Magazine article Screen International

Online Revolution: Techtonic Shifts

Magazine article Screen International

Online Revolution: Techtonic Shifts

Article excerpt


Colin Brown highlights 12 online services aspiring to assist with everything from financing and rights management to screenings and networking.

* C4

* Cinando

* Eventival

* Festival Scope

* Indieloop

* Kinonation

* Mediapeers / DL3 Media Store

* Olffi

* Rightstrade

* Rightsline Software

* Score Revolution

* Slated

The extent to which tech culture has seeped into film industry consciousness will become evident this month with the release of Danny Boyle's highly anticipated Steve Jobs. Unlike so many Hollywood biopics, this is not your typical life-spanning chronicle designed to show greatness in the making. Instead, Aaron Sorkin's screenplay examines Apple's iconic leader through the backstage events leading up to three seminal keynote presentations. Not only have tech titans become household stars, it seems that even their product launches are considered sexy enough for film audience consumption. Tech is very much the mainstream now and Hollywood is happily riding in its global wake.

Indeed, Boyle's film arrives at something of a watershed moment in terms of cinema's relationship with those start-up entrepreneurs bent on creative destruction and business disruption. Four years ago - just weeks after Jobs succumbed to pancreatic cancer - Screen profiled more than a dozen business-to-business websites that had sprung up to address the industry's various operational pain-points. In contrast to their belligerent peers in Silicon Valley, these pioneers all started out cautiously. They had good reason for tiptoeing around industry conventions and playing nice with the film hierarchy. To talk openly of predictive data analytics being applied to storytelling, for example, or of synthesising face-to-face sales meetings through online exchanges was to attack the romantic, humanistic core of cinema. But go to an industry reception today and you are just as likely to be serenaded with the elevator pitch for the next Airbnb or Uber-inspired concept as you are for the next Imitation Game.

"Four years ago, if you told people you were building an online marketplace, you would get a response akin to 'great idea, it will never work!'," observes Steven Polster, CEO of media licensing company RightsTrade. "Today, the scepticism has nearly evaporated. Some of the same clients who swore they would never be comfortable listing their 'avails' are now our biggest supporters."

Up in the cloud

Certainly, based on interviews with the CEOs and founders of many of the same companies Screen profiled four years ago, it is clear that cloud-based tools and platforms are now firmly woven into the industry fabric. Professional livelihoods no longer feel as threatened. "For the most part the companies we work with, large and small, embrace new technology - so long as it solves their problems," says Rob Delf, CEO of Rightsline Software.

However, there remains a wellspring of residual fears, particularly among the incumbent players. "There's a lot of mistrust from content owners that we have inherited from older industry practices where many people got burned with empty promises," says Klaus Badelt, the film composer who also co-founded the self-described 'Super VoD aggregator' Kinonation. "You need to make everyone comfortable on this ride, and resist the urge to pull the rug from under them, no matter how exciting the revolution is. …

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