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Posts from the ‘media ramblings’ Category

Dropping Film Knowledge like a Clumsy Librarian (somewhere in the 700 section…)

The_Horse_in_MotionHi all!

People seem to be liking the film industry / history writing I’ve been doing over at Quora, so if you’re one of the folks mad I don’t have more time for long-form industry ramblings these days, there might be something there to scratch your itch?

Here’s a list of every Quora I’ve answered as one gigantic list

Or here’s a few direct-links to whet your appetite:

And many, many, (many) more… including topics as disparate as Toronto chicken bylaws, or (possibly the most read thing I’ve ever written in my life) 90 words about the history of Scooby-Doo.

The Internet everyone!

Happy… 2013…

Producer Brad Fox discussed Piracy in the April 2013 issue of Fine Cut

Hey everyone,

Sorry there hasn’t been much updated on this front. Tonnes of interesting developments to chat about in the ever-crazy media world – and not enough hours in the day. As I race pell-mell towards the end of the year, I really do want to make getting this space into some kind of shape one of my new years goals.

In the meantime, if you’re really wanting more of my patented media babbling I’ve written a tonne of possibly interesting stuff over at Quora.com including bits on the transition to digital screens, why sound often gets short shrift in micro-budget film-making, feature film format and theatre profitability, and some realities about the shrinking home video market.

Hopefully that will keep you busy in the meantime. As well you can always see what I’m up to in more granular detail over at @blogfox – my twitter handle.

And, finally, can I humbly suggest that the shiny new iTunes version of Billy Bishop Goes to War would make an amazing holiday gift for many on your shopping list with a passion for Canadian military or theatre history (or both!) (or neither!!). I’m still amazingly proud of this feature film, and want to see it get into more Canadian homes. What Eric Peterson and John Gray do in that film is phenomenal… how often do you get to see a film that’s been polished for 30-odd years by it’s creators?

Happy holidays everyone and let’s get the joint jumping again in the new year!

NB: Oh yeah that creepy photo is courtesy of the most recent issue of “Fine Cut”, which interviewed me about the reality of piracy in Canadian indie media – check that out too…

Comics and the Digital Ecosystem

I thought this was a big hit?

Hey all – I’ve been working on a bold Blogfox experiment for this month, which I was hoping to roll out this week – but that’s been back-burnered for a few days… so I’ve given myself ten minutes to jot down a couple of things I *have* to get down regarding “ye olde funnybooks” before they become too dated: One is about the value of a “hit” in any media, and the other is how to really look at “profit margins” when comics publishers move into digital distribtuion. Napkin calculations ahoy! Read more

Adventures in Universe Building (aka The “My Little Pony” Posts): Part II – Allegorical and Campaign Universes

THE GHOST IS AN ALLEGORY FOR CONSUMERISM.

Now that I’ve, hopefully, made a passable argument that dynamic and varied story engines were not a strength of 1980s kids television – let’s look at a different, but related, aspect of those shows (and kind of the underlying point of this whole series of posts) – The Universes they were set in. Read more

Usage Based Billing – The Elephant in the Muddy Waters in the Middle Ground

Oh Wikimedia Commons, is there any topic you don't have the perfect image for?

I got an e-mail from a friend (on his way to a Useage Based Billing consultation) yesterday curious as to what my thoughts were on the whole thing. I haven’t written anything about it at length (other than the odd tweet, mostly because my position generally falls outside both of the established “camps”, and when I have talked about it I generally found the discussion quickly deteriorated to me being asked to defend “the other side” and tenants I didn’t actually agree with.

Actually my biggest problem with the “debate” so far is that the two sides usually distill down to the arguments that “UBB is necessary” vs. “UBB is bad” and given that those aren’t actually mutually exclusive positions it’s frustrating to try and even define what the core issues are.

But in yesterdays exchange, I realized that I do have some thoughts which are a different viewpoint from most of what I’ve been seeing written – so if nothing else it might provide a different angle for people to contextualize their own positions – whatever they may be. Read more

Adventures in Universe Building (aka The “My Little Pony” Posts): Part I – 80s Cartoons Were Terrible

Not a good show.

Thankfully I pretty much gave up on any notion of being “cool” a lifetime ago… but this is a big leap even by my standards. Against all odds, there are people out there who want me to write about “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” (presumably because they want to laugh at me). Before I do however, I need to start somewhere else, and work around to it, because what’s really been turning my crank since Christmas is thinking about Universe Building and (ultimately) how I think a lot of ongoing fantasy series have really messed up the concept of Universe Building in both audience expectation, and also creator intent. But since Universe Building is such a meta concept, I need to craft a bit of a “grand unified kitchen sink” theory requiring all sorts of odd bits and pieces, so there’ll be a lot of ranting about seemingly non-related things for a bit, capice? I actually considered doing this as a video blog as I’m stronger at lecturing on this type of material rather than trying to write it, but I’m not sure I’m man enough to be confident I can pull off a YouTube video extolling the virtues of “Twilight Sparkle” and “Rainbow Dash”. So – bear with me for the next few days as we see where this crazy rabbit hole leads. First stop: The 80s!

Cartoons targeted at girls in the 80s were, for the most part, terrible. I can say this as an authority. I was the only boy on my street until grade school, so I’ve played more than my fair share of Barbie, My Little Pony, and – most of all – Strawberry Shortcake. Suffice it to say if I was going to be eternally stuck playing the Peculiar Purple Pieman (and I was, invariably, always The Peculiar Purple Pieman(1) ) I had to understand “the canon”, as it were. Read more

Footnotes:
  1. from Porcupine Creek – ya-ta-ta-tah-ta-ta-tah-ta-ta-ta-CHA! []

Kevin Smith, and the “Red State” Experiment

red-state-posterKevin Smith’s release plan for “Red State” isn’t particularly revolutionary – and you can’t convince me it was supposed to be. What it is, is an interesting experiment if one happens to be Kevin Smith. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the armchair studio-heads need to be careful to recognize in their blogs and tweets that there is absolutely nothing that “the industry” is going to be able to learn from this little adventure – unless you happen to be interested in investing in low-budget features directed by Kevin Smith.

Your nickle tour summary is that Smith had a much-hyped event yesterday after the Sundance premiere of the film (replete with protesting Fred Phelps), where he was to auction off the distribution rights to his new horror film “Red State”. What actually happened was the classic “old switcheroo” where Smith actually sold himself the distribution rights, and announced he’d be four-walling the film for several months – prior to a wider October 19th release (presumably with a traditional distributor). “Four Walling”, if you’re not familiar with the term, is when a distributor pays to rent out an entire theatre in advance, and then keeps the entirety of the ticket proceeds… as opposed to regular exhibition where the distributor and the exhibitor split ticket revenues.

It was at this point that the film bloggosphere exploded with rage, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me. Writers were alternately angry that Smith lied to them about his intentions, or that he was using them for promotion of his new distribution company, or that he plans to charge $60 to $70 for tickets to these advance screenings when critics are used to getting promotional screenings for free… or… something. They were certainly angry. The one thing that surprises me is that more prominent film-bloggers didn’t grow up watching professional wrestling – since the “vaguely worded *big reveal* let-down” is pretty much the oldest game in town. I don’t really have anything to say about any of that. I wasn’t even aware of the film until e-mail started trickling in today on the topic. Read more

Lessons from Pirates? Not Quite.

Nollywood DVD Stall - Flickr photo (cc) by Paul KellerWired (and WELL) co-founder (and all around writer/blogger/lecturer/savant) Kevin Kelly has written an interesting blog “How to Thrive Among Pirates” wherein he extrapolates lessons Western film producers could learn from the piracy-ridden filmmaking cultures of China, Nigeria, and India.

The short summary, for those unfamiliar with China/Nollywood/Bollywood filmmaking, is that there is a thriving low (or no) budget domestic filmmaking culture in these countries which one would presume would be impossible, given the widespread piracy in each.

It’s a very comprehensive, well written read – but I think his conclusions miss the mark, and often gloss over (or conveniently ignore) some of the realities of the situations and solutions he raises.

What do these gray zones have to teach us? I think the emerging pattern is clear. If you are a producer of films in the future you will:

1) Price your copies near the cost of pirated copies. Maybe 99 cents, like iTunes. Even decent pirated copies are not free; there is some cost to maintain integrity, authenticity, or accessibility to the work.

The problem with this approach is that Kevin is thinking in terms of the lessons he’s learned in three countries where physical media is the primary distribution channel of pirated material. In the west, the “cost of a pirated copy” for many movies is zero (or, at best, the pro-rated cost of a low-end computer and a couple of hours of internet time to snag a torrent. This, in most cases, doesn’t even get you a fuzzy multiple-generation bootleg, or shaky handicam movie, but a pristine, DVD-quality film – better than what you’d get at most theatres in Nigeria or India. Read more