Posts from Film

Video of the Week: Kevin Spacey at the Edinburgh Television Festival

I suspect most of you have seen this by now. It's been coming at me for the past 10 days from all angles. I must have had it sent to me a dozen times and I've come across it in social media another dozen times. But that's because it is spot on and excellent.

This is a 5min edited summary of the talk. For the full thing, go here.

Video Of The Week: Cliff Chenfeld on Media Reporter

My friend Cliff Chenfeld recently appeared on the Media Reporter TV show. Cliff has been in the entertainment business for over 25 years and he talks about the changes he has seen in the music industry, film, sports, and other entertainment sectors. It’s about 30 minutes long and worth a watch/listen.

Fun Friday: Best Entertainment This Year So Far

The idea for today's fun friday comes from Tyrone who wrote this in an email to me this week:

fun friday idea: best entertainment this year across the board, albums, films, series, sites, youtube channels etc?

For me, the answer is the NBA playoffs (though the result bums me out), This Is The End (the jonah hill exorcism is hysterical), and my favorite records of the year so far are Lysandre, Modern Vampires Of The City, Random Access Memories, Mala, and Isles.

What are your favorite entertainment moments of the year so far?

The Veronica Mars Movie

There's an interesting project that launched on Kickstarter this week. The creator of the cult TV show Veronica Mars and the lead actress have launched a project to make The Veronica Mars Movie. In one day, the project has raised $2.5mm (as of 6:15am eastern). This is $500k more than the project goal of $2mm meaning the film will be shot this summer. It is also the largest film project on Kickstarter ever. The previous biggest film project on Kickstarter was around $800k.

This project is interesting in a number of ways. First of all, it shows that film projects can raise real budgets. I know you can make a film on $800k. But when you can raise $2.5mm (likely a lot more as this project has another 29 days to go), then you do a lot more with a film project.

But it is also interesting to see the power of a loyal audience. Veronica Mars was a cult TV show. It only ran two years. But it had a rabid fan base. And those fans are coming out in droves to make this movie a reality. There have been over 40,000 backers in the past day (including me).

The rewards they came up with are also worth checking out. One fan paid $10,000 for a speaking role in the movie. All of the expensive and limited rewards categories sold out very early on in the project. That tells you something right there.

Like the big gadget and video game projects that hit Kickstarter last year, this will likely open a lot of eyes to the power of the crowdfunding model. Financing your project via your loyal fans opens up a lot of possibilities to the producer, including creative control and distribution control. I suspect this will lead to a lot more creativity and experimentation than has been possible with the studio model. And that is a very good thing.

fredwilson.tv

At the top of this blog, in the nav header, you will see "TV". This is new. When you click on it, you will go to fredwilson.tv. This is also new.

fredwilson.tv is a linear feed of videos that are pulled from AVC, fredwilson.vc, and my twitter feed and shown in reverse chronological order (from when I posted them). You can click on the play button and start watching/listening. They will keep playing until you've had enough. You can click on the arrows on the far left and far right to fast forward or rewind. If you move the mouse, the controls will come up from the bottom and you will get info on what is playing, where it came from, and what is next.

fredwilson.tv is powered by shelby.tv. At the bottom of the shelby homepage, it says "create your own TV network". If you want something like this for your .tv page, shelby can power yours too.

I would like to thank Reece, Dan, and the entire shelby team for building this. I've been mentoring the shelby team since they landed in techstars a couple years ago. I've hung out with them, the Gotham Gal and I have had dinner with them, and in general I've tried to help them when and how I can. They are an awesome group of people and I am proud to be hosting fredwilson.tv on their platform.

In a lot of ways, fredwilson.tv is continuing the tradition of fredwilson.fm (you get to that from the Radio link on the nav bar). fredwilson.fm was launched four or five years ago on the streampad technology built by Dan Kantor and sold to AOL. Sadly fredwilson.fm is borked and has been for the past week. I am trying to find a good replacement for streampad which seems broken and I can't get any response from AOL when I email them for help. If anyone has any good ideas for fredwilson.fm, I am all ears.

Amour

The two best films of 2012 that I saw were both French films with subtitles, Amour, which I saw last night with the Gotham Gal, and The Intouchables, which we saw when it came out last summer.

The Intouchables is a joyous film about two people in need coming together to enrich each others' lives. It is uplifting.

Amour is not. It is a gut wenching account of an elderly husband caring for his dying wife. The film made me deeply uncomfortable. There were scenes I couldn't even bring myself to watch.

It is said that great art makes you uncomfortable and if that us true Amour is great art. I dreamed about the movie and woke up with it on my mind. I am blogging about it now. I can't get it out of my brain so I am hoping that by writing it down I can move on.

Amour means love and I guess caring for a dying spouse is the greatest act of love one can make. I can tell you that I am not looking forward to that part of our marriage and I got a fast forward to it last night. It was painful but ultimately deeply moving and powerful.

I would say you should go see it but honestly you might not want to. I am not sure I would have chosen to see it had I known what I was in for. But I am glad I did.

Lincoln

The Gotham Gal and I saw Lincoln yesterday. I would encourage everyone, certainly every american citizen, to see it. Spielberg creates a time machine via the magic of film. And Daniel Day-Lewis' portrayal of Lincoln is masterful. I feel like I got to spend 2 1/2 hours with my favorite President yesterday.

We all know the stories we were told in elementary school about the heroic President who went to war with his own country in order to save it. We all know his speeches and about his upbringing in a one room log cabin. That was enough to make Lincoln a hero of mine since childhood.

But what Spielberg and Day-Lewis capture is Lincoln's masterful manipulation of the american political system to cause it to do things considered impossible by both sides, most notably the passage of the 13th amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery once and for all.

The film is based loosely on Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team Of Rivals which is about Lincoln's political genius. I haven't read that book but I am certainly most tempted to after watching Lincoln.

But more than anything, the film conveys the greatness of this man. In the scene where he lies in his deathbed after the doctor declares the fight for his life over, you get a sense that Lincoln was a saint sent to our country in a time of need. There's also this one scene I can't get out of my head where he sits in the telegraph room trying to figure out what to tell Grant about the delegation from Richmond. He wonders outloud about his purpose and God's role in it.

The history of the United States is one where the right person showed up in times of need. Washington, Lincoln, FDR. We have been blessed to have heroic leaders in our most difficult moments. If you want to get a real sense of Lincoln's greatness, go see the movie. It is terrific.

3D Movies

I've been to a bunch of 3D movies now. It seems to be all the rage in the movie theaters these days. I have to say that I am not a fan. I have yet to go to a 3D movie where I didn't want to take the glasses off and watch in 2D. That doesn't work, but I sure wish it did. And I've been to the films that people say are the best of the 3D medium (Avatar, Hugo). So it's not that I haven't been to the right films. I just don't think 3D improves the experience in any meaningful way.

What's worse is that 3D films cost more to see in the theaters than 2D films so you get a worse experience for more money. And judging by trailers I've seen in the theaters recently, it seems that Holywood is using 3D as an excuse to reissue some old favorites with a 3D facelift. 

I feel like 3D is a gimmick. One the other hand the new HD display technologies like OLED and quad-HD are getting us to crisper and higher definition displays that produce some of the same effects of 3D without the gimmicky stuff.

I'm hoping 3D will turn out to be a fad and that wearing glasses in the theater (and god forbid at home) will be something we look back on in ten years and say "did we really do that?"

Scarcity Is A Shitty Business Model

The Gotham Gal has been under the weather this weekend. Last night we made soup for dinner and decided to sit on the couch and watch a movie and go to bed early. After dinner, we fired up Boxee and checked out Netflix. Nothing good there. Then we fired up the Mac Mini and checked out Amazon Instant Video. Nothing good there. Then we went to the Cable Set Top Box and checked out movies on demand. Nothing good there. Frustrated and unwilling and uninterested in heading to a "foreign rogue site" to pirate something good, we watched a TV show and went to bed.

Making movies is expensive and risky. I totally get that the studios need to make a lot of money on those movies to make their business model work.

But denying customers the films they want, on the devices they want to watch them, when they want to watch them is not a great business model. It leads to piracy, as we have discussed here many times, but more importantly it also leads to the loss of a transaction to a competing form of entertainment.

We would have paid good money to watch Sherlock Holmes or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But it simply was not an option. So we went with a TV show that was free and then went to bed.

I am sure there was a time when scarcity was a good business model for the film industry. And I am sure that many of the leaders of the film industry came of age during that time. I understand their muscle memory in terms of the scarcity business model. But restricting access to content is a bad business model in the age of a global network that costs practically nothing to distribute on.

I've argued this point many times with film executives. They insist that they need their windows. They argue they need to manage access to their films to extract every last dollar from the market. That just doesn't make sense to me. If they went direct to their customers, offered their films at a reasonable price (say $5/view net to them), and if they made their films available day one everywhere in the world, I can't see how they wouldn't make more money.

I understand that many participants in the broader film ecosystem might do worse under this model. And I understand that moving to such a model will cause great disruption and pain to the broader film industry. But the studios themselves are likely to do better in a direct distribution model where they reach a broader market at lower effective prices to the end customer. This is what happens in digital distribution. Prices come down, markets expand, customers see lower prices and broader availability. Producers do better. Everyone else does worse.

But for some reason the fim industry doesn't want to move to the new model. They want to stick with scarcity. So they lost a transaction last night. And they lose transactions every night, to piracy, to competing forms of entertainment, and possibly to apathy brought about by frustration. Such a shame.

Fun Friday: Movie Recommendations

We've been going back and forth between Feature Friday and Fun Friday the past few weeks. I like them both. So we'll continue to go back and forth between the two on fridays. Today is Fun Friday and I thought we'd trade movie recommendations with each other. The holidays are coming up. Downtime with family is around the corner. And one of the things the Gotham Gal and I like to do during downtime with family is go to the movies.

So I'd like everyone to share a movie review with us (one you posted or one you read) or alternatively a movie that is in the theaters that you want to go see, or both.

My movie review is courtesy of my partner Albert, who saw Hugo with his mom and kids. You should read the entire review, but Albert summarizes it with:

Overall, one of the best movies I have seen with the kids in a long time.  It works for both kids — based on enchantment — and for adults through the many references to movie making sprinkled throughout.  Also, unlike the empty entertainment calories of so many kids movies, this one leaves a lot of lingering impressions and many points to revisit in subsequent conversation.

Let the fun begin.