dynamics: Crossing into the Cross Platform World”.
The line up consisted of a moderator and panelists of varying experience with digital media. Gavin McGarry, of Jumpwire Media, a consulting company that helps companies build profit strategies for the digital marketplace, was the moderator and opening presenter. He showed an amazing video someone put together for Sony’s meeting in Rome in 2008. The subject being globalization and the information age. It has made the rounds, but I had never watched it completely. This time I did and frankly it freaks me out a little. If you haven't watch it yet, take a few minutes and check this out.
The facts are astounding (assuming they're accurate) and it gave me a feeling of dread more than it did promise. The world is becoming very small and I don’t know if I care for a planet that is rapidly merging into one cultural blob (or non-cultural blob). Why will China be the number one English speaking country soon? What about the Chinese language? I’ve heard it. It’s a lovely language. Diversity is a good thing. That’s just one factoid I found disturbing, but I digress. (I know, I know, the positives are there too, the ability to freely and quickly exchange information, thoughts and ideas across the planet is cool)
The point of the video (in relation to this event) and the point of the panelist discussion was to address the growing multi digital platform in the film and television industry. A television or film-only property is not enough anymore. In addition to traditional release or air, a product must have a website, a Facebook page, youtube videos, the production company should Tweet and have loads of bookmarks with Delicious. There’s more, but I don’t have to tell anyone. Most people know. For a film or television property, a filmmaker is expected to do much more these days. I won’t go into the increasing expectation for a finished independent product prior to receiving funding. This is just about cross platform expectations, but the real question is, when does the filmmaker start either breaking even or making a little revenue? How can a property make money, so someone in this changing industry can stay afloat?
One way to bring in profit that was addressed was the idea of a cross platform 360 approach. Broadband (TV & VOD), online (video, fan sites, etc), mobile (video, downloads), podcasts, DVDs, publishing. Gavin McGarry talked about different scenarios and his experience with the success, or lack, of in each platform. He also spoke of ways to prepare for 2011. Some suggestions to consider were data, social media, crowd sourcing, HD and subscription. Exhausted yet? I am. Don't get me wrong, in ways this new world is exciting, but it's also still complicated and time consuming.
Back to the subject of making money money though, which is probably why most people were there. Galvin McGarry brought up online revenue makers such as TubeMogel, subscriptions, brand extension and finding a hyper-niche product. If you're a big-wig at a big company, you can hire consultants like Jumpwire to help you sort all this out, which is a nice thing, but not realistic for the independent. Mr. McGarry did offer an independent filmmaker free resource suggestions from Jumpwire from their various online sources, including their website, tweets and delicious bookmarks. That was nice and I plan to check them out.
The panel discussion part at this event was interesting, but not very concise. Everyone had valuable input and the panelists offered diverse experience in the multi digital film and television world, but partly because of that I felt as though I walked away with more questions than when I entered. Of course you can’t cover the subject in two hours. It’s just a huge can of worms to open up, but I came away feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of educating myself. Integrating all these digital mediums into my life more than what already exits on a daily basis is hard to fathom. How many of us already fit too much into one day? I suppose as the digital world becomes more and more present though, the more manageable and clear it will become.
What I really did come away with more than anything though, is that we're in new waters. There's a lot of free content and information on the internet and no one has really figured out a solid full-proof way to change that into awesome sustainable revenue, however if you have a digital hyper niche product that falls under data, casual gaming or porn, you're on the right track.