Kelly Jo Brick: Highlights from the Variety Entertainment & Technology Summit

IMG_1532

By Kelly Jo Brick

Developing material through a different lens was a recurring theme during Variety’s Entertainment & Technology Summit. In this day long event, panelists discussed the challenges of staying relevant and reimagining their strategies as the entertainment industry grows and adapts to new technologies.

When looking at the current entertainment atmosphere and the future of the film industry, President of Imagine Entertainment, Erica Huggins, declared, “A good story is a good story.” But stories can now be told in many ways as she added that there is, “A select group of people that will always tune in for something that is great.”

Ze Frank, President, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures called this the, “Golden Age of the moving image,” and behind this growing Golden Age is a wave of creators who bring an audience with them. According to George Strompolos, whose company Fullscreen’s YouTube partnership program empowers over 75,000 content creators, these creatives stand out with what they make and a lot of them come with their own army, which will shift the power. There will be fewer stories of “I couldn’t get it made” because crowdfunding will help these people make things happen.

With increasing platform proliferation and audience fragmentation, the Variety Summit also explored innovations in measuring audience interest/demand. Parrot Analytics showcased their efforts in measuring demand for cross-platform content with a real-time system designed to gauge global and country-specific interest. New technologies are also being engaged to quantify consumer attention for ads in the U.S. as campaigns air, with companies such as Ace Metrix recognizing that the ongoing availability of this real-time analytical data can help marketers craft more effective creative and optimize delivery of their message.

The ongoing development of virtual reality brought a lot of discussion amongst panelists who overwhelmingly believed that although the technology could be a game-changer, it still had a long way to go in development. “It’s all covered wagons heading west right now and that’s kinda the fun of it,” declared Robert Stromberg, Production Designer for Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. Fellow panelist, David Alpert, Executive Producer of The Walking Dead, further suggested, “It always takes a little while for the medium to find its format.” TV found its way after starting like radio, YouTube started like TV then found what fit. Virtual reality needs to do the same and find the best way it can be used to tell story.

The day also brought attention to expanding content options such as The Dove Channel, an OTT network focused on family-based entertainment that was called one of the “5 Things You Need to Know,” by USA Today. The Dove Channel puts control in the hands of the user by allowing viewers to access Dove Approved films, shorts, documentaries and TV series all rated and labeled by intensity of content so viewers can make safe and aware choices of the content they watch with their children.

Viki CEO Tammy H. Nam announced a groundbreaking new show, Dramaworld, coming to their global, fan-powered TV site in which avid fans translate TV, movies and other content into over 200 languages. According to Nam, “The reason why we wanted to produce a show is because most of the content that we license is produced for a local audience. So it’s produced for one particular country, mostly. And then we license it and we expose it to a global audience. What we wanted to do was have a show that is produced specifically for an international fan base of primarily Asian dramas.” Dramaworld, which will premiere in early 2016, is a co-production with China’s Jetavana Entertainment and features an international cast and creative team.

The Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit also brought focus to storytelling. Keynote speaker Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment and Chief Content Officer of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment shared her insights, explaining that the goal of DC was, “to create a portfolio of creators that have depth and breath.” They didn’t want to create a single universe with DC, fearing that it could put limitations on their storytelling. With this approach, shows like Gotham can grow and develop free of restraints. Nelson was excited to have 8 shows airing on multiple networks during the 2015-16 TV season. She was especially enthused by Supergirl, which comes to CBS in October, calling it “a really special show” and a very empowering approach to the character that should appeal to women and girls, as well as bring in elements that superhero fans will love.

Creatives behind Arrow, The Flash, Teen Wolf, Wet Hot American Summer and the Dark Knight franchise rounded out the day with a conversation about respecting history and developing relationships with fans. Citing the challenges of walking the tightrope between core and new followers, Greg Berlanti, Executive Producer of Arrow, Supergirl and The Flash, believed that, “There’s a dialogue between you and the audience and you can change things as you go along.” As a fan of these stories himself, Berlanti added, “If we would be excited about it and we would be interested in it, we just have to hope the fans would be as well.”


Kelly Jo Brick is a Contributing Editor at TVWriter™. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.

The Hudsonian Sees ARROW

Arrow Hits a Bullseye – by Joshua Hudson

***The pilot episode originally aired on the CW on October 10, 2012 at 8 p.m. EST. What follows is a love triangle between myself, the CW, and Oliver Queen.***

When a movie based on comic book characters makes $1.5 billion worldwide, everyone wants a piece of the action, right? Especially when you have your own catalog of cool characters, and you have yet to make that much. Being shown up by your competition is never a good thing.

Suffice it to say, Arrow is a television show, so it’s not likely to make that kind of money. But, and I can say this with the utmost confidence, Warner Bros. and the CW have themselves a hit TV show.

Arrow is based on the DC Comics character Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, and details his journey from being a notoriously spoiled playboy – Tony Stark, anyone? – to a hooded vigilante who’s out to protect his city from those that stand to corrupt it.

This show is everything you want not just as a fanboy, but as an introduction to a character that may get you excited about comics. I personally have never read a Green Arrow comic, but I’m ready to pick up DC’s latest trade paperback featuring Queen. And I read comics every week.

Oliver Queen was aboard a boat with friends and his father when a hurricane tore it apart and he was left to float away in a life raft until stumbling upon an island in the Pacific Ocean. Everyone on the boat died, including his father and his date for the trip, Sarah Lane; who also happened to be his girlfriend’s sister.

When Queen is rescued and returns home, everyone is shocked, surprised, elated, and/or disgusted. Depends on whom you ask, really. Living a life of debauchery will create jealousy amongst peers, but in the case of Dinah “Laurel” Lane, it’s simply anger because he survived and her sister did not. Oh, and she’s hooking up with Queen’s best friend, Tommy Merlyn. It’s the CW. Would you expect anything less than a romantic love triangle?

Queen takes the last dying words of his father to heart, and sets out to help his city become what his father helped destroy. He is targeting the wealthy aristocrats that siphon funds from the poor and manipulate the system only to benefit themselves. To make life easier, Queen turns his father’s old factory into a “home base” of sorts where he trains and plots his next move.

He takes down Adam Hunt in the form of $40 million dollars, and closes Laurel’s case against him. (Oh, she’s a DA, and doesn’t know how to turn down a fight.) Of course, he’s not the only one on the list. There are many others, which will essentially make up the basis of each episode. Luckily, it’s a pretty long list.

There’s a little twist at the end, which I won’t spoil, but it involves Queen’s mother and trying to find out what her late husband told her son. Too much? Do yourself a favor, and watch this show. It’s a good mix of story, action and romance, and will make you appreciate Wednesday nights more than you did before.

My only gripe? Arrow should be paired with Nikita to create the best action-packed two hours on television. And this is on the CW. Who saw that coming?

Not a Review of The CW’s ARROW

…because, we assume, there’s an embargo on such things for now.

This Is Not a Review: The CW’s Pilot Arrow
by Tim Surette

Alert! This is not a review. I repeat, this is not a review. Throw a “p” on that, please, ’cause this is a preview of the early version of a pilot, a pilot that will almost certainly undergo some form of change before it airs in its final form. Consider this a first impression of a work-in-progress.

Read it all

Obligatory snarky comment:

Our first impression is that either SpoilerTV.Com or Tim Surette is an age-spotted (sorry, LB) coward. Or both. Yeah, let’s just say both.

Our second impression, though, is that smells like a big CW hit. No, not because of Stephen Amell’s manly forearms, we’re talking something real here: Sharp pointy things (like arrows, wake up!) are, you know, US.