By Light Unseen Media
BLU~Media Blog

December 20, 2007

The squeeze on independents–

Filed under: AMPTP,digital media,independent filmmakers,WGA Strike — admin @ 7:40 pm

There is an interesting article on about the independent film industry. Although independent filmmakers deal with different problems than independent publishers, there are parallels between the two groups. The article discusses how “independent” films are being taken over by subdivisions of the same megaconglomerates that pump out the blockbusters (and own most of the big publishing houses), and how new digital delivery systems are changing the way films and television are experienced (click for more info). These are the same megaconglomerates that make up the AMPTP, and the sweeping change to individual digital consumption of media is the major focus point of the ongoing WGA Strike.

Some quotes from the article:

“Nobody has a clue how audiences will be watching adventurous, modestly scaled, sub-Hollywood films in five or eight or 12 years, but everybody’s pretty sure they won’t be watching them the way they are right now.”

“Nobody disputes that the Hollywood studios’ boutique wings produce, acquire and distribute lots of worthwhile films, but they’re simply not playing in the same stadium as genuine independents like IFC or Magnolia or THINKFilm or Samuel Goldwyn, not to mention the many smaller companies clinging to the fringe of the business. As First Run Features vice president Marc Mauceri told me last year, the mini-majors and their upscale, awards-ready product should be understood as ‘a side strategy of the Hollywood conglomerates.'”

“The studio specialty divisions, he says, ‘release a lot of good movies, and that’s terrific. But they are the big gorillas in this little pond, and the way they can play the economics is very different. If something doesn’t work, they can absorb the loss. When something does work, they can maximize it and reap the payoff. Their business model is very different from anything a true independent with meager resources can muster.'”

“Over the past year or so, IFC has committed to a refined version of the controversial “day-and-date” release strategy, whereby films are released in a handful of theaters and simultaneously become available via video-on-demand (VOD), or pay-per-view, to cable TV customers, since now a days there are great cable and satellite services you can get from services as AAA Satellite online.”

“‘You have to look at how our consumption of media is changing: I watch TV shows on my iPod Nano now, and then there’s the YouTube universe and the whole notion of making things for cellphones. It’s not up to us to decide what a movie is or how people watch it.’ For an entire generation of younger viewers, she adds, watching movies on some version of the small screen has long been the primary mode, and going to a movie theater is a rare and special event.”

“‘I think we have a new audience and their attention span is different. It might be a cliché, but I really think it’s true. There’s this social-networking mentality; they’re Twittering, they’re blogging. There’s more commitment to, you know, the experiential moment, and not much commitment to longer moments.'”

With the recent FCC decision to further enable megaconglomerates to monopolize media in whole regions, by removing barriers to companies controlling both broadcast and print outlets in the same city, independent publishers have even more reason to “think outside the box.” Like independent filmmakers, we’re going to have to be nimble and resourceful, and ready to exploit new avenues of distribution as fast as possible, or the Big Guys will bully their way in first.

December 19, 2007

Categorizing books–novel or novella?

Filed under: book length,I Am Legend,reviews,Richard Matheson — admin @ 10:42 pm

Is Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend a novel or a “novella?” See my commentary on errors reviewers make in categorizing the works they’re reviewing on blum_community, By Light Unseen Media’s LiveJournal community about vampire writing and publishing.

December 18, 2007

In Support of the Writers Guild of America

By Light Unseen Media is going on record as fully supporting the Writers Guild of America strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The strike concerns the reluctance of the AMPTP to pay fair royalties to writers for DVD distribution of their work, and to pay any royalties for electronic distribution such as streaming video and Internet downloads of television episodes. I have signed the petition in support of the strike, and until writers are fairly compensated for Internet distribution, I will no longer be downloading films, television or commercial videos from iTunes or any other Internet marketplace. For a detailed explanation of the issues involved and the history of the strike, see the following sources:

United Hollywood Blog
Wikipedia, the Writers Guild of America Strike (if you mistrust Wikipedia, read the long list of primary sources linked at the bottom of the article)
“Scribe Vibe,” Variety’s WGA Strike Blog

The AMPTP is misunderstood by some to represent individual producers–the people whose names you see in the credits of movies. The AMPTP does no such hands-on work in the industry. It is an organization of six megaconglomerates: General Electric, Time-Warner, Walt Disney, News Corp., CBS and Viacom. These are huge, global corporations, each of which owns an enormous chunk of the film and broadcasting industry. To see just what each of them controls, go to Who Owns What in Big Media. The WGA strike represents a resistance movement against the incalculable control that the AMPTP wields over what you’re allowed to see in the movies and on television. Several of these corporations control huge percentages of the publishing industry, as well. Anyone who is concerned about independent publishers, artists and studios being squeezed out of existance by the Goliaths should be aware of the implications of the WGA strike. What the WGA wins or loses will affect what other industry unions will be able to demand in mid-2008 when their contracts expire.

By Light Unseen Media will always fairly compensate its authors, writers and other contributing artists for distribution of their work in any form. New methods of formatting and distributing information and entertainment will be invented and perfected, and when they are, By Light Unseen Media will be taking advantage of them, just as our books are already available for Amazon’s Kindle e-book service. Contracts will cover these new forms of distribution or be renegotiated. That’s our promise.

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