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Four Ways to Build a New Open Infrastructure

Thompson on Hollywood By Lance Weiler | Thompson on Hollywood October 9, 2009 at 3:42AM

Digital pioneer Lance Weiler joins the fray with a modest proposal for how the film industry should embrace innovation as it faces the digital future:
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Thompson on Hollywood

Digital pioneer Lance Weiler joins the fray with a modest proposal for how the film industry should embrace innovation as it faces the digital future:

Where the industry goes from here is going to require a rethinking of the infrastructure that supports it. To realistically move forward, innovation, experimentation and R&D is needed to help create an OPEN framework that will improve the funding, creation, distribution and discovery of truly independent work.

Here are some thoughts:

1. Keep it Open. As the industry shifts, it is key to build the next generation of discovery, creation, and distribution upon systems that embrace the following:
- Open software/hardware that encourages innovation and rewards improvements on functionality.
- Open business models that enable filmmakers, distributors, exhibitors, and audiences to sell, trade, and share films in ways that directly reward performance and encourage a healthy sense of competition.
- Transparency: In the age of connected devices and the real-time web, there is NO reason why tracking, performance and reporting can’t be accessible in real-time.

2. Net Neutrality is without a doubt, one of the most pressing issues for any filmmaker and/or distributor--unless of course your parent company is an advocate of a walled-garden approach to content. The future of new models in content discovery and distribution will rely on OPEN access to the pipes that push content to living rooms, mobile devices and computers worldwide. Many are fighting the good fight to keep access fair and open (Help Save the Internet).

3. Audience Sharing Protocols: Find new business models by looking at how other industries solve problems. For instance, file-sharing protocols enable servers and computers running different operating systems to communicate in unified ways. A similar concept could be applied to the cross-pollination of audiences by enabling different types of audience data to be traded in a common form.

Develop Audience Sharing Protocols that protect the audience’s identity while providing anonymous data that can be shared and visualized. This could make it possible to mine the attention economy that surrounds films. This data would provided insight into who, where, when, what, why and how audiences are consuming their media. If you imagine that each filmmaker, distributor or exhibitor had an audience of 1,000 to 5,000 people then over time it wouldn’t be hard for a collective reach to surpass certain television-size audiences.

4. DataPortability: As acquisition fees continue to erode the data around a particular project, DataPortability, if harnessed properly, could emerge as a new value asset for filmmakers. But many artists are building their audiences on third party services that own the data and therefore own their audience. If there is a glitch, or terms of service violation, you could lose not only your account but your whole audience. (Tip: Mirror your efforts and establish a simple email list that also collects zipcodes.) For more info on DataPortability, visit DataPortability.org or listen to this interview with Chris Saad, founder of the DataPortability Project.

To be continued…

This article is related to: Independents, Web/Tech, Guest Blogger, Media, Marketing, Exhibition


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.