A peek inside Amazon Studios and they’re non-data driven development

A good, if broad, article over on The Guardian about Amazon Studios – the content development arm of the already ubiquitous online retailer – and it’s chief Roy Price.

Of particular note is Price’s view on NOT over-using user data or metrics to drive it’s key decisions.

Amazon Studios chief: data isn’t everything as retailer looks at big picture

When it comes to the rapidly expanding TV and movies division of Seattle-based retailer Amazon, you might expect the company that religiously studies customer order histories, when and how people buy, what they’re buying and a slew of other metrics, to bring that same zeal for data to its slate of original content.

A look into new Indian cinema’s success

Over at ‘The Conversation’ website University lecturer Suman Ghosh takes a quick look at how new Indian cinema is managing to grow and thrive outside of the Bollywood system. India is an exciting market with an even more exciting industry. If you want to keep an eye on how you can succeed as an indie in a crowded market, you could do worse than learn from new Indian cinema.

Beyond Bollywood: new Indian cinema finds critical and financial success

She cooks for him; he removes the washing from the clothesline. Together they have a home, even though opposing work schedules means they hardly see each other. Asha Jaoar Majhey (Labour of Love, Bengali) is a story of marital love in a time of economic recession.

Why things aren’t getting better for musicians. Filmmakers, watch and learn

I believe that changes in the music industry usually are faster and earlier than in the film industry. We saw piracy of music take down large record labels while people in the film biz blithely believed themselves safe.

Over in the New York Times Sunday Review they have an in-depth article about one of the biggest issues: lack of transparency. We’ve already seen many complaints about Netflix and transparency. So, beware. And what can we do about it?


From the front lines of a diverse Hollywood…

I love Jon Ronson, and his articles for GQ are something I always wait for. This one covers a sad reality about the film and tv industry. After the scandal about the lack of women in top positions in the industry this article on the sad state of Muslim-American roles really is no surprise. In the UK I think actors fare better, but, America seems almost incapable of understanding that people of different backgrounds can play non-stereotypical roles.

It’s an important subject and I hope it gets more coverage.


How to grow a YouTube empire

Over at TechInsider there’s an indepth look at the rise of Smosh. Started by a couple of teens at home, in a time before money could be made on YouTube, they’ve gone on to amass billions of views and millions of subscribers.

THE ORIGINAL YOUTUBE STARS: How Smosh went from a ridiculous Pokémon video to a comedy empire

Teenagers Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla were living at home in 2005, months after graduating from high school, when they began to unlock the secrets of going viral.

Very exciting piece of equipment – M4/3 lens on your smartphone

Olympus have released the Olympus Air which is basically a fancy blue tooth transmitter that hooks onto the back of ANY Micro 4/3 lens. It transmits the photo or video to your smart phone where you can use a suite of apps to capture it.

There are some exciting possibilities here.

First, the lens is not physically attached to the phone, meaning that it can be placed (almost) anywhere and controlled from the app. This opens up an exciting array of camera positions (especially for those of us shooting in small spaces like Japanese apartments!)

Secondly, it allows you to use any M4/3 lens, or, with adapters basically any lens out there! I can use my vintage Canon FD lens with a M43 adapter and take video using my iphone.

We truly live in exciting times.

Article and video below. Sorry, Charlie, this is only available in Japan right now (but I’m taking orders!)

Has the SEC just changed the rules for film funding?

Back at the end of March the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) updated an investment scheme known as “Regulation A+” (got some SECy names over at the SEC!) which will go into action on June 19.

The Hollywood Report has an article about it, linked below, but I thought I’d chime in.

Reg A+ redefines how companies can seek investment in vehicles – including film. THR opines that this might change crowdfunding as Reg A+ offers the chance for the investors to get money back on their investment, unlike the normal Kickstarter model where the investor gets no financial return but gets ‘perks’ for stumping up the cash.

Be clear: this will change little for the small film trying to raise money. The paperwork requirement is too costly and complicated for a guy in his garage making a SciFi short. Reg A+ WILL help the studios to put films on the auction block for open investment – i.e letting them tap into a kind of crowdfunding that sits better with large corporations.

Reg A+ has two tiers (with slightly different paperwork requirements) – up to $20 million and $20 – $50 million. This will also be HIGHLY attractive to mid-level funders looking to get in on name productions.

I see this as potentially harmful to small filmmakers. If someone sets up a Kickstarter-like website that brokers these Reg A+ deals then that will seriously bite into small films. I’m sure the general public would rather put $100 into ‘Iron Man 5’ than ‘Mom’s backyard shenanigans’, especially if not only do funders get a digital download but they also get the chance to get a small return.

I’m curious to see the ripples here.

Here’s The Hollywood Reporter article

FilmRiot’s Epic Summer: ‘Real Gone’

I am a huge fan of Ryan Connolly and what he has done with Film Riot. He is probably responsible for thousands of people trying their hands at indie filmmaking. So blame him.

Anywhosit, he has this ‘Epic Summer’ thing going on and the latest offering is the Connolly-produced short film ‘Real Gone’, written and directed by Seth Worley (@Awakeland3D).

The film is funny and a great example of what can be done in a weekend.

First, watch the film.

Then, because it’s FilmRiot and they love that behind the scenes stuff that shows you have to actually make a film, they’ve got 3 BTS episodes too!

These types of things are invaluable – for a couple reasons. First, of course it is great to see what they did, how they got the shots, etc. But, for me the bigger benefit might come in the form of inspiration and showing that you can do something so great on a shoestring budget.

Thanks Ryan and co.

Check out the BTS shows below.

There’s a whole whack of other content… click here to do the search on YouTube.

Breaking News…on SnapChat?!

Fortune does a piece on why SnapChat – a piece of software I don’t understand for a generation I know nothing about – should be on the radar of anyone looking at the evolution of media companies.

It’s a brief intro into the possible future of the ‘no, we’re not only for sexting’ platform. Journalism and politics may be on the close horizon.

Fascinating stuff.