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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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Thinking About the Future of Media

I normally run a predictions for next year article around now, but unless I get inspired by next week, I am plum out of thoughts about the future after reading this NiemanLab super long set of articles on the future of journalism. There are so many great articles here that I can’t even read them all, or even list all of my favorites - I guess curation/editing is the future, not the present, of prognostication.

But the future of journalism overlaps with the future of film/video/media a bit, and of democracy a lot, so take a moment to dive into this one.  Among the better reads:

But if you only read one article today, from this list or any other, make it Elva Ramirez’s take on making news more cinematic - which I think is mistitled, because filmmakers could learn from her ideas - which are to incorporate the visual styles and mechanisms of multiple new platforms to create a new way of telling stories.

As she says: “As more apps appear to make design better, and as people continue to watch Stories on a daily basis, it makes sense that consumers are becoming more literate in multimedia storytelling.”And with that new literacy (Ulmer - Electracy) means new ways of telling stories not just across platforms, but using their styles and motifs within the story. Or as she says: “opportunity to come to life in a hybrid format that borrows from documentary films, graphic design, and even social media’s visual lingo, such as gifs.” Think about it when planning what you want to create in the New Year, because she’s right.

Stuff I'm Reading


NATO proves Netflix doesn’t hurt their business: File under irony. The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) commissioned a study of the impact of Netflix on movie-going, and guess what - as every smart analyst has been saying since streaming began - the impact is negligible (at best) and that actually, those who stream more also go to more movies. Guess what? This is also true of piracy. People who love movies watch them in all kinds of places, and if they can’t find them in theaters or legally online, piracy is just another simple way to find them. I’m sure half my readers won’t believe this, but studies keep showing it’s true. And since the main reason we’re windowing things (which is what leads to piracy in the first place) is supposedly because of the threat of streaming, perhaps we need to rethink this whole paradigm and start making it easier for people to watch films when/where they want, and now.

But what we really want to know is: Which streaming service has the most content?  And the best content? Well, ReelGood (a universal streaming queue, who ever thought of that?...) has two great data-sets to show whether Amazon, Netflix, Hulu or someone else wins these wars for now. Note: the most important data in the study is that Netflix is culling its catalogue every year, and getting more curated and less universal.
Sundance Rules Docs: The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences have released their short-lists of semi finalists in several different categories. In the Documentary Feature category, and it’s a great list, David Courier of Sundance pointed out that ten out of fifteen movies nominated World-Premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival: Crime + Punishment; Dark Money; Hale County This Morning, This Evening; Minding the Gap; Of Fathers and Sons; On Her Shoulders; RBG; Shirkers; Three Identical Strangers; and Won’t you be my Neighbor?

In addition, three other documentaries were helped/developed through the Sundance Labs and Programs: Charm City; The Distant Barking of Dogs; and The Silence of Others.

That’s 13 out of 15 - more evidence that Sundance rules the doc world. And two of the ten shortlist docs were Sundance premieres: A Night at The Garden and My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes. Kudos to them and the filmmakers. And while this doesn’t prove you should give up hope if you aren’t in the Sundance club, it sure does make it feel that way for now, but I’d look at it as inspiration to keep making work, because they eventually find the best. What I also find interesting/funny - the buzz last year at Sundance was that it was a weak year for docs, which was so clearly not the case. I guess people just had altitude sickness.
Youtube Tear in review Kerfuffle: Youtube just released their annual Rewind video in which the platform appears to reminisce and reflect on the past year in user generated content. Controversy has brewed, however, over the video’s failure to acknowledge some of it most popular (and controversial) content.

But here’s a more accurate title of what we should call Youtube’s past year: demonetization. Which is what YouTube keeps doing to its lifeblood - creators - in trying to make a safe space for advertisers.

t’s a bit of a long read, but really sums up why this year’s white washed version of Youtube’s year is antithetical to what Youtube was and should continue to be. As author Julia Alexander explains in Polygon:

“Demonetization is the story of creators fighting to keep earning money for creating videos, and the constant fight YouTube gives them to continue doing so. Demonetization is creators asking YouTube to continue letting them create weird, funny and informative videos for a platform that isn’t beholden to anyone except the people who watch their videos — the very thesis that launched the platform in the first place.”
Virtual Reality
I remain a skeptic of VR for entertainment and story-telling (for at least ten years), but here’s a slew of interesting links about how VR is gonna be HUUGE with: Christians, Wine-Geeks, Court rooms, and Hospitals and Architects, not just film festival programmers.
Copyright © 2018 Brian Newman, All rights reserved.

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