Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Peter Guber's Class...

Each time I attend Peter Guber's class on new technology, I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm making Model T cars today, and next week, the media industry will be flying spaceships to Mars. Meaning, the big studio system of paying stars 20mil for a terrible movie is about to go down the drain. Yep, it's about to go down the drain. Like Communism, the movie industry is about to collapse onto itself, under the weight to chasing that elusive big hit. That mega blockbuster which pays for all of the crap they regularly produce. Tentpole's are what the industry calls them. Lords of the Rings meets The Titanic. One or two billion in sales worldwide. That lightening strike that makes stockholders happy, studio heads buy bigger breasts for their trophy wives, and a finer grade of drug for the talent.

But I think new media is about to kill all of this. Not with a knife thrust to the heart, but with tiny cuts. Small as paper cuts, but at strategic places in the business plan. Me? I'm hedging my bets both ways. I'll milk the established system and then use the cash they give me to move on into the 21st century. Cause no one ever got rich working for someone else. Unless you were the CEO of an oil company.


Danyel said...

hm. something to think about. more, please.

Lawrence said...

I think we have to stop thinking of ourselves as authors and screenwriters, and start looking at ourselves as content providers. That's clinical, unromantic, and downright depressing when you think about it, but unless we want to be left behind, we have to adjust.

We tend to write our books, sell 'em, and then hope our agent sells the rights, options them, etc. But what if we were able to exploit them ourselves? Or if we can't do it ourselves, what if we could sell the rights to someone who could, simply because there are more avenues to get straight to your audience? BET ain't buying original content, and god help us if they did. So for black folks, selling ones material is a limited proposition under the current media situation. But what about other types of emerging media? What are the opportunities there?

As content providers, we also have to ask ourselves: What are the new forms of content? We're familiar with the novel, screenplay format, but what is going to be the format for a ten minute film that is going to be seen on a mobile phone only? What's it going to look like for a youtube.com style website? To think it's going to be the same as writing for a movie meant to be seen on a big screen is a mistake. We have to think out of the box to come up with an experience that is revolutionary rather than redundant.

For black folks, what are we going to do with this technology? Are we going to be left behind or are we going to be in the vanguard. I think of this as HipHop Part Deux because entry into new media is relatively cheap, sort like getting a tape dupe and creating your own label. Who's going to create content that's easily obtainable, speaks to the Hip Hop audience, and is distributed via homegrown channels (ie. the digital version of the car trunk.).

Guber does a good job in his class of sounding the alarm. The guy's been everywhere and done everything (including founding my favorite 70s label Casablanca. Parliament baby!) and he talks about how if we don't act now and break out of our current mindset, we'll be left behind.

I thought about that from the minute I walked into UCLA. Guber just confirmed it. I'm determined to be a media mogul! lol And I'm going to fund my little media empire via the one biz folks have always used to make a little scrilla: the t-shirt biz. With that Matlock money, I'm going to explore pushing content to mobile phones, pushing education on demand via a website, and using film as a way to tell commercial and non-fiction stories.

I love being an author, and I love writing. But at the end of the day, I want to make sure that the content I produce gets to as many folks as possible, not just here in the US, but around the world (and by the way, film execs in the program have consistently told me that black films don't sell internationally. I think that's bullshit. But I'm not going to spend ten years trying to convince them. I'll simply do it myself and make all of the money.)