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Digital Hollywood Conference Waxes Wary, Yet Optomistic

shindlerbanner-415x260Billed as “Four Days in October – Your World Will Change”

by William Hagle

Marina Del Rey, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/27/14 – Entertainment consumers –all of us– can relax. The world of music, film TV, and multiplatform shows will continue to get cheaper and more debundled into greater viewing flexibilty. One at a time or binged, it will be up to us.

High voltage brainpower is making sure of that.

Hundreds of the brightest inhabited the Digital Hollywood trade show and conference at the Ritz Carlton for most of last week. The event begun in 1990 features anyone that’s anyone –300 plus speakers– on panels that unwind techie and insider topics like “Hollywood Brand Power: Strategic Concepts in Celebrity and creativity Across Platforms” and “Video Anytime Anywhere: Video Across Platforms – Television, Broadband and Mobile – Understanding the Value Proposition.”

Experienced Moderators kept panels lively.

Marty Shindler and his wife run The Shindler Perspective, Inc. a consulting firm coordinating and navigating interested parties through vast and intricate swaths of the entertainment world digital or otherwise. His first panel, well attended at 7:45a.m. rounded up stars in their fields who championed diverse models and technologies that sometimes overlapped but often went different directions with different opinions. Called, “The Future of TV: From Primetime to MultiPlatforms: Wall Street Analysts Meet Entertainment Executives,” the four speakers Shindler kept on their toes included Managing Director, Entertainment and Communications, US, PwC Cindy McKenzie, Dounia Turrill from Neilsen, the ratings company, David Watkins, Director of Connected Home Devices and E! Entertainment founder Larry Namer, now President of Metan Development, a content company in the Chinese market.

Namer came to the early session though he had other options, because of regard for Shindler’s skill with the mic. Namer began entertainment in 1971 with a cable company later bought by Time Warner and gave insights into modern digital trends about 10 years in the making. “It”s like the age of dinosaurs,” Namer said. “If you don’t move on you become extinct…I’ve heard for instance that by 2017 China will be the number one movie market in the world…Five years ago when I went to the studios about my shows in China, the first one was called, ‘Hello Hollywood’ and wanted to get my claw on the red carpet, they went, Larry, what does anyone care about China.”

Shindler acknowledges that the marketplace is changing and digital companies have to take a global view. In his second and final panel of the week, “Hollywood Strategies – The Multi Platform Brand – Theatrical, Video, TV & Mobile – Multiple Screens are the Future – the 360 Degree Marketplace,” Shindler had Sony’s Chief Digital Entertainment exec, an executive VP of IMAX and a few others elaborate on their view of the future as exciting yet still uncertain and challenging.

Shindler’s skills sorting though and illuminating sometimes obscure data and topics was honed early by understanding Hollywood top to bottom through finance, production and distribution. From Kodak visual effects, Lucas Film and Industrial Light and Magic he took a key role as the latter was just starting to change from analog to digital. He had to sign every check during the transition and said, “I’m not just the kind of guy that signs a purchase order that’s put in front of me, I’m the kind of guy as CFO that wants to know what is this going to be used for, how is this is financed, what are the alternatives…and what is the life of the asset. Because I was the guy that had to go out to Skywalker Ranch and present the request to the senior management team at Lucas Film.”

Those skills have also resulted in his successful entertainment consulting practice for the past 18 years.

Women and Latin markets were also well represented. Esteban Lopez Blanco, Chief Stategist and Officer for Entravision participated in “The Global Digital Media Opportunity: What You Need to Know” and pointed out that products in capitalism grow and mature and die. “So you are in constant search of new revenue drivers on top of the audience that you already have. Or, said differently, what other services can you provide that is giving the most important commodity, their attention.”

Simultaneous release on phones, pads, laptops and bigger screens was sometimes referred to at Digital Hollywood as “disruptive technology” and with the example of former battles lost in the music business, companies surveyed lean into and embrace new distribution channels.

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