Amazing

Wow. What a day. No time now to put all the thoughts down but Wow – Everything was damn near perfect. Actors on point. Amazing crew. Practical effects on fire.

This was one of the best days of my life.

One more half day tomorrow then we are wrapped. Ill try and report back on the entire thing Monday.

Paving the Way for Internet TV

Oh, Internet Video. What a crazy, crazy beast you are!

Despite the new found public awareness, Internet Video is nothing new. Video content has been online for almost ten years. Back in the day it was crude and took forever to download. But it was also the start of Something Big.

I first uploaded my short films while in high school. Other young film makers watched and commented on them on the website LikeAStory (Ten points if you remember that site). Some knew back then that this was going to be important. Those in the porno industry were the first to fully adopt the new technology. They moved things along nicely in terms of compression and quality, but it took a while for the rest of the world to get computers and high speed Internet. Now, the state of the Internet, the Internet audience and Entertainment in general are all lined up and ready for the future. Hollywood is finally ready to step up.

Santa Claus is not going to drop off “Internet TV” one night to the children of the world. Like all other new mediums, it is going to evolve into something, that in 5 to 10 years, people will ask how they ever lived without. Two things are happening simultaneously that will eventually converge to create TV of the Future – The content and the hardware;

Production companies, headed by some big Hollywood names, are investing money to produce original online content. These shows are in a very early stage. They will be laughed at in five years when the full potential of Internet TV is realized. But they are absolutely vital in these infant years. They are demonstrating to the Internet public that an online series can work.

It’s “The Next Big Thing”.

At present, these original online shows are separate from what the established networks and Apple are doing. The major networks have their shows available on their websites and/or through iTunes in a half assed attempt to follow the trend. Until they are released in full screen and full quality the networks will have no chance of competing with what is coming. Apple, on the other hand, is following their software/hardware model they learned from the iPod to a T. Control the content and create the hardware and you are sure to make money.

The worlds of Apple TV and original online content will soon collide, bringing a new wave of Entertainment to the TV and Computer Screen. Right now there is no good option to find quality original online content. The content is scattered all over the Internet on Social Networking sites like MySpace and Facebook and Video Sites like YouTube, Revver and any other of the over 150 similar video portals. While there is not a lot of high quality content available, one of the major issues is that there is not an iTube sort of application to easily locate this new programming. Once more high quality content comes out, an easy way to find it all will be released. Then you can either beam it to your TV (By this time Apple will not be the only name in the game) or just watch it on your computer.

Sites like YouTube will forever be known as housing low quality content. A new name will emerge to be the central location for high quality content… A site similar to a cable Network that acquires content and pairs it up with advertisements. Once all of this happens, people will begin to throw out their cable boxes and tell Time Warner to fuck off (Words most of us have been dying to say for ages). This brings up a few major issues;

Bandwidth: If everyone gets their TV via the Internet we are going to need some large pipes and fast connections. That means we might need Time Warner’s services after all. That means they still have some control in all of this. And that makes the Internet not so Free. Which brings us to point two,

Regulation: The Internet is still fairly lawless. Once the masses are getting TV distributed via the Internet, however, I am sure the FCC will have a thing or two to say. For the next couple years I suspect (and encourage) a wave of very rash programing that will make South Park look like Sesame Street. Thats a good thing. Not to say the viewing public wants programming full of swears, sex and gallons of blood, but giving artists complete creative freedom with absolutely zero restrictions on content can create some incredible things.

There is a lot to figure out, but a very promising future lies ahead of us. It is up to us, the pioneers, to ensure that it is done correctly. It is up to us to make sure the same mistakes are not made like in the heyday of TV. Internet Based TV (And film) is a BIG deal. It’s the biggest thing going on in the Entertainment business. Those who look the other way now will be left in the dust as the future rolls over them.

In Response to “I want my Internet TV”

The Drunken Philosopher gave a lengthy reply to my short article last week. It is front page worthy, so am pasting it in here.

My one thought before I do – What happens when Apple is the new king of content? Do we want them to have the lock? Lets get some heavy competition going. iTunes is not the end all be all. Bad things happen when one person controls entertainment.

  1. The Drunken Philosopher Says:
    The future is here, and it goes by the name of iTunes. I remember reading somewhere that The Office would almost undoubtedly have been canceled if it hadn’t quickly become an immensely successful show on iTunes. Now with AppleTV, it’s really simple to watch all that content on your TV. I covered most of this territory already.Is it perfect? No. But it’s pretty damn good.The price point is a bit high, perhaps. You get to keep the episodes forever, but how many of those will you actually re-watch?–Actually, more than a few. South Park? Infinitely re-watchable. As was Arrested Development, if only it had been unleashed on iTunes. Even the older seasons of 24 are finally getting to the point where I can watch again and they feel fresh and exciting. But really, $24 for a season of commercial-free, watch-it-when-I-like South Park? Worth it.Perhaps Apple should explore the idea of ad-supported downloads in order to subsidize part/all of the download cost. iTunes is, more or less, the perfect medium through which to serve video ads; essentially a closed ecosystem, it would be possible to force a fullscreen ad to the top of a downloader’s screen at the time of downloading, then make them wait and click another button or enter a code or something after downloading ends, to start the download. Of course, that sort of system can always be gamed, so it’s probably a fools errand to try and implement it. And there’s always product placement to make up for some of the advertising revenue.

    Of course, the real dark horse could be streaming. I could totally envision a system where, for an extremely discounted rate (vs. the current cost of downloading) you are allowed to stream currently running shows for a limited amount of time. once you’ve paid your fee, just press a button on your AppleTV and-bingo-you’re watching last week’s 30 Rock. Charge $.99 per episode, or half that if you buy a season streaming pass. If they are smart–and Steve Jobs is no dummy–they’ll set up a way to make these purchases with the click of your AppleTV remote. Unfortunately, this level of functionality isn’t available yet, but it’s just a firmware update away.

    That’s the only real way that I see the price coming down in any significant manner. Problem is, iTunes currently competes more directly with Best Buy than they do with Time Warner-it’s all about replacing DVDs, not your not-so-friendly cable-tv provider. But they want to change that; AppleTV makes this desire clear, especially the wording of its marketing: “With AppleTV, Anytime is Primetime”. And if they really want to change it, they really, really need to start streaming current-run shows for a nominal fee. That way,they aren’t really at risk of cannibalizing the download sales. You can pick and choose: if you’d want to re-watch a show, you can still pay to download.

    Thus far, I’ve focused almost exclusively on the issue of cost, but there are other imperfections in the iTunes TV system, as it currently stands. For instance, no HBO shows. But if Apple plays their cards right, really gets behind AppleTV and creates an indispensable new paradigm for TV-content distribution… then it’s only a matter of time until HBO gets their act together and puts their shows on iTunes. Maybe at a higher price, but I’d pay 4 or 5 bucks per episode to download The Wire or Entourage, or 2 bucks to stream them.

    (N.B. Now that I’ve taken the time to write out this lengthy diatribe, I think I’ll have to also use it as a stand-alone post back on Drunken Philosopher)

New short film

Here is my latest film, Sunrise. It’s a 3 minute short shot here in Santa Monica. I’ll post the script if anyone wants to read it.

Andrea, the male lead, will be on ‘Til Death’ this Thursday so be sure to check him out there as well.

It was shot during morning magic hour (Around 6am) on a DVX-100a, edited on FCP.

Between web compression, YouTube and shooting by the ocean without a boom mic, some people are reporting it hard to hear every line that is said. Here is the diag. Again, if there are requests I’ll post the original script (which is a bit different).

Girl: What are you doing
Guy: I must be lost!
Girl: Did you take a turn a wrong turn into the ocean?… Where you headed?
Guy: Italy
Girl: Yah, that makes sense … you pack light
Guy: Most of my life is in storage
Girl: I know a great guy in storage
Guy: So did my wife.
Girl: Oh, is she is storage too?
Guy: More or less
Girl: I’m not having sex with you.
Guy: What?…. Good talking to you.
Girl: I could have him killed… Mr. Storage… Whoever he is.
Guy: Who says I want anyone killed?
Girl: Your eyes
Guy: Thats the salt from the ocean
Girl: Just say it
Guy: Say what
Girl: Say what… Don’t just throw away two years.
Guy: I’m sorry… I was wrong.
Girl: The next time you try to swim home, I’m going to let you
Guy: Now that I said sorry, will you do my laundry?
Girl: Yes, the joys of marrying a man in the self storage buisness
Guy: I hate you
Girl: I hate you too.

Lessons from Borat and The Future of Hollywood.

There was a great article in Mondays Variety about the success of Borat and it’s limited engagment opener, written by Gabriel Snyder and Ian Mohr. Without knowing it or directly saying it, the article is outstanding evidence for my death/rebirth of the Industry claims. Allow me to paraphrase what the article said:

Borat opened in 837 theaters and brought in $26.5 million. It grossed about $3 million from its 53 playdates in NYC, averaging $56,000 per theater. In L.A. it took in $3 million.

Fahrenheit 9/11 opened in 868 theaters and brought in $23.8 million. It played in 68 theaters in NYC, which generated $2.4 million, an average of $30,000. In L.A. it grossed $2.2 in its opener at 53 theaters.

Saw III opened to 33.6 million in 3,167 theaters where the top 1,535 theaters brought in 30.2 million. The remaining 1,632 theaters brought in 3.3 million.

Mission Impossible III opened to 47.7 million in 4,045 theaters. 43 million came from the top 1,469 theaters and the other 2,585 brought in 4.8 million which is “an average of $1,847 per location — barely more than what it costs a studio to manufacture and ship a film print.”

“The lesson is that you don’t have to have all these screens to do big business,” said a studio distrib topper. Or, as another studio distrib prexy said, “It just goes to show that anything over 1,500 (theaters) is crazy.”

Where does this leave us? It leaves us with closing down 50% (Or more) of the theaters across the U.S. The money comes in from the top 1,500 theaters so why try to push it elsehwhere? What is the point in maybe getting your money back on the print (And the risk of not)?

Can anyone in the audiance think of a way to get the films to the audiances far from those 1,500 theaters? Need I tell you? Can I put it in really big bold letters? Naw, I’ll just keep drilling it into peoples heads.

The Internet.

The Death of DVD

Before the decline in movie theaters we will see the death of DVD. This will be happening in the next year or so as broadband gets faster, cheaper and more prevalent. Currently people are hesitant about legally downloading films, similar to when legal music downloading first started. The transition to digital distribution is a vital one and one that is being mostly ignored. The entertainment Bigwigs are stuck in their old ways (Which made them rich) and are afraid of the Internet. But DVDs will be going away before Blue Ray or HDDVD have a chance to finish their format war.

DVDs are incredibly inefficient. First of all their physical space is a problem. They are big, and if you have a collection of a significant size they are a burden. All the packaging and waste they create is another problem. Beyond that is the issue of obtaining the DVD. You have to drive and go get it, or you have to wait for NetFlix to deliver it. Either way, a very considerable effort (in this modern age anyway) has to be exerted to watch a movie. You can get some movies on Pay Per View, but it is limited and you don’t own it. Finally, DVDs scratch and get lost. Scratch a DVD and there goes 20 bucks. You can’t scratch the Internet ….

Once broadband catches up more, every film ever made will be available for download. This will allow for viewing on a computer or a home entertainment system. Either way, there will be near-instantaneous access to an incredible amount of content. No more waiting in line, or waiting for your NetFlix queue, or discovering that what you want is out of stock. It will always be waiting. Film collections will move from the wall racks to hard drives. DVD collections will go to the same place that CD collections have disappeared to – Lawn sales. While HD DVD and Blue Ray continue to battle each other, Internet distribution is sneaking in and taking over. This will be the last Christmas of DVDs.

Extra features and all that jazz will come too, and there are opportunities to do things that you can’t with a DVD. For instance what if directors did live commentary over a movie? It would be a special event where people would watch and they could ask questions via a chat room and the director would answer over the films audio track. That’s just be the beginning of the possibilities that Internet distribution opens up.

I see two models working for distribution that would work. The first is you pay the set price, probably $19.99, and download whatever movie you want. It is stored on your hard drive and a digital rights management program will prevent or limit it from being burned or shared. Devices will quickly be on the market allow for easy transportation of the digital file. This will be essential so that the movies can be played beyond your home. High capacity flash cards or USB memory sticks will act as movie players and hook up to TVs via standard analog and HMDI. With Apple on the forefront of this flavor of distribution, expect an iPod with this capability in time for Christmas ’07.

The second distribution model would be totally Internet based. You buy a movie and it streams live. Perhaps it is cheaper and only active for a certain period of time, or it is full price and you can access it forever. Some issues of sharing would again have to be figured out. Through this model you own rights to watch the movie, but you don’t actually own it. But you should be able to play it at a friend’s house. Someone needs to figure out how to make that work. Also, in order for people to trust this, since they don’t have a physical object or even a file on their hardrive, a big name Internet company might need to get the ball rolling. Google would be the perfect company to do this and perhaps they already have something in the works.

Searching Google for the death of DVD doesn’t bring much up. There is one article that says Bill Gates has declared the death of DVD as well. It didn’t go into much detail and Gates isn’t known for making the best technology predictions. Why is it that no one is thinking or talking about this?

I brought the subject up with some friends of mine while out on Sunset the other night. They wouldn’t buy it. They do not see DVDs going anywhere anytime soon. Perhaps in five years they thought, but no way in one year. But consider how stagnant the Entertainment industry has been technology-wise. The only change has been digital projection which isn’t all that different nor is it causing any sort of large scale change or revolution (There is the view that movies will be sent to theaters via the Net which is likely to happen). My friends did not see their DVD collection going completely digital, even though their music collections have done just that. “Would you have thought your entire music library would be digital five years ago?” “No.” The change with movies is not going to take nearly as long as it did with music since much of the way has been paved with the digital music revolution. File sharing is here to stay and it can be used to make a lot of money.

Whether you want to acknowledge it or not ‘times they are a changing’. Embrace the new or end up at the lawn sale.

Get ready for the death of the DVD.

1.65 BILLION Dollars

Just think about that sum of money for a moment. One point six five BILLION DOLLARS. Why didn’t I make YouTube instead? I’m sad now. Everyone had this damn idea. Sure there are a lot of important things to talk about after this huge purchase by Google – The impact on internet video, the future of film and entertainment, but all I can think about is 1.65 Billion Dollars!

Can someone loan me a few million?

New Short Film

Check out my new short film, called Burn.

I shot this at the end of the school year on a DVX100a. It was supposed to be a 15 minute short but due to graduation and some other things it never got finished. I decided to edit something together with what I had, and this is it.

The original script for the ‘full’ short is available to read in PDF form. You can grab that here.

Let me know what you think.