View this email in your browser
Sub-Genre Media Newsletter:
Weekly musings on indie film, media, branded content and related items from Brian Newman.

In This Issue

Brian Newman & Sub-Genre Media


Past Newsletters


Keep Up With Brian:


This Turkey is Done

November 16, 2022

Thanksgiving is just over a week away, but it seems like half of the people I know are already leaving for early vacations, or have half-checked out of work by now, and I imagine most of my readers will be off of their emails by this weekend, so my Thanksgiving post runs today… because turkeys are what’s on my mind, anyways. 
Like this overcooked turkey we call the film business. Like a butterball, we have been pumping it full of juice for a couple of years now, hoping that by this Fall we’d have something tasty on our plates, only to realize once again that we’re celebrating a holiday based on a myth (I’m talking about both Thanksgiving and the Sundance acceptance announcements coming at the same time), and it’s never been as good as our memories of it. Yes, that’s the film business, too.
The business has done gone and blown up. It’s burned. It’s over, done, finished. As always, a lucky few are still toasting their success. But most of us are realizing that things are not getting better anytime soon. The streamers are laying off tons of people, and buying less. The offers from the distributors still standing aren’t nearing what we need to recoup our investor’s money. Everyone is too cautious, and won’t court any kind of controversy. Sales agents keep reporting that the market is soft, and will get better by… pick a month (right now, they pick January). Yadda Yadda.
I had drinks last week with a well-known, prolific producer who has been through many cycles of this mad business, and who is doing pretty well at it to this day. But they reported that every 48 hours they were coming up with a new scheme for how to succeed in the current moment – meaning none of their previous ideas were working. Most of these ideas centered on lowering budgets dramatically, and trying to read the tea-leaves of what the streamers might do in three weeks, much less three months. I had lunch yesterday with a prolific doc producer who reported much the same – cutting budgets, guessing what direction the market might take next, but also convinced that something bigger needs to change.
Depressing stuff, perhaps, but neither was drowning their sorrows. They were both still having the time of their lives making a few movies they really loved and believed in, and the sentiment wasn’t anywhere near giving up. Instead, it was about burning it all down. Ok, not burning it down, really, as that never works when you try it, and the system seems to be doing that to itself already. But building something new – that enables us to do an end run around the gatekeepers and find a better way to make the films we love and bring them to audiences – with an emphasis on the latter being the place where we need a solution. Stat. And that now is the time to do it. When the economy is teetering, and things are falling apart, and chickens are running around without heads, that’s when it’s the right time to build the next big idea.
I find that those big ideas often come when you unplug from the day job and the grind, and as you recover from excess, and are laying half comatose on your couch, trying to avoid your family post-Holiday. And guess what – we will be in that state come next week. Use it to dream up some wacky ideas, and start prepping those ideas to bring to market post New Years. Because I suspect that right around the time we all get to Sundance (and then Berlin), people will have collectively realized nothing has changed, and the smart money will be ready for the new ideas, the new business plans, the new creative directions. I’m ready for them now, and hoping to use the slow time of the next month (this entire business disappears between Thanksgiving and New Years, and again come August, making you wonder how anything gets done… oh, that’s right, it doesn’t) to meet with other’s scheming the next big thing. It should be fun. So, let’s jointly figure out what replaces this turkey, because it’s done.
In the meantime – I’ll likely post a newsletter next week, in spite of the Holiday, but in case I don’t – enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Stuff I'm Reading


Long Story Short, from Kickstarter: Attention Doc and Narrative filmmakers: Start planning for Long Story Short, Kickstarter’s annual celebration of bold and brilliant short films and the visionaries who make them. Between now and March 2023, Kickstarter will share resources for short-form filmmakers. Then, in March, they’ll promote shorts in Kickstarter newsletters, on social media, and more. (GSH)

Announced this week: IDA Doc Awards & Cinema Eye Honors Nominations: The international Documentary Association nominations have been announced for its 38th annual IDA Doc Awards with National Geographic/ Neon Film’s Fire of Love leading the pack. Head to this link for a list of all the nominees across multiple Doc categories. The IDA Doc Awards will take place Dec 10, 2022. Also taking place this year is the 16th Cinema Eye Awards which honors nonfiction filmmaking. Fire of Love and The Territory lead the pack with 7 nominations each. Winners will be announced Jan 12, 2023. Head to this link for the complete list of nominees. (GSH) We're also super happy for the team behind The Reciprocity Project, which was co-produced by client REI Co-Op Studios, with Nia Tero and the Upstander Project, and which was nominated for two IDA Doc Awards! (BN)

Kodak announces it will hire hundreds to make film: Everything old is new again. In the last 6 years, Rochester New York’s staff at Scott’s Photo have barely been able to keep up with customers’ demand for film. Kodak responded by hiring over 300 people to work in their film factory, now running non stop. “People are digging cameras out of parent’s closets and wondering what all the fuss is about,” explains a Scott’s Photo salesman. The takeaway: Despite massive innovations in digital cameras and smartphones, shooting on film is making a comeback. Let’s see how long it’ll last. Rachel Neimi for Rochester’s Spectrum News 1 has the story.  (GSH)

Branded Content

ANNOUNCING: Brand Storytelling 2023 Official Selections: Jordan P. Kelley, Director of Content at Brand Storytelling announces the BrandStorytelling winners in a video here. “As a community advocating for… more investment in brands telling meaningful, informational, and entertaining stories to reach their audiences, we’re so grateful for all of the submissions we received, which to us are representative of a brand storytelling community that is growing larger and more effective year after year”, he writes. Official selections will be screened Jan 18-21 in Park City, Utah. And thank you Jordan for reprinting last week’s Sub-Genre Newsletter about brands and curation on the BrandStorytelling website. (GSH) Note also - Sub-Genre has three client films in the mix, from Stripe, GoDaddy and The Climate Pledge/Amazon (!!!). 

Creators Query Whether Platforms Punish Branded Content and Linking Out: Do the Instagram and TikTok algorithms systematically suppress the posts that make creators their money? Creators are complaining that posts they make in partnerships with a brand don’t receive the same visibility as their organic content. Catherine Perloff for Adweek writes that part of the problem is that “the interests of creators and platforms are not always aligned; when a brand pays a creator directly for promotion, the platform is losing out on potential advertising revenue. When a creator posts a link, a way to earn money via affiliate marketing programs, they encourage users to leave the platform.” The jury is still out about whether branded content is indeed suppressed in any form, but what’s clear is that “platform algorithms are block boxes [which] is causing mounting frustrations.” Generally, creators wish that the way they get views/make their money wasn’t such a mystery. Give Perloff’s article a read for the details. (GSH)

The Development In Ethics Across VR And AR In The Media: As immersive technologies grow and become just another part of our daily lives, numerous ethics concerns/questions arise. Head to Josh Wilson’s article for Forbes to check out what experts across multiple fields are saying. Here’re my takeaways: (1) Soon, we’ll be inhabiting numerous digital spaces across a decentralized landscape. How our data is tracked and our footprint monitored is a big question mark; (2) Experts must implement ethical AI practices to prevent human error (the consequences can be especially devastating in military/defense, law enforcement, corporate and national security); (3) Diversity can’t be an afterthought. Ensuring diversity across these burgeoning industries is key to creating safe spaces in the (virtual and real) world. “True equality is reached by acknowledging the presence of differences and striving to reach truly equal ways… I think we have a genuine opportunity to do that across these new digital areas (Amina Alsherif, founder of Data Ethics Consortium For Security, former Google Engineer, and former member of Joint Special Operations Community).” (GSH)

Vox’s short-form video strategy faces TikTok’s monetization issue, but fulfills publisher’s ‘civic duty’: Vox Media’s short-form vertical video projects don’t earn them revenue on TikTok. And they’re not the only publisher not making money off of the entertainment/social media app. Why? Because while there’s an economic model for individual creators on TikTok, it just doesn’t exist for publishers yet. But according to Emily Anderson, VP of Vox Video, not every video project needs to earn out. For now, their vertical short-form videos are mainly being used in an altruistic way: “We don’t know what the business plan is there, but we know that [TikTok hosts] a young, huge audience and it’s really important to get good journalism in front of them,” she explains. Kayleigh Barber for Digiday has the news. (GSH)

What the hell is going on at Twitter?: Musk continues to turn Twitter upside down. In case you missed it, he’s already fired top executives and laid off 50% of Twitter’s staff, and since his takeover, the platform has seen a surge in hate speech (there was a 500% increase in the use of the n-word since his takeover). Then he went on to charge users a fee of $8/month to keep their blue verification check mark badges. Initially designed to make sure people are who they say they are online, the blue check marks are virtually meaningless now – Musk got rid of ID verification from Twitter Blue, meaning, anyone who pays $8 a month can pretend to be someone else, with a check mark next to their name. Sadly, Musk’s move will make it harder for Twitter users to find trustworthy information. Here’s what you should know moving forward: (1) Twitter is being sued for failing to notify employees of layoffs; (2) Hate speech on Twitter is scaring brands away from advertising; (3) Despite him meeting with civil rights groups like NAACP, Anti-Defamation League, and Color of Change, civil rights leaders from these groups said he failed to hold true to his promises, to which he replied that “activist groups…destroy free speech in America”; (4) Twitter is considering entering the payments business (think PayPal); (5) Twitter may have people pay for “high risk” video content (adult videos?); (6) Twitter might bring back Vine, the beloved short form video app that Twitter acquired and shut down years ago. Shirin Ghaffary for Vox brings us the news. (GSH)

GSH = Articles written by Sub-Genre's Gabriel Schillinger-Hyman, not Brian Newman (BN)
Like This Newsletter? Subscribe & Past Issues
Copyright © 2022 Brian Newman, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.