A Twitter channel you should be following: FilmBuzz
While I try to stay pretty tightly focused on business and marketing on this weblog, those of you that also read my parenting blog have noticed that every so often I'll write a film review or publish an article about something happening in the world of movie production or technology.
What you might not have realized if you haven't talked with me in person is that I'm actually a
Film also serves as a fascinating communications medium because it engages us on so many levels and with more senses than just about anything else I know. You can dabble with this by listening to a movie without watching it, or watching a movie without the sound, or even comparing the sensory experience of an evening movie in a packed, excited theater versus watching that same movie mid-afternoon at home while laying on the couch.
It's also the case, in my experience, that the more you know about editing, pacing, cinematography, soundtracks, and such, the more you can appreciate a brilliantly crafted film. Go watch the crowd scene in Alfred Hitchcock's master work North by Northwest (they're in the cafeteria at Mt. Rushmore) and freeze the frame. Then ask yourself "why are these people dressed in these clothes with these colors?". Remember, any good filmmaker composes every element in every scene of a film. From the cars that "happen to be" parked on the street to the skirt length of the lead actress, nothing -- nothing -- is just random coincidence.
Movie making is also a very unusual business because it operates on so many levels and seems to be such a crap shoot. $85 million to produce and market a film that collapses its first weekend in the box office? Is that a failure? Quite probably not, at the end of the day. You might be surprised how Hollywood can account for costs and recoup losses in many instances. From a business perspective, it's amazing to see the risks of moviemaking and the resultant risk averse strategies used by the major studios (hence, for example, the preponderance of remakes).
Here are a few recent messages that you could have received on your computer or even your mobile device yesterday if you were following FilmBuzz:
As you can see, it's not focused on celebrity gossip but rather the industry, the business of filmmaking and cinema. If you want to be the one in your social circle who knows what films are coming out in a week, a month, a year, for example, its a great service for you.
Haven't even heard of this one: Universal just signed to bring "Bakugan Battle Brawlers" to the big screen, it's a Cartoon Network show.
Universal confirms this surprising fact: "Mamma Mia!" has become the highest grossing film of all time in the UK box office. Impressive!
"Tron" sequel continues to move forward for its 2011 release, now has female lead cast: Olivia Wilde. TR2N is the marketing name for it.
Director James L. Brooks and Reese Witherspoon set to team up on an as-yet untitled comedy for Columbia Pictures. Photog to start in March.
Film Trivia! Was the movie "Memento" released in 2000, 2001 or 2002?
Careful, Lionsgate: they just bought rights to "Loving Frank", a historic novel about Frank Lloyd Wright, by Nancy Horan. Could be very cool
Just got the greenlight: "Halloween 2" (aka "H2") from Rob Zombie and Dimension Films. Scheduled release date? Halloween 2009. Zoom!
Luis Berdejo and Gold Circle Films are reteaming for "POD", a sci-fi thriller that Berdejo will write and direct. It's his first English gig
That's all. I just wanted to invite you, dear reader, to also subscribe to FilmBuzz and feel free to spread the word too, especially with your movie industry connections, if you have any.
And don't be surprised to see FilmBuzz live-tweeting some film festivals in the next twelve months...
Is Jeremiah Owyang an analyst or is Aaron Brazell right to call him out?
Okay, today's tempest in a teapot is centered around Chris Brogan who, on his Dad blog dadomatic did what I have done at least a half dozen times: wrote a sponsored post, receiving payment from Izea (formerly Pay Per Post).
You should start your adventure by glancing at his posting: Sponsored Post: K-Mart Holiday Shopping, Dad Style.
Back? Now, did you realize it was a paid, sponsored post to the weblog, and that Chris made some $$ for doing so? Yeah, I thought so.
Apparently, some folk got into a bit of a twitter-uproar and started assailing Chris and questioning his integrity and position as a thought leader in the social media space. As a result, Chris wrote a new blog entry about the situation, entitled Advertising and Trust.
One of the people who called Chris out for his sponsored posting was Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research. His Twitter message on the subject stated "Transparent, yes. Authentic? debatable. Sustainable? no." People had a strong reaction to Jeremiah's tweet and he ended up writing a blog entry about the situation, entitled Understanding Izea's Sponsored Blogging Service but it's really more about the Brogan brouhaha than anything else.
Still with me?
Enter another friend of mine, Aaron Brazell, better known online as technosailor. For reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, Aaron has really gone after Jeremiah over this situation, notably in an aggressively titled blog entry Jeremiah Owyang Inserts Foot in Mouth (Again) Over IZEA Sponsored Posts.
Okay, now we're caught up. Now I'd like to add my two cents to this situation.
First off, as I insinuated earlier, I am a publisher through the Izea network and have posted a couple of blog entries that were sponsored by one of their advertisers. I have done this to see how it works, write about their service and, yes, make a few dollars in the process. I am not an idealist, I can't pay the mortgage off of good intentions and positive karma, and neither can you, dear reader. Even bloggers need to make a buck.
So fundamentally, I have no problem with Chris Brogan writing a sponsored posting on his terrific Dadomatic weblog. In fact, I'm already a subscriber to the blog, and I saw the post when it first came out. And didn't think twice about it.
Further, I have had a number of good conversations with Jeremiah Owyang, most recently over beers after the Thin Air Summit in Denver, and he's a very sharp industry analyst who understands -- and probes - the edges of the modern Internet and its intersection with commerce and business. That's his job.
I'm also friends with Aaron Brazell and find it highly ironic that as I write this blog entry, I'm also coordinating meeting Aaron for dinner while he's here in Boulder. I imagine we'll talk about this issue while we're gnawing on sushi together.
Nonetheless, this really is a tempest in a teapot and I'll say that a lot of the criticism comes from what I believe is a place of idealism, not reality. What I mean by this is that pragmatic people recognize that other people need to earn a living, so rather than complain about the ads on TV, for example, they pay to support public television or subscribe to a commercial cable channel (or skip it and go to Hulu, but that's another story).
Jeremiah was right to call Chris on this issue in the way he did. He didn't say Chris was a loser, he didn't say Chris was unprofessional, he didn't say that Chris had sacrificed his integrity and was forevermore a shill for K-Mart and he didn't say that Chris shouldn't earn money. All that I see Jeremiah said was that a pay-per-post model of online publicity is not sustainable. And I agree.
Aaron's the one I have the proverbial bone to pick with, and I started this posting by writing a comment on his blog, but realized that it was gong to be wayyyy too long and moved it here instead. So, finally, with all that said, let's get to what I want to say.
(does that qualify as the world's longest lead in to a blog entry?)
Aaron complains about Jeremiah's original tweet, saying that he "depart[s] from the typical role of an analyst, where neutrality and objectivity are key in providing unbiased advice, and instead insert[s] himself into a conversation as a subject matter expert on a topic he really knows nothing about."
Analysts analyze. And no-one is unbiased, which is why we have the "scientific method", among other things. But the fact is, Jeremiah's very job depends on him being able to both analyze and probe the edges of his area of expertise, and, yes, he is most certainly a subject matter expert on social media and marketing.
"Jeremiah is, as a representative of Forrester Research and in his function as a research analyst, expected to be a thought follower, not a thought leader. That is, his role is not to editorialize, or offer public opinion in such a way that exerts his influence outside of his Forrester client base."I almost gasped at this comment. Jeremiah is absolutely supposed to be a thought leader in his role and indeed, every industry analyst is supposed to not just know the aggregate statistics (which is the "thought follower" part) but understand their implications and be able to draw conclusions and make recommendations based upon them. If that's not thought leadership, what is?
I don't want to pick on Aaron, though, because these guys have all scuffled enough at this point, but I do want to highlight that as leaders in the social media space, it's their (can I say "our"?) job to push the edges, to test the boundaries, to "eat their own dog food", and that not only includes doing things that might be questionable, but also criticizing and analyzing what's been done and the community response.
What I haven't seen in this entire discussion, for example, is whether the original post by Chris on behalf of K-Mart was successful by their criteria?
Go back again and read Chris' sponsored blog post: was it worth $500 (or $1000) for the company?
Now also go back and read what Jeremiah actually said in his twitter messages on the subject (start here) and ask yourself: isn't it the role of media analysts to ask questions and make pointed observations about unusual occurrences in the social media space?
Frankly, it always amazes me that bloggers have these thrashing discussions around what I see as a sense of guilt over the incursion of capitalism into the blogosphere without noting that there are plenty of bloggers who are making good coin writing not just about what they want, but what they perceive their readers -- or advertisers - want them to write about. It's just part of the landscape.
I have no strong conclusion, no great moral to this story. I just wish we'd have a bit more of a civil discourse when we are all discussing what does and doesn't work in the blogosphere.
How about you? What's your take on this whirlwind?
Nice job, Macy's! An example of how to approach bloggers for a campaign.
I have often written about the challenges of how to query bloggers and ask them to get involved with public relations campaigns, and generally tend to highlight poor examples, awkward queries, and downright stupid campaigns.
Like the email I got the other day from a company representing a really big client that started "Dear Brian". Ooops.
What I like about it is that there's a nice sense of engagement and a sense that she at least spent the 30 seconds necessary to write the first paragraph before she copied and pasted in the form letter that comprises the bulk of this message.
It may not be much, but I think it's a great query, respectful, transparent, and for a good cause. In fact, I encourage you, dear reader, to click on the above link and consider adding a Believe meter to your site too if you have the space.
Oh, and the $20 certificate? I've written to Deana asking if the money or certificate can be donated to a homeless shelter instead.
Mattel finally has the chance to axe the horrid Bratz line
I'm going to guess that there's a good chance you don't track the doll market, but there's been a very interesting intellectual property case that's been brewing for a few years, pitting toy colossus Mattel (NYSE: MAT) against upstart MGA Entertainment. The dueling dolls? Barbie versus Bratz.
I've actually written about this case before, on my parenting blog, muchly because I so loath the Bratz line and all it represents for young girls and its terrible impact on both their self-image and understanding of how their sexuality allows them to fail or succeed in modern society. See: Hey Mattel! Now you can put Bratz to sleep once and for all. (yeah, it's a bit biased)
After a few months of legal arguments and deliberations, let me quote the Wall Street Journal's report of the outcome:
"U.S. District Court in Riverside, Calif., essentially handed over MGA's pouty-lipped, hip-hop-themed Bratz franchise to Mattel, the maker of the iconic Barbie, whose sales have been undercut by the upstart Bratz in recent years. Judge Stephen G. Larson's ruling came several months after a federal jury found that the Bratz dolls were originally conceived by a designer who worked at Mattel and surreptitiously took the concept to MGA."Of course MGA is complaining and saying that they'll appeal, but I mean, come on, guys, if you want to complain about fairness, then maybe you shouldn't have hired the Mattel toy designer and started manufacturing dolls that he designed while at Mattel.
I'm really pleased at this ruling and hope that Mattel either completely shut down the entire Bratz brand or, at a minimum, retool these dolls to be a bit less pouty sluts and a bit more cute young girls that actually don't reinforce all that's messed up about our cultural view of girls and sexuality.
This can be done through Mattel ultimately licensing the Bratz line to MGA and requiring that they make it a bit more wholesome or bringing the brand in-house, but either way, now's your golden moment, Mattel Brand President Neil Friedman. Do what's right for your brand, your corporate image, and the millions of girls who enjoy the Mattel doll lines as playthings.
The Future of Blogging is the Future of Interpersonal Connectedness
I was asked by Joel Comm to write about the future of blogging for his newsletter, and here's what I came up with. I'm republishing it here with their permission.
Joel asked me to write about the future of blogging, but the more I thought about that topic, the more it felt like asking an architect to write about the future of nails or hammers. There are small technological increments in metallurgy and even the shape of nails have changed in the last hundred years (not to mention the materials science that have made better hammers) but, really, I mean, they're hammers and nails and in a hundred years the Jetsons will be using the same basic tools to make Jane her art studio, right?
Blogging is the same way. A weblog, at its most fundamental, is just a tool, a slick way to organize and manage the content on your Web site, both that which you produce and content generated by users as comments. In the biz, we call blogs content management systems (CMS) to remind us that it's not Valhalla, it's not a Brave New World, it's just a software tool just as Microsoft Word is a tool.
I am sure that in the next few years blogging tools will continue to evolve, but what will happen is that the very concept of "blog" will continue to get more and more fuzzy as more and more ideas are embodied in the software systems, notably the popular open source Wordpress utility. In the software world, evolution starts with the addition of custom hacks, then those become standardized as "widgets", little plug-in applications that extend and add functionality to your site. Finally, the most popular widgets then become a part of a subsequent release of the main software application itself.
You can predict the future of blogging, therefore, by looking at what plug-ins and hacks are popular today, and those are almost all about spam control and the addition of social networking and social media capabilities. It's no surprise that the best spam control tool in the blogging space is from the same company that produces Wordpress either: Akismet, from Automattic. Sure enough, that started out as a separate application, then was a plug-in, and is now integrated into the Wordpress (and Movable Type) blogging applications.
Social networking is still a mess, however, with lots of duplicate functionality and many, many companies trying to solve a facet of the fundamental human question of How Can We Connect? From the shared bookmarks of De.licio.us to the popularity contest of Digg, the collegiate interpersonal networking of Facebook to the ceaseless stream of trivia big and small on Twitter, all social media elements are migrating into blogging content management tools, along with the ability to register users, rate them based on community feedback votes and number of comments, and allow your blossoming community to grow through interpersonal links and connections.
The future of blogging, in other words, isn't blogging. It's a grand web of social elements that will make sense and be wonderful on some well organized sites, but overwhelming and baffling on other sites. It'll be a foundational element of the new, more highly connected Web that'll be a pervasive part of our lives, be it on our mobile devices, our transportation or our homes and offices.
Are you ready?
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