Access and privilege were two major components of the 2012 Produced By Conference (PBC) and main reasons why producers and filmmakers arrived from all over the world to spend a weekend at the Sony Studios lot. Participants had the opportunity to see panels featuring big names like Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas ("The Dark Knight Rises"), Brian Grazer ("A Beautiful Mind"), and Nigel Sinclair ("So You Think You Can Dance"); powerhouse producers such as Mark Gordon, Mark Johnson, Peter Berg ("Battleship"), and Lynette Howell ("Blue Valentine"); CEOs like Rick Allen (Snag Films); and CCOs like Chris Hardwick (Nerdist Industries).
Montreal producers and sisters Tetchena and Bianca Bellange of Bel Ange Moon productions came to PBC 2012 to understand how American producers think and market and how they can apply it to their film projects. The Bellanges were excited and inspired to hear and meet their role model Shonda Rhimes, of "Grey's Anatomy" fame, and hear how Rhimes can run three television shows simultaneously while maintaining a family.
"As a producer you mostly don't have a life due to how much work you have to do, so it was good to see how Ms. Rhimes does it, actually," said Bianca Bellange.
Other producers came to PBC 2012 looking for solutions to an increasingly competitive environment, where finding financing for independent film projects is difficult. The previous rules of engagement for producers making movies is in the midst of transition and evolution.
"There is a transformation coming and none of us have really figured out exactly what it is," said Vancouver-based producer Mary Ann Waterhouse. "The idea is right there, out there and someone is going to grab it."
Waterhouse attended PBC 2012 seeking inspiration from what other producers are talking about in regards to the future state of moviemaking.
Lotay Yang of The Black Card Circle Foundation might be just that inspirational opportunity new producers and filmmakers need. Yang's Black Card Circle arrives at a momentous time: The AMC movie theater chain was acquired in May by the Chinese company Wanda Group. Black Card Circle has been established to be a business and cultural bridge between East and West, where producers can be introduced to the highest levels of the Chinese central government.
It's a forward-thinking gesture that recognizes the power of Chinese box office revenue that has always been impressive yet has mainly been only glimpsed at by the central government's restrictions allowing only 34 new American movies from outside of China into the country per year.
"Hollywood studios are already starting to do business with China and the experience has been hit and miss," Yang said. "It has to do with the cultural divide between the nations. The producers who can get in first and keep their word will succeed and the door will close for anyone else."
At the end of June, Black Card Circle hosts an Elite Leadership Exchange (ELE) in Pudong, China, where it will mediate between the nation's central government and Hollywood producers.
From technology to territories, there is an advantage for any producer who can come in and be first to market. At most panels during PBC, discussions continued to circle on innovations from the digital revolution and just how important the Arab Spring uprising was to the digital landscape.
The uprisings across the Middle East represented a cultural revolution that was driven by the Internet. It showed the world the extreme power the Web has to make change happen and drive people together.
Michael Nash (former executive VP, digital strategy for Warner Music Group) gave a stirring presentation on smart content and new consumer consumption trends. Nash comes from a digital perspective, where everything can be viewed as data, and offered a pointed question to participants that may initiate where he envisions things going:
"How much information is a trillion gigabtyes?"
Nash pointed out that in 2010 all the data in the world stacked up to be a single zettabyte, a unit of digital measurement slightly larger than the question he posed. By 2020, that number will grow to be 35 zettabytes of data.
"The cloud is inevitable and its network principle and its organization in culture is starting now in entertainment," Nash said. "Over 75 percent of all data is a copy of something else. The majority of copies are from aspects of entertainment. Imagine a world without 50 million copies of a hit movie, but just one."
Where does this place the entertainment consumer? All the future models and consumer behavior around the cloud are going to be driven by entertainment content. "The movies you view will be owned and consumed in the cloud," Nash said.
Such a change could mean our home movie libraries may quickly become a thing of the past. Most Americans take pride in their movie libraries; who among us hasn't popped a favorite flick into the DVD/Blu-ray on a rainy day?
Consider never having the DVD or a product at all, though. We are about to go virtual, and the ramifications could be startling to say the least. The cloud is not just another buzzword -- it is how the digital universe is going to be organized within the next seven years, and out of necessity.
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