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Request for Startups: Kill Hollywood. (ycombinator.com)
2060 points by dzlobin 1954 days ago | hide | past | web | 664 comments | favorite



Here is what Francis Ford Coppola has to say on the matter:

http://the99percent.com/articles/6973/Francis-Ford-Coppola-O...

"We have to be very clever about those things. You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it."


I love FFC. I'm a current UCLA film student - Coppola's alma mater. One thing to think about: UCLA has always been the "indy, intellectual" film school. It's our rep, internally and (to an extent) externally. When Coppola left UCLA to work in Hollywood, he was branded a sell-out by his fellow students.

One thing to think about w/ this whole "crush Hollywood" thing is this: most of your favorite movies (assuming you've got a boner for the New Hollywood period like I do) were a result of an aging, out-of-touch entertainment monopoly making desperate, reactionary moves to save itself. The old system didn't work, the people in charge had no idea how to fix it, so they went crazy taking risks on young directors. FFC, Scorsese, Spielberg, Altman, de Palma, Lucas - all the really top-drawer American filmmakers, honestly - were a result of this period of blind desperation.

There would be no Godfather without Hollywood. No Apocalypse Now. (also no Taxi Driver, no Star Wars, no Indiana Jones, no MASH or Nashville) In the absence of Hollywood, you get movies like Youth Without Youth and Tetro - two wonderful oddities, but you'd be hard pressed to make the case for them against Coppola's early masterpieces.

The beautiful and horrible thing about Hollywood is that it's a system designed to throw huge stacks of cash at storytelling problems. It's fucking absurd, because money has never been capable of solving those kinds of problems - practice and gut instinct are what create good stories. But when strong storytellers are placed in an environment which supplies nearly unlimited resources, totally amazing things happen. Yes, we can all point to Heaven's Gate, New York New York, and Coppola's own One From the Heart, but flops like those are the inevitable flip side of the system I've just described: talented people can abuse unlimited resources just like anybody else.

I guess what I'm saying is: I'd be seriously depressed if Hollywood were to vanish. Yeah, it produces a lot of shit, but its high water marks have never really been replicated by any other mode of production.


There would be no Godfather without Hollywood. No Apocalypse Now. (also no Taxi Driver, no Star Wars, no Indiana Jones, no MASH or Nashville)

So what have they done lately?

I think you're proving the point. They're an empty shell of their former greatness and should be put out of their misery to make room for whatever great thing is to come next.


"So what have they done lately?"

Not even counting foreign films, here are some darn good productions from the past five years:

Midnight in Paris, Hugo, Drive, Warrior, Black Swan, Inception, Inglourious Basterds, Up, Whatever Works, The Limits of Control, The Dark Knight, WALL-E, Gran Torino, The Wrestler, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Into the Wild, Ratatouille, The Departed, and The Prestige.


The Prestige and The Departed are from 2006 and I would say 1/2 of what's left sucked. Still, listing a few movies that don't suck is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Pixar demonstrates that it's possible to make 10 movies without 5 of them being terrible. If the rest of Hollywood knew what it was doing you would expect the same quality from Sony pictures etc.


Do you really think there was a time in which every new movie was a masterpiece? I seriously doubt it, and I don't think movies are worse now than they were 10 or 20 years a go.


There's an inherent survivorship bias that makes past art look better. The good art survives because people make copies of it, reference it, etc. The bad art just gets forgotten because nobody even wants to make fun of it any more.


50% of a studio's output not being terrible is hardly the same thing as expecting every new movie to be a masterpiece. With studio's spending 100 million on a 'low' budget film you would expect they could spend 1 million to mock up 10 different films and pick the top 10% of scripts and fund them. Instead they use independent funding for most films which gives them far less choice.

PS: Pixar is hardly the first company to fund things internally raise the bar. You can find other studio's that used that model and produced a lot of decent films one after another. It's just that after a while the people running things don't really have a taste for talent and they can't handle the risks.


Ooooh... 1999. Fight Club. Go. American Beauty. The Matrix. Boys don't cry. Austin Powers. The Sixth Sense. The Talented Mr. Ripley. The Cider House Rules. Magnolia. Mansfield Park. The Red Violin. Trick. American Pie. ;)

That is despite the fact that installment movies of James Bond, Star Wars, Toy Story, etc., that year.

Everything seemed great that year. Or perhaps if was also a good year for me, and therefore everything seemed good because of that...


At the time of The Godfather's release there was the same mountain of crap in cinemas that there is today. It's easy to look back on "the good old days" and conclude that the quality of modern filmmaking has decreased, but you'll be ignoring all the other junk that made it to the silver screen. Like any medium, 90% of what's produced commercially is garbage, but future generations will enjoy the films of P.T. Anderson, Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, and countless other artists working today and say "they just don't make 'em like they used to."

Also, since Taxi Driver by Martin Scorcese was mentioned, take a look at his latest film Hugo. I think you'll agree it's every bit as good as his earlier work.


All the animated movies; some of which I think are absolutely great, would not have happened.


Does Pixar count as Hollywood? I guess it does -- but it feels somehow separate.


Pixar is part of Disney now, which is about as Hollywood as you can get.

Will that impact the quality of their titles? Well, their last film was Cars 2... not exactly a high water mark for them by any measure.


> There would be no Godfather without Hollywood. No Apocalypse Now. (also no Taxi Driver, no Star Wars, no Indiana Jones, no MASH or Nashville) In the absence of Hollywood, you get movies like Youth Without Youth and Tetro - two wonderful oddities, but you'd be hard pressed to make the case for them against Coppola's early masterpieces.

Those movies you mentioned were a result of being within/outside Hollywood, not a function of Hollywood's existence.


In a sense, Hollywood has died once before: the studio system used to be the only way of doing business in the movies. The breakup of the union between distribution and production lead to the current system of direct investment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_system

Films have been made with other forms of investment, production, and distribution. While films like The Godfather came out of the present model, there's nothing that indicates to me that the present model is the only one that works. And, indeed, the production The Godfather in particular is one of the early successes of that model, and after 40 years its not surprising if the cracks are starting to show.


I believe the problem isn't the existence of Hollywood, but that too much power is centralized in the hands of too few. Competition within the city can be likened to a Duopoly; competition in name, but far from it in practice.

I remember reading about how the RIAA companies engineer their licensing contracts in a way that forces maximum payoffs [1], and I wouldn't be surprised to find those problems in Hollywood as well.

[1]: http://gigaom.com/2011/12/11/why-spotify-can-never-be-profit...


Hollywood has guilds, unions, and politics (referring to the internal.) Fall out of favor or break the rules and your out. This environment is the antithesis of creativity.

Consider an alternative market: books. Today anyone anywhere can write and sell a book to just about anyone thanks to the Kindle and other electronic book platforms. Borders went belly up and Barnes and Noble might follow. It suddenly appears that publishers serve little purpose. In this scenario publishers are Hollywood.

Movie production has become cheap. Cameras, equipment, software, the costs are going down not up. Hollywood can do nothing about this. There will always be some sort of extremistan $100m+ movies, but that amount of money is not a requirement for a good movie.

Distribution, in high definition, is unlimited with Amazon, Youtube, Netflix, Apple and others. Watching a movie at home on a 65" LCD with a good surround system is often a better experience than going to a theater and watching a poorly focused image from a projector with an underpowered bulb.

The only thing really left is for the talent to look and say, Hollywood has nothing to offer me, with Hollywood I am worse off not better.

This is all inevitable -- but, if you want to speed it up, these players need to make sure the glitz and glamor are on their side. Without it, Hollywood is going to be around for a while.


If $100m+ movies continue to exist, Hollywood will continue to exist, because the majority goes to see those types of movies. To kill Hollywood, all costs around the creation & distribution of movies need to decrease tremendously to the point where they wouldn't even know how to spend $100m+ creating a movie.


$100m+ movies won't exist if they can't recoup the money (according to real accounting, not Hollywood accounting). And that might happen if peoples' attention (and therefore, entertainment dollars) are spread out among more people by making more people able to entertain each other and profit from it, making it hard for any small group of people to hog the whole pie, as it were.


Your point about guilds et al reminded me of this great post earlier on HN where jonnathanson described why Hollywood has trouble innovating [1].

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3424496


The RIAA are pikers next to Hollywood accountants: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting/


HN is techy and entrepreneurial so most of the ideas presented so far suggest new technologies and business models.

Does this community know of the French New Wave -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_new_wave?

It influenced Hollywood as much as any new technology and business model since WWII. IT created a new ways of looking at movies, created the role of director as author, decreased studios' power, and put creation in the hands of new people. Its influence continues today, though the studios regained their power after a generation. The movement was influenced by new technologies, so I don't mean to imply they are independent.

I hope people think about other ways of thinking about change than just technology and business plans.


And just to add to the "everything is a copy of a copy": the French New Wave was a reaction to Hollywood itself. Godard and Truffaut were infatuated with genre studio pictures, and most of their best work was a result of their passionate desire to tell Hollywood style stories. They told them with the resources available to them, which gave their films a particular aesthetic. You could call that aesthetic "enthusiastic budgetary disregard." Check out Shoot the Piano Player to see what I mean.


The role of technology is not to dictate creative ideas to artists, rather it has to be a vehicle through which artists create. BTW i don't think cinema as a whole is in a crisis, au contraire there are always beautiful stories told in movies everywhere, china, europe, indie US movies, and cinema is not gonna die when hollywood dies. So yes, entrepreneurs will suggest and create new technologies, try new things without feeling much guilt about not being idealistic.


This is insightful. Along the line of discussing what art is really about (not money), I would say that it is about sex. Art will not go away if it's no longer possible to become a millionaire doing it. Some evolutionary psychologists propose that art is a never ending game of creative one-upmanship. Women find creative men sexy, men find creative women sexy (the reasons for this are complex and have to do with the mechanics of sexual selection -- I won't go into it here). How do you show people that you're creative? Entertain them. Make them laugh. Make them think. Make a movie, make a song, write a book. Recommend a movie, recommend a good book. You might not get a million bucks out of it, but you might get a husband or a wife. The real game is helping people show their creativity.


I don't think it's about sex, the answer is a lot less Freudian and a lot more obvious: it's about the joy of being able to make an imprint on another human being's mind & soul. It's as old as humanity itself is.


Who said anything about Freud? In any case, you need to ask yourself why it feels good to make an imprint on another human being's mind and soul. There is a reason. It's not random or unexplainable.


There are many reasons why it feels good, many of which have nothing to do with sex. For example, creating things asserts one's existence and, by feeling alive, one is able to avoid thinking about your own mortality, if even for a moment. Having another person acknowledge your creativity or your work has all kinds of positive effects not having to do with sex. People trying to shoehorn motives into sex (or tangential things that lead to sex as a way to point to sex as the root motivator) are wrong.


I think there's a bit of confusion about what we're talking about when we say "sex." I'm not talking about the conscious desire to have sex. When I talk about sex, I'm talking about sexual selection which is the competition between members of the same species for sexual partners over many generations.

I'm not talking about the conscious motives of individual artists. Their conscious motives for creating art may be to "assert [their] existence," as you say.

I would argue that all of our physical and mental traits have arisen from the process of natural and sexual selection. If you accept that, you can also accept that over the generations, we have evolved the ability to be artistic, in many different ways. An individual who has inherited the ability to create good art, and does so, may not (and probably is not) creating art with the conscious goal of using it to attract sexual partners. However, if individuals of the opposite sex do find this ability (or side effects of this ability) attractive, they will be more likely to mate with the artistic individual, perpetuating the artistic genes. This is how I see art coming about because of sexual selection.


This brings up an interesting topic: can a rational person do anything that's not for the purposes of ego, or to be more polemic, sex? Hypothetically, if one were to be completely ego-free and also rational, they would have to reconcile that their work and their productions here on earth, are infinitesimal and perhaps negligible on the scale of galaxies. Surely, all human motivations break down at that level, and for a person to continue to be productive, they must admit to the level of "i'll produce something here on earth, that will a.) give me attention (and hence a chance at a more lovely significant other), b.) money (so that I may live comfortably and have a better chance in the future to achieve 'a'." To even claim altruism is to use the adjective to positively light one's ego, no? True altruism would have to function under "rather than doing nothing, i shall do something good, but 'I' do not exist", and under the course of 80 years, any person would succumb to a more aesthetically pleasurable life.


To even claim altruism is to use the adjective to positively light one's ego, no?

No.

This reductionism has no explanatory power. You might as well say "all egoism boils down to the benefit of the other because personal benefit benefits humanity/the universe at large. Therefore all reduces to altruism." You can pick any explanation and say "in the heart this boils down to X". If you have no special reason for choosing X (which is evident if you can explain just as much with Not-X), all such explanations are equally worthless.

There are many options other than believing that a human life divided by infinite space approaches zero.


The worst fallacy of modern times: that everything comes back to the ego.

I have no idea what you mean by a "more aesthetically pleasurable life," except that apparently it's a bad thing, but if we all truly accepted our insignificance (in the face of the cosmos, God, love, whatever) and that we often do "altruistic" things out of self-interest rather than love and compassion, the world would be an amazing place.


Somethings are beautiful. Some people want to see those things. Someone the things don't exist yet, and so the people create them.


In my country we've got a saying: you're a nobody until you've raised a child, built a house and planted a tree.

There's an universal truth that won't go away soon: we are dying, second by second. We feel good when we "create" something meaningful as it prolongs our existence and it gives us happiness as suddenly we aren't breathing the air for nothing.


If your original proposal were strictly true, then artists would never perform for the same gender (unless that was who they wanted to attract).


It may be aimed at establishing oneself within the hierarchy - which happens all over the animal kingdom.


I agree. I would add that if I want to impress a girl, I might buy tickets to a concert by a great artist. If she's impressed, I get a fraction of attractiveness credit with the girl just by having the ability to recognize good stuff. This doesn't preclude me from personally enjoying the show as well.


Why not? It gives social status, popularity... all good for attracting a mate, especially for men.


Creativity is about pleasure.

Of course, for some that reduces to the motives the parent comment is highlighting. For others, it is self gratification. And yet for others, it is to touch the divine.


By that line of thinking ( warning: i would punch an evolutionary psychologist anytime ), Porn should be considered the highest and most effective form of art (or simply, like monkeys we could jiggle our junk instead).


It seems like this line of reasoning perhaps conflates sexual arousal with attractiveness?

To illustrate, if you're looking to marry (and have kids), and you had a choice between a physically attractive but dull porno actress, and an attractive and intelligent writer (you know because she's fun to talk to and wrote a very popular book), you'd go with the porno actress?

Most porn I've seen isn't very creative, and being in a porno is not something I have on my checklist for attractive mates. I think that's true for most people. I would wager to say that the most effective form of art is the most creative, not the most sexually stimulating.


I will refrain from commenting on theories that resolve all moral decisions through reasoning about natural selection (as i said i am biased, and this is already off topic). Just this:

One study of the biographies of 1004 eminent people found homosexual and bisexual people overrepresented (11 percent of the sample), especially among poets (24 percent), fiction writers (21 percent), and artists and musicians (15 percent) (Ludwig, 1995)[1]

Surely if artistic creativity was evolutionarily so advantageous it wouldn't hide itself in the least-reproducing subpopulations

[1] http://www.davidmyers.org/davidmyers/assets/Sex-Orient-9e.pd...


I'm not talking about natural selection, I'm talking about sexual selection, which is a completely different animal. Sexual selection leads to really bizarre adaptations, like male peacock tails and mating dances that seem maladaptive in the context of natural selection. Natural selection is about finding enough food to live long enough to mate. Sexual selection is about competing within the same species for mates.

Because slightly more highly creative people are homosexual doesn't necessarily mean creativity isn't attractive. It could just be that homosexuals have more time to devote creative tasks due lack of childcare responsibilities.

I would say that people often aren't consciously aware of why they are exhibiting creativity. On top of that, I would guess that homosexuals value finding mates just as highly as heterosexuals, which would be at least one reason why they would exhibit creativity, consciously or unconsciously.


Sexual selection also requires reproduction. Whatever way one sees it, the data doesn't support the view that nature selects for creativity.


Homosexuals also have eyes. Does this mean that nature doesn't select for eyes?


Let me put I bluntly if all homosexuals had third eye, it would never be selected for.


People with non-mainstream careers are less likely to conceal their sexuality, and also the converse.


Are bisexual people "non-reproducing" now?


I find this opinion more honest and convincing than the "it's not stealing if you both get to keep a copy" argument. The latter fails to account for the time, money, effort, inspiration, talent required to create the original work that is subsequently copied millions of times. When the issue of how are artists supposed to make a living in an copyright-less, free-filesharing world is brought up, proponents come up with limited band-aids (live concerts, donations, SaaS, etc).

At least Coppola doesn't beat around the bush: filesharing may mean that professional artists may have the fate of buggy whip makers. Regardless of one's stance on this prospect, this is where the debate should focus, not on the semantics of stealing or new business model cop-outs.

Interesting thought experiment: how would the world look like if all art was created by hobbyists? (honest question)


My general retort to "it's not stealing", is that it is theft of service. Say you went to get a hair cut, and didn't pay for it. That would be stealing the service. Same applies if the provider of a service splits the purchase among multiple buyers (like an actor in a play, performing for a 1000-seat audience). Anyone that snuck into the theater would be stealing the service. So by extent, the same should apply to the larger case of produced works (single creator, multiple customers splitting the cost).

On the flip side, it doesn't necessarily follow that every one who enjoys the benefits from a created work actually owes the creator anything. Like if you are listening to a CD at a friends house -- does every one in the room then own the artist? Or anyone who admires public architecture. So historically, it has come down to that if there is money to be made off of a created work, it is the original artist that should benefit from it (in the case of publishing books, music, etc). That model works (morally) as long as producing copies of a work requires enough capital investment & individual unit costs so that the publisher is almost guaranteed to need to turn a profit off of each unit -- some of that profit should go to the creator. But that model breaks down when you have zero cost / no profit sharing between individuals. Now we are back to the pre-publishing era again.


In the world of traditional music, it's already the case that many of the best musicians earn their living doing something else.

Jerry Holland (RIP) was a world-class Cape Breton style fiddler, I'd guess almost everyone involved in "Celtic" fiddle knows at least one of his compositions. It took me finding three bios of him before I found one that even mentioned what I remembered from meeting him ten years ago: he made his living as a carpenter. Nine months a year he did that (with occasional gigs), and then come summer he'd go out on the festival circuit playing fiddle. http://www.cranfordpub.com/articles/holland_%20interview.htm

Brian Conway is another example. He's probably the best New York / Sligo style fiddler alive, but his day job is as a lawyer in a district attorney's office. http://www.brianconway.com/music.html

In both cases the standard of musicianship is impeccably high. You'd never guess from their playing or recordings that it wasn't a full-time job for them.


It would look like free software looks as compared to Microsoft: edgy, unpolished, more engaging with the audience as a collaborator and not just an consumer, in more niches, non-monolithic, with a more visible connection to the author's humanity.

    :help uganda
    :wq


Free Software is not Just Vi or Emacs. It evolves into Android, Firefox, Chrome, Eclipse, jQuery, etc. You may get to see work before it is fully ready... But finished products in Free software can also be user friendly and mainstream. And for niches it serves, Free software does a far better job than than the Lowest common denominator that suits the masses.


The parent question was if it was created by hobbyists - Android and Chrome are by Google, FireFox is funded into hundreds of millions of dollars by Google. Eclipse was founded by IBM and funded by its members, including gold sponsors Amazon, Intel, IBM and Cisco, Novell. JQuery is sponsored by Mozilla Corp.

Not really hobbyists, any of them.


To extend your analogy: it would be more "human" and also more specialized. Take a look at all the tiling window managers--more sophisticated than those created by Apple or Microsoft, and used only by a few. I could also see it being more community driven: many open source projects I use have very transparent development policies and welcome suggestions.


> Interesting thought experiment: how would the world look like if all art was created by hobbyists? (honest question)

Linux.


Awesome quote. But IMHO a better and more accurate point to make about composers and musicians 200 years ago, was that they produced, and produced, and produced. Being a composer or musician was about composing and performing. Artists had ownership in the abstract (that is authorship was important to the 19th century audience), but a musician being payed for a composition or performance was not significantly different to a baker being payed for his bread.

You go back further and find Bach writing masterpieces on a daily basis which he could only assume would be performed once or twice, put in a box, then thrown out when his successor took over.


While I agree in part, the issue is that good art, really really good art, is a full-time job that can take years and years of practice. Much like writing good software. Saying art should be free is saying all software should be free - the same amount of work and risk goes into it. There is a balance to be had here and in many countries it is solved with artist grants, recognizing the value to be had from a rich culture.

Composers for example may receive some income from the wealthy or, from the 20th century, grants, but are generally teachers (Vivaldi, Beethoven, Schoenberg, most modern-day composers not working in the film/tv industry) or held posts at the local entertainment theatre: the church (Bach, Handel..).


Yes but invariably they were not rich. In fact too many died in poverty. The commercial, popular art era started when copies became available to the market, and it ends when copies become zero cost.

Hollywood's obsession with mega-productions tends to be an attempt to force-feed mediocre movies rather than advancing the arts anymore

BTW, Coppola suggests 3 rules

1) Write and direct original screenplays,

2) Make them with the most modern technology available, and

3) Self-finance them

Technology has made it trivial for almost everyone to have (2) and (3). Now technology should create avenues for artists to receive a fair compensation for their work, but they should know that it will be nothing like the exorbitant commissions of the past.


Yes, I agree. I was just commenting on there being other ways for artists to make a living, much like Coppola does not rely on his film income.


I'll note that recently Hollywood has largely abandoned the mid-range productions as being too risky for the potential payoff. It's all go big or go home for the studios.


Even in a world of exclusively free (as in beer) software, programmers can exist and make money in a variety of ways; for instance, writing custom software for businesses, giving away ad-supported programs, or selling access to server-side applications.

Your comment is excellent and made me consider whether an analogous situation could arise with the arts. Clearly it's important to have dedicated, full-time artists, just as we need software engineers. And both professions take a lot of study and practice.

I think professional artists could exist even when they can't sell their end products. For instance, they could be consultants contracted to produce informational or promotional videos for a business. Such consultancies may even create and give away short entertaining movies or something to raise brand awareness and attract creative talent, in the way that software companies often contribute to open source projects.

Additionally, a serial-type scenario could work, where an artistic group is paid up front on a periodic basis to continue telling a story.

So I think in the hypothetical situation where all art is free (or at least freely reproduced and distributed once its been created) it's still possible to have professional artists creating high quality work. Certain things, like $100MM summer blockbuster movies (unfortunately) might not work, though.


Passionate artists will still pursue art for the joy of creating and sharing their art with others. This is how it has always been.

Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of the popular artists from the last 20 years began their entertainment careers to get "rich and famous". These people didn't do it for the love of the art, and looking at the decline in quality of the music industry since the 70s I think we can all see how that worked out.

With any luck, taking the "rockstar" incentive out of the music industry means we get less music being made, but of an overall higher quality. You know, because the people who still pursue it are actually artists.


They also wouldn't have to compete with the noise produced by lots of money spent on marketing crap. It's difficult for talent to get noticed when crap can succeed by simply yelling louder. Reducing the ability for Hollywood to yell would make things easier for talented artists.


I don't necessarily equate many of the rockstars we know of today as artists, more as 'produced'. For every well-known artist out there who is making mega-money there is a cohort of producers, marketers, colluders. Even the Venice Biennale is full of these mega-artists who make huge money because the plastic arts industry survives on the transfer of sums of money.

I think of the artists I genuinely appreciate: independent filmmakers, poets, writers, musicians: without time to pause and focus on their work for weeks at a time we would have little of this. Even a well-recorded indie band needs to raise money for a good production. While we may wish to think so, you just cannot record in your garage without thousands of dollars of tools from microphones, mixers, plugins, then marketing and seed-funding for tours. So yes, these people are doing it for the love it and would like nothing more than to see the mega-industry fail: it leaves more money for them and less glitz in the eye to blind us from accessing their work.


interesting noise reduction opportunity. I like it.


I think you are confusing craftmanship with art here.

It's the craftmanship that takes years.

Art can take anything from 10 seconds to 10 years.


Art is not putting 2 objects together. It's a conscious effort to understand and express the world around you. While Mozart's 6 year old compositions may have been entertaining, it was 20 years of musical development that allowed him to write his late piano sonatas (which may have taken him only 20 minutes to compose). That is not just craftmanship: composers who do not 'make it' often become the craftsmen by working as transposers and editors.


Here's Mick Jagger saying basically the same thing last July:

"Before recorded music, incomes depended largely on the whim of patrons - meaning even Mozart and Schubert died destitute."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10581280


I thought Mozart was buried in a pauper's grave in accordance with the tradition of the day.


Correct. He was not destitute at all, just not fabulously wealthy enough to get a personal grave.

Schubert was destitute but then Schubert basically sat in his room all day writing music. That does not earn you money now and it didn't earn you money back then either.

Schubert is also one of the first examples of the starving artist. Before him, artists did not starve, they did their job and made money at it. It was only around 1800 or so that romantics came up with the notion that artists were singular geniuses who had to sacrifice everything else for their art.


Entertainment often involves art made by artists, but things can be entertaining with no art or artists involved. Nascar races, reality shows, youtube videos of people using chainsaws, reddit threads.


That is because the distribution channel is skimming all the profits. If YC'ers made a new distribution system for content creators it would start with young people fresh from film school doing all the work. But after that takes off you will see the Coppola's of the world doing the math, and shifting their allegiances away from the studios and towards the new world.


Maybe there is a solution in making the financial situation about a creator more transparent. Then I would pay if their minimum is being threatened; or only consume if they are wealthy enough.


Exactly my thoughts...

Everyone still loves series and movies!!! A new proposed entertainment would go parallel and not kill hollywood...

There has to be a proper, cheap/free "itunes for series and movies". NOW!

Who's up for it? :)

roberto.cr



Incidentally, Paul Buchheit deserves all the credit for this idea. The YC partners were having lunch yesterday and he suggested posting this RFS. Whereupon we all turned to Jessica, who is usually the one who talks us out of doing crazy things. I was kind of surprised she didn't try to talk us out of it.


The original post ends by asking the wrong - and an extremely limiting - question.

Technological innovations of camera/film/projectors (and later broadcast & receivers) made motion pictures possible. These came first. The current "Hollywood" production-distribution-revenue model came after, as a result of the economics of what it took to make motion pictures profitable. So, "Hollywood" is less the entertainment, and more the means by which that entertainment is produced and distributed.

Therefore, if one wants to "Kill Hollywood", one doesn't doesn't do it by asking merely "What's the most entertaining thing you can build?" One does it by changing the economics in a way that renders "Hollywood", at least in terms of current studios-distributors-theaters (and studios-channels-Xcasters) model, untenable.

The question to entrepreneurs that the original post should have concluded with is "What can you make that makes making and distributing engrossing entertainment (whatever form that may take) cheaper/easier/more accessible/more capable/more profitable/more easily funded?"

Unless your interest does lie specifically in investing in the entertaining things. Cool. Innovative entertainment may result, but I wouldn't expect any of those investments to result in the thing that "kills Hollywood".


This post nails it. You're talking about disrupting two things, neither of which are entertainment: distribution of finished goods (external), and the system within that's been in place since the fall of the studio system in the '60s (internal). Neither of these things have that much to do with entertainment. Technology has made being a filmmaker far, far cheaper than it used to be even in the heyday of indie film in the 90s, though there is still a high financial barrier to entry to pay for all the quality things you need on a set (oh, an idea!). Entertainers absolutely embrace innovation, both creative and technological. It's structures that don't.

Here's two specific targets: Creative Artists Agency and the Screen Actors Guild. Good luck.


I have two general ideas. Steal them. I don't have time to implement.

1) Find innovative ways to reduce production costs. Production is expensive. Unimaginably so. This can be things like: a) Redesign physical set equipment. Ex: Set lights are expensive; a single light can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Design a new light that takes advantage of modern LEDs or something, or that can be deconstructed to serve multiple lighting functions (beyond what exists today). b) Design automation to replace physical support crew on the set. Payroll is an enormous cost. Ex: Invent a tracking system that would make the boom mic not require a person to physically move it around to follow the actors. Yes, mechanization would eliminate jobs - such is the nature of creative destruction. c) Innovation in use of set design and photography to make things look much more expensive than they are. A shining example of this was how Orson Welles shot Citizen Kane. Another example is what Spielberg did with the nonfunctional shark in Jaws. For those two, you're probably going to have to check out a book to learn how they did it. And more recently the impressive-looking but cheap sets and photography in Underworld (2003). These directors did unbelievably good things with constraints. Find a way to systemize this. To study what could be made cheaper, look at films that cost way too much, and see how each shot could've been cut down to bare bones - the absolute minimum dollar amount required to make the exact same look and effect.

The most choking example of waste I've ever personally witnessed was on the set of Van Helsing (2004) in Prague. The entirety of Old Town Square was cleared, about a hundred security held people out around the perimeter, and giant cranes and lights lit a scene of Hugh Jackman leaping in the air. What was the end product that appeared in the movie, you ask? A two-second shot of Jackman leaping in the air above some cobblestone. The whole thing could've been accomplished on a 10' by 10' mockup of cobblestone in a studio, or a cobblestone street somewhere cheaper to rent the entirety of than the Old Town Square of Prague.

2) As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, marketing costs are gargantuan. You have to get eyeballs on your enjoyable entertainment. I watch independent film. The difficulty of going into a little-known film, even one that's received some good notice, is that I generally don't know a thing about it. People enjoy trailers. Create trailers. Once production is complete, making a trailer for it is essentially free - it requires the software you used to edit the film and your own time and effort. Run strings of trailers for unknown films on IFC. Run a 30-minute block of 30 to 45 second teasers with links to the film's site, where you have the 2 1/2 minute trailer and more information. Get eyeballs on productions. Right now getting eyeballs on productions is forbiddingly expensive. Revolutionize it. Cheapen it.

I don't think innovating other entertainment will kill Hollywood any faster. You have to innovate the film industry itself. Every human culture throughout history has enjoyed watching performers enact a story, of some kind or another. Moving pictures of performers enact a story isn't going anywhere in popularity. There's a reason it's such a profitable industry. Technology has advanced to the state it's in today where moving pictures of performers enacting stories are easily viewed the world over, but I don't think you should think about changing the type of entertainment so much as the mechanics of the medium.


On the set lights/LED issue - designing a new light that uses LEDs would probably INCREASE the cost, not decrease it, since LED lights are currently more expensive to produce than the alternatives.

That said, if instead you had a company that provided the rental of these lights at a lower cost that normally paid to purchase them outright, perhaps you could offer lower cost lighting with modern, less-breakable technology.

Of course, LED lights are a different type of light from incandescent, etc. anyway, so it's possible that they'd be totally unusable anyway.

Still, a really interesting thought.


I interpreted his LED idea to mean that a lighting system could use multiple types of LEDs, providing video data in specific frequency bands. Software filtering could be used to isolate these, then recombine them in different proportions to get the right 'feel' in color.

If different types of LEDs were positioned far enough apart, you could possibly achieve different lighting angles from one scene-shot. Compare this with shooting a scene multiple times while having the crew reposition lighting. Such a system would indeed be more costly, but could reduce human repetition.


I read halfway through point number 1 and I thought "robotize the studio." Think of a new studio that is infinitely configurable with lights and cameras, and all controlled by software. Kind of a Holodeck but in reverse, or a blackbox theatre where the point is to record everything that goes on in the studio and configure that recording, maybe even something similar to a 3D scanner but with full motion cameras. 3D Models and location overlays could be inserted more easily because all the details of the original shots are already recorded, and can be adjusted after shooting.

What this is would be a standardized studio room, that would only require the director and actors on set. Every other specialty could be done in post, and thus allow them to work on more projects at once. Better skilled people, doing more work, drives quality up and lower costs. Win:Win


I can cut 40% of a film's budget just going outside of the studio system. Plus more with technology you reference.

Studios want the films to appear to lose money so they can keep all the profit. They control distribution and inflate production costs >35%, move money from one pocket to another etc all to limit the net profit participation of equity holders.

My full comment explaining it- http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3498112


Okay, you started out very sensible and then took a pretty sharp left turn with targeting CAA and SAG. I was hoping to ask if you could elaborate on your thought process to help us better understand your viewpoint.


I'm not saying that I want CAA and SAG taken down - SAG in particular was formed to protect performers from exploitation - but rather giving examples of monolithic, nigh unto impenetrable structures on the internal side of the current Hollywood system that would likely have to be disrupted to alter the Hollywood of today.

I'd much rather paint a giant target on the MPAA's back. But disrupt Hollywood and you disrupt the MPAA. Make them toothless.


Don't forget the infamous Film Actors Guild.


You need to be in the content, distribution, marketing/PR, talent (writing, acting, tc.) business to kill Hollywood. Thn You need to have billions to pay movie stars, scripts, movie rights, distribution, marketing, crew, equipments, etc. you need to have distribution, marketing,etc. muscle worldwide. Then you need to deal with agents, publicists, cast, crew, writers, etc. unions.

You can disrupt technology, but its hard to disrupt content (there are exception ofcourse (3D, IMAX, Pixar,etc.)


I agree that the question is limiting, but not necessarily wrong. By creating a new form of entertainment, one can take over a portion of Hollywood's revenue pie and that in a way will create havoc for Hollywood, but not necessarily killing Hollywood since there will be bound to be people who likes Hollywood productions (especially since Hollywood has the finance to fund multi-million dollar productions in a whim).

What Hollywood fails to do is to listen to the voices of common people like me and you. Over and over again, Hollywood has produced films that fail to deliver and blame it on piracy. The point is that there will still be people who wants to reward quality content (or at least this is what I believe) and there needs to be a way for current technology to show this. We need to create a technical platform to reward quality content and show Hollywood the light! I have proposed a startup idea somewhere on this page on how to do this, as well as a way to entertain people like you and me. I would love to hear your input =).


> By creating a new form of entertainment, one can take over a portion of Hollywood's revenue pie

That's what the videogame industry has done, isn't it? Their total revenue is now actually larger than Hollywood's. It's not clear it's greatly harmed Hollywood, though; it's possible people are just choosing to spend more total money on entertainment, rather than videogame spending displacing film spending.

It's possible some future form of entertainment will compete in a sense that's more directly a substitute for Hollywood's entertainment, but it's not clear to me that that'd necessarily be the case, unless it were literally a substitute in the sense of just being an alternative financing/distribution mechanism for standard films.


The "video games are bigger than Hollywood" claims are at best wrong, and actually bullshit. Those claims are made from comparing the entirety of the Games Industry to the US box office, which is only Hollywood's first pass at profit making.

Consider second run theaters, on demand and rental, physical purchase, digital purchase, broadcast rights, and THEN consider licensing for clothing, toys, and everything else.

Games are nowhere near the size of Hollywood. They just don't bother correcting people who make those claims.


The video game industry is indeed bigger than Hollywood but that doesn't mean that it cannot become any bigger to harm Hollywood. As long as the content is engaging and fun for viewers, it will eventually eat into Hollywood's revenue pie.

I believe that currently, in order to "kill" Hollywood, the first step is to shrink the role of the middlemen by enabling content creators to distribute and market their content effectively online. In fact, the internet has provided a great way to do just that (it is the perfect distribution and marketing channel)! All of us are constantly sharing and reproducing the content and this helps expose users with all sorts of content. Now if there is a startup which focuses on "following" and "chasing" the content and sell products related to the content itself, I believe that many users will buy the products that interest them. For instance, when we watch "Mission Impossible" we may be interested in the music tracks, the movie DVD, the clothes that the characters are wearing, toys & merchandises etc. If more products are being sold, this is a reflection of the quality of the content itself. Product companies would then want to sponsor and fund for quality content creators to carry on producing content. Apart from that such a platform may allow more quality content to be placed on Youtube where users are abundant!

The next step is to make content interactive. PG mention "what are people going to do for fun in 20 years instead of what they do now?" and I thought of the notion of having the viewers of the content to dictate the direction of the show and making the content engaging that it makes me feel like I am part of it. Currently in many games (esp rpg) I decide the route/path that the character follows and this leads to different game endings. This can be applied to movies as well. A movie can have 4 parts and after each part, the movie may request me to buy a certain choice (eg. the character has 3 roads to choose, which do you choose and this will dictate the progression of the story) or product (there are 3 guns to choose, buy 1 from your local store lol! and key in product keycode or something). This can tie in very well with the idea on paragraph 1 where product companies can help sponsor for the video production.

What do you think about these ideas? I am working on idea 1 and I would be keen for some feedback and would love for people to contribute to this startup. Hit me up!


How do you know users will want to buy products they see in movies?

How can you make content producers make content interactive?

How can I one get in touch with you?


email me at centurion_tan@yahoo.com


It's not the amount of money spent, it's the time available. They probably fear far much the time spent in Facebook, casual web games, youTube, etc... Those are only starting and they see what it means for revenue in the future.


Films aren't entertainment. Films are stories, and stories are primal.

Farmville is entertainment. Memes are entertainment. Entertainment is distraction.

Trying to fight stories with entertainment is a losing battle. There's a reason that despite terrible profit margins (4-9%) six studios have had a lock down on narrative filmmaking for nearly a century. It's an incredibly stable industry, and the stories of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

Of course, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe if you conjure up the right form of short-term brain crack, you'll be able to "destroy hollywood." If you really think that the secret to sniping the Big Six is building a better, faster Nyan Cat, well then . . . be my guest.


I'm not sure if this thread is dead at this point, but I want to put forward my suggestion to founders. What you should really be trying to to do, is found a new AIP or New World Pictures. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Corman#.22The_Corman_Film...

You want to create a place dedicated to locating and attracting young talent (directors, writers, actors, and producers) that's capable of producing high volumes of low cost product. You want to design a golden era Hollywood studio for the modern age.

This studio would have two main components. Production and distribution. The production side is essentially a no brainer. You grow a pool of talent, and you keep that talent working 8 days a week, producing a diverse slate of low cost filmed entertainment on an aggressive schedule. Ideally, pictures would take 12 days to shoot, and would have budgets in the thousands instead of the millions. You'd be producing so many stories, that you could afford to make them highly specialized in their appeal - you wouldn't have to generate "four quad" films, you could instead afford to cater to smaller audiences but satisfy those smaller audiences more completely. People have tuned off Hollywood films in the last decade because those films have become too focused on mass market appeal - in having "something for everyone" they have instead produced stories with something for no one. The idea of our hypothetical studio is to reverse that trend. Tell stories that only appeal to select audiences, but REALLY appeal to those audiences.

This leads to the second half of our hypothetical studio (and frankly, being a filmmaker and not a businessman, the half that I have less competence with): distribution. This would in fact be the more critical and difficult component of the company to build, because it would be the side dedicated to identifying, locating, and reaching those smaller, more specialized audiences. Our creative talent - the writers, directors and actors - tells the stories, and our distribution team gets those stories in front of the right audiences. It wouldn't take long for a deep and sustaining feedback loop to develop between the two halves of our studio - close communication with our audiences would give the creators more guidance in learning what works and what doesn't on screen, leading to better stories which would grow a more dedicated audience or fan base. In their own ways, this is what Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon have done by reaching out to and learning from their fan bases.

The hypothetical studio I've outlined is exactly what golden age studios did to great effect before theater ownership became a losing battle and the star system began to crumble. In the modern era, we have the advantage of dramatically lowered distribution costs - a computer in every home - but the disadvantage of a greater signal to noise ratio. But this system - small studios producing a high volume of targeted stories at low cost - has proved repeatable and profitable. You could make the argument that Corman, with AIP and New World Pictures, saved Hollywood filmmaking during the New Hollywood period by using exactly the system I've outlined above to locate and nurture new talent while maintaining a high profitability.

So anyways. That's what I think. We shouldn't be focused on producing a new form of entertainment. As consumers, we don't really need or want a new medium; the bump and decline of 3D sales has proved this, I think. Novelty only carries you so far. What is needed is instead a more economically savvy model, focused on generating stories geared towards smaller audiences that will embrace those stories more passionately. We need a studio that will take as it's battle cry "We'd rather be nine people's favorite thing than 100 people's ninth favorite thing." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAFo3kONbdE) You need a new Roger Corman. I am, of course, always available for the job.


Did you guys consider video games? I think that's already a viable alternative form of entertainment. I would argue video games already killed Hollywood, they just never pulled the sword out. $50 for 100+ hours of content vs $10 for roughly 2 hours? No contest.


I don't think video games are a full substitute for TV or movies. They are completely different experiences - one is purely passive, and the other is active and participatory.

There are lots of game fans that would claim that this distinction is what makes games superior, but for a lot of people I think that's what turns them off. The passivity is a virtue in many places.


It also gets boring to watch my wife play her 20th hour of Assasin's Creed Revelations. Video games aren't good entertainment for those not holding the controller.


As a 30 year game industry vet I have to say I agree with you... but... maybe games that depend less on the controller will capture BOTH of your attentions.

I'll give you an example. At a board game company, I do those too, I proposed a card game where playing the cards moved the story along, and each section of the story formed pages in a comic book format. At the end of the game you could take pictures o the "pages" and put them for others to enjoy. Then mix the cards up gain, and since the play order would be different, a slightly different story resulted. I say slightly because if it was a murder mystery a replay wouldn't make it a story about horses.

I think that games are ready for the next evolution and that will continue the killing of movies and TV.


It depends on the game. The e-sports community is making headways, with things such as the "starcraft bars" and stuff. It's not the same, but there is effort being made in the field.


I could watch competitive Starcraft with a good shoutcaster for weeks. And I don't simply say that as a former Blizzard employee, though BlizzCon helped me see how fun progamers can be to watch at their peaks.


Actually, I have almost as much fun watching as playing. And if they're any good, sometimes even more. I often let the kids play and just help them with advice (this is how you loop your skills to make them boost each other, or here's what you can build with a mob spawner, or here's how to make a pump stack reaching down to the magma sea), letting them do all the work.


i'll take a point hit here, but how dare you complain of such things.


Agreed. Even if there are some people who prefer watching others play a game, it doesn't mean that this applies to most movies/content.


parallelize


There's no reason you can't mix the two, though. At my startup, we're building narrative driven games (like the old-school graphic adventures), reworked to feel more TV-like. So we're really trying to be careful about the whole passive vs active issue.

Our take is - let the viewer be as passive as they want. We're making a narrative-heavy experience, just like films and TV. But we're adding an interactive twist so the viewer can change how the story unfolds. And there's no reason we can't let the viewer just hit play and watch the story unfold as-is. We encourage them to jump in, of course, but that's it - otherwise, the story goes along it's glide path till the end of the episode. And when they're done, maybe they'd like to watch it again, but make a decision part way in to see how it effects the story.

A more mainstream example would be some on Nintendo's most recent work. They've done a great job embracing the casual audience, and really pushed it in the most recent Super Mario Bros for the Wii - it actually included the ability for the game to play itself when players get stuck:

http://wii.ign.com/articles/994/994640p1.html

Passive vs Active is tricky balancing act, and we're probably going to need to iterate on this a few times before we get it just right. But we definitely think the balance can be struck in a way that'll resound with a casual audience more apt at consuming TV then video games.


If you haven't played it, you should take a look at King of Chicago by Cinemaware for the Amiga, which was pretty much the first game to let the gamer be arbitrarily passive (playing pretty much like a movie if you didn't do anything, but allowing you to decide every action if you wanted).


I'm unfamiliar with "King of Chicago". But now that you've pointed it out, I'm going to try and correct that. Thanks, vidrh!


Cinemaware in general produced awesome games, and some of the real classic in terms of bridging the gap between movies and games.

It's worth loading up an Amiga emulator (WinUAE or E-UAE) and getting hold of them - getting legal copies would be tricky, but copies abound...

I mentioned King of Chicago in particular because it was the most movie-like of the games - as I mentioned, if you just start it, it will run like a movie, complete with rolling movie like credits, but their other games have much of the same feel to them though you had to drive most of them forward by taking actions. E.g. Rocket Ranger, Defender of the Crown, It Came from the Desert, Wings are some of their best known titles, all heavy on narration and heavily inspired by movies.


I'm really not optimistic on getting people to stop watching TV or movies. Maybe there's some way of producing and financing them that's smarter but I wouldn't bet on changing behavior that drastically. People have been consuming stories about other people forever, and they're going to keep doing that.


But you don't really have to stop watching TV or movies. You just have to move the production of such content away from the big media corps.

It reminds me of one of freddiew's Behind the Scenes video, in which him and Jon Favreau were talking how it's so nice when someone provides the toys/funds, but at the end of the day it's the actual artists who call the shot. Why not apply the same kind of contracts movie studios make with directors and actors (base amount, and maybe some % of revenue), in reverse, so the artistic driving force between the project negotiates the same amount of deals with the financier. It would be like a VC deal, where some people/companies would have preferential treatment at getting the money back and all that.


> "I'm really not optimistic on getting people to stop watching TV or movies."

Why do we need to?

I hear this sentiment from gamers sometimes, where passive (story told to you) entertainment is almost used in a derogatory way, as if the fact that the audience is not actively participating makes it worse. It seems to me a kneejerk reaction to years of everyone treating gaming as an illegitimate artform.

Why do we need to change this behavior? What is wrong with consuming stories about other people?


I didn't say we needed to. I like TV and movies. I just don't like Hollywood's political agenda.


It sounds like you're pushing for for the webseries model.

There's some great work going on there - the big difficulty isn't the producing or financing, though. I'm part of the Seattle webseries community, and the big difficulty I keep seeing is - how do you get your series in front of people?

So in a sense - I think marketing is the killer if you're going to compete head-to-head with Hollywood.


> how do you get your series in front of people?

A simple answer would be 'social proof'. Mashable provides a TopTen list of the most watched shows. That's a good start but the site is too distracting for Average Joe, in my opinion.

Also, web series are too short for true passive entertainment. I guess what your communities would need is a sort of Google Adsense, so you could plug-in advertising to be able to produce longer streams.

That would at least provide you with some money. When one show hits it big, that'll make news, and more people would start looking for shows like that. More eyeballs, more advertising, better chances of another hit, more news, and there you go.


I disagree - it is distribution. You have a device in your room that is a push channel for Hollywood to stream its (and only its) content to you. It's the cable box. Ditto for cinemas.

You don't need to out-market Hollywood (though achieving parity may be part of the equation). You need to create a more efficient production cycle, from artist to costumer.

I'm thinking lean start-up. How can we reduce cycle time between artist conception of an entertainment pitch and consumers evaluating it?


I can't say I agree. That said, I'm not quite sure what you mean by "a more efficient production cycle, from artist to consumer". And I'm not sure how "[reducing the] cycle time between artist conception of an entertainment pitch and consumers evaluating it" is related to distribution. Could you elaborate?


Presently, from an artist getting say a film concept to the first audience seeing it, is a gap of several years. A lot of this is necessary, e.g. time for plot refinement. Other stuff, like negotiating with unions for lighting or going through bureaucratic licensing and distribution hurdles, is not.

Lean Start-up says reducing this cycle time should make the system fitter.


So, find a way to make video games more passive. People like to watch other people play video games. Maybe live streaming of hardcore gamers playing.


Good idea! (http://twitch.tv)


OnLive does a great job of this, too. Since the entire system is built around streaming out media, They get this pretty much for free. And they've done a good job of embracing it, too. I know a number of gamers that "veg" by watching other games playing on OnLive.


Well nothing is a full substitute for TV/movies, just like nothing is a substitute for novels. But the question is, is it an overall stronger form of entertainment? I'd say that video games definitely have the potential to be, the industry itself is already bigger than Hollywood and rapidly approaching the book industry [1]. And the market for games just keeps getting bigger that there is no point in trying to dissect why games are not a fit for certain people. It's still unexplored space as Minecraft, GTA, WoW, farmville and the Wii have shown. Make the right game and you can potentially gain a new audience.

And I'm not dodging your assertion either, because games can also be passive. I've spent god knows how many hours watching Starcraft II games - well more than I'd like to admit. That's a game that was built with spectators in mind. I probably enjoy watching the game more than playing it, as wonderful as it is. Apparently so do other people, TwitchTV is evidence enough.

1 - http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Video_game_industry


Although video game is not meant to be created as a passive entertainment, I think it is going that direction. With the combination of plot and amazing graphics, I don't see why a video game cannot be watched. Take for example Onlive, which allows you to stream game play of other total strangers. Or streamed Starcraft2 games. I know for a fact that a lot of my hard core gamer friends watch live stream from South Korea all the time.

From my personal experience, I used to actually play all the video games I thought was fun. However, ever since college ended, and when I have to use my time more wisely, playing a demanding video game counter intuitive as a stress relief. However, watching my roommate play video game is both entertaining and lacks the necessary attention I would need to attribute if I were playing the game. Of course, after watching my roommate play Skyrim twice might get a bit old. But then again, who watches the same TV show for over 30 hrs straight? I don't care how good mad men is, if I were to do two or three consecutive marathon of it, I would get tired of it too.


I think video games is one of the reasons Hollywood is dying in the first place. What other thing in the last 30 years has really been a direct competition to Hollywood. The Internet is definitively on the list too.


The video game industry is not necessarily distinct from Hollywood. Check out Vivendi, for instance.


Video game industry is nearly as bad as Hollywood.


I think the indie scene is shaking up the status quo, so hopefully that is also changing.

Maybe an easier way to distribute indie movies to a wide audience?


But I think indie games are more visible, they even get some space on Steam (yay!), so maybe all is not lost.


Facebook is a good replacement too. Watch the idealized movie of your friends' lives.


I mentioned games explicitly in the RFS.


Does anyone have figures for pokemon red / green (during the first few years of release) vs the whole of hollywood?

But I suspect that game production has been Hollywoodised; you have big publishers and big studios and whole teams of people. It's getting better with the rise of indie gaming, but that's still a tiny fraction of the market.


Do Angry Birds and Cut The Rope and Plants Vs Zombies count as "Indie" games?

I don't think that fraction is all that tiny any more.


If movies disappeared (which I don't believe they will as the barrier to entry has lowered so much) I would probably just read books and go out more. Games are great and I fully support them but it's not a form of entertainment for everyone.


I don't think movies have to dye for this RFS to work just that the business model that Hollywood uses isn't working. Putting a ton of money in a few blockbusters and trying to squeeze every last penny from DVD/BR sells isn't the way to go.


Isn't that the way gaming is headed too, though? You have massive companies like EA publishing blockbuster hits built by huge development teams.


On the other hand, the past few years have been very good for indie game studios:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_indie_game_developers


But that is the result of the cost of making games more "movie like" in the scale and complexity of the art and technology. As more and more of the technical complexity goes away and the cost of the art as well will drop, these big productions will start to face immense pressure from smaller teams.

You already see more and more games use licensed engines, and eventually the power of the platforms we deal with will intersect with rising quality of low cost or free engines at point where most people can start with an existing low cost engine and compete technically.

We started with a situation where off-the-shelf game engines was unthinkable, because game engines were optimized for a specific gameplay and intertwined with the game logic, but already there's a huge market for games made on licensed engines (and as far back as the 80's you had the first attempts at making "game maker" programs that used off the shelf engines and tools to cut the effort of making games)

Similarly on the art side you can expect to see more and more advanced tools that take away technical complexity of working on the art and return the focus to the art process itself and even simplify that.

E.g. consider a hypothetical tool where an artist creating a new character can pick from a catalogue of hundreds of pre-made skeletal structures, choose characteristics of the muscles and size, movement characteristics etc., pick from pre-made physical characteristics as a starting point for alterations, pick from catalogues of clothes, hair, eyes and so on - even other parts like the voice of the character, and have the software fill in the rest in terms of animation and other aspects.

Imagine a cottage industry of artists that design catalogue items for tools like this - you can already license tons of ready-made 3D models, after all, as well as specialized software for things like creating landscapes, plants, trees and a bunch of other 3D structures.

Of course none of this would remove the need for developers or artists, but it will free them to focus on game play and the actual art rather than how to work around technical limitations, and it becomes a massive leveller for smaller teams if you can start with an off the shelf engine, and populate your game with a bunch off catalogue item characters and then customize rather than having to start from scratch.

Incidentally a lot of these changes will eventually benefit independent movies as well in terms of making advanced CGI and postprocessing cheaper and more accessible.


I understand your point but, multi-player aside, how many $60 games (that's the standard pricing these days for AAA titles) provide 100+ hours? They are very rare. Skyrim is the only recent qualifying game that jumps to mind.


That's changing the playing field. We're talking about money and time, why exclude multiplayer? Especially considering how much time gets spent on multiplayer games, how popular primarily multiplayer games are (Halo, CoD, WoW), and how much money gets spent on them.


Why put aside multiplayer? I think I've paid $0.50/hour for my copy of Battlefield 3.


I do not argue against the fact that multiplayer games have a longer potential playtime, however not all games have multiplayer so you just can't say that a $50 or $60 game will definitely have 100+ hours of entertainment value.


You are probably looking at the wrong games. Most people who aren't already into games, won't buy the 60 USD games. Casual games will catch them. Think Solitaire or Tetris, which lots of people have sunk more than 100 hours over the years into. Or even evil Farmville.


I think in a sense you've identified the issue too. For every dedicated player who will pay $60 and be disappointed when he beats the game in 50 hours, there are 99 or 999 who want a game that they don't have to invest as much in.

Players like me want to play on our own terms and come and go as they please. I used to play a lot of WoW but shutting down all my VMs and rebooting out of Linux to do so is now a big disincentive. I have tried to get into some PS3 games but the long mandatory updates the system forces you into just makes me hate it. Oh my god and the loading screens that plague the PS3 are just horrid.

(Sorry I'm not trying to complain, just trying to give you guys some ideas. :-)


I guess Nintendo serves these demographics pretty well. (Not that there's no space for a competitor.)


Yes, more than once the kids and I have flipped over to the Wii to play while waiting for stuff to load on the PS3. Sometimes we don't bother to flip back.


No, I was responding to the comment that $50 games provide 100+ hours of entertainment. I was just claiming that this is not necessarily true.


Oh, OK. Indeed some games play much faster than that.

To become very specific: Portal is a fine game. And much shorter.


There are very few, at least in the Western eye. Only two that come to mind are the latest Zelda, and Dark Souls.


With all due respect, if YC wants to focus on something outside your standard fair I'd suggest you look at the problem of manufacturing. The NY Times article that is the subject of another HN post is right on the money as far as the issues surrounding manufacturing --of just about anything-- outside of China.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and...

If you want to give back to the country, principles and culture that quite literally gave you everything you are today I'd suggest putting money and brain-power to work on this very problem. Develop new advanced automated manufacturing technologies that the world has yet to even imagine. Develop new work-flows, materials and processes. Develop new supply chain paradigms and environmentally-friendly systems. Develop tech that will bring back millions upon millions of jobs lost to, effectively, slave labor.

Make Artificial Intelligence and Robotics the next big thing. This is the future.

Hollywood, is doing a good job of destructing itself. And, in the grand scheme of things, they are just about insignificant.


It may easily be the most straightforward RFS you have ever put forward -- at least in hindsight.

It wasn't until I read that that I realised how obvious it is that Hollywood is going down the drains.


You’re an ass.

Pardon the bluntness of that statement but I’m home right now because this pissed me off so much. So my tone is less measured. Have you even contemplated all the things the industry you’re trying to “kill” does?

Make note of something: Hollywood is one of the most unionized workforces in the United States. This isn’t a story of rich studio heads taking advantage of people. Actors, Writers, Stage Hands, Directors, and just about everyone else in Hollywood is in a union of some kind and there’s a reason for that.

Creativity is random and creative people can’t count on steady work. So they need equitable pay to survive.

There’s an organization called Chanel 101 in LA. It’s basically a bunch of creative people showing their work (they put the stuff online if you want to google it). What the great majority of these people have in common is they work in the industry. Not as actors or writers but as stagehands, clerks and other low level positions. They are the people fighting their way up through the system and the system is designed to support them while they do. The system you’re trying to kill is what keeps those people alive. What puts food on their table so they can keep working towards their dreams. Because they aren’t programmers. They can’t go out and get an $85,000 a year day job that allows them to live comfortably while they tinker on a startup in their spare time.

The studio system, as obnoxious as it is, exists for a reason. It’s an equilibrium that’s developed over decades of creating media. Every few years you’ll see a famous actor form their own studio yet those studios always end up playing by the same rules as the existing studios. Because it’s still roughly the most equitable system available (and if you don’t believe that you should feel free to try and start your own studio)

Yes, the media industry can help to create stupid laws. I don’t deny that. But it isn’t because they’re evil or mean. For the most part it’s because these companies are run by 60 year old men who don’t understand the nuances of technology. But their intentions are good. Their intention is to keep money on the table of all those creative people. To keep paying residuals to actors who might not find work for years at a time. To keep funding movies where there’s no guarantee of profit and keep all those stagehands, clerks, and so on employed.

It is quite frankly unconscionable for a millionaire to lead a bunch of people who can make over $100,000 a year in an effort to kill off the industry that’s paying all the folks who make less than $30,000.

(Let the down votes commence)


Remove the first 3 sentences and the last, and your post will be in line with the guidelines [1] and you shouldn't get downvoted. You still make a number of claims I don't see evidence for, including some that you can't possibly back up.

The most egregious to me is that you say most of these companies are run by 60 year old men (not that it matters, but are they?) with good intentions (and this matters, do they?). Have you really interviewed a representative sample of them and determined this? I'm more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt, but these are the same people that make sure movies don't actually earn a profit, so profit-sharing clauses of contracts don't kick in, right?

OK, so maybe they do have good intentions, but only for the people that work for them. Regardless of their intentions, they do not have the right to continue trying to abridge the rights of every American.

Also, have you thought that there might be a better system out there, that creates more value, with less waste, and better compensates those involves? Does a better job of finding and rewarding talent?[2] Have you thought that maybe it's impossible to get to that system through gradual changes, maintaining equilibrium? Maybe disruption is needed?

[1] http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

[2] To me, channel101.com and the Dr Horrible Sing-Along Blog are examples of how we don't need Hollywood as it exists today


First Mr. 278 Karma I think my 7000+ karma has earned me the right to call pg an ass when he's making an ass out of himself guidelines be damned.

Second, plenty of people are wrong every day. That doesn't mean they and their industry deserve to be destroyed. it means you TALK TO THEM. Try to convince them of the error or their ways. That's why Steve Jobs formed a friendship with Rupert Murdoch. Not because they're such kindred spirits.

AND IT WORKED. Look at what Steve Jobs accomplished by NOT trying to destroy the industry.


Have you even looked at the guidelines [1] in your 4 years here? The parent comment has more violations than your original.

* "Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say in a face to face conversation." (at least I hope you wouldn't call me "Mr 278" to my face. I am not my HN Karma)

* "When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. E.g. "That is an idiotic thing to say; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3."" (You didn't have to bring up my karma at all)

* "Please don't use uppercase for emphasis. If you want to emphasize a word or phrase, put asterisks around it and it will get italicized." (Twice in parent comment)

Not that I agree with everyone posting on 'my side' of this issue, but as we can see here, karma is not a perfect system. Just because I haven't spent as much time commenting here, you think you can simply ignore my arguments, put forward independently of my own credentials. The guidelines exist so that they can be followed, and we can always have meaningful, productive discussions. Not so that certain people can flagrantly break them. But, if you won't listen to other arguments against breaking the guidelines, will you listen to your own? If I may,

> Second, plenty of people are wrong every day. That doesn't mean they need to be called an ass. it means you talk to them civilly. Try to convince them of the error or their ways. That's why Steve Jobs formed a friendship with Rupert Murdoch. Not because they're such kindred spirits.

I kinda wish you had responded to the OT portions of my comment, but I feel like that would have been equally fruitless.

[1] http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Whatever gave you the idea that 7000+ karma entitles you to anything on HN?


Point count is the equivalent of contribution. It means you perhaps said something that opened someone else's eyes or led the conversation in a positive direction.

Guidelines are to prevent people who don't contribute valuable ideas (e.g. trolls) from bringing the conversation down.

So, if someone has proven them self not to be a troll, I think they're entitled to lose their temper every once in a while provided they don't cause too much damage


VestedContributors harm the community.

> The vested contributor is someone who believes they are entitled to a degree of indulgence or bending of the rules because of the duration and extent of their past contributions. In some cases, this view may be shared by other community members. The indulgence of vested contributors undermines FairProcess and the WikiNow. It is demoralizing to those who have made less widely recognized contributions, and to recent arrivals. An inside club or "cabal" can arise where there are a number of vested contributors who mutually reinforce.

(http://meatballwiki.org/wiki/VestedContributor)


You can lose your temper as much as you want (nothing wrong with being angry). Being disrespectful to others and making personal attacks on the other hand, is well...just disrespectful.


Two wrongs don't make a right but for the record pg started it. If you call the people in Hollywood mean and advocate taking their livelihood away and I have friends in Hollywood that means you're disrespecting them.

Second I don't think calling someone out is disrespecting them. Disrespecting them is letting them be an ass and not saying anything. Because calling them out means you care enough about them as a person to care about their behavior and try to get them to correct it

(though for the record I do wish I'd said "you're being an ass" rather than "you're an ass" since he's not an ass in everything)


> Two wrongs don't make a right but for the record pg started it.

I thought you were calling on people to cut the chain of hatred a bit further up, but I do recognize that it's easier said than done.


Sorry to burst your bubble but no. Karma gives you no entitlement to ad hominem attacks and means absolutely nothing. It's quite pathetic you looked up that guy's karma and used it as an argument. Stick to arguing the points made on the original post, please.


For God's sakes if you're going to use a phrase at least know what it means. Ad Hominem means "an argument appealing to emotion" or "attacking an opponents motives rather than the content of their points". I did neither of those things.

Ironically you did both of those things in this comment.

But for the record I did not, in any way, mean to suggest that natep was lesser in any way. But I do think there's an arrogance to him schooling me on how things work on HN given our relative positions.

My karma rating means I've been around. I've read A LOT of comment threads and I've seen how names that are familiar to me react to things. So I have some idea of the norm and what is and is not acceptable (though in fairness I was so pissed when I made the original post that I didn't really care and I'll admit to that)

In that experience I've seen many people who have been around longer than I have lose their tempers and violate the guidelines in the occasional, rare post. My behavior was in line with that.

(That isn't to say I'm proud of said behavior just for the record)


My dictionary says, "attacking an opponent’s motives or character rather than the policy or position they maintain".

Your first line to pg: You’re an ass. I would say that's an attack on his character.

You continue: My point is you're acting out of hate. Seems to me like an attack on his motives.

Then, you attack olozano instead of his points: For God's sakes if you're going to use a phrase at least know what it means.

Ad hominem translates to "to the person". You can split hairs over the correct modern usage of the phrase, but your posts are still littered with attacks on people, rather than their arguments.


Just to be pedantic:

Calling someone an ass is not itself an ad-hominem argument -- unless he was being literal, as in "pg is a donkey; as we all know, donkeys are dumb, so pg's arguments are dumb".

In this context, the name-calling was a simple insult, and provides more information about the name-caller than the name-callee.


I'm not sure where you got that definition of "ad hominem", but in my understanding, it refers to any argument that attacks an opponent directly instead of refuting the opponents claims/arguments. Wikipedia says it's an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

But for the record I did not, in any way, mean to suggest that natep was lesser in any way. But I do think there's an arrogance to him schooling me on how things work on HN given our relative positions.

I think it's pretty clear to everyone reading this thread who's being arrogant.


Well that or you could have just make 7000 mediocre posts. Just by your post count in this thread alone, that doesn't seem unlikely.


Hollywood is killing themselves, pg is merely observing it and analyzing what he thinks it will mean for his own industry.

And also, it's really childish to even bring up karma like that. You were better off citing your 4 years on HN if you needed to validate yourself.


Karma is a (imperfect) measure of contribution. Time is just time.

As far as Hollywood killing themselves that's not what he was doing. I quote from his post...

"The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down"

That's calling them names and assigning motive. Not observing their behavior and pointing out what the probably consequences will be.


I can't really empathize with your argument because I have no respect for today's Hollywood but I agree that the article took an active, even aggressive stance. You have to understand though that while you may know movie and music executives personally and you don't think they're bad guys (I read your previous comments) Paul is just as high up in this industry as they are in theirs, and they almost just fucked this industry up terribly with their insane amounts of political lobbying.

The attack wasn't on your friends, it was on a personification of Hollywood. And as a whole it indeed is very old and seemingly dying.

It's not me downvoting you by the way.


I understand your point but for the record he was attacking my friends and everyone else. He specifically advocated tearing down the entire industry. That means everyone.

As for the downvote I have to say when you go into a topic like this where you know most people are going to be against you the downvotes become a point of pride. Whether people want to admit it here or not Karma is of some value (otherwise why would it be there). Being willing to lose something of value to stand up for what you feel is right actually feels kind of good.


Well here's to you standing up for what you believe. Good night.


The idea that your Karma count means you're better than anyone else here is laughable.

Ideas should stand on their own merit and karma, money, or any other arbitrary metric doesn't give you the right to devolve into name-calling when you disagree with someone (but I only have 580+ Karma, so what do I know?).


I only have 2. Am I allowed to speak?


I have 4. I am better than you! =)


Who said I was better? That said the idea that everyone is equal regardless of their contribution is laughable. That's not to say people who have contributed more are "better" but it is to say they've proven themselves to some extent.


You didn't "say" it but by referring to someone by their karma points you're obviously speaking down to them in a condescending tone.


Steve also managed to create a company sickly obsessed with the patent system. Fostering innovation, but only if they were the ones on the steering wheel. Is that really what we want?


On the topic of residuals and the intentions of studios ("Their intention is to keep money on the table of all those creative people. To keep paying residuals to actors who might not find work for years at a time."):

First, in 2007 the CEO of Warner Bros., among others, called for an end to residuals [0]. Second, studios are notorious for creative accounting which results in people with residuals on "net" profit being paid nothing; for instance, one of the Harry Potter movies grossed $938 million worldwide but "lost" $167 million [1], [2] The latter link cites a court saying the way Hollywood determines pay for authors was "unconscionable" (I wish its citation was to a source that's online). And third, I don't have a reference at hand for this one because I heard this on NPR years ago, but there was a trial where a studio accountant was questioned about the accuracy of movie profit statements, and he said that in his entire career he'd never seen a single movie where the accounting was accurate.

[0] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/11/business/media/11cnd-guild... [1] http://www.deadline.com/2010/07/studio-shame-even-harry-pott... [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buchwald_v._Paramount


Yes, the media industry can help to create stupid laws. I don’t deny that. But it isn’t because they’re evil or mean. For the most part it’s because these companies are run by 60 year old men who don’t understand the nuances of technology. But their intentions are good.

Oh, okay. Well, as long as their intentions are good, then it's fiiiine that they keep trying to ram bills through Congress that would destroy jobs in my industry and severely cripple our ability to innovate. It's just because they're old, now I get it!

Give me a break.

Whether well intentioned or not, they've kicked the hornet's nest one time too many, and I'm sick of it. Whether they're naive, assholes, or savvy players that think they have a real shot at taking us down, their actions are clearly hostile to me, and I consider our industries at war. That brings with it a lot of hatred, yes, because I don't consider my industry safe until they stop fighting their fight. Internet entertainment, after all, is the real threat against the movie industry, not piracy, and I don't believe for one moment they'll ever stop trying to kill it off through legislation.

Those $30k creative types whose jobs we're evilly plotting to destroy can thank their well-meaning executives that charted the current course when and if we succeed. Quite frankly, anyone educated enough to write for Hollywood could provide far more than $30k of value almost anywhere else, so I'm not sure that pointing out how undervalued talent is in the industry was really the best way to get my sympathy...


The point is people who have good intentions can be reasoned with. The Cold War didn't end with bombs it ended with talk. Because the intentions were good on both sides.

Someone like pg could just as easily go to media companies and say "what you're doing here is stupid. Allow our startups access to your catalog for a reasonable price and let us try to create startups that will give people what they want and still ensure you make a profit"

I know he could do this because...that's exactly what Steve Jobs did. And now I've cancelled my cable, I buy shows off my TV and I can re-download them to any device I want as many times as I want.

Because Collaboration works, War just destroys


> The point is people who have good intentions can be reasoned with. The Cold War didn't end with bombs it ended with talk. Because the intentions were good on both sides.

It ended with the economic decline and political collapse of the Soviet Union.

If Hollywood wants to talk during its economic decline, have at it. I don't think anybody was actually suggesting killing it off by bombing it, but rather through economic and market pressure.


One could have made the same argument against someone who wanted to abolish serfdom.


I'm sorry but you're wrong. Because serfdom was largely destroyed by the death of feudalism. Feudalism died largely because it couldn't compete with societies that were adopting open trade policies around the ideas of Smith's Wealth of Nations.

That's important. Because the Wealth of Nations was an alternate philosophy. It was a way that everyone's life got better.

You're looking to tear down something without suggesting something else to take its place. In fact if you succeed what you'll have done is to shift more wealth to people who are already wealthy (by societies standards). You will have destroyed a system paying thousands of people $30,000 in favor of a startup that pays hundreds of people $150,000 a year.

But all of that isn't my point. My point is you're acting out of hate. My point is you shouldn't encourage people to create things in order to destroy other things because it's unnecessary. If what you're creating is better the bad thing will go away all on its own. There's no point to add more hate to the world.

I know record executives. I know executives at movie studios. And guess what, they're good guys. Not everyone in that profession is a good guy. But many are and for you to group them all into a "mean people who need to be destroyed" is wrong (and, if I may again say so, ass-like)


> You're looking to tear down something without suggesting something else to take its place.

That's why he's asking for people to give him ideas to fund.

> There's no point to add more hate to the world.

On that I can agree, but I would note that I believe that pg is acting out of self preservation rather than hate.

> I know record executives. I know executives at movie studios. And guess what, they're good guys.

Well, then they should be running honest businesses that won't be disrupted by some startup trying to give artists a good deal, rather than the raw deals they so frequently get, and they will therefore have nothing to fear.


> Well, then they should be running honest businesses that won't be disrupted by some startup trying to give artists a good deal, rather than the raw deals they so frequently get, and they will therefore have nothing to fear.

But see that's the difference between "kill the industry" and "lets beat these guys". Kill the industry empowers people to do other things like pirate media because "this is war". But if people do that then even the honest media execs can't keep their business afloat.

On a larger note the issue is with our society becoming so hateful.

This is a little off topic but in 1918 Manfred Von Rechtoven , also known as the Red Baron, was shot down and killed behind enemy lines. At the time his record stood at around 80 kills (more than anyone else by far). And here (from Wikipedia) is what the Allied forces did...

----

In common with most Allied air officers, Major Blake, who was responsible for Richthofen's remains, regarded the Red Baron with great respect, and he organised a full military funeral, to be conducted by the personnel of No. 3 Squadron AFC.

Richthofen was buried in the cemetery at the village of Bertangles, near Amiens, on 22 April 1918. Six airmen with the rank of Captain—the same rank as Richthofen—served as pallbearers, and a guard of honour from the squadron's other ranks fired a salute. Allied squadrons stationed nearby presented memorial wreaths, one of which was inscribed with the words, "To Our Gallant and Worthy Foe".

----

Look at that in comparison with all the hatred and anger around here directed at the record companies and you can see why I find it so disturbing.


I can see where you're coming from, but I have to disagree. For one thing, I think you're reading too much into the word kill. In the the startup vernacular you always hear things like "company X promises to be the Y killer", and I really don't think "kill" in this context has any kind of mean-spirited undertones. It's just business. (Perhaps you'd like to make an etymological argument about the connotations of startup/business terminology being unnecessarily hateful, but that's irrelevant to the argument here).

As for your earlier point that disrupting Hollywood would mean replacing thousands of people with $30K jobs with hundreds with $150K jobs, that may very well be what happens. But the same argument could be made of any industry that gets infused technology or new ideas. Instead of taking such a reactionary approach and fighting to keep a seemingly dying industry alive just for the sake of the status quo, why not have a more productive discussion and think of real ways that the sometimes corrupt and, more importantly, no longer effective Hollywood model can be improved? Whether or not it comes from a trendy new YC-funded startup, it certainly seems like it's coming.

Personally, I find the idea of technological growth to the point of a "singularity" in the coming decades pretty compelling, and I think one of the biggest challenges we as a society will face is maintaining employment rates as technology continues to make things more and more efficient. Protecting those on the lower rungs in Hollywood and the music industry is certainly an important part of this.


> Look at that in comparison with all the hatred and anger around here directed at the record companies and you can see why I find it so disturbing.

I wonder how much of that is from media influencing society, which in turn influences media, looping it back around. Compare US media where almost all bad guys suffer and die painfully to those of some other countries, where few people are wholly evil and decent people are able to come to an understanding in the end, after fighting out their differences.


This is selective historical memory; society was in many ways less civil in the past. We had vice presidents and cabinet secretaries shooting each other with actual guns, newspapermen starting wars, etc.


Whenever anybody complains about hate, I usually find that what they mean is "don't get mad just because we deserve it."

Usually.


This is absolutely wrong.

Feudalism died because people joined debate societies, talked about enlightenment ideas, fought hard and took over the government to fight the oppressive nature of the monarchy and the Catholic Church. Honorable people started this endeavor and then radicals took it over. But the French Revolution wasn't an easy or pretty process.

You don't have to centrally plan the creative destruction of Hollywood. This is like arguing we can't cut overseas military spending because think of the jobs we will lose.

What would you replace slavery with? What about internal combustion engines? Replacing these things aren't easy, more people will suffer in the short-term. But guess what? People are suffering now, and society as a whole rots because we squander the opportunity to use TV and film to enliven people's minds, instead we just want to empty their pocketbooks by any means possible.

I worked as an executive in Hollywood. The culture and cartel-like nature encourages people to be mean and unethical. It's not about creating art or entertaining people, it's about controlling a market and creating profit regardless of who you destroy.

You are confused by nice people and their charm. Show me a list of GOOD people in Hollywood. Do you even know the history or mechanics of film finance?

Do you think the euphemism "Hollywood accounting" is justified? The entire system is a scam and deserves to be creatively destroyed. And they do need to be destroyed, especially after threatening to cut off funding for Obama just because the White House won't blindly support the predatory and foolish laws the industry puts out.

It's over. The industry's model is dying.


"You're looking to tear down something without suggesting something else to take its place. In fact if you succeed what you'll have done is to shift more wealth to people who are already wealthy (by societies standards). You will have destroyed a system paying thousands of people $30,000 in favor of a startup that pays hundreds of people $150,000 a year."

Tom, I'm sorry that this has just become apparent to you, but this has been the very purpose of a startup since the term was coined. Best case scenario for a startup is to spark a totally new niche and find a totally new audience, but this is rare. Most startups just end up replacing brick and mortar businesses of old and eating their paying customer base. This is economics at its finest, and most definitely leads to a poor outcome for the businesses which are cannibalized.

Labeling people as "good" and "bad" is a futile exercise. Capitalism is a mad scramble to extract wealth from everyone else as fast as possible, with whatever means necessary. To do this lawfully, you usually need to provide some value to paying customers. However, many businesses do it by simply convincing customers that they are receiving value, and do very well (e.g. Zynga).

From the tone of your article, it appears you have just understood that this system will lead to severe wealth inequality spanning orders of magnitude. This is again, a perfectly well understood outcome of the system. The societal and moral ramifications have been largely ignored due to the imbalance of power between owners of capital and those without. Thus, to have a say in the game, one must play it, and become very successful (i.e. a billionaire). In the process of becoming a billionaire, you will find that your views on this matter will change very rapidly in tandem with your net worth. Before you know it, you are advocating for less capital gains tax, more free trade and reduced government. You will see those Occupy Wall St. protesters as pathetic hooligans and low lives, who simply lack the motivation and willpower to make something of themselves. You will petition congress to protect your business interests, and pay handsomely to do so. You will support politicians who maintain order and those who crack down fiercely on all forms of business which are in direct competition to your own. If you are a film industry exec, you will lobby very hard (with SOPA and PIPA, perhaps) against new distribution channels such as Megavideo, Piratebay, etc. which give content away without due royalties. You will be apathetic to anyone who does not understand how this world works, particularly those with low or no net worth who have no say in these important decisions.

Welcome to the game of life. There are very few winners, and most people are losers. The only salvation for the losers is ignorance; to understand the game is to hate it. There is only one other way...play, and win.


Do you disagree with his premise that the hollywood system's support of unionized highly skilled manual labor is beneficial to up and coming content creators? I believe it could be argued that the studios do not do this intentionally (indeed,they'll happily send tv production to canada or anywhere that they can find cheaper labor and more tax breaks). But when you say kill Hollywood, what do you mean exactly? Disrupt the distribution channels? Disrupt the production channels? The marketing? The film industry is not nearly as grotesquely inefficient as the record industry was.


Serfs barely made enough to get them through the winter, any aspirations aside from surviving and enjoying what time they could with their families were simply fantasies. The parallel you're trying to draw between the Big Wigs/Lords and Serfs/Everyone else in Hollywood, doesn't work.


He wants to kill Hollywood, not artists. Personally, I believe that the best way to do that would be to help the artists break free of the middlemen by giving them a better deal and helping them engage with their audiences.

Ideally, it would make art an industry where more people make $100k instead of $30k.


Maybe there needs to be something like YCombinator for making movies, instead of start-ups.

Seed the scripts and the initial team, and then get other investors to invest a few hundred thousand or a few millions in the movie.

Also think about how to best distribute those movies - maybe a special site that shows all these movies, or a partnership with ThePirateBay to promote the movies.

A news/information site about these new upcoming movies and about the teams - kind of like TechCruch, would help, too.


There are. Small production companies. Hundreds of them. But when it comes to marketing and distibuting what you've made, you really need a major studio's support.


Does it necessarily have to be this way? The internet has provided a way of sharing and proliferating and distributing content. As long as a content is quality enough, people will tend to share the content and as more people distribute and share the content, you have a relatively inexpensive way to market and distribute the content. Now all this needs is a startup cracks a way for artist and content creators to monetize this way of distribution and marketing method online. I have posted my idea somewhere on this page. Care to discuss what you think? It would be great if small production companies can allow me to test my hypothesis =)


But Hollywood funds artists. My issue with pg's post is it's a clarion call to kill an industry without considering what that industry does and who that industry supports.

If someone can think up a better system I'm all for it. There's no shortage of startups creating media for online dissemination. But as of right now none of them manage to support artists like the traditional system.

So I don't disagree with you. If there's a better system then let it take hold and let the current media companies burn. But pg should be encouraging people to build a better system not focusing them on tearing down the current one.


It's not a clarion call to kill an industry, it's a clarion call to accelerate creative destruction on an industry. All that does is puts the bad entities out of business and creates new entities. Sure, there will be some labor displacement, but that's the nature of capitalism. The fact of the matter is that it is inevitable. You can't stop it. The fact that hollywood feels that they have to sue and legislate to protect their declining revenues and profits, shows that they are ripe for disruption.

No need to get pissed about it, you should get on the right side of it.


I get pissed because of the rhetoric. Not just from this side. I have many friends in the entertainment industry and from there it's all about "thieves". So you have "hate" and "kill" on this side and "theft" and "arrest" on that side and I'm sick of all of it.

The most effective solution to problems with the media industry has always been the same: Collaboration.

Look at allthestepisodes.com. This is a site that allowed people to watch every Star Trek episode for free and I personally know an actor who lost residuals because of it. But that problem is gone now. Their traffic has been in a freefall (http://siteanalytics.compete.com/allstepisodes.com/)

Why?

Because Netflix offers all those episodes now. Neflix, a company that engaged the industry rather than trying to kill it, solved that problem and everyone's happy. No one's killed or arrested or anything of the sort.


Well, Netflix still isn't available to most of the world (even with its recent international expansions), so I wouldn't say that everyone is happy just yet. And I'm sure it's not technical issues that make going truly global so difficult for them - it's the machinations of old-guard media companies.


But it isn't. It's the machinations of SOME of the old-guard media. Other parts of the old-guard media, who want those extra revenue streams, feel the same way you do. That's the problem with wanting to kill the entire industry. You lose the good and the bad.


They're working to kill Netflix, though.

First by restricting just how early it could get videos, then by making them pay for streaming on every user, not just those who stream. I understood that to be the whole point of the ill-fated attempt at splitting the company, in fact.


Follow the logic here. Denying Netflix content for a little longer might hurt Netflix because people will come to Netflix during that time, look for the content, and not find it. So if that's true wouldn't it just be easier to never give Netflix the content. I mean, if they're trying to kill Netflix that would seem the way to go.

The truth is they aren't trying to kill Netflix they're trying to maximize profit which is what every company does. They are delaying movies to Netflix because they've found people will buy the movies from iTunes during that time period.

If that will kill Netflix it's their job to say "hey, we're a revenue stream for you and we're going to go away if you delay these movies" and then a negotiation will ensue. This is how capitalism works with each company trying to make as much money as they can and companies negotiating with each other to do so.

Having said that I've always believed media should be treated as a monopoly and regulated accordingly. The current law treats media like just any other product where the free market can decide the price. This works with most products because there isn't that much of a difference between one brand of Vanilla Ice Cream and Another. But there is a big difference between different bands and since labels sign bands exclusively they should be regulated like monopolies


> Having said that I've always believed media should be treated as a monopoly and regulated accordingly.

I believe there are compulsory licenses for sound recordings. It could be interesting to make all copyrighted works subject to something like that, but I can't imagine the details required to make it workable. Larry Ellison would probably have a heart attack...


> But pg should be encouraging people to build a better system not focusing them on tearing down the current one.

It appears as though you let the title of the piece distract you from the content of it.


Not the title but this paragraph...

"Hollywood appears to have peaked. If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline. But this is not an ordinary industry. The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise."

I have no problem with healthy contributions from startups. I do have a problem with demonizing people especially when I know some of those people are working towards the same goals as technology enthusiasts.


I have a problem with trying to kill the internet.


Ditto. Creative destruction involves tearing down the legacy institutions.


> But Hollywood funds artists

I'm an artist, a musician to be precise. I've done ok for myself without Hollywood. I've known many artists that have been wrecked by Hollywood's promises of wealth and fame, far more than have benefited from it.

Hollywood needs to die and let the next model(s) of the marriage of art and business thrive. I actually envy the younger generation of musicians that have been raised to think of producing and distributing their own work rather than depend on a larger, centralized entity for their livelihoods.


Lobbyists for SOPA and PIPA have had to retreat in wounded ignorance. Their apologists complain that an attack on Hollywood is an attack on the elderly-- elderly intellectual monopolists (cf. Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/againstnew.htm). And don't forget the outrageous scattershot lawsuits by the MPAA and RIAA. These organizations weren't satisfied with the extortionate judgments they were getting away with (cf. http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com). They want to impose an enormous negative externality on the kind of businesses that YCombinator invests in. Venture capitalists threatened to stop investing in Internet companies if SOPA and PIPA became law. It's too late to complain that these are basically good people.


Killing the industry is not same as making all those people job less. It's just the equivalent of killing their business model. The artists and others who you are vigorously defending will just find creative work with the new companies (I don't see programmers suddenly becoming actors and directors). And frankly the way most of the artists get screwed by big studios, we would be doing them a favor by providing alternatives.


Everyone says "most of the artists get screwed by studios" but it generally isn't true and you know this because artists tend to start studios when they get money and those studios always end up acting in the same way as existing studios did. Because, as I said in my post, Hollywood has reached an equilibrium over time. It is the textbook definition of "a bad system except for all the rest".

As for them finding new jobs I have no problem with YCombinator funding a startup that tries to distribute content more equitably (or anything like that). But saying "lets kill that industry" implies tearing down something and that has proven disastrous throughout history.

Look at all the countries the western world has invaded only to make things worse. Iran is probably the biggest problem the world faces right now and that regime was born out of the western world installing the Shah (which in turn made the declining extreme religious community into an oppressed minority who eventually retook power)


Two things:

1: give it a rest, you've made yr point and been voted appropriately.

2: do not compare killing hollywood akin to invading another country. You're pushing the point off on to a tangent that does nothing to serve the conversation.

That said, I'm 100% for 'killing hollywood'. Their arguments are bullshit and their lobbying efforts just go to show how corrupt the system has become. How does the mpaa/riaa/copyright cartels equate to "we the people" at all? These cartels hide behind the shield of "jobs will be lost" when in reality, we all know this is just a line of bullshit and translates into 'we need to maintain our dying industry'.

I agree wholeheartedly with the 'pirates', non-pirates, normal folks, etc, when they say kill the dying beast. The world will not end if Spielberg or Lucas can't make another movie again or Metallica can't put out another cd. These are incumbents who have nothing to contribute to society anymore and are living off their legacy.

These industries cripple innovative progress for the common good of all people. They are beyond corrupt in their tactics, government inflict, and like Marco says, they really do hate us. The system has been unfairly been tipped to their favor by money. Because of this, and as an artist myself, I have no problem with people downloading and distributing whatever they want. I'd much rather have an Internet that still works and a thriving society than a society in the iron grip of a few select groups and milked for every cent they have.

Besides taking action like we've done against sopa, we also need to remember to vote with our wallets when needed.

Please, kill hollywood and the music industries as they exist now.


I work for a carrier. People simultaneously depend on our services and actively hope for our demise. So I hope you understand the context when I say you need to thicken your skin.

The motivation for an attack is irrelevant. Threats are things that need to be planned for appropriately in a business plan. Pretending the entertainment industry is not as ridiculously overpowered relative to the revenue it generates only works with the hyperbole you have injected. Well done, but I am not falling for it.

I doubt your friends are as naive as you. So if it is any solace, you should find great comfort in the fact that the industry is sophisticated enough to survive for a few more paltry tablescraps for the next 20 years or so.


No. Rupert Murdoch's intentions are not good. And how ludicrous to make studio bosses into people concerned about the little guy.


Do you think Steve Jobs also had bad intentions? If not why did he regularly meet with Murdoch on social occasions? Why did they have a friendly relationship? I could see Jobs biting his tongue to get business done but you don't have to discuss political issues on a social level if you think they're evil


Making Steve Jobs out to be a comparative saint won't help your argument here. Jobs very much sought to deprive consumers of control over his platforms and products. He did this wherever he thought it would benefit Apple. He and Murdoch were very much alike in that sense.


Same argument can be put in favor of any obsolete industry. "We need this industry/office because otherwise those people will have nothing to do and no means of providing for their families."

Why don't they get some currently useful job instead of wasting society's resources? Even giving them all unemployment benefits might be cheaper than keeping up costly dying industry.


But they aren't wasting resources. They're producing media that's consumed by millions and millions of people. pg's argument is you should try to kill them off even though they haven't proven their obsolescence. My argument is they haven't proven their obsolescence because there are good people in the studios (as well as bad people). So you shouldn't make everyone working in hollywood a blanket target.

I have no problem with YCombinator funding entertainment startups. More power to them. But you can do that without spreading hatred.


It's a battle cry. Schumpeterian creative destrucion; can't have one without the other.

Also embedded in pg's rhetoric is the social malignancy that is coming out of the dying Hollywood. That's why it should be priorities to be "killed".

And when we say "kill", we mean make more efficient. À la Schumpeter. The rent-seeking middle men will be eliminated; theoretically, the creatives will have more take on their contributions.

It's not okay to set off on an industry on a level playing field. But the MPAA and RIAA with SOPA/PIPA created a toxic playing field. I will still play by the rules. But in creating something that does their job better and thus destroying them, I will know I have helped society one more turn.


My personal opinion is that they produce media at much too high cost. It is possible only because they have way too much money on their hands.

Technology drastically lowers the cost of making movies. Instead making a movie for tens of millions of dollars now they let it be made by some else for less than million of dollars 10 years later.

Big budgets also cause lack of creativity in Hollywood. If tens of millions of dollars are at stake you try to minimize the risk. So you have to pick least risky script, least risky cast and so on and so on.


We need to support the system so that there can be low level jobs like stagehands that poor writers can use to subsist while writing? Sorry, that argument is absurd. Apparently what those writers need is a low level job, it doesn't have to be in the industry. And who knows, whatever disrupts Hollywood might even make it easier for those writers to make money with their art.

That they even have to work their way up the system in low level jobs is perverted.


When the current entertainment cartels are replaced by lighting and shading algorithms, algorithmically generated or enhanced sets and story lines, artifically-intelligent actor agents and remotely live-actor operated machinima drones, the world will be a more creative and entertaining place. I for one welcome the coming Diamond Age.

To quote Public Enemy, burn Hollywood burn!


The studio system makes some sense with the current system of production and distribution.

If production and distribution was disrupted then there is some reasonable possibility that more money would end up in the hands of the creative people instead of the middlemen.


Our platform, Gickup, lets developers create interactive game shows, which I believe is what you are asking for. Here's a recording of one of our games: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxJZtEL8LZM. You can read our longer response here: https://plus.google.com/104744911050510468464/posts/GRfzgSuS...


LOL @ Jessia not "talking you out of doing something crazy." You didn't do anything crazy, you put up a web page that says "I think Hollywood is doomed!". And that says you possibly might be willing to bet a few grand on someone who agrees with you, maybe. Oh Paul, you daredevil you!


I think this is the sort of thing that history will record as the true result of SOPA. Not the mobilization of the public, which despite how thrilling it may feel even today is still something that will not be easily replicated, but the fact that significant chunks of the Internet industry now realize they are in unavoidable, open warfare with the content industry. The Internet industry can no longer pretend to itself that it is neutral, or that the content industry is.

There's been a lot of concern expressed about the fact that the RIAA and MPAA will try again, and we can't count on public mobilization to save us. But I don't think that's the true backstop. The true backstop is that the Internet industry will hopefully become more engaged, and it will hopefully shortly become much less easy for this dying industry to push a bill through Congress.

At least for now, consumers will win. We should keep our eyes peeled for when that changes, because it is only a matter of time, but this should buy us some years.


That's insightful, but your term "Internet industry" sounds like an anachronism like "recording industry". RIAA members are a big system that now encompasses a wide range of activities oriented around entertaining via audio and clearly they think a lot more about lawsuits and marketing than literal recording.

So who is the "Internet industry"? Literally it would be vendors of networking gear and ISPs.

But I think what you mean is all the businesses that recognized their business depended on a vibrant, free, and open Internet. Do we have a good name for them?


"Do we have a good name for them?"

No. I agree it's klunky, but it seemed like a diversion to try to nail the semantic jello to the wall. It's an amorphous, fuzzy group, but there's definitely a group of companies and interests who were directly threatened by SOPA.


I agree the name isn't a big problem, but unfortunately I think a group who will really consistently be on "our" side (vaguely EFFish) is quite small, regardless of the name. When it comes to lobbying, the tech industry is for the most part just another special interest like Hollywood, taking whatever side is best for profits in any given dispute. Sometimes, like with SOPA, that's good. Other times, like with Apple/Microsoft's pro-DMCA lobbying, it's bad.


If everybody who signed an anti-SOPA petition were to put in $10 it would exceed Hollywood's money.


I am a director, I can speak on this from experience. Primary problem with producing movie/TV shows is money. It costs A LOT of money. Even shows you think can be done with a lower budget, it can't... currently. Reasons for high costs are numerous and I can expand on them (and will if someone asks me), but lets take that as an axiom for this post.

It costs a lot of money, which means people who invest in content production need to offload a lot of money and wish to guard their investment as much as possible, since that's what it is - an investment in a project. Financing cycles and budgeting is as lean as possible in showbusiness, and a lot of money is involved both upfront for production and later when gathering yield.

IF someone can disrupt financing side and securing measurable projected yield in this business - only then we will have a disruption. That is where one should look at for disruption, everything else is futile, because it's as lean as possible.


> Primary problem with producing movie/TV shows is money. It costs A LOT of money. Even shows you think can be done with a lower budget, it can't... currently.

Sure it can. Read: http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2010/04/the-collapse-of-complex...

> The ATT guys had correctly understood that the income from $20-a-month customers wouldn’t pay for good web hosting. What they hadn’t understood, were in fact professionally incapable of understanding, was that the industry solution, circa 1996, was to offer hosting that wasn’t very good.

Maybe it's impossible to make TV to your current standards with a small budget. Keep your mind open - it may be your standards that need to change.


How about a way of opening up financing to the public? Ideas get pitched, and the public can invest - kickstarter for movies?

We've had fan-fiction, this would fan-financing.


Yes, it can work. In most cases it works like this - you produce a trailer out of your own pocket and pitch the idea to investors and studios (or studios finance trailer and pitch to investors)... so you'd replace investors here with crowd. Studios bring security to investors because they have measurable projections of what would work what wouldn't and secure channels of distributions. But, tell me how could a kickstarter like project work for high budget projects ($200+ million?)... even low budget ($10-20 million, with or without marketing, however you want to account)? I've never heard of anyone raising that kind of money anywhere online from crowd.


An experiment in this field is "Iron Sky"[1] - while most of their financing (EUR 6.3M out of EUR 7.5M ~ USD 10M) comes from traditional sources, they also tried to raise EUR 1.2M from the crowd. This financing would come in two parts: as investment (900k) and as funding (300k).

They managed to collect 67% of the goal as an investment, and they give no numbers for funding.

[1]: http://www.ironsky.net/site/support/finance/


So this sounds like a double edged problem - 1. The actual cost of producing films, as you've mentioned already does it really have to cost so much? Technology could help with this but I don't think is the only solution. 2. The financing of the movie - what if some kind of mutual fund/investment vehicle was created that only invested in film productions? look to individuals as well as institutions for investors.

Incidentally Francis Ford Coppola's comments quoted below are quite telling. If we are viewing movies as an art form then the cost (and revenue) generated should be a lot lower. If it is viewed as entertainment then it will be run as a business; making money will trump creativity and artistry every time.


The most I've seen for a film project on Kickstarter is a few hundred thousand.

I think millions are possible, with the right combination of factors, but I also think that someone with that combination of factors would likely have better options for raising money.


How much of a problem is "Hollywood accounting"?


Sometimes it's a problem, but sometimes it isn't. I rather see it as an opportunity grabbing mechanism. You can see (especially large) productions hunting tax incentives for movie productions in various countries around the world for example. In studio productions there are 1-5 ratio of successful projects, they're hunting every opportunity to guard their investments. Now imagine if you're an indie production where all eggs (yours and your investors) are in a single bucket. It's scary, every single project is like a new startup - but not with couple of tens of thousands of dollars, but several millions and up.


It's a big problem. They're getting embarrassed by it repeatedly in the courts. The studios set up corporations that take charges on the movie's profits for all kinds of things and it all ends up screwing the hard working actors and crew out of fair pay, even for big movies that make a lot of money. We should challenge the industries job loss and revenue loss figures with questions regarding their accounting tactics. Read these links! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110912/13500315912/hollyw... http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/09/how-holl... http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/features/6-things-the-film-...


I'm wondering if going back to the studio method of producing films in the 20s-40s would be a disruptive method. By that I mean having companies with actors on payroll, writers on payroll, directors on payroll, etc.

A group of 5-10 actors, a few writers writing scripts for those particular actors, a couple of directors, and a full time crew. Always be in production on one film, with one in development, one in pre-production, and one in post-production. Kind of like a content farm but for film.


Sans actors, pixar is essentially like this.


This is great info (that you gave in a reply about production costs), but I'm very interested in something which you may have some knowledge on.

All of the production you're talking about is live (as in using real people, locations and equipment.) My question is, what about digital cartoon production, wouldn't the cost of producing a digital cartoon show or movie be dramatically less than the equivalent length live show or movie? There are no sets, cameras, costumes, or natural location permits in cartoons. On top of this, voice actors more than often portray multiple characters, you do not need an actor for each person, etc.

Lets take the show South Park for example, which differs from cartoons like The Simpsons, Spongebob and Family Guy in that South Park is produced completely in house, they produce each episode from scratch in under a week I believe using various digital production methods.

You still need the basic essentials, script, storyboards, sound, voice actors, audio recording equipment, etc; but I (and I've had some small experience here) would think the cost of the equipment needed to put out a digital cartoon, of tv quality and length, would be significantly lower than the equivalent live tv show.

Also, I stress that I'm talking about digital cartoons, not traditional animation which can easily take months (tv) / years (movie) to produce. I've produced many digital cartoons myself, but not quite at the level of quality that would be required for a tv show (I will give examples if asked.) From my experiences a very small group of people with almost no money can produce a high quality cartoon in a reasonable around of time. Time being the main issue which, in animation, can be solved with more people, and overtime is reduced because of digital software.

Marketing and distribution would still be the same more than likely, but there is still plenty of room to innovate there online; take Louis C.K.'s recent example of making a lot of money (over a million dollars?) selling his stand-up routine directly to the consumers.

I'm very interested in your thoughts on all this, especially if there are production costs I've ignored (for cartoons) that would even things out. Basically, do you think a cartoon with the production value of South Park, can be produced for significantly less money than the equivalent length tv show or movie?

I think this is something that can be done (independently produced cartoon show at the level of South Park), but really hasn't been tried yet online (a show that pushes boundaries and talks about critical topics,) at all. I know it can certainly be produced faster and adapt to changes more quickly than traditional live tv.

I'm a person who basically gets frustrated thinking of all the people right now who are waiting for The Daily Show, Colbert and South Park to "say something" about SOPA or other major topics, as if those shows are our voice (which they are the best example of on tv sadly.) In the end though, they work for Viacom, so even though people think those shows are pushing boundaries (which they are) just remember, they can only say so much. Where as an independently produced show released online can say pretty much whatever they want and can respond to topics IMMEDIATELY. Thoughts? :)


Animation, especially CG is a wide field. As you may know animators are hardest bunch to find. Modelers are easiest to find, texture/shading guys and gals a little bit harder, lighting/environment artists a little bit harder than that and TDs hardest to find... with animators hardest to find. There is a slow production cycle (4-5 seconds of animation only per animator per week for feature quality and 15sec per week for TV quality), there is a ton of hardware for rendering and lieensing cost for software, and then there is audio. Some productions even require extensive r&d and custom tools development.

Animation can be cheaper, but sometimes it can be more expensive, it all depends on a project.

Even if you neglect all of the story editing and layout departement you still have a sizable production crew which require high salaries in order to produce content of reasonable standard. South Park is an exception since they have opted for subpar animation.


Entrepreneurs should pay special attention to this post. There's a huge opportunity here. Technology can make content creation cheaper. As a graphical developer I can see a lot of areas which can be improved. And all that's missing is someone to actually go there and build it.

We need to bring content creation to the masses. Think of why can't casual users create their own movies, music and games. Then figure how we can fix those problems with technologies. The problem of distribution is reasonably well solved already in my opinion. Solving content creation is the last piece of the puzzle to kill Hollywood.

I'm talking about things like xtranormal or GameSalad. These guys are in the right direction. But are still too shy in their proposals IMHO. There's a lot of room for disruption and a huge market opportunity in content creation.

If we can turn creative content into a commodity then we'll kill Hollywood and replace it with the people. That's what my startup is trying to do, and there are room for many others in this ecosystem. Think about it :)


I think the animation in southpark is the easy part. But consistently writing great comedy week after week, that targets enough people is very hard. for example , aqua teen hunger force , and sealab 2021 are also using low cost animation , but didn't have much success.

I don't know much about comedy writing, but it seems it takes a lot of work and a lot of talent to write great comedy. I think comedy writing is one place that startups could do interesting stuff there.


Please do expand on these reasons. What costs a lot for fundamental reasons? And what can be attacked with software?


You need filming equipment, a good script, stage infrastructure, well-performing or/and good-looking actors, repetition until they get it right, sound-tracks (with composers, interpreters, instruments & instrument people), editing, post-processing and maybe animation/special effects.

And it's an industry where profits are made at the high end of the market (you'd rather pay Tom Cruise $100 millions for the statistical guarantee of $200+ millions in Mission Impossible box-office openings rather than medium-quality people for no guarantee at all).

You can attack script-writing with software, or replace actors with computer animation done by software engineers, but you end up with poor low-end results or even more expensive budgets (that only make sense for computer-animated fans, see Toy Story).

The attack vector implied by pg was not necessary to make film-making cheaper but rather to make entertainment better and probably different. E.g.: video games took off in the last two decades, and their business model worked because every time you play a game you get at least slightly a different entertaining experience without any additional costs from the producers.


Yes, but that's attacking the problem in the traditional sense. We need to disrupt Hollywood, not take them head-on. A better model would be to try a lot of movies made by young actors, and just let the best of the best come on top, in an evolutionary manner. This is the web. It doesn't have to be constrained by artificial scarcity and heavy filtering. I'm sure there are a lot of young actors who are dying to get a job in Hollywood. These new businesses should target them.

Only a bottom-up, decentralized approach can win against Hollywood.


I'll give you an example. After a few projects I'm working on now are finished (this year), I'm preping my first feature film. I have great actors that will work for free, I also have all of the film equipment I need gratis too (all of equiment, cameras, grip, lights, everything)... and I still need $1.5 million to make that movie, which even if I raise (I think I will) I have no idea what to do with after it's made but run it through festivals and maybe some kind of online distribution or (more probable) a deal with TV network for them to buy out rights.


I think the power of croud sourcing could be used for things like writing scores and scripts.


There's a reason why there are hundreds of out of work writers. Good scripts are hard to write, as is good music. If you think a million monkeys can do better, think again.


There are three stages in production of movies and tv shows, roughly they are:

Preproduction: - where screenplay is written or adapted, cost is usually low unless rights are to be managed for original content you're adapting from. - Production schedule and directors shooting script is done, sometimes a storyboard too (skilled storyboard artists COULD be somewhat replaced by software and there are attempts) - Sound designers start their work (sound design is a major component of content along with images) - Composer starts their work - Location scouting and permits are secured (permits for natural locations can cost a serious amount of money) - Art director and art departement starts working on costumes (costs a lot of money) and designs for sets (we'll get back to this)

Production: - Camera and grip departement can get huge... I've done only a moderate size productions and my camera and grip dept. was 20-30 people (skilled labour that costs money)... also cameras cost (with RED little changed because camera itself is usually from rental so prices are more or less the same)... lenses cost (Ultra primes are around 250.000 euros per set - if someone can make a startup for prime lenses for PL mount there's your business)... grip costs (cranes, dollies, russian arms, whatever your production actually needs) - art department can also get huge, wardrobe, set, makeup... - talent - you need them before production for actors rehearsals and if their name is recognizable it bears marketing power, which they cash in from you

Postproduction: - Color Correction can get attacked with software, Assimilate Scratch software tried to attack it with their software but it is still expensive, Nucoda Baselight and Quantel are still very expensive... not to mention hardware ccosts you need to run 4k dpx files at realtime - VFX usually require a large amount of highly skilled labour with a serious hardware power for rendering - Prop dept. is rare in talent and costs a lot of money, traditional FX even more so - Sound designers which are good are rare, they cost, their hardware and software costs. Foley is even more rare to find.

And now most important part about pricing structure (falls in both preproduction and production) - Setpieces http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setpiece

Setpieces are what drives most of the costs in high budget movies, they are akin to large theatre production where there are extravagant sets. Building setpieces needs engineers, builders, material and is already shaved of from profit as much as possible.

Marketing and distribution is a sizeable chunk of money in a project too - and this is actually a part of disruption that could make a difference. If raising capital and subsequently marketing and distribution could be taken care of, it could work - but IMO only for low budget projects (up to $20 million).

Just to summarize a bit:

Even if by some kind of magic you could downsize in post production (lots of people, lots of hardware, lots of work) and do it for free and in preproduction if you could write a script for free, do locations scouting and production scheduling for free (movie magic scheduling software is $500 I think)... you still have 30-60 days of principal photography where you need set building, actors, 50+ crew, electricity, transportation, natural locations permits. Those are all highly skilled workers and if you only paid them you still break a $1 million budget, sans equipment and everything else. It's an expensive sport. Lucas calculated that a low budget movie is in a ballpark of $20 million - with marketing and distribution, half of that without it. He's right.


Marketing and distribution - this is an interesting piece. It's profit AND loss for the studio - they sell ads (or the theatre sells ads), and buy ads. It's like all the websites trying to make money on google ads, advertising on ... google ads.

You can bet that really stupid decisions are made here, because they can't save money without losing a revenue stream, or pissing off theatres.

And Box Office sales are really important, because they are the first figure to be released. If 10 million people watch the movie, it's a good movie, so the DVD shops it (doing free advertising for you), and the TV Channels will pay more (even if everyone thought it was awful). They want to "anchor" the movie as being a money maker, by maximizing Box Office sales.

If you shoot a brilliant movie, like The Shawshank Redemption and nobody goes to see it, then the DVD shops won't push it. This means you'll only sell copies by word of mouth, by which stage the price has gone down.


>> Marketing and distribution is a sizeable chunk of money in a project too

How is a movie marketed and distributed in the film industry?

>> - Camera and grip departement can get huge... I've done only a moderate size productions and my camera and grip dept. was 20-30 people (skilled labour that costs money)

Could the team size be reduced by more/better technology?

>> Sound designers start their work (sound design is a major component of content along with images) - Composer starts their work

>> Prop dept. is rare in talent and costs a lot of money, traditional FX even more so - Sound designers which are good are rare, they cost, their hardware and software costs. Foley is even more rare to find.

How much of this work can be outsource to other countries?


The recent film The Devil Inside is a good example.

Independently produced outside the system. Shot in Romania, I believe. Reported budget "just under a million", but that's often code for "a few hundred thousand", which is what it looks like.

Acquired by Paramount Insurge for a million. Insurge is a brand formed after the success of Paranormal Activity to make very low budget projects.

But then Paramount spent $15 million to market the thing. So the cost of production was tiny percentage of the overall cost. It was the marketing that mattered in the end.

And it worked. Opening weekend box office alone brought the film to breakeven, even after you deduct everything else. $35 million dollars gross.

And it's almost universally thought to be an awful movie.

But that didn't matter.

Marketing. It's what the studios do best.


How is a movie marketed and distributed in the film industry?

It's not my expertise so I can't dwell into detail, but you can see it for yourself too - mostly via traditional channels, print and billboards, tv and radio trailers, online campaigns.

Could the team size be reduced by more/better technology?

Yes, but not by much! For example 35mm film is now more or less obsolete - average movie is shot on 20:1 ratio (for 90 minutes of running time, 1800 minutes is shot), that shaved off about $100,000 in negatives alone (around $5000 per hour of negative - costs of processing and making copies with film is additional cost). Film equipment can get cheaper. Dollies (like panther) cost around $60,000+ for example, good optics is 250,000 euros etc... Film lights are expensive too, but you need grip crew to operate them. I see opportunity in reducing costs of film equipment, but not so much in crew size.

How much of this work can be outsource to other countries?

It can and is, but as productions shifted from California to other countries those same countries started raising prices over time - so it's not so much as a cost reduction anymore... other countries now compete more on tax incentives than lower salaries (cost of equipment is more or less the same everywhere).


As you know, though, the cost of film and development is hardly worth talking about, particularly in big budget motion pictures. Shooting video, nowadays, is a convenience mostly. The cameras are far more expensive, as is the support equipment, but transmitting completed video and editing is far cleaner.


According to the analysis [1] from the Institute for International Film Financing [2], movies with budgets higher than 10 Mil. have a worse ratio of breaking-even: roughly 6 of 10 loose money based on box office alone vs. only 4 of 10 fail in the less than 10 Mil. category.

I agree that making movies is expensive, but we shouldn't fall prey to the availability heuristic.

To circumvent this, it might help to think about TV: What would it cost to produce original content for a 24/7 stream?

[1] http://abovethelineproducer.blogspot.com/2011/12/hollywood-p... [2] http://filmfinancing.org/


This seems to base the idea of profitability on US box office alone, which makes it more or less meaningless.

The bigger the budget, the more likely there are strong revenue streams from other sources. For example, for large tentpole pictures domestic box office is often only 1/3 of the total global box office.

This study appears to be rather shallow.


My point was that there's no need to think that big, initially. There's also money in story driven movies and shows, as Keyframe calls it. Disruption of passive entrainment structures is more likely to happen from below, not from above.


You have to consider there are story driven movies/shows which can get made for lower budgets (Primer for example) as well as setpiece driven shows or spectacles which simply can't be made for smaller amounts of money (setpiece cnostruction can get pricey and can't be replaced with VFX).

As for TV costs, I was involved in a Big Brother show as a director for example - reality shows are among the cheapest content you can produce (hence why there are so many of them)... 3 months of that show production was I believe in 3-5 million euros range. And that was the cheapest content you can produce, with producers that watched every penny spent with relatively cheap workforce.


What about indi movies with non-pro actors, hand held cameras, no fx, no costumes, etc? If a lonely guy can entertain for hours with a book he wrote alone, may be a bunch of skilled guys can, or did already make a nice movie for much less. Think minecraft.


Indeed. There is an opportunity for those kind of productions as evidenced by some movies already out there (Primer, Blairwitch Project, Paranormal activity), but not all of content is suited for those productions (2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Schindler's List... actually most aren't well suited).

But, you make an interesting point. Ultra low budget movies, character or story driven ideas could get funded and developed via kickstarter, but you still have most of productions which aren't suitable for low budgets no matter what.


What are your thoughts on something like Kickstarter?



So it sounds like the healthcare industry?

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