I wrote the following article, which ran in Indiewire on July 1st. Here it is in its entirety, with a couple of added points at the end…
As a believer and crusader for the theatrical experience, the closure of movie theaters all over the world was a punch in the gut. There was an immediate consensus among pundits of all stripes that this was the end of theatrical moviegoing. People would just get used to the idea that they could see what they want at home, so why would they ever go out to see a movie again?
Yet in the art films world, a remarkable thing happened: Several independent distributors created something called “virtual cinema.” Pioneered by Kino Lorber, Magnolia, Oscilloscope, and others, they made their stranded films available, online, in partnership with the independent theaters where the films were scheduled to play. Theaters used their patron lists to market the films; in return, they took a percentage of the gross as if they had presented the films in their physical theaters. Continue reading “How Virtual Cinema Could Help Arthouses Secure Their Future in 7 Easy Steps”
In 2005, I was invited to a conference in Montreal called Digimart, organized by Daniel Langlois and his team at Ex-Centris. It was a very early attempt to deal with the coming convergence of entertainment technologies, and they invited a star-studded array of speakers that represented the cutting edge of that time. I met many incredible people at the event, and even more the following year, when they invited many of us back for a second time. Some of the folks I met are now good friends and collaborators.
Recently it was pointed out to me that the videos of the conference sessions were no longer on line, so I contacted the good folks at La fondation Daniel Langlois, who are now trying to restore access to those videos. They’ve put back the sessions from the 2005 event, and are trying to locate the ones from 2006. Watching these videos, it’s incredible how far ahead of the curve many of the speakers were, and equally incredible how much has changed. You can find all the 2005 videos at the Digimart site. For a quick taste, below is the panel I was on, which was called, “More Digital Cinema Networks – Alternative & Independent Spaces.” I’ll post again if and when the 2006 videos reappear.
Don’t get me wrong about David Pogue. Even though his pro-Apple bias sometimes infuriates me, I enjoy reading his weekly column, and I continue to believe that he’s one of the few truly essential technology columnists out there. But that’s part of the problem. When Pogue trashes something, it has an enormous impact on whether a product can survive in the marketplace. This is especially true in an environment where consumers are dubious about buying anything that is not on their proven comfort zone. So the purpose of this post is to say that Pogue really screwed up in his review of Microsoft’s Surface RT. Continue reading “Pogue Missed the Boat on the Surface RT”
I ran into an exhibitor friend at the Toronto Film Festival (who shall remain nameless) and he went off about how unhappy he was about having signed a VPF deal in order to convert his theaters to Hollywood’s version of digital projection equipment. We talked about all the various implications of the deal, which I’ve outlined in a previous post. But he brought up another angle that I hadn’t realized before.
In order to be eligible for a VPF deal, an exhibitor has to guarantee a certain number of “turns” per screen per year. A “turn” is when you dump the film you are playing and bring in a new one, which then requires the distributor of that new film to pay a VPF fee. The more “turns” the more your equipment has been subsidized. Continue reading “More bad news about VPFs…or is it?”
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I simply don’t do Apple. I’m not going to go into all the reasons here because today I want to rant about another company, HP.
As you can read elsewhere in my blog, my current smartphone is a Palm Pre +. I love just about everything about it, but with enough frustrations and nitpicks that I was recently flirting with the idea of switching to an Android device. I looked at the Motorola Droid Pro, which has a profile that is almost perfect for my needs (physical keyboard is a must), but switching to Verizon means losing international compatibility and the ability to be on line and on the phone at the same time. Continue reading “HP’s Big Mistake”
Warning: This post is only for complete gadget freaks, of which I am admittedly one.
Around 5 years ago, I was on a train from New York to Washington DC to attend a historic meeting. A bunch of independent filmmakers had been summoned to meet with Dan Glickman, the new head of the MPAA to discuss issues related to independent film. I was on the train with five other filmmakers, and on the entire trip we were playing with our Treo 650’s. We were trading apps (yes there were app phones before the iPhone), beaming the apps to each other via infrared port, and showing off all the tricks we had learned on the device.
In point of fact, at that moment in the not too distant past, everyone I knew in the film business had the identical phone. Why? Indie filmmakers are always on the move, and need to carry their office with them wherever they go. The 650 was a beautiful device, and with some hacks and third party software, it did pretty much everything one could ask for, and more. Continue reading “The Palm Pre: My New “Everything” Device?”
About 5 or so months ago, David Pogue wrote in the New York Times that he had tried out Twitter and wasn’t sure what it was good for. He wrote “Like the world needs ANOTHER ego-massaging, social-networking time drain? Between e-mail and blogs and Web sites and Facebook and chat and text messages, who on earth has the bandwidth to keep interrupting the day to visit a Web site and type in, “I’m now having lunch”? And to read the same stuff being broadcast by a hundred other people?” But then he had a revelation. He was on a panel and used Twitter to send out a quick request for an answer to a question, and got dozens of immediate responses from his followers. Continue reading “After 3 Months on Twitter, still wondering…”
Ever since I joined forces with my partners Barry Rebo and Giovanni Cozzi to form Emerging Pictures, one of our goals was to use the new digital technologies to revive the idea of the neighborhood repertory cinema. At first, there was a lot of resistance…from filmmakers and from theater owners, both of whom were still married to the 35mm format. Over time, that resistance has worn down, as both filmmakers and theater owners began to realize the economic benefits of leaving 35mm behind. But perhaps more importantly, as they began to experience it in a theater, they realized that the compromise in picture quality was very minimal, and was compensated for by not having the degradation that goes along with running 35mm through a projector. The image was the same in week 3 as it was in week 1. It was the same in Oklahoma City as at the Zeigfeld. Continue reading “Could digital projection save repertory cinema?”
In the last few months, it seems to have become common wisdom that traditional print media is in its death throes. According to every expert, all media is moving to the web. Yet you wouldn’t know it by looking at me. As somebody who works in the media, I’ve always considered that part of my job is to know what is going on the world…especially and specifically in the world of pop culture. On a daily basis, I read the New York Times, Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter. Every week, I read New York Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Weekly Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Screen International, Video Business and The New York Observer. And I also subscribe to Film Comment and several monthly tech magazines. I figure that single-handedly, I’ve killed a large number of trees in my lifetime. Continue reading “Confessions of an Old Media Junkie”
14 days to go until the election, and from what I can see, everything is trending in the right direction. There’s a part of me that is beginning to allow myself to dream about the possibilities. If Obama does indeed manage to win, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’ll be a true game changer in just about every way. New found respect abroad? Check. Forever removing the glass ceiling on race? Check. Reinvigorating the American dream? Check. Then there is the other part of me–I guess you could call it the Cubs fan part–which keeps reminding me that the Democrats (like the Cubs) have a way snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. In the meantime, I’ve become addicted to CNN, watching the pundits and reading into every potential portent.