For those of you who are interested in the intersection between technology and storytelling, the Digimart 2006 videos, which were MIA for awhile, are back. Here is one of the panels on the “Future of Theatrical Exhibition,” in which I make an appearance. To see the rest of the videos from the 2006 conference, check out the Digimart Site. And you can check out my previous post about Digimart 2005.
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.
I’ve written many times about how theatrical exhibition has to move more toward special events in order to survive. Here is another example of Emerging Pictures’ efforts in this direction. This past weekend, we premiered Kenneth Branagh’s “The Magic Flute” in theaters across the country, and afterward did a live Q&A with Branagh himself, from his home in the U.K. Now you can watch the entire event below. By the way, the film is still playing around the country, so check out the Emerging Pictures web site for locations.
Here’s a video of a panel discussion that took place at the Cannes Film Festival this past May, at the UK Film Center. It’s a fascinating look at the various initiaves that are taking place to reinvent the theatrical experience by virtue of digital technologies. It’s a subject that, as you all know, is dear to my heart. And yes, I’m on the panel.
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?”
With more and more studios moving away from 35mm prints, can art house cinema survive in a digital world?
This article was originally published on the Tribeca Future of Film web site, and was reprinted at Thompson on Film, among other sites. However, I decided to post it here as well, to make it easier to find and for archival purposes.
For a very long time, I’ve been proselytizing to just about anyone who would listen about how digital projection could change the way we think about a theatrical release. While most people in the industry focus on cost savings, which can be substantial over time, I’ve been fascinated with the disruptive element–the fact that our entire notion of what constitutes the traditional theatrical model has been built around the economics of shipping these precious items called “prints” around. These assets, once bought, beg to be used as often as possible to justify their cost. Yet, every time the print is run through a projector it is deteriorating, and constantly at risk of being severely damaged. Switching from one film to another in the projection booth is a clunky process of splicing and unsplicing reels, subjecting the prints to even further potential damage. It’s not for nothing that the budgets for theatrical release are called P&A, indicating that the budget for prints has a prominence that is equal to or greater than any other part of the distribution budget. Continue reading “A Theatrical Showcase Points the Way”
There has been a lot of discussion recently among the mission-driven, independent art houses in the U.S. regarding the transition to digital. The art houses are stuck between a rock and a hard place due to the cost of DCI compliant (studio approved) equipment that would be necessary to show such cash cows as “Black Swan” or “The King’s Speech” — equipment that the art houses simply can’t afford — while the vast majority of the real indie movies that they play are not available in that format. Further angst is caused by the sense that it is only a matter of a few years before there simply are no more 35mm prints available. In the midst of a lot of doom and gloom, Russ Collins, the Executive Director of the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor and a leader of the Art House Convergence wrote the following guest blog…
By Russ Collins
Maybe I’m just too much of an optimist. Instead of seeing digital cinema as a harbinger of Art House doom I see it as an exciting opportunity. Digital conversion AND the preservation of celluloid exhibition formats are, to me, soluble issues that will be most effectively addressed by “new model” community-based, mission-driven Art House cinemas. Digital cinema can provide wider, quicker access to both historic and contemporary cinema repertoire and is much more accommodating to local filmmakers. Additionally, we get the benefit of digital restoration on wonderful old celluloid movies. Continue reading “Digital Projection WILL NOT Convert Art Houses Right Out of Existence!”
In case you thought that we were approaching some kind of art film apocolypse, I have good news. Art film theaters are thriving, wherever they are managed by people who really know what they are doing, and who really care. I’d like to offer up one example. The Miami Beach Cinematheque, one of the venues on our Emerging Cinemas Network, has just announced plans to move into new, larger quarters. This is great news not just because it shows that such an institution can still thrive in the age of i-stuff, but the increase in seating capacity will enable larger grosses for distributors out of a market that should be one of the best in the country. Check out the link below and be blown away.
Thanks to MOMA and indieWIRE, some 60 or so representatives of the “indie” film world got together yesterday to discuss the state of the business. A tip of the cap is due to Eugene Hernandez and Anne Thompson for their valiant attempt to reign in a group of outspoken, opinionated and polarized people arranged around a conference room that was clearly designed for far fewer active participants than were attending this particular event. The very existence of such an event, and the number of notable people who showed up, is both a testament to how hungry we are for this type of discussion, and a reason to be hopeful about the future of the business. In the course of a rambling two plus hours of talking, some deep arguments were addressed, some real insights were made and some of the attendees slipped into the kind of self-serving pitches that we hear on a million panels. But by the end of the day, I felt that all the real issues facing our business had at the very least been thrown on the table. My only frustration was that each of the many topics that came up deserved further exploration. Hopefully this can happen in a series of more focused discussions some time in the future.
One personal frustration was that the format didn’t allow me to get in my two cents on a number of points that I felt needed to be made. So, I’m going to use this space to do that very thing. At the beginning of the conference, Eugene asked that the particulars of who said what should be kept off the record in order to allow people to be as open as possible. I am going to respect that and deal only in the issues that were brought up without naming names. I am also going to take a piece of advice from Ted Hope and make this a list, which he says gets more hits than straight prose. So here goes… Continue reading “10 (9 actually) Responses to the Issues Brought Up at the “Indie Film Summit””