Award Season Isn't Just About Red Carpets

by Senator Chris Dodd 01/14/2014 11:56 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The 2014 awards season got off to a rousing and hilarious start Sunday night as more than 20 million viewers tuned in to watch Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host the Annual Golden Globes Awards for the second year in a row and gave the show its highest ratings of the past decade.

Just as they will do with every awards show in the coming weeks, the fashion experts critiqued the fashion choices of our favorite celebrities walking the red carpet; pundits and industry experts gave their two-cents on which movies, TV shows, and actors would win in each category; and for three hours we all joined together to celebrate another great year for a truly remarkable industry.

Not to be outdone by all those looking to have some fun with this year’s awards, The MPAA has once again partnered with Brandwatch to build on the success of last year’s Social Oscars program.  Last year's tool, hosted on the MPAA's content site TheCredits.Org, collected and analyzed social data and used it to correctly predict 15 out of 18 Oscar award winners.  This year, we have expanded the scope of predictions to include almost all of the award shows.  And by calling Andy Samberg’s surprise win for Best Actor the other night, this year’s Social Awards Season is off to a great start.

But while everyone enjoys the glamour of the red carpet, or trying to see if they can pick the winners, it’s important to remember that the American film and television industry is much more than what we see on the red carpet.

Every day, nearly 2 million men and women all over this country wake up and go to work in a job that either directly or indirectly depends upon this industry.  Many of these are the folks whose names we  barely notice in the credits at the end of a movie or TV show – the carpenters who build the sets, the stuntmen and stuntwomen who make us believe that human beings can perform superhuman feats,  or the caterers who feed the hundreds of cast and crewmembers on each production. These are the people whose skills are essential to making this one of the most innovative, entertaining, and successfully American industries year after year – and most of them will never receive any type of public recognition for their contributions.

But it’s not just the people who work on a film or TV set that benefit from this industry. Every time a film or TV show is being made somewhere in the United States, local businesses and local economies are benefitting from it.  For a film production, that means an average of $225,000 flowing into the local economy each day of filming.  And for a place that calls a TV series home, like Albuquerque, New Mexico where Breaking Bad filmed for five seasons, it means years of stable income for local businesses, steady employment for locals, and years of residual tourism benefits as loyal fans come to see where their favorite shows were made.

So as we celebrate the power of films this year like 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and The Wolf of Wall Street that  brought important periods in our history to the big screen; or the thrill-rides like Iron Man 3 and Gravity that continued to push the boundaries of visual effects, it’s important that we all take some time out to think of all those who worked behind the scenes for months or even years to make them possible – and thank them for the many hours of entertainment we have all come to enjoy because of them.

This post was originally posted on HuffingtonPost.com and can be read in its original format here.

 

The 2014 Social Awards Season

The 2014 Social Awards Season

Promoting and protecting the screen community in the Philippines is my passion

by Joji Alonso 01/09/2014 14:39 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Joji Alonso is the winner of the 2013 MPA Asia Pacific Copyright Educator (A.C.E) Award.

It’s well known that the Philippines is a movie-loving nation, with an admissions per capita rate at 0.7 per cent and a box office that has enjoyed a 25.6 per cent growth in revenue from 2008 through 2012.

I am pleased that in recent years a number of Filipino films have earned recognition in the international arena, and in that respect, the era of digital technology has been a big boost to the industry. In the past, only films with support from the studios were released theatrically. Now, anyone who has produced a film may find a way to the big screen without the getting too involved in any complex contracts. And it looks like it can only get better. The Film Development Council of the Philippines projected that movie screens will increase from roughly 700 to 1,000 in just the next two years – good news for all filmmakers looking to play to a wider audience.

My vision and passion is to discover a new generation of talent. If I were to quote my mentor, Armando Lao - we can never create a wave of Filipino films with a group of only five to ten filmmakers. The more filmmakers we have making more films for a wider audience, the better. However, we face the major challenge of how we develop audience respect and appreciation for our films, which is a long-term educational process.

When I look back on my film career, I think the highlight was when Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank (The Woman in a Septic Tank) was nominated as the Philippines’ official entry for the 2013 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film. When we made the film, we simply concentrated on telling the best story to the best of our ability, and never imagined the heights it would reach – though I had a good feeling it might go places.

I am gratified to say that the films I got involved in gained some recognition through various festivals around the world. Kubrador (The Bet Collector) - directed by Jeffrey Jeturian, was screened in over 100 festivals and has earned 38 awards both local and foreign.

Here Comes the Bride will remain a personal favorite as it went against commonly held belief that one needed big stars to make it at the box office. The film grossed more than 130 million peso (USD2.9 million). This year, Chris Martinez, Eugene Domingo and I will team up again in Kimmy Dora 3 for the Metro Manila Film Festival, in partnership with Spring Films.

When I first got into film production and saw pirated DVDs of my film productions being sold for the profit of others, I felt robbed of my creation. It felt worse than having money stolen from you. The time and effort my crews and I put into film involves more than a commercial figure.

The experience led me to believe that the best way to empower people is to educate them, which is why I’ve produced and hosted a television show called Legal Forum for the last 21 years.

It’s important to remind everyone that camcording is stealing and you do not need a law to tell you so. The passage of the Anti-Camcording Law in the Philippines played a critical role in helping protect the interests of the local movie industry, which is still struggling from huge losses due to content theft. The law is now regarded as a shot in the arm for our industry when it was needed the most.

However, news headlines this year recorded too many incidents of illegal camcording occurring in our cinemas. While great efforts are being made to prevent these incidents from taking place, even more diligence is required from our screen community and the authorities if we are to ensure that a zero tolerance message is delivered to these criminals. All of us in the Philippines need to take a tough stance as these criminals should not be allowed to damage our vibrant community.

I was honored to receive the MPA Asia Pacific Copyright Educator (A.C.E.) award this year at CineAsia in Hong Kong, and especially so being the first female recipient of the A.C.E. Award. I am just one voice representing the screen community in the Philippines, so I’m fortunate for the recognition.

I believe that it’s vital for all of us to work together to win over our audiences and help them to understand that they are an important part of the film and television value chain. Audiences, creators, distributors and exhibitors need one another to develop a long term, sustainable entertainment and cultural experience that we can continue to enjoy and enrich us.

 

Joji Alonso recieving the ACE Award at CineAsia on December 12, 2013

At CES, Michael Lynton and Vince Gilligan discuss how technology has made for better TV storytelling

by Kate Bedingfield 01/08/2014 13:25 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Michael Lynton, CEO, Sony Entertainment and Chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan highlighted the positive impact that subscription video on demand (SVOD) services are having not only on the economics of making TV shows and movies – but on how our favorite stories are actually told.

“When I started out on shows like The X Files,” Gilligan said, “the conventional wisdom was that serialized storytelling was to be avoided, that one episode completes the story.  SVOD allows a hyper-serialized form of storytelling and gives people the freedom to access content when they feel like it.”

“Now we have five to six SVOD services competitively bidding on TV series and films that never existed before, both in first run as well as syndication. It has changed the economics dramatically for us – but in a positive way,” Lynton added. 

The discussion was an important reminder of the degree to which technological innovation and storytelling are inextricably linked.  Technology is giving creators more freedom to tell stories the way they want to.  “When I grew up, TV series were framed and cut to a smaller screen size which led to a lot of talking heads,” Gilligan said. “With giant, wide TVs, you get to frame and emulate John Ford or Sergio Leone and, in the case of Breaking Bad, you can place characters in an endless expanse of Mexico prairie which gets to look very painterly and cinematic. That's a wonderful development.” 

As the technology that allows creators like Gilligan to tell stories and the technology that delivers those stories to audiences continues to evolve, consumers reap the benefits.

In the U.S. alone, there are currently more than 95 online services for streaming and downloading legal content, including iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go and Flixster.  (A list of these services can be found at WhereToWatch.org.)  There are more than 410 unique online services around the world offering legitimate full-length films and TV shows to consumers.
 
At yesterday’s CES event, Sony said it would give consumers yet another option by launching a new cloud-based TV service this year that combines live TV with video on demand.  It will include a “watch and resume” function that allows consumers to seamlessly switch devices in the middle of a movie or TV show.
 
The continued growth of legitimate VOD services gives audiences ever more ways to watch our favorite movies and TV shows. As it turns out, they actually also help creators produce the type of content we enjoy watching most.

Another Important Milestone in Russia in Building an Online Creative Marketplace

by Chris Marcich 12/18/2013 12:50 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Russia is an important and growing market for both its own domestic and international film and television industry with an active national creative community that supports thousands of jobs, including people who work in production, post-production, theatres, video shops and online legal services.  In 2012, Russia had the ninth largest international box office market, with $1.2 billion in ticket sales.  

The Russian government took an important step in August to bolster the copyright protection that is at heart of this industry and approved its new anti-piracy law.  This was a clear recognition of the fact that creativity, cultural content and expression are vital to any society, and if a country cannot protect the creative ideas of its people, the country loses not only the economic benefits, but the ability to market itself to the world.

In another important step forward, rights-holders and a number of user-generated-content (UGC) sites signed a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday, which will help both Russian and international film, television and Internet companies further develop the rapidly growing legal online marketplace.  This milestone was spearheaded by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Communications.  The MOU takes effect in early 2014 and will include a voluntary commitment to take preventative measures against piracy including a system involving fast track notice and take down of infringing content that is placed on their sites.

This important initiative highlights that responsible actors within the Internet ecosystem can take meaningful steps toward a shared, voluntary effort that will curb copyright infringement online and lead to more high-quality, legitimate choices.

We must all play by the same rules.  No one should be allowed to profit off of others’ hard work and original ideas.  It will take a shared, voluntary effort from all involved to institute better rules of the road, which will help foster creativity and innovation.  And in Russia, those responsible players who signed the MOU have shown us that this is possible. 

The Future of Entertainment – Merging Technology and Content

by John McCoskey 12/18/2013 10:46 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The close relationship between creative content companies and technology was reaffirmed during a recent Variety Dealmaker’s Breakfast when Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and Nancy Tellem, Microsoft’s President of Entertainment and Digital Media, discussed each industry’s growing reliance on the other in the digital age.  Tellum acknowledged the value movies, TV and other creative content represent to a technology company like Microsoft whose users are now utilizing their game consoles for watching content more than playing video games. And that’s why starting next year Microsoft will produce and distribute its own unique content for the 78 million Xbox consoles being used worldwide, including a project with Steven Spielberg based on the extremely popular Halo series. 

“We’re in this amazing time where these two worlds (of Hollywood and technology) are coming together,” she said.  And there is no better example of that than the smartphones and mobile devices used by millions around the world every day whose ability to access content “can be an incentive to buy something or not to buy” because audiences today want to be able to watch whatever content they want, whenever they want to watch it.

Both agreed that content creators needs to embrace technology or risk losing a younger generation of consumers who are relying more on the digital space for their content.  Fortunately, movie and TV companies are adopting an ever growing variety of methods for consumers to access their content in recent years. 

In the United States alone, there are now more than 95 online services for streaming and downloading legal content that are available to consumers like Itunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go and Flixster. A list of these services can be found at WhereToWatch.org.

Microsoft’s upcoming foray into the world of content creation is just the latest example of the growing interconnectedness of these two great industries as they continue “getting comfortable with each other.” And in the days ahead, the sight of leaders like Alan Horn and Nancy Tellem engaging in a conversation about the future of these two industries will become a regular occurrence as we work together to continue creating and delivering the great content that consumers around the world expect from us in new and innovative ways.

Engaging in the Multi-Stakeholder Model

by Alex Deacon 12/11/2013 14:14 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The past several months have seen a renewed, passionate and energetic debate about the importance of the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance and how vital it is to the incredible success of the Internet to date.  Having been involved in that model since the mid-1990’s, I can’t agree more.  Based on recent research from the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), content creators and producers, which include the six major movie studios that the MPAA represents, added over $1 trillion in value to the US economy in 2012.  This is an amazing figure and underscores the notion that we are significant stakeholders in this debate.  Because of this, it is apparent to me, and the MPAA members, that we can and should be engaging and collaborating at a higher level in many of the multi-stakeholder organizations responsible for defining how the Internet works.  Let me describe two ways we have started to do just this.

ICANN

Several weeks ago I attended the 48th meeting of the International Cooperation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Buenos Aires.   ICANN is the organization responsible for managing the names (DNS) and numbers (IP Addresses) that make the Internet work.  While I’ve spent much of my career at both VeriSign and Neustar (both deeply involved in all things ICANN) this was my first time attending an ICANN meeting in person.  For the past 15 years, ICANN has been effectively using the multi-stakeholder process to keep up with the amazing pace of change in the Internet over the same period of time.    

A key focus for me at ICANN is the work centered around the accuracy of data associated with the WHOIS system – the protocol used to access information on who owns or has been assigned a domain name or IP Address block.   Ensuring this data is accurate is important not only to the MPAA and our members, but also to everyone who uses the Internet every day.  Without accurate WHOIS data, there can be no accountability, and without accountability it can be difficult to investigate and remedy issues when individuals or organizations use the Internet in illegal or inappropriate ways.  Within ICANN, the WHOIS Expert Working Group (EWG) has been tasked to draft recommendations for a next generation service to replace the current WHOIS system – one that ensures both accuracy and accountability.

In addition, a working group has been formed to address issues around the use and accreditation of Privacy and Proxy services.  These services enable users to register for a domain name without having to disclose personal information (such as address, email, phone number) to the Internet at large – a valuable service to many.  Ensuring these services also provide accurate and accountable information is equally important. 

IETF 

At the beginning of November, I attended the 88th meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) – the organization responsible for developing and promoting Internet standards.  There is much important working happening in the IETF.  However, as it relates to the WHOIS system, the important work is happening in the IETF WEIRDS working group.  Over the years there have been several attempts to “fix” WHOIS (whois++, crisp/iris) none of which managed to get much (if any) uptake.  Despite this, I believe the work now happening in the IETF WEIRDS working group has a good chance of being impactful and successful based on its use of existing web technologies that are already well supported in all web-enabled clients.  It is the WEIRDS protocol that will be used to support and implement the next generation WHOIS system being discussed in ICANN.  

 Accurate WHOIS information makes the Internet a better place for all of us and I look forward to being a part of the process, in both ICANN and the IETF, which ensures this happens.  

For more from Alex Deacon follow him on Twitter @_AlexDeacon.

Categories: Technology

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Yahoo Teaming with FindAnyFilm to Make it Easier to Find Legitimate Content

by Senator Chris Dodd 12/11/2013 06:23 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

When film lovers in the United Kingdom and Ireland use Yahoo’s Movie site to find out the latest news on an upcoming film, read a review of a movie that was just released or look up some information on an old favorite, they’ll notice a big change in what they see on their screens thanks to a new partnership between a tech giant and the movie industry. 

Yahoo Movies U.K. is teaming up with the online film search-engine, FindAnyFilm.com, to make it easier for users to find legitimate services for watching films – whether downloading or streaming online, or providing information on cinema showings and allowing them to easily buying tickets to the latest hits playing in theaters.

The Industry Trust for IP Awareness, originally in a partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI), created FindAnyFilm.com to serve as the UK’s most comprehensive film-watching search engine in order to show audiences where they can safely and legitimately find the movies they want in whatever format they want to watch it in – whether in the cinema; on Blu-ray, DVD, or TV; or available for download or streaming online.   The Industry Trust, created through a partnership of the movie studios, theater owners, home entertainment companies and other film organizations, now runs the site on its own.

Constantly updated with the most current information on where and how to view films (and the cost), FindAnyFilm lets users find the film they’re looking for – or get other suggestions through the site’s recommendation options – by typing in a film’s title or the names of its directors and actors, or keywords that help guide the user to a particular movie.  And for those still playing in theaters, the site provides a full list of movies available in the area by postal code and gives the option of buying tickets to the show.

This new development is the latest in a long line of successful efforts by the Industry Trust to educate viewers on the growing multitude of legitimate options that are available for viewing content today and to show them why the work of content creators needs to be respected. And we congratulate them for these steps on behalf of the creators and makers in the UK, the US and throughout the world.

While FindAnyFilm is only available in the UK and Ireland, here in the United States, the MPAA has developed a website -- Where To Watch -- which provides an array of more than 95 legitimate online sites for viewing movies and TV shows.  In addition to Where To Watch, companies throughout the country have created an ever growing number of search engines and apps to help viewers find legitimate content online including CanIStreamIt, Go Watch It, Fan.TV and Fayve among others.

These steps are part of the incredible growth of online viewing opportunities being made available through partnerships with technology companies and film and TV creators.   And this is only the beginning – in the coming months we anticipate a growing number of options throughout the sector designed to help people find the movies and television shows they want to see and learn about new, easily accessible viewing opportunities available on TV, tablets, smartphones and computers.

This post was originally posted on HuffingtonPost.com and can be read in its original format here.

New Pew/Gallup Poll Says Majority of Americans Support More International Trade

by Anissa Brennan 12/09/2013 13:17 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

There is no denying that the world we live in today is growing increasingly interconnected.  A century ago, traveling across the Atlantic Ocean meant living aboard a ship for over a week; today you can fly across it in a number of hours.  Communicating with someone on the other side of the globe meant sending letters that would take weeks to arrive; now you can Skype with a friend in real time. 

Nations everywhere have recognized our world’s growing interconnectedness and have responded by lowering trade barriers and allowing products made in one country to be imported and sold in another market, so that today the majority of countries are importing and exporting more goods than ever before.

Here in the United States alone, more than 13% of our GDP comes from the goods and services we export throughout the globe and we continue to remain the world’s largest importer of goods. 

As our leaders forge ahead on negotiating new trade agreements with nations across the globe, the good news is that, according to a new poll, conducted by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pew Research Center, the overwhelming majority of Americans (77%), regardless of education or political party, believe that growing trade and business ties with other countries is good for the United States – that number is up by 24 points since 2008 when America found itself in the midst of the Great Recession.

And if that weren’t enough, two-thirds of those surveyed said that great involvement in the global economy is a good thing because it opens up new markets and opportunities for our industries to grow.  As an industry that does a tremendous amount of business overseas – international box office for 2012 was nearly $24 billion – the American film industry couldn’t agree more with that sentiment. Our industry has a positive balance of trade in every country where our products are found and accounted for more than $14 billion in American exports in 2011.

The ability to release our content and our products into global markets is what helps employ the 1.9 million American men and women whose jobs are dependent on the film and TV industry every day.  And it is why the American film industry, along with other U.S. copyright industries, accounts for nearly 6.5% of the total GDP and contributed more than $1 trillion to the economy according to a recent study conducted by the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA).

The success of the film and television industry’s expansion into new markets, and the ability to export our products throughout the globe has not only helped our companies, but has benefited millions of American workers. And as we continue working to find new trading opportunities with partners throughout the world it’s good to see the American people recognize the significant benefits that increased trade can bring.

 

Categories: Innovation, Trade

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