Friday, November 23, 2007

POTW: ScreenWritEntrepreneurs

You may recall our buzz-buzz post about Mark Cuban's drive to democratize movie production and distribution. And, if you've enjoyed The Long Tail, you may savor the water torture-esque death of major movie studios (nothing like the amusement of listening to an arrogant industry/balloon whistle and deflate its way to limpness!).

Our post of the week amplifies, courtesy of the LA Times, Marc Andreessen's ongoing communique about the writers' strike ... here are a few quick takes (read the whole post; it's good):

Hollywood is a town awash in hyphenates. TV is loaded with writer-producers. The movie biz is full of writer-directors. There's even a legion of actor-filmmakers like Clint Eastwood and George Clooney. But as the writers strike enters its third week, I think the future belongs to a tantalizing new hyphenate: the writer-entrepreneur.

... "Writers who create something rare -- a story with great, original characters that movie stars will cut their price to play -- have a real value," says Mandate production chief Nathan Kahane. "But that value doesn't get unlocked in the studio system. If writers are willing to share our risk, then we're willing to give them a lot of control and share in the profits too."

This kind of entrepreneurial formula couldn't have existed in the era when the studios had a stranglehold on every facet of the business, notably talent, money and distribution. But those days are gone. The stars became free agents long ago. In the last few years, with billions of private-equity dollars flooding the business, the studios have lost their lock on financing too.

... "The world is about to change," Frank says. "Anyone with an Apple computer can make a movie now -- it's never been a more democratic medium. The studios should be very afraid. Once the independent financiers start going directly to writers, things could change really fast. I ask myself every week -- why aren't we all working with them? Look at the movies they've made. They are the new Medicis."

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