As a member of the Producer’s Guild of America (PGA), I attended our annual “Produced By” Conference yesterday at Fox Studios. It’s a gathering of producers from feature films, television, digital media, special effects, commercials, and more, all discussing changes in the industry, projects we’re focusing on, and especially to hear from industry leaders about what’s happening in today’s changing media world.
Since so many creatives and filmmakers read my blog, I thought I’d share a few highlights that resonated with me. These are good examples of how top producers are thinking right now, and what you should be exploring as well.
First of all, who was there attending and speaking:
Major motion picture studios and distributors like Fox, Warner Brothers, Universal, Lionsgate, Dreamworks, etc…
Major TV networks and producers are here as well – Universal TV, Fox Broadcasting, NBC, Starz, HBO, AMC, Sundance TV, etc..
And the significant digital platforms – HULU, Amazon Studios, Netflix, YouTube, Awesomeness TV, etc…
What were they talking about?
The biggest discussion was producing for emerging platforms and audiences. The feeling among many is that the big-budget tentpole movie ecosystem operates on it’s own, so the place for producers and filmmakers to engage is on the emerging digital and broadcast platforms. A good example is the critically acclaimed original productions being created by HULU, Netflix, STARZ, and others. That’s where so much of the most innovative dramatic and documentary films and series are being produced these days.
As a result, almost every session focused very little on mainstream traditional theatrical features, and were really zeroed in on how that traditional world along with the digital world are continuing to merge, and the implications for filmmakers.
And many of these issues are things passionate filmmakers should address – for instance, Jeffrey Hirsch, COO of STARZ, cited an FCC statistic that 22% of the African-American audience is engaging media programming on a mobile device only. That’s a significant audience most producers are missing.
This is so important because on a regular basis I see creative filmmakers failing simply because they don’t understand how the industry works, or where it’s going.
The bottom line is that we can’t define the media worlds as “film,” “TV,” “Radio,” or “Digital Media” anymore. The convergence has picked up speed and programmers and filmmakers need to define their projects across all those platforms. Which is why we need to continue encouraging all creative filmmakers to change our thinking towards where the media world is moving, rather than where it’s been.