Posts from Film

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.


Flip Cam Fun

It's Josh's 13th birthday today. He's a valentines day baby.

We spent his birthday skiing and boarding in Keystone Colorado where we are staying with our friends Brad and Amy.

The Gotham Gal and I gave Josh a flip cam for his birthday and he's having a lot of fun with it.

This video is telling on several levels:

Concentration from fredwilson on Vimeo.


We Live In Public

I was asked at some point early last year to sit for an interview with a woman named Ondi Timoner. I wasn't exactly sure what it was for but I knew it had to do with the NYC Internet scene in the late 90s and Josh Harris. So I found myself sitting in a tiny greenwich village apartment with a camera on me answering questions from Ondi. It was an interesting experience but I quickly forgot about it.

Then when I was getting ready for the web 2.0 keynote on the history of the NYC web business, Josh Harris contacted me and suggested I use some of Ondi's footage in my talk which you can see here. When I first saw that footage I knew that Ondi had something special on her hands.

Yesterday I saw the news, via twitter, that Ondi's film, called We Live In Public, won the Sundance award for best documentary. That's fantastic news for Ondi and Josh who really wanted to see this movie made.

Here's the trailer for the film:

We Live In Public TRAILER from We Live in Public on Vimeo.

I am certainly going to see this film when it plays in NYC. If you are interested in the early days of the Internet and the guy who invented a lot of the stuff we now take for granted (streaming audio, streaming video, self publishing, etc), then you might also enjoy the film.

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