I’m back in Namibia for some workshops with Namibia Broadcasting Corporation, Namibia Film Commission and the Filmmakers Association of Namibia. In March 2011, I shared some astounding videos on how social media is completely redefining how we interact with the world, and high speed internet, global connectivity, and new technology such as the Google Chromecast dongle, will increasingly mean that if broadcasters don’t offer the the kinds of content that audiences want to see, those audiences will just go elsewhere.
For state broadcasters in Africa, in the old days, that might not have been a problem. But governments are clearly no longer willing just to chuck money at tv stations, just for the fun of having them. Hence, our discussions on cross- and trans-media story telling. I found some of the best stuff on this is coming out of USA Network – here are a couple of fascinating stories about capturing the audience (and revenue streams) with Psych and Burn Notice.
This week, I’m in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, working on research for the National Film Policy. Yes, you can find me in the middle of this, somewhere….
Various mis-steps have meant Tanzania’s not been as prolific or successful (or even as interested) as neighbouring Kenya in attracting foreign filmmakers. Even movies partly set in the country – such as 1990′s Mountains of the Moon, depicting the 1857-58 journey of Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke in their expedition that culminated in Speke’s discovery of the source of the Nile River, filmed elsewhere. Love this sepia-esque still from the film, nevertheless.
My latest piece for Vodacom Now is out: Hollywood’s Headache and how Internet technology is forcing movie studios to rethink their release and distribution model as audiences demand instant access to the latest blockbusters.
“We’re very much used to movies opening in South Africa after they’ve launched in the US. But with the barrage of information now available to us daily – from teasers to trailers and posters and entertainment news shows and behind-the-scenes pics from the set – the studio-imposed “release window” for premium content is becoming less and less satisfying. This is not just a “me” generation, after all. It’s an “I-want-it-now” generation – and that includes the films and television programmes we want to watch. The Hollywood business model is beginning to unravel as a result….”
Vodacom e-Magazine is out. Here’s my take on the impact of social media on the watching, funding and making of film and tv.
And then there’s the application of social media to fan-funding of productions. Veronica Mars, for instance, ran for 3 seasons, starring Kristen Bell as an aspiring Private Investigator solving cases at her school. When its run ended there was a lot of talk about a follow-up film, but the studio said they couldn’t guarantee a big enough audience to warrant the investment. So instead the team launched the project on Kickstarter to raise the money from their fans. They set a target of $2 million (the largest ever for a film project). In less than 12 hours they got $2.4 million, and if they continue at the current rate, they’ll make $39 million……
For the past 25 years, Lori Balton has been on the lookout for interesting L.A. locations, capturing a variety of spots in her Nikon lens in the hopes they’ll be used on the silver screen (some of her choices were used in films like Seabiscuit, Inception, and There Will Be Blood. Decrepit or luxe, Old World or new age, in this week’s LAMag she shares some of the places she’s snapped.
Set in the scary, chaotic aftermath of the Iranian revolution and the storming of the American embassy in Tehran, Argo sees six embassy workers take a gap and escape into the madness of the streets. Terrified and under very real threat of death, they seek sanctuary in the Canadian embassy like so many Anne Franks, as the Revolutionary Guard go house to house killing spies and counter-revolutionaries and anyone connected with the Shah. They are perilously exposed, and the CIA urgently needs a plan to get them out. But what? With the usual cover stories unavailable, they conjure up a fake identity for the team that so implausible, so ridiculous, it just might work. They’ll create a fake film crew for a fake film company making a fake sci-fi film – complete with ads in Variety – and they’ll smuggle the Americans out under the guise of a poorly-timed location scouting trip….
The result is really a fantastic, edge-of-the-seat thriller. Another appalling Ameri-centric re-writing of actual history of course (sorry Brits and Kiwis, and also you Canucks, the Yanks are the only game in town in this re-telling) but, what the hell – it’s really a fantastic cinematic experience from start to finish. Argo filmed in California, actually – even the tense scenes in the embassy compound as its invaded by the mob were filmed at the Veteran’s Administration north of Los Angeles. External scenes were shot in Istanbul. Emanuel Levy has good stuff as usual.
But here’s a strange thing; for a movie that relies on a location scout for its basic plot point, it’s kind of unforgivable that the film’s own location professionals are ignored in the closing credits. I think that’s even more uncool than slagging off the Brits….