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Sub-Genre Media Newsletter:
Semi-frequent musings on indie film, media, branded content and related items from Brian Newman.

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Brian Newman & Sub-Genre Media

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En el Séptimo Día

No real op-ed musings this week - I'm just back from vacation and too relaxed to write too much, but lots of news to link to below. But I will use this space to plug a film everyone should see. 

 En el Séptimo Día, by Jim McKay, opens in NYC this week and next week in LA. I don’t usually plug film openings, but I’ve long been a fan of every film Jim makes, and will think less of you as a person if you don’t go see this film.

Go see it: The info:
Opens Friday, June 8 at IFC CENTER (Manhattan): 12:45pm, 2:50pm, 5:00pm, 7:15pm, 9:25pm
BAM Rose Cinemas (Brooklyn): 2:00pm, 4:30pm, 7:00pm, 9:30pm
Q&A w/ director and cast at IFC 7:15pm show FRI and SAT.
Q&A w/ director and cast at BAM 4:30pm show SUN and 7pm show WED.
Opening in Los Angeles on June 15 at Laemmle Music Hall

Stuff I'm Reading

What I’m Reading: Film
Atom Tickets has launched a free ticket rewards program, reports Variety, to compete with Fandango. My two cents – anything that rewards movie-goers for sharing films with other friends and fans is a good idea and is much needed in the space.  We need more ideas like this to compete alongside MoviePass.
New festival – Filmmaker and long-time, recently-ousted MountainFilm Telluride Film Fest head, David Holbrooke has partnered with Nancy Shafer, who founded SXSW and also ran the Tribeca Film Festival, to launch the Original Thinkers Festival in Telluride Colorado. The Telluride Daily Planet has more info on the plans. My two cents – two stellar people with great ideas, so this is surely going to be good. I like that it’s not just a film fest, but a festival of ideas, and they only sell as many tickets/passes as there are seats, so everyone gets to attend every event, and everyone will be in the loop on the conversations around the films and speakers – no FOMO. Nice idea.
Mind Control a Film: That’s right, MIT Technology Review reports that Richard Ramchurn’s latest film, The Moment, lets viewers control what the edits, and what they see, via means of their brain’s sine waves and attention. You wear an EEG headset, and in theory everyone who watches the film sees a different cut. It’s playing on a tour where a group of people can watch it in a special trailer, and also at the Sheffield Doc Fest (even though it’s not a doc, it’s in their tech section). My two cents: While I’m a little skeptical of EEG mind games – people use this in advertising to claim that certain ads work best, for example – and the trailer is atrocious, it’s a super cool experiment, and I can’t wait to hear reports about how it works for the audience.
Voice Control your TV: Your remote is dead. That’s right, Amazon’s new Fire TV Cube just killed it. My two cents: Like I said before, voice is the future, and it’s coming fast. Now you can use Alexa to order up The American’s via Amazon Prime, and while you’re at it, check the weather, order pizza from Seamless and watch those on your screen (while Alexa narrates them), and tell it to brew your coffee and change your thermostat and lower the lights at the same time (if you’ve connected to the IoT).
UK Doc Funding Controversy spills into the open – There’s been a fair bit of controversy over the way the BFI has changed its documentary funding this year. There’s a reduction in total funds available, they awarded ownership of the process to Doc Society (formerly BritDoc,), and there is now a cap of £80,000 on grants – where the BFI used to give North of £200,000+ to many projects. Most of the griping about this has been over beers at festivals and in hushed tones, as no one wants to piss off their funders, but Screen Daily has a nice article about it that’s worth a read for anyone in the doc sphere. My two cents: I’m friends with the Doc Society leadership, so I am biased here as to the issue of who should get to manage the award. But I am a firm believer that the notion – prevalent among many grant funders – that you should spread the wealth and give more grants of a smaller amount, should be retired. It’s what’s helping spread a major problem of an under-funded but overstocked field. I’d also like to see BFI increase it’s total dollar support for the sector, and hope that everyone involved listens to the criticisms and improves the program going forward – this discussion should be more transparent.
U2 still uses Film: Not the band, but the spy-plane. Who knew? The WSJ has a great story and video by Michael Phillips about how the military still uses old-fashioned Kodak film – large gauge, 6 inch long, 2 mile long rolls of film – yes, miles- to film the Earth from 70,000 feet in the sky, 250 miles in any direction. That’s all mind-boggling, so read the article and watch the film. But they still use film because film’s resolution still beats anything you can do with digital. My two cents: While this is some serious pro-military propaganda (kudos Pentagon PR team), it’s pretty thrilling to watch the film. I don’t think anyone’s ever shown the inside of a U-2 spy-plane before, and seeing the Kodak film being analyzed is a cool geek-out experience as well.
WSJ Photo- Michael Phillips
What I’m Reading: VR
Storytellers, especially in Hollywood have it wrong - Maybe we shouldn’t try to tell stories in VR at all. That’s the message from Curtis Hickman  of The Void. As he says, VR is interactive, and “a VR experience with a narrow story arc does nothing more than allow consumers to be passive observers to someone else’s agenda. “You can do that but you’re really missing out on the whole point,” he said (to The Drum) continuing: “Hickman and his colleagues advocate thinking of VR not as an extension of a TVC, but as a branded version of Dungeons & Dragons. “It’s a form of story where you have this dungeon master who is imparting a framework for a story and you have the players who are actively participating in the story,” he said. “Together, the group creates the story.” Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Brian Newman, All rights reserved.

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