Peter Dekom on The Reality Of Creator/Distributor/Audience Relationship

Collen Nystedt of MovieSet pointed this lecture (2/7) out to me via Facebook.  It's not a pretty picture. You have to skip the 4min corny intro, but amidst the doom mongering, Peter Dekom puts an interesting position out there. He describes the current industry situation as the "antichrist of independent filmmaking" (end of pt.3). Unfortunately he's not referencing Lars VT either.  Dekom doesn't put much stock on the long tail, but illustrates how the industry is built around movies that do well theatrically (pt.4).  Without theatrical success, there's not much else that can happen from a business perspective with a film these days, he says.  So much for the hope of a VOD salvation...

The main thrust is that our industry is in a serious disconnect from our audiences. It is clear that the model consumers like least is pay per use -- yet Hollywood is still dedicated to this.  Dekom argues that we have to wake up both our business models and our copyright laws (and I wish he explored this latter part more) to adjust how people actually behave.  Embrace reality! Wake up and smell the instant coffee!!

Along the way, Dekom takes the time to make a few keypoints to make sure we understand how we got here.

  • He explains we're not a world practicing multi-tasking -- but rapid focus shifting.  It's not multiple things we are doing, but one thing after another and then back and forth;
  • He de-emphasizes our industry's need to focus on distribution solutions; for Dekom the real film biz comes down to creativity, deal-making, and marketing.  That may not be ground shaking news, but it does call attention to how much time everyone spends on the question -- and perhaps how misguided we are at times just worrying about if we are going to get it up and out.
  • He encourages us to recognize we live in a world of hyper accelerating change.  And to ask ourselves what does that do to us as consumers of entertainment?  We are living in the world of The What's Next Generation.  People are no longer interested in What Is (and thus why the Star System is over - pt2).  Audiences have moved on.
  • For Dekom there are four key components of mass-entertainment movies these days : ride, moments, character, story.  Very few Indie films can offer ride (thrills), but we can certainly offer moments (think YouTube). And we can always do better by thinking earlier what those moments are going to be, what we will want to put in the trailer.
  • Since 9/15/08 when the economy tanked, people over 30 have gone to the movies 46% less whereas kids have gone 24% more.

Dekom makes a lot of points.

H makes it clear that there is no traditional indie market to build a business plan on -- then or now.

Film subsidies help develop artists, but don't develop markets traditionally.

Dekom puts some hope on the use of psycho-graphic focus and metadata to help market films (pt.4).  Granted this stuff is very personal ... and private data -- and, in my opinion, should stay that way .  But he does spell out how none of this is truly private anymore (pt.5).  Once again:  wake up to reality.

Dekom does recognize the marketing benefits of piracy and probably could have spoken up more about piracy's ability to deliver to neglected markets.

He criticizes how the film industry knows less about it's audience than any other field.  If this doesn't change, we are doomed.

He points how library value has completely eroded (this is the foundation of most studios) and you can't borrow against it.

Dekom explains that it NOW comes down to the primary event for all entertainment industries.  After that, there is just "the other", no ancillary.  Indie business has, unfortunately, been built on "the other" and only the old "other".  And there now is no "other" -- in Dekom's vision.  The primary event is very much big screen theatrical now -- just like it was in the '50's.  Without theatrical, where is the business?  There's been a lot of good discussion on what people are willing to pay for, and we need more of it.

The hope, in Dekom's vision, is to learn how to listen to the audience. We need to focus on finding the audience, determining who the audience is, and how to reach them.  Each film (unless it is a sequel) is a brand new product line worthy of the same creativity in the marketing that gave rise to the film in the first place.

Check out all seven clips.  People pay this man a great deal to have him speak.  He's worth your time.