On his Indiewire blog, Anthony Kaufman made the kind of observation I love: simple, right before us all, but ignored time and time again by the mainstream. His point is that all the corporate acquisitions of art film companies have only led to disaster, and maybe this extends to old school media companies too. The problem seems accentuated when it is an entity with new media dreams that acquires the traditional media company; what once worked with steady cash flow limps its way into non-existence.
There was a faint echo of this in the NY Times recent article on the difference between Hollywood and Silicon Valley cultures. The necessary change from a salary mentality to an ownership one is not the easiest transition. I have repeatedly been surprised by how few producers even are willing to take true entrepreneurial approach to production. Sure we slave without fees for years on development, but when the time comes to go forward most remain strictly fee based. Sure, I can't consider a back-end weighted deal when I need to pay my bills, but when that's not the case, I can get more creative.
History has shown repeatedly that Hollywood, and even the movie industry in general, just don't get new media. Remember Pop.com? Before there was YouTube, there was Pop.com. It had it all: Dreamworks, John Sloss, Eddie Murphy, & Steve Martin. Here's Business Week's 9/25/2000 article on why they failed. Take a trip down memory lane here.
Frankly it's also looking like new media doesn't get the movie industry. To me it comes down to the fact that film viewing is not a passive experience. It is a collective community experience. It is the aspects of community & collectivity that new media has to enhance when entering the film world. And it is these very same aspects that we have to bring back to traditional cinema for it to grow vital again. Ten years of impulse viewing and mass-market sell has destroyed the indie film culture. We have to focus on developing audiences' informed decision making behavior and the aspects that extend film culture beyond the simple viewing process.