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

In This Issue

Brian Newman & Sub-Genre Media

Learn more about Brian Newman & Sub-Genre at 

Keep Up With Brian:

Salt Lake Trib Image

Sundance Conversations

Sundance is as much about the conversations in line for films, as the films themselves. Here’s a few things I expect to talk about while waiting for some great movies. Hope to see you at Sundance and chat about the following:
  1. Sundance Needs Speed-Dating. Yeah, I know, it’s a film fest and there’s plenty of movies to see, but every year I spend more time in meetings than theaters. That’s my own fault, but I do have one wish – could we all just show up one day early and have an eight hour speed-dating session where we switch seats every ten minutes and each see 48 people (6 per hour, 8 hrs, screw lunch) and get the meetings out of the way so we can just watch films the rest of the time? The Arthouse Convergence kinda acts like this for exhibitors and fests, but the rest of us need some kind of solution to the madness that is Park City.
  1. WWND? What Will Netflix Do? We all want to know. Will they be active? Will they spend? Or, more likely, will they sit on the sidelines and stay focused on their own original content? The lack of Netflix action last year led everyone to shit a ton of bricks. Entire business models (reliant on their acquisition fees for SVOD) had to be rethought. What will this year tell us?
  1. The need for a new (Foundation Funded?) SVOD -  With the demise of FilmStruck and Fandor recently – and the soon to be announced death of every other SVOD/OTT service not called Netflix or Amazon Prime - as well as the increasing lack of interest from Netflix in anything remotely indie, foreign, arthouse, classic, just old, or heck, just a film…we are in dire need of a home for the rest of us.
No one can launch a rival to Netflix without Billions in the bank, it seems, but meanwhile – I can’t find thousands of titles I want to see anywhere (legally) online. Filmmakers I know are getting their rights back to their older titles and all but a few of them are getting the cold shoulder from distributors because no one (read not Netflix, that’s for sure) wants to license these older titles. All but a handful of foreign gems are overlooked by US distributors every year, and plenty of decent indies are left hoping for a Hulu deal, even though no one I know has ever typed the letters H-U-L-U into a browser, but it’s all we can hope for anymore.
I could go on and on, but I think it’s time some people with money turn their attention to this problem. As I’ve mentioned before, Foundations need to stop focusing on making content, and start investing in making it available to audiences. It will take hundreds of millions to make this work, so join forces my foundation friends because you are the only ones who can save us. Otherwise all of these films you keep funding will play Sundance and then sit in your grant portfolio but be seen by no one else because no one will put them on SVOD, and even though no one’s making any money on any of these films, no one will give them away for free, so we need a grant-supported (and/or crowd-funded) SVOD service to pick up the slack.
  1. MoviePass is not Dead: Contrary to all reports otherwise, and even though its owner’s stock is almost de-listed, MoviePass is not dead, and in fact is launching new programs and promotions and will be active at Sundance trying to get the word out about its changes. How do I know this? I met with them two weeks ago to find out what’s up, and I liked what I heard. I know they have steep odds against them, but I imagine we’ll be hearing more from them than anyone expects this year, and we’ll likely be discussing them at Sundance, or at least how to get an invite to their party.
  1. Are film fests struggling, due to decreased sponsorship? Yes. Anthony Kaufman had a nice little story in December in Filmmaker Magazine (subscription needed) about the death of the LA Film Fest and how festivals are having a harder time attracting sponsors and are seeing a slight decrease in individual donors. The struggle for funding is an ongoing topic of conversation for all film festival organizers, but I do think things are getting worse and won’t get better. Now that I work with multiple brands (on branded content), I see a lot more of the sponsor pitch kits that festivals send, and very few differentiate themselves or show any remote understanding of the brand they’re pitching or make any case for why that brand should sponsor that festival beyond being nice. This is mainly because the smaller fests can’t afford the staff that could take the time to tailor their pitch, so I don’t blame them really, but as brands build more direct links to their consumers, and start making their own content – fests are going to have to step up their game if they want to attract brands. They won’t do it just because you show great films. It’s hard to show greater value, build more customization, have better activation and still just serve your audience, but it has to be done. That said, fest organizers are scrappy folks, and I’m sure they’ll rise to the challenge.
Ok, that’s five things to discuss in line for films – other than “what have you seen?” – see you at the ‘Dance.

Stuff I'm Reading

Who is gonna own Awards Season? Netflix...says Fast Company, noting that:
  • “They spend way more than anyone else.
  • They pursue any and all ways to promote their projects for awards.
  • And most importantly: They, and especially Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, really, really, really want to win” (Fast Company).”
In other news regarding aggressive moves, Liberty Media is reportedly in talks to purchase a large stake from CAA.
And further - CNBC says Apple better buy Sony, Lionsgate or A24, or someone making content, and soon. And I agree - the future of content is gonna be tied at the hip to companies making other products.
The Innovative Storytelling of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch has confounded Internet Pirates, although video games are pirated just as much as movies, so I can’t imagine it won’t be that long until the pirates find a way to replicate the experience.
On the subject of innovative media that could potentially confound pirates: check out this four minute dystopian short film that utilizes periscope film technology to create an immersive visual experience… and all without cumbersome VR Goggles. It’s also a good hint at our future.
Peter Hamilton analyzed the break-down of acceptance rates for Sundance. Check it out here
When it comes to your data, not even your OTT provider can get it.
Digiday covers the lack of transparency in the OTT world, with Amazon, Roku and others not giving subscriber data to the platforms, meaning they know less about who is doing what and what works.
In the rare good news from Government file, POTUS has signed a new law - the Open Government Data Act -  that requires all agencies to publish their data in a machine-readable format. This has been a brewing movement for quite some time, and it's a good move for consumers in the long run. No more data dumps in unreadable formats, or sending you to the copy machine, or worse - making you pay to get access to the data you funded.
And in the bad Government file - go figure it's Ajit Pai again, who refused to testify to Congress about why the mobile phone carriers are being allowed to share your data with aggregators. He used the shut-down as an excuse, but as EndGadget reports, he isn't affected by the furlough. Which makes you wonder why he really cancelled his appearance at CES last week?
Steven Soderbergh, Creator and Curator:
We all know that last year he produced Unsane, but maybe we should be asking what he consumed? Turns out he’s a creator and a curator - and he provided a comprehensive list of all media he consumed in 2018.
More reasons people should be more focused on gaming. The Drum sums up four reasons why Gaming is a necessary market in media right now:
  1. Gaming is not niche, but a mass market.
  2. Gaming is focused on long term attention and consumption
  3. People watching people play video over streaming is growing in popularity
  4. eSport popularity is also growing exponentially
Yet, no one wants to put real money into gaming, a decision that is so easy, even an Ai could make it.
But maybe we are overestimating the intelligence of Artificial Intelligence? John Naughton of The Guardian seems to think so.

Need a Facebook replacement? Just getting used to TikTok? Well, get ready to hear a lot more about Squad, the latest screen-sharing, video chat app that's going viral w the young'uns, and will therefore be on all our radars by next week.
Branded Content:

REI and The Atlantic: ReThink teamed up for this great, in-depth report on how to increase diversity in the outdoors, and make it more inclusive, proving that branded content doesn't need to be film, it can be great "journalism" as well. As a consultant to REI, I am biased, but I had nothing to do with this piece, and I'm also a fan of anyone bringing attention - and potential solutions - to this problem in the outdoor industry/society. 

AeroMexico for the Win - on immigration, DNA and Mexico. Ok, this is an ad, and it's a bit shaky on the science, but it made me smile - Aeromexico has a nice take on getting US of Americans to visit Mexico  - by showing them how much of their DNA is Mexican. Nice work, Aeromexico.

Larry Fink of BlackRock tells companies to take a stand: Outspoken leader Larry Fink makes news again with his letter to CEOs telling them, according to Andrew Ross Sorkin in the NYT: "Businesses...cannot merely have a purpose. They must be leaders in a divided world. Stakeholders are pushing companies to wade into sensitive social and political issues — especially as they see governments failing to do so effectively,” Amen to that - and smart ones will be doing it in their branded content campaigns going forward.
Copyright © 2019 Brian Newman, All rights reserved.

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

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp