g The Film Panel Notetaker: May 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

News & Notes from Shooting People

Ingrid Kopp of Shooting People has notes from the IFP Industry Connect panel on social issue docs on her new blog. Click here to read her notes.

FYI, Shooting People has launched a series of documentary masterclasses with DCTV. SP's first event was with Sam Pollard (Spike Lee's editor amongst many other things) last Friday. Ingrid will be posting a podcast soon on the SP website. The next event is with AmySewell (Mad Hot Ballroom) on June 8th. Click here to read all about it.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Tribeca Talks – Alfred P. Sloan Foundation presents: Prodigies, Nobelists and Penguins: Science and Stereotypes in the Movies – May 5, 2007

Tribeca TalksAlfred P. Sloan Foundation presents: Prodigies, Nobelists and Penguins: Science and Stereotypes in the Movies – May 5, 2007

(Left to right: Sidney Perkowitz, Darren Aronovsky and Billy Shebar)

Darren Aronovsky (DA) – Filmmaker, The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Pi
Billy Shebar (BS) – Screenwriter, Dark Matter

Sidney Perkowitz (SP) – Professor of Physics at Emory University

(SP) What do you think of how Hollywood portrays scientists in film?

(BS) I’ve seen portraits that go either way, but things have gotten better and better. There used to be a lot of films with mad scientists, but we’ve gone beyond that. Dark Matter is about post-Tiananmen Square Chinese students in the U.S. facing a lot of scholarly pressure. The film looks at cosmology. It’s an interesting moment in history. I researched cosmology and found that “dark matter” itself is an unsolved problem. The film is about a mentor/student relationship where the mentor studies the cherished model of science and the student sees this model is on its last legs. Filmmakers must make an effort to get the science right.

(DA) I like mad scientists like Dr. Frankenstein. People have gotten savvier with science. There was a difference between researching the science for Pi than for The Fountain. Pi was pre-Internet. The Internet makes it easier to do the research and get the science right. In Pi, the protagonist Max, a mathematician, could fall into the cliché of the mad scientist. He’s doing extremely focused, disciplined work. Mad scientists don’t come out of science fiction, they come out of pure fiction.

(SP) What about the idea of obsession in science fiction?

(BS) As a writer, there is an attractive side to obsessiveness.

(DA) There’s a sense of alchemy with scientists because they’re dealing with a secret magic that can change the world and the universe. I like to research the science and bring it to a fictional place by combining science and mysticism. I’m curious about films that are more traditional like Dark Matter. Hopefully, the intellectual quest comes through.

(SP) I’ve been an advisor to Chinese students and they seem to face a lot of pressure. In Pi, the protagonist’s pressure is internal, while in Dark Matter, the pressure comes from the outside world.

(DA) I have a friend who’s a marine biologist quit to do production design. Why? Because, academia put film competition to shame.

(BS) Writers and scientists both feel pressure.

(SP) Some films about real mathematicians who go mad such as A Beautiful Mind. Can you comment on why mathematicians seem to have more intensity that what’s good for them?

(DA) There’s a fine line between insanity and genius. I don’t know why it’s math people. Maybe because they’re speaking a different language than us.

(BS) There’s a sense that the degree of abstraction borders on insanity.

(SP) How do you decide how much fiction to mix with science?

(BS) In 1991, there was an event at the University of Iowa where a Chinese physics major killed five people. Dark Matter is a fictional film that was inspired by this incident. A lot of the relationships in the film parallel real people. “Dark matter” seemed to be the perfect metaphor for an invisible foreign science student.

(DA) What I think is cool and interesting to an audience. In high school, I was in a class about math and mysticism. I grounded Pi in stuff that’s so true to it. In The Fountain, it’s about longevity. Great ideas came out in the research. Find facts that tie into the story. Some of our grandkids may live to 200 if our world still exists.

(SP) Comment on some really good and also the worst science-based or science fiction films.

(BS) I loved The Wild Blue Yonder by Werner Herzog. It’s a hybrid documentary/film with undersea footage.

(DA) Don’t know. It’s so huge. Entertainment Weekly last week had its top 25 sci-fi films/tv from the past 25 years.

(SP) Gattaca was really great and the worst was The Core.

(SP) Do you have any predictions about science-based or sci-fi movie trends?

(DA) Environmental destruction is going to be everywhere. More movies about cloning, mixed reality/psychedelics. Movies about different levels of consciousness. What James Cameron does next is kind of going back to Isaac Asimov.

(BS) Movies about neuroscience; the connection between the brain and the mind.

Audience Q&A

Q: Do you feel in today’s marketplace, what’s defined good about movies are the celebrities. Would Pi have the same impact today that it did in 1998? What advice do you have for science filmmakers?

(DA) YouTube. There are more opportunities now so much more than in the Pi days. It’s a full-time job to get your film out there. If you make something really good, people will react to it. It’s not all about celebrities. Do something that’s your own and believe in it.

Q: Do you recommend or insist to your actors to do their own research on science?

(DA) The Fountain was co-created with a neuro-scientist. He would write primers (sort of like Cliffs Notes) to give to the actors. We had a huge library of information. Hugh Jackman went to see a monkey get brain surgery. It was emotional and effective for him. Wikipedia is also amazing.

(BS) There’s nothing like a carefully written book on a subject. I’m also a believer in personal interviews.

(SP) You’re not going to get emotional stories from the Internet.

Q: Are there any organization that hook up screenwriters with scientists?

(SP) AFI, National Academy of Science, Sloan Foundation

Q: Is Dark Matter available on DVD?

(BS) We’re in discussions with distributors for a theatrical release, but there have been issues around the Virginia Tech incident. It’s a bit sensitive to release a film about a campus killing, even though we made it before the incident.

Q: Will we see more people of color in science films?

(SP) Scientifics reality changes in culture. In the U.S., most scientists are white and makes and this is reflected in the movies. One of the few African-American scientists I’ve seen in the movies unfortunately was in the movie The Core.

Wildlife and Epic Adventures

4/28/07 And then… He Ate A Snake
Flesh, Exposed.

Josh Bernstein, Digging for the Truth (History Channel)
Les Stroud, Survivorman (Discovery)
Phillippe Cousteau, Ocean’s Deadliest (Animal Plannet)
Sara Robertson, Nature (PBS)
Boyd Matson, Moderator, National Geographic Explorer

I have a confession to make. I went to this panel because I think Josh Bernstein is super cute. And to shake his hand after, he’s also very nice. I got into Digging for the Truth because his voiceover is always so tentative and sincere.

Story IS what matters, even in what they do. It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. It’s also challenging, production-wise. You’re usually on Plan E by noon—you have to think ahead and all the while, having the story in your head. Often it takes days/weeks/months to get some shots.

You learn that each animal has a personality. You have to give them time and space to acclimate to you and certainly don’t pet them. When dealing with people, as Les did with a stone age people in the Amazon, you really do have to sit with the lead anthropologist and sense whether or not they’ll kill you.

There are risks in this kind of filmmaking. It’s in their soul as individuals to be in the jungle and all over the place and they have to stand by the idea they’re put themselves at risk for. Besides, sometimes it’s more dangerous walking around NYC. Phillipe was saying that even production is dangerous—one time he was booked to fly the next morning after a dive and that’s really bad.

Capturing moments take many passes. Then, outside of what they have to capture, they have to worry about batteries, tape changes, lens cleaning, etc. It takes more than one take. And as much as HD has rebirthed a lot of these nature series, there’s also a whole new host of problems that come with it.

They talked about how essentially, the host of the show is an epic adventurer and the audience needs him/her to take physical risk. Sometimes they even have to play cameraman and shoot them, but that’s not to downplay the risks the people off screen take as well.

Josh didn’t want to tell us what he keeps in his little brown bag except what he’s already revealed: a compass and a flashlight. Les said that he picks his destinations on what he wants or feels like doing next, then finds a way to pitch it for everyone else’s entertainment.

In closing, they summed up these thoughts… To be a wildlife filmmaker, you have to bring the executives the idea and know that the smaller the budget, the better chance you have. The story is the language of learning. There’s the pitch and then there’s actually pulling it off. You have to be a renaissance person doing it all. And fight what you think is real.

These experiences they have in life, these are what they live for.

Females bring home the bacon

4/27/07 Bringing Home the Bacon
They act. They write. They Produce.

I went to see Eva Mendez , Julie Delpy, Rosario Dawson, Julia Styles, and Mary Stuart Masterson this week at Tribeca Film FEstival. They are all actresses and all have a film (or two) they’ve produced. What a great panel to attend as I’m pouring through my movie, driving it to the finish line. Not only did these women assure me that it can be done and it’s worth it, but that yeah, it’s really really hard.

You have to do everything. You have to have your hands in all aspects of filmmaking. Julia Styles said that she learned even more about acting and what reads well on screen while helming her feature, Raving. Julie Delpy’s Two Days in Paris developed her love for editing and says that’s when you really make the film. Rosario Dawson talked about her producing partner, someone she’s been working with since NYU. They funded their shorts with the money she made from Pluto Nash and are working together to put different stories that matter to them out there.

Eva Mendez came on as Executive Producer for her film, Live!. It was a story she responded to and wanted to know what it would take to make it. She and Julia talked a bit about how they love to play characters that could be transposed into men. Mary Stuart Masterson loved the heart and innocence in her film Cake Eaters and pushed herself creatively writing, directing and producing.

They went on to discuss gender and how women may be more nurturing, but whoever you are, you have to be tough to helm a film. It was funny to hear that they get phone calls from people who want a “female director”. What does that really mean? And why would Julie know less about a soldier at war than a male director who’s never been?

The playing ground still isn’t necessarily equal and women do seem to strive to be better than men. For anyone to be a director, you have to be calm under fire—something not mistaken for weakness. Being aggressive for the sake of it is transparent. Having temper tantrums (they mentioned David O. Russel in passing here, the point being that this applies to men too) don’t really reflect well on anyone who’s head of the ship—you just won’t be taken seriously.

Another good thing to hear is that it’s an excellent move to have a ton of ideas. Eva said to put yourself out there, get exposure—just do stuff and who knows what will come to you. I tend to be all over the place with ideas, and think that the more you have developed, the more you expand your vocabulary as an artist which makes you more versatile.

Mary said you just have to be passionate about the project (not do it because that’s what’s trendy or available) and always have other ideas that you toss around to see what sticks. Rosario said that having strength and integrity is the best you can show to people. The director/producer thing is a thankless job. It’s about spontaneity and doing what comes to you.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tribeca Talks – Fame! I’m Gonna Live Forever – May 3, 2007

Tribeca Talks – Fame! I’m Gonna Live Forever – May 3, 2007

Actor Bruce Dern signs a copy of his new book, Things I've Said, But Probably Shouldn't Have: An Unrepentant Memoir, after the panel discussion.

Bruce Dern (BD) – Academy Award® and Golden Globe-nominated actor, Coming Home
Jake Halpern (JH) – Author, Fame Junkies
Robert B. Millman (RM), M.D. – Saul P. Steinberg Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health at the Weil Medical College of Cornell University
Janice Min (JM) – Editor-in-Chief, Us Weekly

Josh Wolk (JW) – Senior Writer, Entertainment Weekly

(JW) Does fame make people nuts, or are people nuts about being famous?

(RM) Both are true. Think of Bill Clinton. He came from humble beginnings, but knew that he was ready for bigger things. When you do well it changes you and exacerbates narcissistic qualities. Some people get famous by accident. Narcissism can be developed in the first two years of life, but I also think it can be developed much later if for example you become an amazing athlete or actor and you think you deserve the attention. An example of a story about a narcissist- Once at a party, a guy was talking about how his finger nails needed a manicure and the next guy over talked about how he just had triple bypass surgery, but the guy with the finger nails thought he was more important. Another example – a baseball player. If a nine-year-old sees a baseball player walk into the room, he will look at the baseball player and not be interested in anyone else. The baseball player know that people are only interested in looking at him.

(JW) When you star in a movie, what’s it like when people look out for you?

(BD) I’ve played the nastiest bastards in film. I’ve been fairly approachable to it. I have seen it with people in my age group. I’ve been lucky to work with famous older movie stars who also worked on TV like Donna Reed. They treated fame as if it were nothing. Older stars were greater with it much more than my generation. We never get the adulation that musicians get. It’s not near as prevalent with guys that aren’t athletes unless you’re Tom Cruise or Robert Redford from my generation. In my generation, Redford and Paul Newman got the most attention. We all had to work our way up in our generation. I talk about a story of fame in my new book when I was at the Actors Studio with Marilyn Monroe who asked me if I would walk her across town to her apartment on Sutton Place. As we turned into Sutton Place, a lady looked at them and got into a cab and drove off. Marilyn was in tears and asked me if I knew who that was. It had been Greta Garbo. The reason Marilyn was crying was that Greta Garbo didn’t recognize who Marilyn was.

(JW) Are things worse now that they were before?

(JM) Celebrities have more exposure to the world now. They used to be able to go to the grocery story without someone like Perez Hilton blogging about it. Being a celeb now is a 24/7 job. You’re held accountable for your actions wherever you go. For example, what happened with Michael Richards and Mel Gibson last year. These stories broke on to the Internet really fast. Another example are female actresses/performers that have no real acting credits. An example- MTV reality show “Laguna Beach” star who dated Nick Lachey and got onto the cover of US Weekly (demographic is women 30 and younger). Fame has become their ultimate goal. They only live for the media. Young Hollywood gets pleasure out of fame. It’s extraordinary their drive to be famous. It’s more about who they’re dating and the clothes they’re wearing. They get a gratification that people think they’re pretty and popular. It’s as simple as that. Another recent example happened at a party where one celebrity just showed up who wasn’t even invited to have their picture taken on the red carpet and then left. Despite the often shaky relationships with celebrities and photographers, the worse outcome would be not to be photographed at all.

(JW) If a celebrity is unhappy, can fame make them happier?

(RM) You can never be satisfied. Your sense of yourself is so fragile. If something negative happens, your self-esteem plummets. You have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a deeply dark sense of horror. Most people aim to be somewhere in the middle.

(JW) Can you tell us about this program where kids go to learn to be famous?

(JH) In my book, I talk about going to a convention in Los Angeles where parents take their kids to learn how to be famous. They didn’t let journalists in, but I was given a badge for agents and one five-year-old kid came up to me handing me his headshot and then a whole bunch more kids did the same. After this program, I called up a child psychologist and asked why American kids are like this and he told me that I had a skewed sample, so I did a survey about fame with 700 teenagers. One question I asked was do you pick fame over intelligence and most picked fame. In some schools, there are self-esteem curriculums and when they get out of school they think they’re all stars.

(RM) It’s a normal stage in development. Adolescents think the world revolves around them. Hopefully kids get out of it, but that kind of narcissism is normal.

(JH) There’s this test called a Narcissism Personality Index that was given to people of all age groups. No group scored higher than teens.

(RM) Fame is different than narcissism.

(JH) What came first? The chicken or the egg?

(JM) I think your survey that asks the teens if they have a choice between fame and intelligence is interesting because a lot of celebrities didn’t even graduate from high school. There seems to be a celebration of stupidity in Hollywood. For example- Jessica Simpson being unable to perform simple tasks is what really made her famous. These are great attention-getting devices. The road to fame is wide open, but being stupid is one way to get there.

(RM) Fame, not intelligence, gets you into places.

(JH) But you hope that intelligence would lead to fame.

(JW) What do we want from celebrities? Do we want to put them on a pedestal and tear them down? Are we more in a hurry to see these things play out?

(RM) People can go up to celebrities because they are just like us. We read about them because they’re talked about as if they are family.

(JM) You can bring up people like Anna Nicole Smith at a dinner party and everyone feels like they have something in common. People want connections to celebrities. There’s both worship and contempt for them. It’s a way to feel better about ourselves. Celebrities are willing to expose their personal lives. TV ratings and box office receipts are lower than they’ve ever been. The entertainers’ personal lives are becoming more popular then the entertainment.

(RM) It’s difficult to be a celebrity, in their defense. If you’re a celebrity, the people around you want to always be with you. Everyone has to recognize your great work all the time. You become more isolated, because you don’t relate to them. You become empty and isolated and think everyone is using you. Jealousy is always inevitable with celebrities.

(JW) Is it possible if you’re a huge celebrity to navigate your lifestyle away from this?

(RM) Some become reclusive like Greta Garbo. Some take the fake humility road by acting like a nice person, but really being a killer.

(BD) At events, sometimes when you get out of the car, outside is your entourage. I always felt without them, I’m nowhere. I appreciate them. You can tell who will go down the red carpet by looking at them.

Audience Q&A

Q: How is it that celebrities have a knack screwing up profitably? Is there any end in sight?

(RM) Often, they’re not doing it on purpose. They don’t believe the world can hurt them, even though they’re paid well.

(JM) The lack of repercussion for screwing up is interesting. It’s just another thing to deal with on your road to stardom. For example, DVD sales of Seinfeld skyrocketed after the Michael Richards’ incident. The outcome is gratification, not punishment.

Q: What are some positive aspects of fame and how do you attribute fame to luck, perseverance, and talent?

(RM) An example – an athlete who grows up in the projects has to think he’s got it. They have a sense of themselves early to get where they are. Another example is Bill Clinton. He was born with a sense of need.

(BD) I’ve always likened it to a marathon. None of us think about racing until 16 miles into the marathon, then you ask yourself, “Can I catch you?”

(RM) People who get famous may only have a moment of fame and then may go down because of narcissism and go down a painful trip.

(BD) Artists are about their body of work, not an individual piece of work.

Q: How do publicists and tabloids create fame?

(JM) You can’t really manufacturer fame. A lot of publicists push to get their actor clients through, but still can’t always get what they want. The quality that Hollywood values about these actors is what makes you want to know more about them.

(BD) You have to ask yourself, why did you come to Hollywood or New York City in the first place? Was it to better your craft or to get fame? People who get better with their craft get it over people who come just for the fame.

(JH) There’s a statistic where people in the 1950s were asked if they thought they were an important person and about 12% answered “yes,” and that same question answered today yielded about an 80% “yes” answer.

(JM) At the Oscars, the real competition is who’s best dressed, not the awards.

Q: How do you take criticism?

(BD) I guess it’s necessary. I remember the negative reviews word for word. I enjoy critics that white lie just enough to allow people to decide to see the film or not. I find it important. If it’s fair, it’s good. We all need criticism. We need it more from the audience than from other actors.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tribeca Talks – Cinema 2.0: Me, Myself and IPOD – April 30, 2007

Last night’s Tribeca Talks panel discussion on Cinema 2.0 was really fun because not only did the moderator and audience ask good questions to the panelists, but the panelists also asked good questions to each other, so you’ll see that represented in my notes below. If you attended this panel and would like to contribute any additional notes, please do so in the ‘comments’ section.

Tribeca Talks – Cinema 2.0: Me, Myself and IPOD – April 30, 2007

Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival. Left to right: Brent Weinstein, Kathleen Grace, Charles Leadbeater, Jonathan Lethem, Jerry Paffendorf and Georg Szalai.

Brent Weinstein (BW) – Head of the Digital Media Department at United Talent Agency
Kathleen Grace (KG) – Co-Creator, Producer, Director of theburg.tv
Charles Leadbeater (CL) – Journalist and Author of We-Think
Jonathan Lethem (JL) – Best-selling novelist of The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn
Jerry Paffendorf (JP) – Resident Futurist of The Electric Sheep Company

Georg Szalai (GS) – New York Bureau Chief and Business Editor of The Hollywood Reporter

(GS) Can you tell us about your work and how you do it?

(KG) Started out working in theater. Created theburg.tv with a friend. We wanted to do an online television show. We thought, why wait around to pitch it to networks? Let’s just do it ourselves. In May 2006, we launched our first video on YouTube and on June 25, 2006, we launched the website. We received media coverage in such places as the Gothamist. We shoot the show on weekends.

(JL) The Promiscuous Materials Project is an analog gesture in digital clothing. I use the web to make them known and available. I’m a novelist and short story writer. I came around gradually to the Internet because of the provocations that digital media makes. I’m an advocate against the perceived notions of copyright. There’s been an exaggeration of the undertow of the legal concept around it. Giving something away was my gesture about how I feel. It’s non-commodifiable and connects with artists by going completely outside the world of movie studios, agencies, and brokers of materials. Directly from one artist to the next.

(CL) I published my first draft of my book online in October 2006. Did it out of the frustration with traditional publishing. Wouldn’t it be better to create conversations about your book before you publish it?

(BW) Our agency mined the Internet for talent. We took a hard look at the Internet. There are artistic voices that speak directly to these digital platforms. We identify and represent these digital artists and make deals for them to create content.

(JP) The Electric Sheep Company builds things inside 3D online environments and avatars. I’m a futurist on the team. We think ahead. Online creative environments are the next innovation of the web. The web can be a lonely place, but in these environments, you don’t have to be alone watching a video by yourself. We focus on the virtualization of everything by turning the web into a video game. It’s fascinating to watch what’s happening in these virtual worlds like Second Life. Machinima is making movies inside virtual worlds.

(GS) What’s your reaction to traditional media and what conflicts exist between it and new business types?

(KG) We haven’t got a lot of reaction by the traditional media. Some people I work with at my day job think our show is just cute, while there some others who take it more seriously and some people don’t get it at all.

(CL) Technologically, it’s simple. What’s challenging for people is why you would do it at all. The organization question is – how do you organize it? There’s a mixture of intrigue and an undercurrent of alarm by professionals. In the long run, there will be more ways to make money from these new business types.

(JL) I’m perfectly entrenched in a career based on the old media business model. I like it. I have affiliations with book sellers and publishers. All are puzzled by these notions and gestures. Some aggressively ignore these new possibilities. I’m not terribly interested in business models. I’m more interested in recognizing the non-commodifiable parts of them such as building social functions. Culture is ultimately owned by everyone and no one.

(CL) Does the potential for engagement excite you?

(JL) I’m not shopping around for someone to write the last chapter for me. I’m interested in having it fooled around with after it’s published online and then repurposed from the reader to the critic to the satirist. I want to be aware of these things. It’s more valuable than dollar figures.

(KG) We get lots of comments on our site. For example, someone wrote a 250-word comment that theburg.tv is everything that’s wrong about Williamsburg, so we created a video response to that. In October 2006, we wrote a Halloween script online, but didn’t have the time to shoot it. The range of interaction varies. We even named a character after a commenter. One commenter told us we were racist because of one Asian character they thought was misrepresented, but it was the Asian actor that made the choice of how to portray that role himself, so we gauge our responses to these reactions.

(GS) Do you get jealous of people who may have better ideas than you?

(CL) If someone has a good idea, I’m extremely grateful for it, but I still have the notion that my argument is still mine. I’m the one who’s writing it. Most creativity comes from collaboration. I will credit all contributions people make.

(JP) It’s interesting to watch these things play out. Second Life builds a virtual world in real time. If someone has a cool idea, we try to contract them, but there’s always an issue of ownership. There’s a quote on Second Life that says it’s “different than the web, because you don’t have sex with a Google page.”

(CL) Will Google work in virtual worlds?

(JP) People want to opt into living spaces. We’re becoming a human computer.

(GS) How are your agency’s digital artists, such as LonelyGirl15, different than traditional artists?

(BW) There’s not that big a difference. We help then get their work seen by people and attach a business model to it. If corporations are involved in make money off of it, then so should the artists. We sign an artist, find out what they want to do next and take them there. They make money and advance their art at the same time.

(GS) How do you know what will work?

(BW) Unique artists are hard to come by. An artist’s appetite is pretty well-defined and we help them realize it. If it’s the right type of client and idea, we might pitch it to the traditional media, but the client might want to keep it to the web.

(GS) Is any of this paying your bills? Is money your focus or are you all about creating?

(JP) Most everything online that makes money is through online advertisements. In Second Life there are virtual currencies called Linden Dollars, some of which are transferred legally and illegally. This is a conflict discussed in the book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. China is concerned about virtual worlds competing with their own currencies.

(BW) There is a quantifiable business model online. Some clients only make a little money, while some make a lot of it. Television is an ad-supported medium. The Internet will become a much more competitive platform for services. The audience can participate in content, which makes it much more valuable.

(KG) We haven’t made any money yet, but we’ve gotten some interest in sponsorships such as Dewars. We are signed with CAA. We did our first whole season on credit cards. Theburg.tv is different than other viral videos because we have seven recurring characters and shoot on multiple locations. It’s a TV show fit for the Internet. We need to pay some of our actors, because they’re SAG. We’re still figuring it out. A lot of people suggested we take the show to traditional TV. We may pitch it to a network, but it’s not creatively where we want to be. We like that a network can’t tell us what or what not to do. We get most of our viewers through RSS feeds.

(JL) Repurposing materials is not a money area. It functions as publicity. I got an interview with Forbes the other day, because I’m giving stuff away.

(JL) What’s your position on Net Neutrality (the idea that the Internet belongs to everyone)?

(BW) As an agency, I’m not authorized to make political statements, but as a human being, I think Net Neutrality is amazing. We would never know about our artists if it had not been for Net Neutrality. For example, we discovered an episodic mystery online and sold their next idea to Michael Eisner.

Audience Q&A

Q: Is there an idea of the format and length that will be palatable enough for the Internet?

(KG) There’s no magic number for the length of a show. Peer-to-peer technology will make things easier for people to download things at any length. There’s no rules, which is the great thing about the Internet.

(BW) There are starting to be rules. Advertisers need to know what they’re buying, but what’s online now is all over the place. When people more frequently use computers as a television device, things might change. It’s a lean back vs. a lean forward experience. Shorter tends to be better on the Internet than longer.

(JL) There are different lengths when you’re watching things alone vs. with other people.

(BW) There are more people watching TV today than ever before.

(CL) My kids’ media habits and attitudes are so different than mine.

(JP) As an example Justin.tv is this dude and his friends in San Francisco who wears a camera on the side of his head and records his life 24/7. People sponsor him. He posts a schedule of where he’ll be, and you can even watch yourself watching him. He puts the entire unedited video online, but there are no tools that allow the viewers to edit what they want to see. The tools that allow something like this to happen can be found at click.tv.

Q: I avoid YouTube because it looks like crap, but the industry is looking for hits. There’s a strange discrepancy between quality and hits. Where do you stand?

(BW) Media companies are trying to tap into the widest possible fan base. At the agency, we don’t care about hits, but talent. Places like YouTube have the ability to direct people back to the artist’s URL.

Q: Creativity beats money most of the time on the Internet. TV stops creativity. Young people are excited by the Internet because it brings them surprises. How can the Internet be a profitable domain in the future?

(BW) Even though more people are watching TV than ever before, the viewing is chopped by so many different channels. If you want to get something on TV, it has to have a broad appeal. For the Internet, you can program for a niche audience. It’s an inspiring innovation. Half of the business at our agency is facilitating the development of artists online.

(CL) There’s a gap between amateur creativity. How do you sustain people? If online depends on volunteering, we will need to find some sustainable way to keep it going.

(KG) We all just want to work on it part-time and not go into debt.

(JP) My favorite thing in 2006 was Four Eyed Monsters who went into debt, but made something kick ass by creating an online grassroots distribution model.

Q: Is there a way to collaborate on a consensus of the value of art online?

(CL) Science has always been valued without money. What you do is really what counts. Commerce and community exist in different ways. The community gets turned into the audience and participants.

(BW) Check out zefrank.com, an innovative interactive experience.

(JP) Check out iminlikewithyou.com, where you can get points for answering question.

Q: (Arin Crumley, Co-Director, Four Eyed Monsters) What are some qualities of this notion of Cinema 2.0 or Web 2.0 that new media has?

(KG) Things are now sharable and spreadable. We’re a part of Creative Commons, which allows people to share content from your site as long as they cite where it came from.

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