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:


Fall Frenzy

Sept 21, 2021 (written Sept 18)

It’s the start of Fall today, and in the film world (maybe everywhere?), that usually means it’s the time when everyone starts to get busy. Everyone’s just taken off most of August (nice, right?!), the Fall festivals are starting, and everyone wakes the f- up and gets busy - the Fall Frenzy. That’s always the case, but this year feels like everyone, and everything, is on hyperdrive. I hear about new, game changing ideas being launched just about every day. Brand clients are closing deals for amazing films – and with some of the most exciting projects I’ve seen in years of doing this. Filmmakers seem busier than ever. Execs I know are starting new projects, or switching to new jobs. Mergers are happening left and right. For a select group of people – things are on fire.
Granted, as just hinted, there’s an entire segment of people in the world who continue to suffer from the pandemic. I don’t mean to belittle that reality. This pandemic has increased that great divide. We need to work on that, too.  And in fact, we need more media and films about it – because the Right is dead-set on minimizing the realities, and on not moving forward anything politically that would help those being left behind. And as The Guardian points out in an article linked below, most of the films (especially Hollywood ones) so far, have been very focused on those who were rich, and not as affected. So, please forgive the upbeat assessment here – I don’t mean to be tone deaf.
But, in general, in the film, media and related industries – Fall is shaping up to be quite interesting. Many people I know are finally launching things they’ve been developing during the long, ongoing covid times. They’ve been ruminating on projects, and plans are coming together. I know this is true for me, but I’m more excited by what I’m hearing from others. I am reminded of this same time period in Fall, 2019, when I wrote this newsletter piece – Get While the Gettin’s– because that was another time of froth, when there was a dichotomy in the market, but a ton of people were launching new things. Of course, it’s good to remember that piece was written just months before Covid hit the world and slowed us down. So, plan ahead for bumpy waters, but we’re at another one of those moments where exciting things seem to be happening. 
It’s a time to move away from anything that isn’t working, and embrace new things that are working, or might. I’ve done this recently – some great ideas I had just weren’t moving forward. They were hard to jettison but doing so opened up better opportunities. It’s also a time to turn brief opportunities into deeper builds – meaning shore up the infrastructure while times are good. Take advantage of the frothy environment because it never lasts. 
Back in the Summer, I pointed out that the kids were saying, the summer was going in the Bible. “As Sofia Pace said to the NYT (alluding to a meme online) in my favorite quote of this year – “This summer in New York is going in the Bible.” “That’s the best way that I can describe how people my age are looking at it, that it’s going in the Bible,” Ms. Pace said. “The energy level could not be higher going into the summer months.”” That was true for the kids, but the film world always treats the Summer as a lull. I predict this Fall will be the one going into the Bible for the film world. And I can’t wait to see what happens next. 

Stuff I'm Reading

Streamers and the Move Towards Celeb Driven Docs: The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at the increasing trend for the streamers to commission high profile docs on celebs and other talent - sports and music stars - with their participation and, sometimes, control. It's sometimes just entertainment, and as Pat Aufderheide says in the piece, that's probably okay. But other times, there can be nasty disputes over artistic control, etc. This became painfully clear during TIFF when Alanis Morrisette came out blasting against Alison Klayman's doc about her. I missed the film there, and can't comment on the specifics, but can guarantee some producer or PR rep f-d this one up, because no one ends up in Toronto without knowing what to say/not say, but anyways... read the article to contemplate the ethics and other issues.

Netflix resistance: The video stores fighting the rise of streaming in Spain: Guillermo Vega in El Pais writes a wonderful article about some of the few remaining video stores open in Spain (there are only around 300 left). The owner of one store bitterly explains, “[the pandemic] pushed people who did not have nor wanted a [streaming] platform, to subscribe to one”, while her 50,000+ titles lay dormant on her shelves. But most of all, she’s concerned about the “use of algorithms [in streaming] to decide what content to promote.” What’s wrong with algorithms? Don’t they direct us to the personalized content that we want? Nope...

“Lorena Jaume-Palasi, the managing director of AlgorithmWatch and a member of the Spanish government’s Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, explains… that streaming services “use programming techniques based on homophily: it is assumed that people with similar tastes want the same thing.” This presumption has its roots in the 1950s and was developed to study cultural integration in the United States. “These simple and reductionist sociological theories were co-opted by engineers to be applied [to digital platforms], because they are easy to program.” The problem, says Jaume-Palasi, is that they can create a certain uniformity that is “extremely Anglo-American and colonial.” The takeaway: We—viewers and consumers of content—have become lazy. One Spanish video store owner says “we are limiting ourselves to watching what the big companies impose on us. In the end, we are going to end up like the characters in the film WALL-E.” (GSH)

Why are So Many Covid Films Focused on Rich People?  The Guardian’s Noah Gittell takes a swing at Hollywood’s briefest genre –– the quarantine film –– revealing “a massive hole where [Hollywood’s] empathy is supposed to be.” Hollywood COVID-19 Pandemic films like Malcom & Marie, Locked Down, Together, and Language Lessons  “offer too narrow a window into the pandemic experience. The protagonists of these films all have one thing in common: they’re rich. Very rich.” What do these films show us about Hollywood? “What it reflects is a creative class with a blind spot for its own economic privilege and a profound misunderstanding of the lives of their audience.” Where are the films about the communities that have been most severely impacted by the pandemic –– undocumented imigrants, frontline workers, the elderly...etc? (GSH)

This Is A Film About What It's Like Living While Black, In Japan: Married couple and filmmaker team, Keith Bedford and Shiho Fukada interview six Black (expatriate) Americans now permanently living in Japan. This short, yet deeply nuanced and emotional film, explores what it’s like living while Black in the United States versus in Japan. Interview subjects touch on their encounters with strangers, neighbors, and police in both countries and reflect on how these distinct environments have impacted their ability to just… be. Click on the NPR piece to watch the film. (GSH)

Russia is Filming the first Movie in Space... rushing to beat the US: The NYT reports that the space race is back on, and Russia is winning, beating the US (and Tom Cruise, of course) to film the first feature-length movie on the space station. And whitey on the moon...
Branded Content
REI joins MACRO, River Road and Fit Via Vi on new film - FRYBREAD FACE. Very happy that Deadline just announced last night that the REI Co-Op Studios is joining in with the aforementioned EP’s to co-finance this film. Produced by Chad Burris and directed by Billy Luther, with Taika Waititi, and with a great cast, the film just shot in New Mexico. I helped source and seal the deal at Sub-Genre so I am biased and proud of this one. Fiction feature films don’t work for every brand, but when they do, this is a great example of how to do it - with other seasoned EPs and producers involved. Learn more at Deadline. 

Average People Now Run the Influencer Economy, and Brands Must Embrace User-Generated Content: A poorly shot TikTok video shot by a random teenager holding a Walmart shopping cart hostage at a Target attracted comments from Trojan Condoms, Tinder, and Burlington Coat. The video now has 34 million views and counting. What we’re seeing here is “brands...tweaking their marketing strategies to engage with, adapt to and embrace user-generated content [UGC].” "A report from UGC company Stackla found that 80% of consumers say their purchasing decisions are impacted by content made by average people” as opposed to influencers. So, brands should take note that people gravitate to organic-looking content, stuff that could’ve been made by them. Brands can “take a more relaxed approach to marketing by reposting material that may be low-fi and unpolished” and by engaging with user generated content online. Emmy Liederman of AdWeek reports. (GSH)

Xbox and Special Olympics hold first ‘Gaming for Inclusion’ esports event - Xbox and Special Olympics have teamed up to make competitive esports more accessible, starting with a tournament hosted this week, the first ever of its kind. Give this article a read to learn about Special Olympians Jose Moreno and Colton Rice’s hopes and dreams for and insights about the gaming industry as they pertain to accessibility. Devin Coldewey of TechCrunch reports.  

(Note that (GSH) indicates articles written by Sub-Genre's Gabriel Schillinger-Hyman, not Brian Newman)
Like This Newsletter? Subscribe & Past Issues
Copyright © 2021 Brian Newman, All rights reserved.

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