Posts Tagged ‘ evolution ’

Henhouse Update

Since I posted about change two days ago, here are a couple of things that have happened in entertainment:

  1. The Jay Leno Prime Time Experiment has ended.
  2. Conan O’Brien declined to move to 12:05 and may leave the network.
  3. Simon Cowell is leaving American Idol. Apparently this is a big deal.
  4. Sony announced Spiderman 4 is going to reboot without director, Sam Raimi, nor star, Tobey Maguire.
  5. The new Disney Studios Chief canned the studio Production President.
  6. Variety is up for sale.
  7. The Hollywood Reporter was sold.
  8. MGM’s film library is generating a third less cash, or $150 million less than expected. Multiple studios are bidding for its assets.

Talk about not counting your chickens…

Tectonic shifts. Change. Evolution. Upheaval. Consolidation. Retrenching. Surprises.

Anything can happen in this business. And it usually does.


How Media Evolves

Here’s a perspective on the “Evolution of Media from Seth Godin:

  1. Technicians who invented it, run it
  2. Technicians with taste, leverage it
  3. Artists take over from the technicians
  4. MBAs take over from the artists
  5. Bureaucrats drive the medium to banality

“TV used to be driven by the guys who knew how to run cameras and transmitters. Then it got handed off to the Ernie Kovacs/Rod Serling types. Then the financial operators like ITT and Gulf + Western milked it. And finally it’s just a job. Same thing happened to oil painting…”

In film, it seems we are at the end of this “evolutionary” chain.

Are we at a stage where the medium needs to be handed back to the artists?

It seems like the business is on the verge of recognizing this fact– or at least having no choice but to recognize it. Content creators outside the system — whose work has been marked by originality and creative freedom — have generated some of 2009’s biggest successes — District 9, Paranormal Activity, Avatar.

What’s been working has been markedly original and distinct. Not driven by stars. And yet, each success has shared a through-line: story-driven, visual f/x-driven, virally-marketed movies with name-brand filmmakers endorsing the projects, but not necessarily directing them (Avatar exempted).

In the case of Avatar, does Jim Cameron’s magnum opus represent a reboot of the evolutionary process? He’s certainly a technician who is innovating within the medium of 3D and motion capture, as well as creating a new post-production workflow. In essence, he and his collaborators are technicians inventing the medium.

He’s also clearly a technician with taste who has successfully leveraged the medium to engage audiences with compelling storytelling. He’s a technician (and engineer) who is already higher up the evolutionary food chain than peg one.

And he’s certainly an artist — a writer, director, craftsman. So he’s artist and technician. And has the power to leverage both areas of expertise in his storytelling for profit. So he’s really the first three pegs on the evolutionary ladder rolled into one. Much like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Peter Jackson, even JJ Abrams to some degree. Those are the guys moving the evolutionary needle of the medium. They are the ones that are primed to reboot the renaissance. And with advent of online and digital distribution of content, the door is now open for the next generation of innovator to get their shots behind the camera in the ways that Neil Blomkamp, Oren Peli or Duncan Jones have.

The artists who emerge from Hollywood’s evolutionary ooze to become the new innovators, the new technicians, if you will, will be the ones who have the ability to create content unhampered by bureaucrats, but who work within budget parameters that amplify their creativity rather than constrain it.

In short, the new “technicians” will be the ones who can do something unique for a price where interference in their process would be more trouble and cost more money than it’s worth. Better to give them free rein to innovate and expect an original result, because just maybe if you are one of those people at peg four or five, you’ll be able to capitalize on lightning in a bottle.