Tech & Media Finally Allowed To Marry In NYC (IFP To Officiate)

It was with great pleasure that on Friday, I saw that it was announced that the IFP (of which I am on the board of) was awarded the RFP for a new digital media center in New York City.  I, and many others, had been struggling with the lack of interaction between the two fields.  The Mayor's Office stepped into do something about it.  This is a truly great initiative and should be a model for cities throughout the country (Hey San Francisco:  hint, hint).

This is the official press release:

Media Center Will Promote Collaboration between Entertainment, Advertising and New Media Industries and Offer Educational Programs to Support the Next Generation of Innovators

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Media & Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver and New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky today announced that IFP, the Independent Filmmaker Project, will develop and operate the “Made in NY” Media Center, a centralized hub for the local media industry to collaborate and grow. The “Made in NY” Media Center will provide workspace, educational programs in partnership with General Assembly and networking events for content creators and entrepreneurs. The center will be housed in DUMBO, Brooklyn at an 18,000 square foot facility that will bring together professionals from the film, television, advertising, new media, gaming, marketing and branding industries for collaboration and new opportunities. It is expected to open in May 2013. Mayor Bloomberg was joined at the future site of the “Made in NY” Media Center by IFP executive director Joana Vicente, General Assembly founder Matt Brimer, Representative Nydia M. Velazquez, Assembly Member Joan Millman and Carlo A. Scissura, president & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

“New York City is at the forefront of both the entertainment and tech industries, and our new ‘Made in NY’ Media Center will help creators, artists and entrepreneurs build on the success we’ve already seen,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By providing workspace for projects in development, professional workshops and innovative programs to welcome new ideas and start-ups, we will continue to attract talent and new ideas.”

“One of the goals of the ‘Made in NY’ Media Center is to connect filmmakers, producers and storytellers to a rapidly changing world that is full of mobile apps, multi-platform distribution and social media,” said Media & Entertainment Commissioner Oliver. “IFP’s decades-long work in promoting and supporting independent filmmakers makes it the ideal choice to develop the ‘Made in NY’ Media Center into a thriving source of new content and collaboration in the City.”

“The ‘Made in NY’ Media Center is an important investment in the future of an industry that has grown phenomenally under Mayor Bloomberg,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “With this investment, we will help ensure that the next generation of creative and business talent critical to the continued expansion of this industry is seeded and nurtured right here in New York, helping to cement our city’s status as one of the world's great centers of innovation for generations to come.”

“The ‘Made in NY’ Media Center bolsters the future of New York City’s thriving media industry by supporting quality storytelling and innovation,” said Rachel Haot, Chief Digital Officer. “Through powerful events, programs and resources, the ‘Made in NY’ Media Center will help prepare New Yorkers for jobs in the evolving media ecosystem and facilitate cross-sector collaboration.”

“The ‘Made in NY’ Media Center will be an incubator for great stories and a showcase for new works whether they’re told through film, digital, games or apps,” said Joana Vicente, executive director, IFP. “Regardless of what tools are used, we’ll be doing what we’ve done for 30 years: curating stories, supporting artists and connecting storytellers to investors, audiences and other artists. At IFP, we are thrilled.”

“Since opening our original New York City campus in January 2011, General Assembly has helped more than 21,000 students globally create opportunities through educational programming in the areas of technology, entrepreneurship and design,” said Adam Pritzker, co-founder and chairman, General Assembly. “We believe that New York is one of the most important centers for technology and media in the world, and we are excited to continue our support of this community through our collaboration with the IFP and the creation of the ‘Made in NY’ Media Center.”

“The Made in NY Media Center will be an important hub of creative and innovative thinking,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This collaborative workspace will bring together professionals from across various industries, and help inspire countless New Yorkers to realize their true potential. I want to thank and congratulate IFP, the Bloomberg administration, and my Council colleagues for working together to keep pace with the ever changing world of technology, and seeking new ways to prepare New Yorkers for new jobs.”

“New York City has a rich history as the media capital of the world,” said Representative Velazquez. “This new facility will build on that legacy, providing more opportunities for collaboration, creativity and the production of compelling new films, television and digital media.”

“The TV shows and films made right here in New York prove that you don't need to go to Hollywood to make it big,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “Now, countless New Yorkers who work in the industry will have a new place to call home thanks to IFP and ‘Made in New York.’ Just like the new Tech Triangle bus route we're building, this is yet another step toward the connectivity New York's media industry needs to continue to grow and create jobs and business for our communities.”

“I am delighted the City has selected DUMBO for its ‘Made in NY’ Media Center,” said Assembly Member Joan L. Millman. “This location will provide workspace as well as a community center in a neighborhood already home to digital and social media start-ups.”

“Today’s announcement reinforces the fact that the borough of Brooklyn, and the DUMBO neighborhood in particular, is quickly becoming the creative hub of the city,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin. “This will provide much-needed affordable space for media entrepreneurs and start-up companies and allow for collaboration among individuals across a variety of fields. I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Oliver and President Pinsky for their commitment to and investment in New York City’s creative industries and I congratulate Joana Vicente and her team at the Independent Filmmaker Project on their exciting proposal.”

“There is no better place than DUMBO to bring professionals from the film, advertising, new media, and gaming industries together in one central location,” said Carlo A. Scissura, president & CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “Home to New York’s ever-growing tech community, DUMBO is a hot spot for digital media and other start-ups. This new center is also wonderful for Brooklyn businesses as a whole because it ensures that the borough continues to attract the best and the brightest from around the world. I would like to extend my thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Oliver for all their work in this area and for ensuring that the city remains ahead of the curve when it comes to new technology.”

“Downtown Brooklyn is fast becoming a center for creativity, anchored by 57,000 college students, a burgeoning tech sector and flourishing media and design presence, making the borough an ideal location for the ‘Made in New York’ digital media center,” said Tucker Reed, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “Brooklyn has long been home to most of the city’s manufacturing industry, and will continue to be so by creating products and ideas that support New York’s thriving innovation economy.”
“The ‘Made in NY’ Media Center is going to be an incredible resource for the hundreds of creative and tech firms in DUMBO and thousands of creators setting up shop in the growing in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle,” said Alexandria Sica, Executive Director of the DUMBO Improvement District. “We’re thrilled to have this community space, led by IFP and world-class partners like General Assembly. DUMBO is the perfect spot for the center and we have no doubt the entrepreneurs will be inspired by not only our cinematic scenery but also the presence of so many innovators in media taking root along the Brooklyn Waterfront.”
Looking to help solve the need for traditional media companies to adapt to new business
models or face becoming obsolete, the “Made in NY” Media Center aims to work with content creators, storytellers and technology companies to collaborate across platforms and industries and create new opportunities and business products. The “Made in NY” Media Center will launch with affordable short term rental work areas: community workspace intended for individual use and co-working workspace for small firms or start ups for extended rentals, in addition to post production suites and two to three anchor tenants who will be housed in offices at the center. The facility will also feature classrooms, a public café, media arts gallery, lounge, numerous conference rooms and a 98-seat state-of-the-art ‘white box’ screening/multimedia room. Flexible workstations can be reconfigured to allow for changing needs of the occupants.

The building at 20 Jay Street is a New York City Landmark designed by William Higginson for the Arbuckle Brothers in 1909 as America’s largest coffee roaster and packager. IFP will work with New York real estate development firm Two Trees Management Co. to develop the facility; Brooklyn-based MESH Architectures will design the space.

At the “Made in NY” Media Center, a host of programs and workshops will be offered to foster the development of the next generation of content creators. General Assembly, a leading global education company headquartered in New York, will provide classes, workshops, and long-form educational programming covering technology, entrepreneurship, and design. The IFP will offer classes on creativity & craft, cross-media strategy, and career sustainability. This regularly scheduled and affordable curriculum will be offered to the public and will address the needs of all levels of professionals. The curricula will be designed to address the needs of would-be entrepreneurs seeking to transition to emerging career fields in media, individuals looking for specific skills and practical knowledge to fill gaps in their toolkit and those looking to stay current in their chosen career.

The media center will offer memberships to multimedia professionals at various levels. At the Partnership level, for example, aimed at mid-career professionals seeking new partners and strategic development, members would receive desk space in the center; twice annual use of the screening room; thrice annual use of the presentational space; access to one of the center’s educational seminars each month; and invitations to screenings, networking events and IFP membership.

To encourage interaction and collaboration among the different participants in the “Made in NY” Media Center, several programs will be embedded into the agenda, including the Transmedia Incubator, the nation’s first dedicated transmedia incubator to jump-start and support innovative projects from idea to conception and beyond. Networking events, workshops, training sessions and panels will also take place at center.

New York City is home to a vibrant media and entertainment industry. Each year approximately 200 films shoot on location throughout the five boroughs, and there are 25 primetime television and online series based in the city, as well as 140 news, reality, children’s and other programs. An estimated 1,000 tech start ups that have been created in the city during the last five years. Between 2007 and 2010, the number of employees at city-based digital media companies grew by 74 percent. Across the country, mobile apps have become a $20 billion industry and created almost 500,000 American jobs.

IFP was selected as the developer and operator of the “Made in NY” Media Center after a request for proposals was issued by EDC in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment in March 2012. Since its inception in 1979 in New York City, IFP has pursued its mission of sustaining innovative content creation and community building through its support of the production of 8,000 films and 22,000 filmmakers. Each year IFP presents the Gotham Independent Film Awards and brings filmmakers and industry reps together at Independent Film Week. IFP also publishes FILMMAKER Magazine.

Proposed renderings of the design of the “Made in NY” Media Center are available on the NYC Mayor’s Office’s Flickr page.

Independent Distribution In America Is Seriously Threatened

And the reason is because independent exhibition is even more seriously threatened.  This is likely the last year of 35mm projection and the problem of that goes much deeper than whether you appreciate grain or not.

Sure the promise of digital projection & delivery is partially lower costs, but the cost of conversion is out of reach of many small exhibitors.  The funding scheme that many theater chains have utilized, instituting in a Virtual Print Fee (VPF), puts the financial return in jeopardy for indie films -- we could not play DARK HORSE in theaters that required a VPF because after the film rental split, another $800 in VPF risks having us not just not make money, but lose money.

The studios all require the theaters to be DCI compliant.  The cost of being so is out of reach for smaller theaters.  Yet, the studio, and their specialized subsidiaries, represent such a large share of the box office, theater owners have to consider this move.  But if distributors don't want to lose that $800 that goes to the VPF, can the same theater offer projection on one of the many cheaper systems.  Why not?  Because evidently the MPAA went to The Supreme Court and got them to approve an exception to the anti-trust laws and require all the theaters to sign a no-compete clause and use just a single platform.  This sucks and is not what I expect from a country that prides itself on being the "Land Of Opportunity".  

A former intern of mine, Ricky Camilleri, hosted a great conversation on this topic on HuffPostLive.  His guests include

Here it is that discussion non-live.


Two further notes: I have to say I really like this style of Google HangOut forum for discussion, particularly with the added in comments and questions from the audience/community.  It feels very participatory.
I wanted to title this "Independent EXHIBITION In America Is Seriously Threatened" but I suspect that "Distribution" will make more folks read this post.  More and more as I look at what is the lifeblood of independent cinema culture I come to exhibition.  They should be are heroes.  The industry and culture needs to celebrate them far more than we do.  The era of the filmmaker/exhibitor collaboration should already be here -- but it's not.  Shall we try to fix that too?


Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, David Lynch and many others debate the digital revolution on launches a month of conversation around the upcoming documentary release Side By Side today. Each day a new exclusive clip will post from one of the film's prognosticators that couldn't be squeezed into the final cut of the film. The clips will offer a daily opportunity to follow the debate on the digital revolution that is portrayed in this seminal film.

Side by Side, produced by Keanu Reeves and directed by Chris Kenneally, explores the complex and divisive conversation currently taking place around the transition from traditional filmmaking to the new digital revolution. Keanu Reeves asks the question – Will film survive? He takes the audience on a tour of the past and the future of filmmaking. Since the invention of cinema, the standard format for recording moving images has been film. Over the past two decades, a new form of digital filmmaking has emerged, creating a groundbreaking evolution in the medium. Reeves explores the development of cinema and the impact of digital filmmaking via in-depth interviews with Hollywood masters such as James Cameron, David Fincher, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Steven Soderbergh, and many more.

With such a contentious subject, everyone had a lot to say. We will continue the conversation on—home to the Future of Film blog, a platform that explores our changing industry on a weekly basis—as well as across social media all month. Check the site daily for exclusive clips from Adam Valdez, Barry Levinson, Bradford Young, Craig Wood, David Fincher, David Lynch, David Stump, Dennis Muren, Dick Pope, Dion Beebe, Donald McAlpine, Ed Lachman, Ellen Kuras, Greta Gerwig, James Cameron, Jost Vacano, Lena Dunham, Martin Scorsese, Michael Ballhaus, Michael Chapman, Reed Morano, Robert Rodriguez, Steven Soderbergh, Vilmos Zsigmond, Wally Pfister and Walter Murch.

Tribeca Film will release Side by Side via on-demand platforms on August 22. The film will also open in select cities theatrically, including Los Angeles (August 17), New York (August 31), Boston (August 23), Seattle (August 31), Chicago (September 15), Tacoma (September 18), San Francisco (October 18) and other cities to be announced.

For more information on the film go to and