Not sure if any of you would care out there or would even take a few moments to review this Lions Gate Investor Report but it is DEFINITELY worth sharing if you want to take a crash course in Hollywood Film/TV/Content Studio Business.
Lions Gate Films is an interesting case study because they have NO PARENT CO. and are a legit film studio in an era where everyone is struggling to do it right.
So when you look at their 2010 Annual Report you see a clear cut financial analysis of entertainment assets in film and TV with a few back-end entertainment business elements such as investments in other entertainment properties as well as film library assets acquired from fallen studios in the past.
For me, it was an interesting look back into the rabbit hold of film biz 101 and really insightful.
What’s also fascinating about Lions Gate is that they prove if you have a low-risk high targeted model, then odds are you can come out on top, see this LA Times article written just last week.
Have to tip your hat to the LGF family for being consistent in one of the toughest businesses in the world.
The Hamptons International Film Festival’s Screenwriters’ Lab, going into its 11th year, is an intimate gathering that takes place each Spring in East Hampton, New York (April 15 – 17, 2011). The Lab develops emerging screenwriting talent by pairing established writers & creative producers with up-and-coming screenwriters (chosen by HIFF in collaboration with key industry contacts). The mentors advise in a one-on-one creative laboratory setting while additional events bring the participants together with board members, sponsors, the local artistic community, and other friends of the festival. With scripts from past writers produced year after year, the Lab continues to be a safe and inspiring place for artists to find and hone their creative vision.
Recent mentors at the lab include Michael Cunningham (The Hours, Evening); James Vanderbilt (Zodiac); Billy Frolick (Madagascar); J.D. Zeik (Ronin); J. Robin Baitz (People I Know, The Substance of Fire); Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco); Ira Sachs (40 Shades of Blue, This Married Life); Jeff Sharp (Producer, You Can Count on Me, Evening); Maria Maggenti (The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love); Sabrina Dhawan (Monsoon Wedding, Cosmopolitan); Gregory Widen (Highlander, Backdraft); Mark Christopher (54); Maggie Greenwald (Songcatcher, Ballad of Little Jo); Lawrence Lasker (Sneakers, War Games); Chap Taylor (Changing Lanes, National Treasure); and Dylan Kidd (Roger Dodger, P.S.).
Screenwriters’ Lab: Science & Technology Screenplays
We seek a broad selection of screenplays addressing a wide subject matter. Additionally, in collaboration with The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s initiative in furthering the public understanding of science, we encourage writers to submit screenplays that explore science, technology, mathematics, invention, and engineering in fresh and innovative ways.
Early Bird Deadline, Dec. 3rd
Regular Deadline, Dec. 22nd
Late Deadline, Jan 7th
WAB Extended Deadline, Jan 21st
For more information, please see
LES Film Festival
February 8th to February 27th
20 days of independent short and feature films made for under $30,000, all in pursuit of the prestigious LES Prix D’Or.
The LES Film Festival is committed to showcasing the creativity and inventiveness of low-budget filmmaking and to give filmmakers an opportunity to present their work. BYOB screenings will be followed by a Q&A with directors. Submissions will be viewed and selected by a panel of judges.
The LES Film Festival is about top notch storytelling, and top-notch storytelling doesn’t mean huge budgets.
Best Dramatic Short, Best Dramatic Feature, Best Comedic Short, Best Comedic Feature, Best Animation, LES Prix D’Or
Submission Period: November 1, 2010 to January 8, 2011
TO SUBMIT A FILM CLICK HERE.
CHECK BACK SOON FOR MORE DETAILS. TICKETS COMING SOON.
Mark Burnett has produced some incredible television in his day. Who can deny his TV supremacy given the TV franchises he created and the role he played in showing the entire entertainment marketplace that non-scripted-super-produced-TV-programming has a huge audience. You might have heard of shows such as SURVIVOR (10 years and running), THE APPRENTICE (6 years and running), ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5th GRADER (three years and running) and many more TV credits.
He’s offers some great nuggets on the art of storytelling with social media guru Brian Solis. Awesome that he also acknowledges a “Hero Has With A Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell. It is indeed a must read to any storyteller that’s interested the journey of story in itself.
Lastly, Mark and Brian discuss the dynamic social experience that revolves around TV programming. In itself, TV is social media. The social-to-passive TV arena will be an interesting space to keep an eye on as our digital entertainment experience continues to evolve.
Sony’s Crackle Taps Google for Platform Expansion
In October, Sony’s Crackle the multiscreen video-on-demand (VOD) content network featuring Sony film and TV titles, and Crackle original productions, launched its first mobile application on the Android mobile platform and additionally. released an optimized version for Google TV. Crackle is conspicuously absent from Apple products though they claim a partnership is in the works.
Until now, you could only access Crackle on their home site, Playstation, and on Crackle’s branded channels syndicated on bigger VOD players such as Hulu and Youtube.
While Hulu, Youtube, Netflix, and the studios’ online homes have quickly captured users as the major destinations for online video, Crackle has had a relatively snail-like uptake since acquired by Sony in 2006 (known then as “Grouper”). In hindsight, it looks as though Crackle has been quietly watching and crafting a competitive platform strategy while these other destinations’ picked their dance partners and have enjoyed larger audiences.
Other competing content networks, such as Joost, have not had the luxury to wait and watch. Crackle owes its resilience to its plum position as the default new media extension of Sony Pictures- it was a long-term investment by Sony who could afford a few years of underperformance.
With these latest moves, Crackle is coming-out in a big way. They brokered a larger overall partnership with Google, beginning with the Android application. As the first subscription video application on the platform, Crackle has chosen the “freemium” model, like Hulu Plus, to attract subs: the basic download is free and allows for basic content access, hopefully enticing an upgrade to monthly subscription. This model has momentum- in fact, as Gigaom reports, one-third of top-grossing iPhone applications are Freemium.
Crackle position on Google’s Android allows for better positioning. On the Android, in contrast to the iPhone, Crackle does not have Hulu or Netflix to compete with- for now. This will lead to expected increased traffic and consumer awareness of Crackle- now that it is accessible on more screens and prominently, at least on Android phones.
From a consumer perspective, Crackle’s launch on mobile and Google TV is great news because it opens increased viewing options. It will be interesting to watch where we find Crackle next and how it fairs in competition with other VOD content options, considering increasing competitive coexistence on all platforms in the future.
Apple TV vs. Google TV: The Battle For The Living Room
There’s been a lot of hype and discussion with the futurist and media folks on what the future holds for our living room entertainment experience.
In the eye of the optimistic futurist – there are endless possibilities.
Mark Suster wrote an excellent piece on the future of the TV and the living room experience. This is a must-read for anyone interested in what’s in store for the business of entertainment and content. He brings up so many relevant topics and developments to keep an eye on. TV, film, accessibility, gaming, online video, niche content providers, etc.
The bottom line is that premium content isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. What’s also interesting is that while our entertainment experience in the living room will change – maybe it won’t change all that much. Mark Cuban recently wrote a spot on posting on the value of time and how it impacts internet video/TV battle.
Cuban is right on with his points – noting that while the youth of today will pirate video content, spend time on YouTube and illegally download music their behavior will change due to their timing constraints and needs. Will that same person invest this much time in tracking and finding their entertainment content once the job, house, wife and kids come along? Doubtful. Extremely doubtful – just ask your married friends.
The bottom line: the entertainment pie will continue to get cut up in more ways than it has in the past but there is no clear winner yet in the race to control the living room entertainment experience. Will there be a winner within this fragmented media marketplace? Most likely, and as Mark Suster’s piece pointed out – there will be multiple winners. Only time will tell.
Google’s Creative Lab
Not only is Google known for “organizing the world,” its extravagant, sprawling offices, and limitless line of services aim to make our world (both on-line and real life) a little easier and less cluttered. Google is also home to the experimental and free spirited “Creative Lab,” born 3 years ago. Not be confused with an ad agency, the Creative Lab’s sole aim is to build Google’s brand across a variety of platforms, and even create new ones.
Within the Creative Lab is THE 5 PROGRAM which takes young, creative and tech talented disciples and takes them under their wing for 1 year of training before sending them off into the world armed and powerful. Robert Wong, Executive Creative Director of the Creative Lab describes the motivation behind the program, “The thinking was that, hey we have great talent that can come in and play with all the tools here and then agencies will get people that feel confident about all the tools at their disposal. And of course it works for us because that way they know our tools and we can participate in the whole ecosystem.”
For more check out the profile of the 5 Program and an interview with Robert Wong:
TALENT OWNING NETWORKS – A GROWING TREND
Seacrest, CAA and AEG are possibly partnering to start AXS cable channel. What’s crazy is in this same article there are murmurs of Comcast purchasing AEG due to their portfolio of the some best arenas/stadiums in the world, in order to compete with Live Nation/Ticketmaster. At this rate, we’ll have one music-live-event-tv-cable-premium content-set-top-box-ticket distributor to go to and we’ll just call it the ministry of live entertainment come 2015.
All joking aside – what’s in it for Mr. Seacrest?
It’s no secret that Ryan has had a consummate show biz resume starting from his youth. Idol and E! Entertainment exposure lead to overall deals, tv, radio, producer credits, first-looks, back-end participation – you name it – Ryan’s done it and has a reputation as one of the hardest working men in show business. What is Seacrest’s rationale behind this latest strategic move?
The little known fact about the what makes the cable business go round are extreme affiliate fees. It’s a $32B dollar a year business. It’s why Oprah Winfrey is opting to hang up her hosting shoes and go into retirement off of Oprah Premium Programming. Click on this link to learn more about the cable biz from the awesome VC, Bill Gurley.
When you are an Agent in Hollywood – you yearn to put together mega-deals like this CAA/Seacrest with AEG. These type of deals are headliners and they make both you and your client a lot of money – something CAA’s been good at for quite some time. This is why Seacrest’s former agent, Adam Sher left to become President of Seacrest Productions in 2008. It’s what a good agent should always be trying to accomplish. Take a brand name talent and connect to the proper business model. See Oprah, Ashton, Ellen, Lady Gaga, Diddy, Paris Hilton, Kardashian and Lebron. Vertically integrate the talent and those revenue streams!
Another example are the Jonas Bros (who are already a multi-million dollar a year biz) partnership with AOL in Cambio, which gives the talent from their label The Jonas Group a platform to control their message and brand to their core demographic. Cambio is a web-site/platform that aims to be MTV-meets-online programming.
For AOL, Cambio (Spanish for “change”) represents a move to more premium content as opposed to the creation of lower-cost niche sites aimed at various slices of tech aficionados, sports fans and women. The focus on “premium” content is also an extension of the plans AOL has been working on for its advertising business.’
Major talent partnering up with major companies is nothing new – been happening for years (See United Artists and Charlie Chaplin.) Major talent partnering up with big media for ownership stake in the property is all about equity.
As talent needs to sustain traction/exposure in the marketplace to demand a strong dollar so do major media brands. Its a safer bet for both teams – big media gives up some ownership but keeps talent happy and committed and talent becomes an owner instead of a hired gun. As the battle for the consumer’s attention grows even more intense – entertainment brands – people and businesses will push hard to remind you who is the best at the premium entertainment experience.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT
Ron Howard and Brian Glazer are shepherding a new unprecedented storytelling project. The uber producers will use Universal Pictures infrastructure to tell Stephen’s King’s trilogy, The Dark Tower as a combination of films, television and even comic books.
By alternating the story between film and television – the storytellers can use different methods to engage the audience. Imagine using the television series to work in the incredible character development and the film to create incredible visuals. They can change pace without being disjointed. The key is that the material can support such an audacious move. These incredible hefty literary properties will be the backbone of more innovative forms because of their depth and richness.
Of course, there are hurdles – the deal took months to complete and the actors are gonna be locked up for extended amounts of time but similar to Lord of the Rings – the overlaying production cycles will keep costs down and bring huge opportunity for financial success.
A recent article in Slate Magazine, Why is David Lynch Pimping This Handbag? and PSFK’s previewing Frank Miller’s Gucci commercial that will premiere got me thinking about the growing trend of five star directors and major fashion houses coming together to make short-films.
The Slate article debates – what are these… films? Commercials, short-films, advertising films, mini-films? No matter how you slice it – these have been going on for quite some time. For example, David Lynch directed Benecio Del Toro and Heather Graham (he’s aged/she hasn’t) in 1988 for Calvin Klein’s Obsession.
Why do we watch these films? What’s there importance? Are they important? As Sasha Watson said in her article we watch because of the vagaries of these projects.
Vagary – an erratic, unpredictable, or extravagant manifestation, action, or notion.
Very well put Sasha.
That – it seems – is art. Even if the art is intended for us to consider the brand and their products – it’s still enough to make us see life within a new context and that is what art is supposed to do. The other truth beneath the surface is perhaps major film directors need the work from fashion houses more than ever before and fashion houses need to diversify their brand platform so they invest in some high-profile visual stimulation. A little of both perhaps?
Enjoy Lagerfeld’s Chanel short-film where everyone from Coco, Bardot, and other famous fashion legends/luminaries in the background and the foreground as Lagerfled pays homage to the 70s and beyond.