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Future of Film Summit


December is traditionally a month to step back and look at the events that shaped the year.  The Future of Film Summit took a slightly different approach: the changes over the past year were applied to contemplate industry shifts to come.

Paula Wagner, industry vet who has recently founded Chestnut Ridge Productions, shared her insights on the state of independent production with Variety President Neil Stiles.  Wagner felt many smaller studios floundered because they were not willing to change their operational modes.  Strong marketing campaigns and developing content that appeals to her sensibilities were the tent poles of her company.  In regards to choosing content, Wagner said, “why would you want to develop something you really don’t care about?”

Darcy Antonellis, President of Warner Bros. Technical Operations feels that the WB process behind animation is to split the time spent on features between story development and digital applications.  There goal is to make movies, not scripts.

Ed Leonard, CTO of Dreamworks Animation, feels they have successfully placed a greater focus on technical advancements.  “It’s about the essence of what these technical elements are doing that will elevate the experience of the viewer.”

“The economic model isn’t changing,” warned Rick Nicita, COO and Co-Chair of Morgan Creek Productions during the “Game Changers” panel.  He suggested that a focus will remain on small movies and large tent poles.  They have been the films that have retained any economic success.

Social marketing has become a standard tool for all major studios, with many employing designated individuals to manage and develop these tools.  Studios also recognize that the audiences of the future are no longer exclusively interested in a film, but all the activity and events that surround it, including photos, gossip, websites, and public opinion.  Any ways of developing a community and creating an event to attract attention are now on studio’s radars, including social media screenings.

Other professionals present to lend their viewpoints on the changes in technology and how these changes will affect the future of media production included: David Straus, ECO and Founder of Withoutabox, John Rubey, President, AEG Network Live, and Shashi Fernanda, CEO, Saffron Digital.

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