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Request for Startups: Kill Hollywood. (ycombinator.com)
2060 points by dzlobin on Jan 20, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 664 comments

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


"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?


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

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)


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."


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? :)


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.


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:


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:


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.


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.


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.


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."


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/)


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?

Hollywood and the MPAA isn't about making movies.

Rather, it's about maintaining a distribution chokehold on mass produced popular entertainment. This in turn means controlling what goes into the pipeline, and how the output from the pipeline is delivered to the consumers, and how the MPPE is marketed -- for example, the whole star system, Oscars night hype, and so on.

What is needed is a better distribution channel, and that's why they keep trying to kill anything that looks like it might become one. The solution is thus going to start with (a) invent something, and (b) lawyer up, a long way prior to public launch.

Distribution is a solved problem. It's open. Even theatrical is more open than it was 5 years ago. NATO wants competitors to Hollywood. In fact, NATO members are beginning to openly compete with Hollywood (see Open Road Films, a joint venture between AMC and Regal).

Production is a solved problem. The tools have been democratized.

Even financing is open these days. There's a huge range of film financing sources, and as sites like Kickstarter grow, crowdfunding will become more and more viable.

What is locked up is marketing. Hollywood is just better at it than their competitors. It's what the studios do that no one else seems to be able to do.

To some extent this is an issue of discovery. You can make a film, you can get it in front of people, but how do you get them to know it exists? To me, this is the most productive area to focus on.

This is true, but you have to understand that there is a phenomenal amount of talent locked up in Hollywood. I'm not necessarily talking about directors or actors, but camera men, DPs, best boys, set dressers...the list goes on and on. These people have skills that require many, many years of on-site training.

(Don't forget about producers, line producers, production managers, site scouts, and all of the logistics people who find a way to make a huge movie happen)

Making a small, Blair Witch Project/Little Miss Sunshine/indie whatever doesn't require an army of people with these skills. You can get away with some rough edges and end up looking good.

But making the next Avatar? That's not a problem that will be solved solely with technology. You have to find some way to extract these guys from an industry that already pays them pretty well.

None of these people are locked into anything.

They're all essentially freelance workers, moving from one startup to the next. Each project is its own world, and doesn't lock anyone into anything. Well, with the exception of franchises locking in some actors.

I've known both above the line and below the line people to move from the biggest blockbusters to projects with a very-low-five-figure budget and back again. They like working on the gritty no-budget projects where they can exercise a lot more creative freedom. Heck, I've known top crew to show up and work for literally nothing more than a sandwich.

And if you showed up with $100 million tomorrow, they all could and would work on your huge blockbuster. That's pretty much how the system works now. You just need the money if the blockbuster is your goal.

The important thing here is that none of them are locked into anything. The talent is free to go where it will. There's union rules for minimums and such, and if you played long term at something you'd have to comply, but that's not an onerous burden.

I feel like you guys are right on the edge of a solid idea. If the Hollywood advantage is not the technical tools, or the raw funding capability, then it's the rich understanding of the talent pool that can properly wield those things.

They are a highly advanced network of HR organizations.

Does IMDBPro have listings for crew?

You don't even need to play by union rules. The unions are broken in Vancouver, Toronto, the Czech Republic and other non-Hollywood film centers. You get the exact same people showing up to work on the latest TCF or GEP productions as you do the non-union indies in these places. The same is possibly true of Hollywood and New York, but it's been years since I've worked in either of those places.

Question: Mega-productions like avatar rely mostly on special effects than storytelling. Are people still impressed by special effects and stunts? Aren't video games becoming more impressive to look at than movies? As a result, are these technical skills becoming less important?

Don't forget: Video Games face the same problems that Hollywood does. And games like Skyrim are starting to have pretty massive development budgets.

"special effects" is kind of a misnomer when what you are really talking about is mostly the creation of a richly detailed virtual world - it's less about clever tricks and more about art, animation, etc.

admittedly, this sort of thing (immersing you in a virtual world) is indeed something video games have already proven themselves rather good at (unlike storytelling imo)

A movie has something like 3x3 times the resolution of a video game.

Which is why the state of the art in Machinima is only a couple of years behind the state of the art in cinematic CGI.

(What you're pointing to is a problem that can be solved by adding cpu cores. Because movies aren't shown in real time during rendering. Yet.)

If Open Source software provides any clues, marketing is indeed a problem.

Consider 'Blair Witch Project' which cost US$ 35.000 to make, was sold for US$ 1.1 Mil., and then the company spend US$ 20-25 Mil. for marketing. And this was an awesome campaign.

"Open Water" cost US$ 500.000, was bought for US$ 2.5 Mil, and the company spend additional US$ 8 Mil. on distribution and advertising.

Box Office revenue is more closely correlated to advertising dollars spend than production dollars spend, accorindg to the presentation here: http://abovethelineproducer.blogspot.com/2011/12/hollywood-p...

I wonder how much of that "marketing expense" went to other subsidiaries of the parent corporations but was deducted from the net profits that went to the actual creative people.

Agreed. Although discovery isn't just an issue in the film industry; I think it's going to happen everywhere as small scale producers attain the ability to produce great content/products/whatever and the market becomes more flooded with choices than ever before.

Here's a article that goes into this: http://bindle.me/blog/index.php/170/chances-of-discovery-one...

...it's about maintaining a distribution chokehold on mass produced popular entertainment.

I don't think "mass produced" is right, since that term tends to refer to literal assembly lines and to exclude things produced merely in volume via artisan processes.

Your broader point is a bit confusing because it seems like you're saying studios don't make movies, they only do X. Actually, I think you're saying that making movies is not the defensible core of Hollywood's power. I basically agree, since there are many producers of quality "content" outside of Hollywood or who could leave Hollywood in an instant.

Separately, I don't think they have locked down distribution (in the narrow sense) channels very tightly; there are many non-Hollywood distributors, and it's not that difficult to self-distribute online or in theaters.

Sales and marketing--reaching consumers--is difficult. Hollywood may have legitimate skill here and the studios benefit from strong network effects, quantity discounts, etc.

Also, Hollywood seems to have decent VCs, as strange as it is to say that. They're able to invest large amounts of money in risky projects and come out ahead more often than not, despite the small average return. This might be a big part of their defensible core.

So aside from learning how to market, any solution that seeks to displace the Hollywood system needs to do one or more of the following: find something which will eliminate the public's appetite for shared/"public" art experiences, reduce the capital requirements for mass media, or cultivate a set of sophisticated-enough investors to put $100M down on projects at the prototype stage.

> find something which will eliminate the public's appetite for shared/"public" art experiences

You kind of just blew my mind with that. I'd never thought of hollywood movies that way, but there's something really fundamental about that.

I think that's not an accurate characterization of the Hollywood entertainment industry.

Unless I'm misunderstanding you, I don't agree that they're not about movies. They are about movies and TV-shows. If if were not of the existence of those, then there would be no need, in their eyes, for distribution control. What would they be controlling, an idea factory?

If they were only channel and no content, they'd have nothing of value to safeguard. Their reason to exist would cease to be.

If Hollywood were _only_ distribution channel, they would have long been disrupted and rendered irrelevant. Their distribution _is_ actively being disrupted by the likes of Apple, Amazon and Netflix --but not the product, so much. They are slowly accepting that they have to acknowledge this new distribution type. On the other hand, Netflix is beginning to create original content --that's not going through the old Hollywood channels, so that's a start to the content production disruption. We'll have to see how that unfurls.

In addition, I don't agree with the "mass-produced" qualifier. Each production is not mass produced or stamped out. Each movie (of which there may be ~500/year, and TV episode are unique productions. The qualifier mass-produced brings me visions of millions of identical, easily reproduced productions -I think the attrition rate of new shows and movie flops attest to the difficulty in producing viable content. If you meant they were destined for mass-consumption, then yes. But that's altogether different.

Distribution isn't the only issue. The biggest issue is funding. I'd love to be able to fund, directly, my TV and movie entertainment. Right now I feel like I'm at the mercy of anyone with a Nielsen box or the time/money to go the movies every weekend.

Perhaps what there needs to be is kickstarter-like project to initiate some project and a corresponding store to keep it going. Probably TV shows would be the easiest to produce this way. Imagine something like The IT Crowd paid for directly by viewer. Or one-off shows like Louis CK's recent comedy experiment. You could get established entertainers and new talent all in the same place if you did it well.

By implication then is the next big distribution channel already technically feasible?

I think history makes it pretty clear someone will jump on it. It sounds like that someone will not be in the US or US-similar copyright regimes.

So what kind of business can capitalize on the new distribution model -- without running afoul of the DMCA etc.?

It would probably be helpful to megaupload's successor (that assumes megaupload was the next distribution channel) to have an ecosystem ready and crying out for it. It would keep the distribution channel stuffed with _legitimate_ content, thus increasing its odds of survival when it inevitably runs into US Federales.

The "next big distribution channel" already exists. Why do you think the MPAA and RIAA keep trying to choke off the internet. Fortunately, they got a late start, so there is a chance to keep ahead of their lawyers.

Movies aren't the latest evolution in entertainment, they're the latest evolution in storytelling, something which is as old as humanity itself. Hollwyood is the descendant of ancient man telling stories of adventure around a fire at night.

So the more accurate question - what is a better way to tell stories?

Very interesting. A lot of people who suggest games as a replacement for video seem to be missing this point. Games require active interaction. Not everyone always wants to entertain themselves in a way that requires active interaction. Sometimes we just want to sit back, relax, and let the storyteller tell their story. Watching Bruce Willis blow shit up on a screen is a completely different kind of entertainment than blowing shit up on a screen myself.

Passive consumerism? Oh yes. But homo sapiens loves it.

I find that oversimplified. Personally, I game to relax and I watch movies to be mentally (and emotionally) challenged.

The problem with games is that they, by their very nature, have problems for the storyteller:

First, they take away his control from (at least) one of the characters, since it has to be given to the player. This means that either certain stories can't be told as they should, since you can't force the player to have the same motivations as the character, especially if they're supposed to be revealed only later.

Second, plenty of great movies would make shitty games. Dialog driven movies (12 Angry Men), for example. You'd need to put the player on rails and limit his movements to a minimum - and to do that, why make a game at all?

Third, game play can distract from the story. There's a reason why people tend to make more mistakes when they're recalling a situation where they were participants instead of passive viewers.

So, give me a way to have my cake and eat it too.

Give me a medium that adjusts the interactivity demands of the entertainment according to the recline of my chair or the open width of my eyelids. Metaphorically speaking (or not).

When playing games like Dues Ex or Half Life, I've often wanted the ability to scale the difficulty on the fly from hardcore to easy to passive without penalty. I'm guilty of watching "Let's Play" editions of games on YouTube for that reason.

Come to think of it, I have a friend with some tech based around the ability to communicate and stream video of and within various games. Maybe this is the kind of thing that would allow you to transition easily from playing watching your friends play (before you drift off to sleep).

Exactly. And honestly, the answer to your question is not "youtube."

Not youtube today. Though it might come out of youtube one day.

Perhaps can be argued better storytelling can take place in person, whether via education or live performances - however storytelling in person is an artform, much like proper education is.

That's exactly what I wanted to say: Movies are the latest evolution in storytelling. So the question is: How can we use technology to create a better way to tell stories?

If you're a writer you can write a book just by yourself, and there are already many writers that create awesome stories. Furthermore, from all the movies I've seen and all the books I've read, I think that the story in an average book tends to be of higher quality than the story in an average movie.

An interesting goal for a really disruptive storytelling technology would be to create a tool that allows a writer to create something that looks like a movie but doesn't require much more work than writing a book.

It's already possible to use computers to create a movie without using any cameras, or building physical sets, but it still is a labor intensive and expensive process. Right now you need:

* Voice actors to act all the parts

* Modelers to create all the 3D models

* Texture artists

* Animators

* Sound effect technicians

* Composer & musicians

* A rendering farm to render the movie

Let's look at each of these items and see if we can find a way to work around it.

We can start with the easier ones. You don't need a rendering farm, you can use a game engine to render the story in real time using the GPU.

Music & sound effects are also easy to solve. Computers can synthesize music and there are already many composers who allow you to use their music for free or by paying a very small one time fee. You also can buy at a low price a library of sound effects, but below I propose an even better solution for that.

Next we have to look at models & textures. This is harder to solve but I think there might be one solution inspired in MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. When you install World of Warcraft on your computer you're installing the whole world with all the models and textures, so that when you play the game all of them are loaded on demand from your local hard disk. So, any company that wants to create a tool that enables a single writer to create a whole movie by himself, would have to invest in creating all the models & textures for a large array of different locations (urban, country, desert, jungle, interiors, exteriors, etc.) that the audience would install on their computer. Then writers would have all those locations available to use for their stories. Furthermore, it would be a good idea to allow third parties to create new locations that can be added to the set of available locations. On top of that, if you are already installing all those models & textures on people's computers then you can also throw in good sound effects library.

All of the above is easy, in the sense that, although it requires a large investment to create a good set of models & textures for the locations, it doesn't require any technological innovation.

Now comes the hard part. The part where we still haven't developed the needed technology. We need digital actors that can play their roles by themselves. The writer should only be required to give them their lines & stage directions. This would require some more research in how to improve text to speech synthesizers & procedural animation. But I do believe that's something that could be solved in the next ten years.

The soccer analogy is interesting because when a player is fouled in the penalty area, the player is strongly incentivised to take a dive. A foul on a player with a clear goalscoring opportunity in the penalty area is a mandatory red card for the fouling player, and a penalty kick for the attacking team. This gives the attacking team a clear advantage by having one more player than the opposition, for the remainder of the game as well a penalty kick. Statistically, it is very probable that a professional football player will score from a penalty also.

Yes, but in practice a forward won't take a dive unless he's lost control of the ball.

This just isn't true. In today's game it's very common for a player with the ball, in the area, to go down after the slightest contact from an opposing player, rather than stay on their feet and shoot.

Soccer as an international industry needs to be 'disrupted', more so than any other professional sport leagues in the US (NFL, NBA, MLB). Simply because of the flow of talent is very unbalanced, and it's built on a system of infrastructure instead of skill. Oddly enough, soccer isn't on a level playing field worldwide. But that doesn't stop anyone from predicting the rise of Chinese and Indian superclubs like Barcelona or Real Madrid.

Personal side note, there's definitely a lot of social leverage there too. Figure out how to pair something to soccer, like education or clean water, and it has to power to spread like crazy.

In any case, I think pg's point was that when you've got a scoring chance to go one up, you don't go down for a cheap foul. You take the shot and end the game. * Which is what he's hoping the sleeper underdog startup will do, instead of taking the easy route a-la los Merengues. Yup, I just went there.

> Oddly enough, soccer isn't on a level playing field worldwide.

I dont see why you would think anything should naturally be on a "level playing field worldwide." Obviously soccer is not since there are certain places where there are huge cash flow in and out and naturally that's where the talents gravitates towards. Both because of massive contracts, prestige, sponsorship, and because of much better training systems from a very young age. There's no one regulating "drafts" like NBA/NFL so it's almost a free market on talents.

You've never heard of 'soccer is the great equalizer' as a phrase?

And drafts are actually very tightly regulated. It's essentially the only entry point in both leagues. Not so with soccer.

'soccer is the great equalizer' might apply when you have kids playing. But at a pro level, I'm sure you can agree it's clearly not the case.

You misread my last sentence there. I should have made it more clear. My point is soccer is NOT regulated, unlike NBA/NFL which is regulated.

Speaking of soccer in terms of entertainment it is almost as bad as Hollywood and in some areas worse. Like Hollywood all online deals are careful not on step on established players toes (DirectTV, TimeWarner, et al). You can pay $15/month to watch games live online, but any game involving marquee teams is delayed.

The FA in England takes it a step further and doesn't even allow unauthorized publication of fixtures and statistics. Fan blogs can't post upcoming matches unless they pay a annual fee. A license to display statistics in any media starts at 5,000 pounds ($7,770).

A few years back they sued every blog that listed upcoming matches. Suing your biggest fans! It's madness.

How is that even legal? The UK is a common law system like the US. Doesn't it have a court case similar to Feist v. Rural in the US that establishes jurisprudence that data cannot be copyrighted? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feist_v._Rural

The EU invented the Database Right, which is like copyright but for collections of facts.

Not their finest hour.

The leading British film critic Mark Kermode hypothesises that Michael Bay style blockbusters are hits solely because they were expensive to make.

He likens these films to a PT Barnum sideshow - people aren't expecting anything of artistic merit, but are instead driven by curiosity as to what the producers spent $140m on. Media attention is inevitable, in the same way that a restaurant announcing a $1000 hamburger is easy fodder for a slow news day.

The logic is persuasive in light of the fact that critics and moviegoers alike don't enjoy these films much, nor expect to enjoy them. There's a culture of "movie events", a self-fulfilling prophecy of huge budgets and massive opening weekends.

If the theory is valid, I have no idea how you'd beat Hollywood; I'm fairly certain that the answer won't involve making anything with cultural or artistic worth.

I hope whatever kills hollywood also kills distribution by regions. In the third world we are people too.

The regional distribution is definitely something that needs to die fast. I live outside the US, where TV networks buy American tv-series and broadcasts them a year after they are released in the US. No one I know under 30 actually waits for that. They see their friends in other countries talking about the new episode on Facebook and eventually they just end up downloading it. Which is sad, because if they could actually buy it on iTunes (without a US account), they probably would if the price was right.

Don't hold your breath just yet. If the new thing gets funded chiefly by ad revenue -- and that's the popular way of funding freemium now -- it will remain regionalized. Ad sponsors prefer certain demographics and third world countries aren't high on their lists.

That's not necessarily a problem. Facebook isn't restricted to high-ad-revenue countries. Their costs are so low that they don't mind making much less money in some places than others. The same is true of YouTube.

The reason so much content is region restricted is traditional Hollywood licensing deals. Just another example of their outmoded business methods.

If it's funded by ad revenue, there will be no reason to deny the third world.

In a sale model, dropping third world prices to locally affordable carries a risk of those copies being brought to the first world and resold. Viewers would buy the imports because they were cheaper.

In an ad model, the viewers don't pay. Instead watching an import would mean watching ads which were placed more cheaply, but are probably also less artistic and less targeted. No real incentive.

Ad sponsors from the third world countries themselves have no problem paying for advertising in their own countries.

Here in Portugal (not third world, I know) I get plenty of AdWords from national companies, much more than from international ones.

It was supposed to be just price discrimination in favor of the third world. Regions allowed Hollywood to sell the same movie for less in Africa or China than in the US. But because of weird business arrangements in international distribution, it sometimes meant they got movies late or never.

Global distribution territories are like a maze of twisty passages, none of which are alike.

Combining the other recent pg essay about schlepping, this is a major schlepping window of opportunity. If someone could find a way to make it easier for filmmakers to reach markets around the world, that would help the overall issue.

I don't just mean slap up a youtube clone and call the problem solved, I mean provide access to theatrical and tv gobally.

Major schlepping there, but probably a good opportunity too.

Alternatively, we might say regions allowed Hollywood to sell the same movie for more in the US than in Africa or China.

Same with prescription drugs, also a subject of these SOPA/PIPA laws.

It's obvious that many new forms of entertainment will use the web as a medium which, barring dictatorships, is worldwide, so you don't have to worry about it, insofar as you have enough bandwidth.

GeoIP data is 99% accurate at the country level, so it's trivially easy to enforce regional restrictions on the internet, and some web sites have been doing it for a while. Sure, there are ways around that too, but most people are not technically inclined enough to figure them out. As one article recently posted on HN said (can't find it right now), we need to stop thinking only about technical solutions, and start attacking problems at the political and cultural level. After all, using a VPN to get around a restriction will only work until the authorities (government, RIAA, whoever) find a way to block it. It's a never ending arms race. We need to fix the political problem of censorship in order to achieve a permanent solution.

In the context of a replacement for Hollywood by something new, most likely something new on the internet, why would anyone bother to restrict the market to a specific region ?

My comment wasn't about technical feasibility, it was more about the fact that, by default, the web is a planetary medium, therefore, any new entertainment made on it is available without regional restriction unless the authors take steps to create such restrictions.

[ This comment is unavailable in your region. ]

You know what's available in all regions? BitTorrent.

And then Hollywood complains about people in unusual regions torrenting things.


(psst... there's a button for that :-)

Right... go tell that to Hulu and Netflix. I'd do it myself, but it's not available on my region. And I'm not even in a 3rd world country! Go figure...

Many new-ish forms of entertainment already use the web as a medium, but that has not helped the region problem much. Hulu, Netflix, Turntable.fm and many many other services are US-only.

Incidentially I wouldn't call Hulu, Netflix and the likes "new-ish forms of entertainment", they're basically just new distribution channels for the old form and thus dependent on the content creators. And it's the content creators that impose the regional limits. I'd assume given the choice Hulu and Netflix would open up their offers to anyone with bandwidth to spare.

I find it utterly fascinating how under the radar a lot of the new media has been.

Only recently have some people begun to appreciate that Netflix has as many subscribers as many large cable companies, though I think it's still flirting with the popular consciousness so far. Meanwhile, there are many people making their living off of original content posted to youtube or elsewhere, and in some cases they are making 6 figure incomes.

The Guild, Penny-Arcade TV, vlogbrothers, Dr Horrible, etc, this is an incredibly rapidly growing phenomenon. Yet good luck finding a story about it in the traditional media, it might as well not exist.

Meanwhile, online comics are quickly upstaging print comics. There will come a day in the next few years when the aggregate revenue from web comics exceeds that from the traditional comic studios (DC, Marvel, etc.)

I wonder at what point these phenomena will start to penetrate the mainstream, when the average guy on the street will start to "get it".

It's under the radar because its appeal is very, very limited. My mom will read Asterix, but Penny Arcade is completely uninteresting to her.

We're living in somewhat of a hacker bubble where what happens on Youtube or Boing Boing is significant. The rest of the world, however, does not care. The rest of the world likes Hollywood.

I agree that Hollywood is evil, however, is the argument that it has peaked really accurate? ("Hollywood is dying.")

This RFS doesn't really give any statistics (perhaps because it will be up for longer than those statistics will be current). That said, based on a few minutes of Google searching, the average American apparently watches 150 hours of TV per month, and every few years there is a new "biggest grossing film of all time." That doesn't necessarily constitute growth, but it hardly seems like the type of upheaval occurring in the recording industry.

Is this analysis incorrect?

and every few years there is a new "biggest grossing film of all time."

That, at least, can be accounted for by inflation: http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm

Titanic (1997) is the most recent in the top ten (at #6). Avatar is the most recent at #14, and one of only two movies from the 2000s in the top 30. Movie revenue is dropping. Roger Ebert has a rundown of why 2011 was such a terrible year:


As for TV- no, it isn't in such a decline. But more and more people are watching online, and the existing TV networks don't have the stranglehold on content that they do on cable/etc. A lot of people watch stuff on YouTube, Netflix is making original content... there is space to disrupt TV watching yet.

Probably worth noting that the inflation-adjusted list, while more accurate than a non-adjusted one, is only the American domestic gross. It's quite plausible that the international gross would look different - one might expect that the trend there for Gone With The Wind would look a bit different to Avatar.

Adjusted for inflation, the top 5 highest grossing films in history were made in 1956, 1982, 1965, 1977, and 1939. Super blockbusters like Avatar are not new phenomena, they're merely par for the course.

Meanwhile, people are spending more time using computers or playing games, and that necessarily takes away from time and money spent watching tv or movies. More so, Hollywood no longer has a lock on the video entertainment people watch. More people have watched "charlie bit my finger" on youtube than have watched any show on broadcast tv currently. But more than that there are new, highly popular forms of video entertainment being produced which have very little to do with Hollywood. And many of these people are already making a living off of these works.

Imagine what will happen in the coming years when video production and hosting is even more ubiquitous and cheap and more people can opt to self-produce and self-distribute and take the lion's share of the revenues (from ads, direct sales, merch, live events, etc.)

Sooner than we realize the old power structures will fall away as more and more artists decide to keep control and profit for their works in their own hands.

Those top grossing numbers are deeply affected by the entertainment landscapes of their eras. Movies played for much longer in the past and there were fewer other entertainment options. So it is not apples to apples.

And? Population and demographics have changed as well of course. What does it matter? We're not comparing movies based on which had the biggest impact on the people of their time, we're talking about business. Of course competition in the landscape of entertainment is going to affect that, that's the whole point.

What about if the price of apples went up you could still be making the same amount of money as when they were cheaper...and you need less people to buy your apples. I can almost guarantee that a smaller number of people saw Avatar in theaters than Gone with the Wind.

A movie ticket, on average, cost $.23 in 1939. Adjusting for inflation, thats $3.72 today. I think I paid $15 for Avatar 3D.


They're also domestic box office only, which is an increasingly small slice of the pie.

A blockbuster today typically makes at least twice as much overseas as it does in the US & Canada (domestic totals include Canada).

The market in China is huge, and growing rapidly. Even Russia, which had traditionally be a small market, is quickly growing in size.

If you adjust for how ticket prices have grown over the years, the highest-grossing films of all time are:

1. Gone with the Wind

2. Star Wars

3. The Sound of Music

4. E.T.

5. The Ten Commandments

So in those terms, we haven't actually had a new highest-grossing film of all time for seven decades. The nominal biggest movie ever, Avatar, really only comes in 14th.

Source: http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm

If course, this RFS appears on a day when I have my working demonstration site down, (because I'm laying in new optimizations). I have been working to seriously disrupt "Hollywood" and the media advertising industry for several years now. There are a few places where interested parties can see brief descriptions, I'll list them in a bit. What I'm building is globally patented by me as well. I've developed an automated visual effects pipeline and globally scalable distribution infrastructure for automated actor and object replacement in filmed media - creating a new Personalized Advertising platform where anybody can appear in prepared media with anybody else doing anything. This is photo realistic visual effects, of the same caliber as ILM enhanced feature films - that's the world I come from (Rhythm & Hues Studios, actually.) Interested parties can read bits at these locations:

www.about.me/Blakes <- my mission is described there


www.Flixor.com <- 3 year old demo video there

This is offline at the moment, but as soon as this is ready I plan a HN announcement:


I'm bootstrapping this, after spinning my wheels courting VC investors for too long. Interested parties that want to collaborate can contact me. This is real.

Has anyone tried out Amazon Studios: http://studios.amazon.com/? That seems to be a big step in this direction. Amazon.com has already created a big threat in the publishing industry with e-books and self-publishing. I think hollywood is next with the democratization of content and technological tools.

It used to be that to create "Hollywood grade" movies would require tons of expensive equipment and capital. I don't see that to be the case anymore. There is powerful software (some even free, e.g., Blender) and hardware (http://www.red.com/) to create high-quality productions at a fraction of the budget.

Having worked at a film studio for a few years, I can say that they are definitely struggling to compete. Mostly because they are slow to adapt to the changing landscape. Slow because they either don't want to change or are too arrogant and feel they don't need to make an effort to change.

I've got three different friends who won $20,000 each through Amazon Studio's script contests. One guy won 20k twice and has a producer with a very respectable track record attached to one of his projects there now. My friends are all very happy with their experiences thus far, though everyone is curious what the next steps will be like.

Many artists steer clean of Amazon because it is trying to democratize art through crowdsourced development. Can you imagine what would have happened to Blade Runner if Ridley Scott had even less control on the final cut?

As a counterargument (although I agree with you in this case): it was just as well George Lucas had less control over the original Star Wars films, as the prequels proved.

Can you imagine what the complete works of Shakespeare would look like if he were responsible for releasing any of the folios we use today?

The whole idea of being absolutely loyal to the artist's intent is a cultural idea that has come in and out of vogue, but is largely an artifact of 20th century America. Really, art has always been crowdsourced in some sense or another, and any work of art is in some sense an amalgam.

Sure, crowdsourced over time (the bible..). But what is wrong with wanting to understand the author's original intent? There is plenty of time over the next hundreds of years for the work to be re-interpreted.

Didn't some of our greatest open-source tools start from a single source before being disseminated among us to evolve?

There's nothing wrong with trying to understand the author's original intent. But the author's intent isn't necessarily more important than the reader's interpretation (and trying to separate the two can miss the point of art.)

Independent film companies are to L.A. what startups are to Silicon Valley. An independent film company is essentially a startup with all of the uncertainty, hard work, late nights, bootstrapping, cash crunches, etc. The odds are stacked against them. (I closed my film company down as of the end of the year.)

So when I hear "Kill Hollywood" I don't think you really mean what you say. The independent film companies are going to be the ones that will produce the content for all the new digital distribution channels that have sprung up in the past ten years.

A lot of hard working people are employed by the industry and they understand that the game is changing. They realize things are going to be different for them in the new economic models. (One other thing most people don't know is almost 99% of "Hollywood" are contract workers who work for three to nine months and then have no guarantee of another job.)

Silicon Valley isn't defined by Oracle and Intel. Don't define Hollywood by the actions of a few large companies. There already are a bunch of opportunities for the entertainment industry and the Valley to work together and we're still in the early stages of collaboration.

One difference I would point out - every film an indie production co makes is equivalent to a new start-up, i.e. every film is its own business. And these aren't businesses that scale well. Or at all. Therefore, film producers are essentially serial entrepreneurs ... but by no means will a successful indie film grant the same kind of ROI that a successful tech startup would, e.g. Twitter or Dropbox.

I think the problem is in the distribution of entertainment. There's no motive to stop the actual production of entertainment.

This strikes me as a bit naïve. Hollywood can be seen as two different things:

1) An ecosystem of artists creating music, movies and TV shows.

2) A group of companies distributing and commercializing the output of the ecosystem.

It's hard to say where one ends and the other one begins. YC, you may want to kill #2 but not #1.

Or do you expect to fund "startups" that create TV shows, movies, or music? If so, start looking for the younger Louis CKs of the world.

Except the money for #1 comes from studios and production houses, who incidentally are the ones distributing the content as well.

1) is a naive description. Ecosystem implies some sort of balance, where in fact it is a cutthroat competition for the favors handed out by 2).

Because 2) holds the keys, 2) controls the message.

In other words, I would _gladly_ kill #1. #1 is dysfunctional: some sort of willing imprisonment for artists for the sole benefit of #2.

> Ecosystem implies some sort of balance, where in fact it is a cutthroat competition [...]

You don't know much about biology, do you?

mmm well of course there can be balance in competition, and there can be extinction events. my comment should be read to imply detrimental runaway effects in Hollywood's ecosystem.

I'm sorry but this kind of thread from the initial post on down to the echo chamber of opinions smacks more of Jonestown than Silicon Valley. I personally find it disturbing. The vast majority of this country enjoys some part of what comes out of Hollywood - whether they pay for it or not. I'd hazard a guess that the vast majority of HNers do as well. Is there some reason suddenly why a tyranny of the minority should be such a beautiful concept?

It's as senseless as requesting people should 'kill creativity' or 'kill talent' - not because Hollywood is their equal but because lots of talented and creative people work there. There is scant support around here for creative people having any right to their work as it is - so I am beyond curious as to the foundations of business models that find 'better ways to entertain people'.

People entertain people; with how badly the content industry is being savaged and prejudged - this thread as a glowing example - in 20 years a pub might be the best business model to capture that 'unique value proposition'.

I don't get your point. What tyranny of the minority? "Killing", in the context of the post, means "finding ways that people prefer". If new businesses (startups or not) compete and win the market from Hollywood, it's because the majority prefers them, no?

PG is not using 'killing' in the sense of "finding ways [entertainment] that people prefer". To quote:

"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."

Trying to do things better than the next guy is a positivistic approach that I would applaud; excoriating a straw-man enemy with prejudicial overtones is tyrannical - especially when coming from a person in a position of power. The sentences I quote above could apply to ANYTHING: Washington DC, the banking industry, the VC industry.

The content from "Hollywood" forms the bulk of what people who file-share or pirate want. If there was no "Hollywood" there would be no piracy problem because there would be precious little content worth chasing after. As noted elsewhere, good content costs money - not because of copyright - but because it takes a lot of time, craft and people to perfect something. Anyone who has worked in the commercial creative arts knows this; espc. that the last 10% - the part that makes something really 'commercial' - takes 50% of the time and budget.

PG has a problem with this. A problem that apparently boils down to the fact that this creative work happens under the auspices of "Hollywood". What he is wishing for is that those 'creatives' would somehow come under the control of the tech-media universe instead:

"There will be several answers, ranging from new ways to produce and distribute shows, through new media (e.g. games) that look a lot like shows but are more interactive, to things (e.g. social sites and apps) that have little in common with movies and TV except competing with them for finite audience attention. Some of the best ideas may initially look like they're serving the movie and TV industries. Microsoft seemed like a technology supplier to IBM before eating their lunch, and Google did the same thing to Yahoo."

Come under the control of the tech-media conglomerates where I am sure they'll be much better treated:P

Trading one master for the next doesn't solve any of the problems of the creative individual in modern society - and THAT's the real problem I have with the PG post. A much better realization would be to say that if we could find a better way for the internet to equip and reward talented individuals so that they could exist outside of production systems - THAT would be a real accomplishment - and we wouldn't be stuck in the middle between the copyright and piracy.

I do applaud some commenters on this thread for sketching out some solutions that do try to mind the individual approach. But, as lovely as the Louis CK example was [as an example of doing a successful commercial production outside a ready system], it's telling that just as there was not a shred of organized old-media involved, neither was there a shred of organized new-tech. What made the Louis CK production successful was talent, time, craft, money and people.

And I will lambast PG and whomever else would ever suggest that those things need to be 'taught a lesson'. The way forward isn't by taking oaths to new Dons - it's by finding a way in the anonymous pool of the internet to treat each other as a worthy community.

PG is not using 'killing' in the sense of "finding ways [entertainment] that people prefer". To quote:

"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 read that quote. It says competitors. Not assassins, lobbyists or lawyers. Competitors.

Trying to do things better than the next guy is a positivistic approach that I would applaud; excoriating a straw-man enemy with prejudicial overtones is tyrannical

How is it a strawman enemy? The MPAA is sponsoring bills like SOPA and PIPA. People like PG, but also Wikipedia, Reddit, Tumblr, and lots of others feel they are a threat to civil liberties. You may disagree, but that doesn't make it a strawman.

especially when coming from a person in a position of power.

Are you seriously saying PG is in a position of power compared to the MPAA? That's a joke, right?

The content from "Hollywood" forms the bulk of what people who file-share or pirate want. If there was no "Hollywood" there would be no piracy problem because there would be precious little content worth chasing after.

Or maybe without the competition from the millions of marketing from Hollywood, other content creators would appear. You need something to back up that claim.

As noted elsewhere, good content costs money - not because of copyright - but because it takes a lot of time, craft and people to perfect something. Anyone who has worked in the commercial creative arts knows this; espc. that the last 10% - the part that makes something really 'commercial' - takes 50% of the time and budget.

Maybe. Or maybe Hollywood is inefficient and behind the times. Everyone thinks they're doing things the best way possible until someone comes up with a new way to do it.

PG has a problem with this. A problem that apparently boils down to the fact that this creative work happens under the auspices of "Hollywood". What he is wishing for is that those 'creatives' would somehow come under the control of the tech-media universe instead:

"There will be several answers, ranging from new ways to produce and distribute shows, through new media (e.g. games) that look a lot like shows but are more interactive, to things (e.g. social sites and apps) that have little in common with movies and TV except competing with them for finite audience attention. Some of the best ideas may initially look like they're serving the movie and TV industries. Microsoft seemed like a technology supplier to IBM before eating their lunch, and Google did the same thing to Yahoo."

Come under the control of the tech-media conglomerates where I am sure they'll be much better treated:P

If you read it carefully, he's using MS, IBM, etc as examples. PG is a guy who invests in small startups that often compete with such conglomerates, so I don't see how you can assume he's defending putting them in control.

Trading one master for the next doesn't solve any of the problems of the creative individual in modern society - and THAT's the real problem I have with the PG post. A much better realization would be to say that if we could find a better way for the internet to equip and reward talented individuals so that they could exist outside of production systems - THAT would be a real accomplishment - and we wouldn't be stuck in the middle between the copyright and piracy.

One can't exist without the other. The anti-piracy bills sponsored by Hollywood give them the power to eliminate those potential Internet-based systems that you're proposing.

This is most awesome, however this RFS as it stands now only addresses the demand side of the equation. It should also address the talent side of the equation. People need to create startups that allow talent to reach their audience better, cheaper and faster.

Louis C.K. had to do a lot of work to perform his experiment. Why is there no startup equivalent of "Comedy Central" + "HBO Comedy Hour"? If I were a comedian, how do I go from performing standup in a club, to selling that comedy to as many people as possible with as little effort on my part. Were I a comedian, I want to build an audience and make a living telling jokes.

This goes for all other forms of talent. Actors, writers, costume designers, etc.

Hollywood's talent power is in its Rolodex. How do you take that power out of their hand and eliminate the power brokers?

What are some talented actors that are already embracing the internet and possibly willing "invest" in startups using their talent? Ashton Kutcher, maybe? How about Will Ferrell?

Also, how do we allow people to easily transition from passive to active and back again? Currently there isn't an easy way to go from the Internet to my TV and back again. How can I go from a link in my Facebook or Twitter feed to sitting on my couch watching a movie in one click? How do I share from my TV to my friends? How do I organize hanging out together with my friends at my house or apartment to watch a TV show or game? As great as products like Google Hangouts are, nothing beats the social experience of enjoy a piece of media together.

I'm glad there are other film/tv people on the board sharing their perspective. Before I started writing code for a living, I used to work in post production in NYC on reality tv shows and also in the past on films, docs, and also at more artistic-minded places like Sundance (which is a great place but very much tied to Hollywood, btw, if it wasn't already obvious). A lot of my friends (and myself) are hustling to get their films made here in the city so I must agree that the amount of money required to get a film made is a lot less than it once was.

The real difficulty, and what needs to change, in my opinion, is creating an avenue for independent producers to show their content and STILL have it be considered worth watching. In a way YouTube and Vimeo lets you put your work online which immediately makes it available to a billion people. The problem, though, is that having your work shown on youtube means nothing. Having your work screened on TV means something. Being screen in a theatre means something. Getting into Cannes means something. Having Ebert review your film means something. You can argue that Eberts opinion doesn't mean much, but the fact that he is reviewing your work is meaningful in and of itself.

Hollywood has this huge system to help itself legitimize the work that comes out of it, regardless of the actual quality. There's no real system that helps individuals who want to cut out the middle man effectively convince strangers to watch their content (afaik). There has been an insane amount of growth in the number of film festivals that exist in the last 5 years, but all that does is lessen the value of screening your film in a festival. (Wanna see? Just check out withoutabox.com). Also it's just growth that in my opinion tries to emulate and validate the current system.

So what I think is needed is something like Netflix, or a bunch Netflix-type sites, that serve curated and independently produced shows and films. Each site would serve a specific audience, and each site must be careful in what it chooses to show. It must legitimize itself to "normals" as a valid mode of entertainment, and also to artists and filmmakers as a valid mode of distribution. This, I believe, would allow for more diversity and more democracy in content creation, and is a viable way to legitimize quality content that would otherwise get lost in a sea of Internet junk.

Edit: grammar and some messed up sentences that didn't make sense :)

Agreed. Where is the TechCrunch of independent YouTube videos? A place equivalent to Ebert that would tell me what content is worth watching online. If you can do it and build a following of millions, that would be amazing.

There are many of these "content curators" out there. Perhaps none that has gained as big a following as Ebert, but there are people out there like the Smithian, Christine Friar, Bobby Finger, even Sasha Frere Jones running very popular blogs curating internet content.

It's an interesting perspective. In a way, I think that it may result in a revamping of the current content distribution system as we know it. Think of it this way - right now, we've got production companies who funnel their stuff to network conglomerates who, in turn, market, negotiate and distribute their content over their portals - cable or otherwise.

The biggest barrier to entry here is the market penetration of these networks and strength of buck behind them. I think, though, with a lot of different operators in a marketplace, your message becomes a bit watered down. What if the development here was more of a marketplace for these sites to funnel their content towards - which would in turn do the groundwork, the lobbying, the push and pull of negotiating deals with your digital distribution platforms (set top box manufacturers and the like)?

I worked in digital licensing for a major television network in NY. It was my dream to get back there. Now it's my dream to turn it on it's head.

I think I understand what you're saying...The site (say of a bunch of indie web series, for example) acts as a production company that deals with all the logistics of getting the work distributed to venues where one would actually watch them?

I think there might be something there (if I understand it correctly), but I also think that it would almost be moving backwards because one of the goals should be to completely cut out digital distribution platforms as we know it. Not that I have any personal or strong emotional issue with them.

But with smartphones and iPads and God only knows what other engaging new technologies that will come out, the distribution infrastructure doesn't need to rely on top box manufacturers, or cable, or movie theatres. And similarly the content doesn't need to be made in the traditional way or even resemble traditional forms.

I love going to the movies, but more and more it's becoming the exception instead of the norm. I'm a little old fashioned in that I think you can't replace the experience of seeing a movie in the theatre. There's something there that makes it absolutely worth it. Similarly, you can't replace the experience of seeing live opera at the Met, if that's your thing.

For me, the hope is that kids growing up today will think that cable TV is dumb and going to a theatre to see a movie is old fashioned, something reserved for their parents' generation.

>There's no real system that helps individuals who want to cut out the middle man effectively convince strangers to watch their content (afaik).

Reddit. Ok, I understand, you meant: long form content =P That one is not afraid to cuddle up to, with a date.

Films want users, not legitimacy.

I'll watch anything a recommendation engine tells me looks like another film I know.

In 1920 a sane person, when asked to speculate on the future of entertainment, would have had a pretty easy time of it:

"The radio forms the backbone of social discourse. Around this hallowed box, millions of families converge nightly to get their daily dose of news and entertainment. Millions of people are employed by the radio industry, and millions more depend upon it. Whatever changes the winds of time may blow our way, you can be assured of this: The radio will remain the primary medium through which the public gets its information and entertainment."

Scarcely 20 years later, it would have been exceedingly difficult to find someone to defend this argument. Just as the carriage makers gave way to the automobile, just as film gave way to digital, just as news gave way to the web: so too, will Hollywood give way to that which surpasses it.

Radio is a communications technology. Hollywood is a consortium of large, rich entertainment companies which are capable of adopting and adapting to new communications technologies, usually reluctantly, but eventually successfully.

They will not be replaced easily.

I'm speaking of radio as an entertainment industry, not radio as the induction of current on a wire loop and subsequent vibration of a crystal by electromagnetic radiation. The former very much resembled Hollywood in its heyday; the latter, more analogous to film. The introduction of film killed not radio the technology, but radio the industry.

Here in Vancouver, on the AM radio station CKNW, there's a show called Dan Russell's Sport Talk that succeeds each Canucks game. I used to listen to this show back in the day, parking my car at the beach and smoking a joint as I heard talk of trade rumours and coaching strategies. For reasons previously alluded to, I would occasionally find myself sitting in my car listening to AM radio at 1:00 in the morning. If you live in Vancouver I highly recommend you do this at least once, for you'll encounter an interesting anachronism: the Radio Drama.

Late at night, CKNW plays dramas from the Golden Age of Radio. There were murder mysteries and detective stories and comedies, tales of adventure and romance. There were radio stars, known for their rich voices. There were famed writers and common tropes, much as you find in Hollywood today. In short, there was an industry that many today would recognize, now long dead and forgotten.

This industry was, at one time, the pillar of entertainment and news. Before the silver screen it was the radio that conveyed fact and fiction, that drew families together in the evening. This industry would have seemed just as indomitable as Hollywood does now. Indeed, many of the great radio broadcasters persist today in television, having made the necessary technological leap.

Hollywood shows no signs of being capable of such a leap. Granted, the music industry until recently showed no such signs either. It may be that Hollywood will, as market forces dictate, slowly gravitate to a streaming and on-demand model, but we've seen no signs of it. Their active hostility towards Netflix, combined with their lack of interest in offering an appealing alternative, suggests that they simply lack the industrial agility to adapt. If Hollywood could have continued to produce the content they do on Netflix dollars, they would have. They can't, and so they either must adapt their production to much different revenue streams, or die. Either way, streaming and downloadable video is here to stay. It may well be, as pg hopes, that a new form of entertainment rises up. We shall see. What is undeniable is that the old distribution mechanisms are dead and gone.

Ha, the timing of this is pretty funny. I have had a start-up in LA for the last year, in the entertainment industry. I spend time in the professional YouTube community (like freddiew, annoyingorange) and spend a lot of my free time meeting people and learning about Hollywood. I especially find the people who are in both industries really interesting.

It is very interesting for me, because there are few programmers in the Hollywood and YouTube communities, so there are a lot of interesting opportunities available.

I literally just today turned my head towards building the most entertaining thing I possibly can. My thought on it is a site that is super branded for entertainment like break.com or collegehumor.com or smosh.com. And combine that with a big YouTube channel, just like those websites do.

But at the same time, it is necessary to see where the eyeballs are currently heading. I think reddit is a wonderful example of a modern entertainment site which can be seen in its huge growth. I would be nice to combine the usability of a site like reddit with the targeted branding of a site like collegehumor.

The super interesting thing to me is that a project like this is much more of a lifestyle business than a venture business. BUT THAT is currently a huge difference between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. I see LA as the land of the cash businesses and Silicon Valley as the land of the VC businesses. All of my professional YouTube friends are making straight cash and building large audiences, but will never have a public exit or a huge windfall.

It seems to me Hollywood's culture about cash business verse Silicon Valley's culture, is an advantage for Hollywood in creating entertainment properties. Entertainment properties require a careful and focused branding for a focused demographic and audience, you can make millions off something like this, but it is hard to IPO.

>a project like this is much more of a lifestyle business than a venture business

If you can gain enough market share there is plenty of money to be made in advertising and affiliation, also consider if you had a successful platform you could offer space for independent film. I am reminded of AtomFilms from a few years ago (I think it has since degraded in quality). I spent many an hour watching independent shorts and animation that couldn't be found elsewhere. There is now mubi.com which seems to do well, I pay for content there, but for sure - there is space for a main-stream non-hollywood media delivery network.

Sometime over the past year I went from thinking YouTube content was insignificant compared to Hollywood, to the point where I'd happily give up all broadcast/cable/DVD/Netflix content for YouTube type user generated content. I suspect this will be more widespread in a year or two more.

What's really needed is the next level of authoring tools. Here's the startup I'd do:

(1) buy up a near dead MMO, preferably one with impressively realistic character graphics.

(2) retool it as a machima authoring tool

(3) hook it into kinect for motion capture

(4) leverage the userbase to crowdsource additions to the 3D library.

With just this talented hobbyists and unfunded indy talents would begin to swamp Hollywood in an flood of "good enough" tv shows, shorts and full length films.

I like this idea.

On the graphics end, it might be better to modify an FPS engine, like the DOOM3 engine. You will get better graphics, and if you are simply generating a TV show, you don't really need the scalability that an MMO provides. And the graphics for most failing MMOS are not that great. You could distribute the machima via a youtube like service that is specific for machima.

You might even get a completely new form of media, because it is not necessary to distribute a machima as a straight up video.

Viewing it could be like 'ghost' mode in an FPS, viewer gets to pick the angle from which the drama is watched.

If you read 'Count Zero', one of the ideas there is that going online into a 3D chat didn't really catch on until there were realistic human faces. I think this is a really insightful concept. It will be important to spend a lot of time on getting faces just right, so that humans react to them in the same way that they react to actors.

Looking at a human face is a really big part of TV viewing for a lot of people. We are conditioned to be attracted to them.

If you read 'Count Zero', one of the ideas there is that going online into a 3D chat didn't really catch on until there were realistic human faces.

One of the characters in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson mentions that accurate modelling of human facial expressions was a key component in the success of that world's VR environment.

Fictional anecdotes are even less like data than real-life anecdotes, but I think it says something that when humans try to annotate text with emotions, faces are the closest graphical analogue:

    :) :( O_o

Yeah, this would be like a 3d version of xtranormal. Being able to get voice work done by actors over the Internet or use text to speech, too. Maybe you could do chroma key work at home or in local studios too, and progressively upgrade production values over time if a given show or series works out well.

This is a great idea too. I replied above but I had forgotten that Id software open sourced the Doom 3 engine.

Keep an eye out for All Points Bulletin's second death. They spend over $100 million dollars developing the world's most advanced character design system and forgot to build an actual game around it. The original developer had to shut the game down after the first month or so, but then someone else bought it for a fraction of the development costs and reworked it into a Free To Play game. By all accounts, the gameplay is still absolutely terrible. Should only be a matter of time before they shut it down again.

There are a few reasons why I think this MMO would make an awesome engine for this startup.

1. The character customization system includes the ability to design clothing and tattoos for the character. If you don't like the wardrobe included in the game, you can design your own.

2. There is an equally extensive toolset to modify your character's physical appearance.

3. The customization was a main selling point for this game. People were supposed to be able to sell the clothing they designed in game and even exchange the virtual currency for more play time. This emphasis on user creativity means that the average APB player is probably more likely to begin playing with the intent to create their own content.

4. The studio that now owns the game didn't have to eat a $100 million loss, so they don't have to get a huge amount of money if they sell the game again. This combined with the fact that it failed once, and might again would ensure that there wouldn't be any competitors.

P.S. Another possible solution would be to just license the engine to create your own game. This is a common practice in the game industry and is usually far cheaper than trying to purchase a complete game.

Great idea, I can't see anyone paying to watch Avatar 2 when they can see someone overdubbing their Skyrim avatar with Battlestar Galactica fanfic.

I live in Kenya. The quality of the local stuff we see on TV and in movie theaters is still a long way behind other places. To the point where more than 95% of what we consume (and enjoy) is foreign.

I think if someone could you use what you are suggestion to produce really well written movies/series for markets such as our would be very successful.

It would be: 1. Local 2. Better than most other local stuff.

You could theoretically make a lot of money going to various countries such as Kenya and making quality stuff based on the local culture etc.

You would also be profitable while gaining experience/momentum to later launch into other more developed markets.

Makes sense?

I like youtube quite a bit, but if someone told me I could either: a) have unlimited youtube forever or b) re-experience my first viewing of a favorite film (say, No Country for Old Men), I would always choose b.

This is likely my own personal bias, but great youtube is great entertainment. Great cinema is magic.

One's enjoyment of something is not based solely on the work itself, though it's certainly one of the largest components. One's enjoyment of a work is also based on how it makes you feel, e.g. nostalgia, current mood, or even who you're with (e.g. a special song shared by two people).

For some of us, Hollywood is actively destroying our ability to enjoy their works. When your favorite film's magic is on the wrong side of 20 minutes of unskippable trailers for old movies that sucked, the magic is gone.

This. I'm hard pressed to think of online content that is as transcendent as a great film.

Really? I've never seen anything of value on Youtube, but I never tried very hard.

If you're right, it means what's needed is a way to find good videos on Youtube.

Some combination of Reddit + a personalized recommendation engine (ala Netflix) plugged into Youtube. I would use that constantly.

And it appears it will come full circle, as late last year YouTube announced that it was going to start producing original content: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/29/idUS38163096092011...

The content I like is pretty much cat videos (yeah) and semi professional/prosumer content, like firearms, diving, etc training and product reviews. There is generally inbuilt revenue models for doing reviews or instructional video, so it justifies spending up to a few hundred per hour of finished footage.

Disclaimer: I work in film.

This discussion is very strange. Hollywood films are extremely expensive and difficult to make, do you think the studios would spend all that money and effort if they could get the same return of investment knocking out budget films shot in someone's living room with a DSLR? I'm quite sure film won't remain at the top of tree for mass market entertainment forever, but it's going to be replaced by ever more immersive games, not tech startups. And those are pretty expensive to make as well.

That's assuming the studios have a perfect process that can't be further optimized. It might be that they need to spend lots of money for a good return of investment because they have problems in certain areas that prevent them from obtaining those same returns with cheaper movies.

I'm talking out of my ass since I don't know much about the industry, but it seems foolish to assume that the peak of innovation has been achieved.

You balk at DSLRs but (whilst not the go-to option) they are increasingly being used by the industry. This[1] is an article just about the use of cannon's 5d mkII. You can add Slumdog Millionaire and 127 hours to this list. If it's good enough for an oscar winner?

1. http://canon5d.wonderhowto.com/blog/canons-5d-mark-ii-invade...

Those were just reference images for the lookdev and environment mapping (at least in Iron Man) or set background plates in the compositor - feature films are generally recorded at 2K (2048x1556) or (these days moving to) 4K (4096x3112), DSLRs aren't capable of that resolution for movies.

That's not always the case, scenes of Slumdog millionaire (in the streets) were filmed purely with DSLR, same for the subway scenes of Black Swan. Not a feature film but the entire season 6 finale of House was exclusively shot on a 5D mkII, and a couple of small BBC series have been.

I appreciate that of course 'proper' digital cinema cameras are better, but this shows that DSLRs are very much competent, and they are only going to get better.

Sure, I know they get used for reference and elements. Getting a lower quality plate just increases the post production costs anyway so it's generally a false economy.

That said, digital is certainly here to stay and the cost of professional equipment continues to drop.

Make a Github for movies.

If I don't like a part of your movie, I can fork it and make it better. People collaborate, and the system tracks their share in the project, and when the movie makes it to the cinema, TV, Netflix, etc., they are remunerated accordingly.

Initially, a resistance is to be expected in the established distribution channels, therefore a new distribution channel is to be built. Perhaps a P2P on pay-if-you-like basis. Do you like your new Firefly series? Do you want it to continue, to thrive? Then contribute as much as you see fit. Contribute financially. Or submit screenplay ideas to the project. Make the 3D CGI scenes better, add more details, make animations more fluid. Offer acting - maybe you will be selected by the audience in a democratic process.

This must be funded, filming equipment and studio time is expensive, rendering time in the cloud is also not entirely free. But once the equipment is purchased and studios built or contracted, the projects can share them.

Go get 'em.

I really don't see how that would work. Do the actors get phone calls every day? "User1232 has proposed a rewrite of scene 22. We need you back in to see how it comes out on film. Oh, User3423 will be directing it".

While there's plenty of space for innovation, I'd be deeply wary of applying too many programming models to artistic endeavors. A lot succeed precisely because they are the work of one single person with a vision. As a director I might be horrified if some hack could take my work of art, play fart noises over it, and make money from it.

These both are technical issues. The first one - maybe there is no need for a director, when you can have multiple versions of a scene - which then can be voted on. The second - the system would have to ensure that that hack would only get paid proportionally for contributing the farts.

I know it all sounds crazy, but I'd be wary of underestimating the power of community. There may not be processes to convey such group endeavor yet, but then these are a matter of discovery - also a group effort.

It's an interesting idea, but I'm unconvinced that a community effort can produce results (in this case, films) superior to that of a highly skilled artist. Has such a system worked in any other medium? We have the technology available now to collaborate on books on a massive scale, but are there examples of this happening and succeeding with results that rival Kurt Vonnegut or F. Scott Fitzgerald? Similarly, a GitHub for music is certainly feasible with today's tech, but I don't think this recipe guarantees results better than a small dedicated group of artists like Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails or <insert favourite band here>.

Don't get me wrong, I think the system you're proposing would be fascinating and could produce interesting material, but sometimes great artists produce their best work when every aspect is under their control.

There's collaborative movie producing site Wreck A Movie http://www.wreckamovie.com/ which is currently used to produce Iron Sky among other films.

I think Iron Sky will be so good that Wreck A Movie might gain some serious traction, checkout the trailer here http://www.ironsky.net/

What about a Youtube Recommendation Engine That Works?

I've been on Netflix for about 6 months now, and I'm flabbergasted at the quality of their recommendation engine (which maybe owes much to their Netflix Challenge -- I don't know how efficient it was before).

For every show listed, they predict how much I will like it, and their prediction is almost always right.

On the other hand, Amazon is almost always wrong, and so is Youtube; my guess is Amazon bases its recommendations on what I buy instead of what I like, and Youtube does the same (what I watch instead of what I actually like).

A recommendation engine for Youtube (or all video sites) that would actually work would have a lot of value for users.

There's a chicken-and-egg problem: how do you get enough ratings to be able to make recommendations; this can be addressed by starting in a small niche of specific content: start with a small community of people passionate about a subject.

My two cents.

I'll second this.

From my personal experience, I occasionally try to see some stuff from the Youtube channels, but for one really good video there’s lots of stuff that really doesn’t appeal to me.

And I can’t really say nothing about Netflix, since it is not available in Portugal.

There is already lots of good independent production out there, amateur or professional. I just don’t know how and where to find it.

The solution, thus, is simple:

* Develop a boxee like setup box for around 50$/50€ with an internet connection;

* Distribute it around the world, no region locking whatsoever;

* Have a really good recommendation engine, based on social or whatever. It should allow you to input ‘titles’ that may not be available on the platform, but work as a ‘preference indicator’ (for example, ‘I like House and Battlestar Galactica’)

* It should allow for social subtitling, perhaps even with a reward system - for free;

* Charge 1€/1$ or less per paid TV episode, 2€ or less for film. Better yet, 10€/$ flatrate per device. But make the device still useful for anyone not willing to pay for that, with lots of properly selected free content;

* Commercials are acceptable: one brake per half an hour, not more than one minute : for non-paying customers.

This is not something terribly innovative (except for the recommendation system), but properly implemented it could be quite disruptive.

This RFS makes a lot of assumptions, some through analogies, that are all predicated on some level of rational thought. And ultimately, I think that's where this is flawed. Hollywood may be dying -- I don't really know. But the fact they're going after pirates or filesharers or whatever could just be a principled stand for them. I've certainly wasted time and money trying to rectify things that are wrong in my eyes, even if it's not exactly rational or in the best interests of the bottom line. But, to me, it's a matter of principle. And I think for some of these distribution folks, they very much believe it's a principled stand for them as well shrug

If you define killing hollywood by not actually consuming any of its products either legally or illegally then video game playthoughs are doing it for me.


He uploads between 6-10 ten to fifteen minute video's per day on most major releases. Plus multiplayer games like killing floor, pay day the heist, minecraft e.t.c.

A weird mix between talk radio, motion picture and reality tv. And genuinely I'm hooked, if I want to wind down at the end of the day watching half an hour of skyrim walkthrough followed by some minecraft custom maps is perfect.

Now here's the interesting part, this guy and a bunch of his friends who call themselves The Creatures (long obscure story) are going to go live in a house somewhere so they can all record video game playthoughs together.

That's maybe 10+ people producing collectively 3-5 hours of unique content per day who're getting between 25-100k unique views per video.

And that's before they've put themselves in a single physical location. I don't know what they'll end up producing once they are all together in one place, but I'll be watching and a lot of other people will as well.

Thanks for this comment; this is news to me, I had no idea these things existed.

I just watched one video and it's just like you said: a combination of talk radio, motion picture and reality TV (sort of like Jackass meets NPR...)

Who would have thought watching someone else play a game could be entertaining, but if the player has funny comments and insights, it sure is. That could become big (or is it already...?)

Will it be big? I think so and I think minecraft will be the enabler which really lets it flourish, there are already people out there making custom minecraft maps which these guys play. I could envisage a situation not far from now when they're actively commissioning maps with certain aspects which make watching them being played through even more entertaining.

Ultimately I think minecraft will be the ultimate world/set building tool and these guys will use it to make great entertainment.

YC: take a look at Nettle. Backed by Google Ventures, 500 Startups, Advancit Capital, etc. Our product is MovieGoer (http://moviegoer.com).

"Kill Hollywood" is a kneejerk, negative way to go about it. I prefer a more positive approach that makes for a better world. In our case, it's all about EMPOWERING MOVIEGOERS. If you empower moviegoers, who are after all the heart of the $31B movie ecosystem worldwide, then you wind up improving the entire ecosystem -- movie theatre chains and studios do whatever moviegoers want. So give moviegoers more power, more choice, the ability to set the pace, direction, and the industry will be happy to comply.

Historically moviegoers have historically never had much if any power. As a result, we have the theatres we have, and the studios put out the content they think movieogers want. A lot of it is, shall we say, not great.

If anyone at YC wants to talk to me (and if they're serious about this issue, why aren't they!?), ping me: brian@nettle.com. I will be in the Bay Area all next week. Happy to meet with folks and talk about this more.

More power, more choice, to make the same decisions that they have made over and over again.

I'm a pretty massive gamer, and one thing I think bears mention is that game companies show similar signs of customer-contempt as the Hollywood middlemen. This leads me to think that the problem is not the people who are creative, the problem is the middlemen who have found exceptional margins and do not want to let them go.

For signs of game publisher contempt, see safedisc, securom and similar cases in which game performance, reliability and convenience (in other words, the user experience) have been compromised in order to ineffectually impede piracy.

Rather than kill Hollywood, producers of things many do so enjoy, I think startups need to focus on finding ways to allow the creative network of the industry to thrive by reaching people without the need for the collective organizations and legacy businesses who are willing to attack the end-users.

Issues or morality and legality aside, suing your users, interfering with their freedom by legal meddling and otherwise tarnishing their experience is a poor choice for purely pragmatic reasons.

Killing, ever a tempting solution, is not the best answer here.

Hollywood, the recording companies, RIAA / MPAA are all intermediaries between the artists who need the funding to create video and music content and the consumers who crave that content.

What we needed is a YCombinator for artists. Invest in each artist like he/she was a startup, then take losses on the flops, win big on the successes. Everything is in place for significant disruption: the artists are upset about low royalties and the consumers are upset about draconian copyright enforcement -- should be easy to offer more favorable terms to both parties.

Free idea: Create an app that provides a TiVo-like experience to all web video. You could "record" channels from YouTube the same way you'd queue TED, or even Hulu+, Netflix, et all.

Your app would automatically pull new streaming episodes for you to watch and manage the same way people use DVRs on televisions.

If internet TV, and "television app" really are the next thing...if you build an amazing version of this now, you'll be set.

Not only that, but you'd encourage more people to produce content, since viewing it and following new episodes would all happen in one place.

All the tech is in place, too. Havong a Torrent app with RSS support, I already have my homeserver box follow and automatically download new episodes of many series I watch, making them instantly available for my TV and other devices via DLNA. Webcomics almost all provide RSS, too, that can be followed by any RSS reader app. The only thing really missing is an all-in-one user-friendly package to put the whole experience together, to make it useable for an average consumer...

I've been doing this instead of satellite TV. $8/month for HD comedy, news and educational stuff (H+, CNN, YT). I think downloading will dominate the future more than streaming. It's just a better experience, you can skip forward ads and you can download off peak hours.

Of course, capturing the RTMP data violates the user agreements but it should be fair to store the incoming data to play it back later.

I think it may be the other way around. With the right curated lists of content, it would be more worthwhile to stream instead of downloading everything.

Why does H'Wood have to be killed? All they have to do is change their business models a bit.

I've been wondering if an apps-like model would work for TV shows and movies. EG, if you like The Daily Show, you have a Daily Show app, instead of having to subscribe to a whole slew of channels you'll never watch. Or for sports: Like Formula 1? Get the F1 app. Need some news? Daily News app, done. After you've got all your apps, you can mix & match, set whether you want to be interrupted (watching the daily show and some F1 qualifying is starting, switch to that app y/n?), heck, even set the number of ads and length of ads (longer ads means less ads, and vice-versa).

Similar for movies. There, you could split up the apps either by genre, franchise, favorite star. Like Leo DiCaprio movies? D/L the Leo app. Like the Batman franchise? Get the app, and have everything from the 60s TV show (yes, I know, mixing TV and movies, here) to The Dark Knight.

Why was my submission killed? --> http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3491539

Edit: incidentally, because this submission was made after my submission, when I saw it I flagged it thinking it was a dupe. Now it seems I've lost the ability to flag entirely. :(

I saw pg's submission first, and it got killed. (Or deleted.)

Yes you're right, I actually didn't see that... What's going on?

I've had a bunch of random stuff killed recently too. It's so fast it has to be an automated thing.

A while ago I found myself accidentally reading about the origins of Hollywood on the web. There is a surprising amount of writing posted about it. I'm wondering if others are aware where Hollywood "came from". Specifically, who brought it to the US. And why does it have the rules it does, e.g., about what are good or bad characters and themes, about carefully crafted endings, etc.

This might provide some insight about Hollywood is going in the future. As the generations pass from one to another.

I'll let the curious reader chase up the history on their own. But what I gathered is Hollywood was founded by outcasts, refugees, young men who came from difficult circumstances and were faced with growing up without role models.

Are there parallels to today's young hacker crowd?

It's an interesting proposition to kill Hollywood, but I don't exactly think it's going to be killed so easily, or that it's anywhere remotely resembling close to being "dead". Just examining the profit margins from this year alone paints a picture of a vibrant and healthy industry and overall employment in the industry is actually doing quite well considering the state of the economy. Although, full disclosure, I do work in production as a media producer (reality TV, variety TV, single-camera, digital magazines, games, social media, features, etc.). I was also very fortunate to be mentored by one of the former ranking executives of MGM.

That mentor taught me a great deal, but one of the most fascinating things I learned was that these executives do not understand how the internet works, at all. Their days are scheduled down to the letter so they simply don't have time to figure this kind of shit out. So they pay their lawyers to figure it out for them and that's the source of the cancer of misinformation in Hollywood studios, Copyright/IP lawyers. Their jobs have evolved to depend solely on finding 'infringement' wherever they can and then making it seem as terrifying as possible to the execs that employ them. These are the people responsible for outright lies such as "100 billion in lost revenue".

This misinformation eventually became the dogma of the entertainment industry. I can't tell you how many people I've worked with in the industry, wildly intelligent people, that honestly believe piracy is the single greatest threat to the entertainment industry. What's worse is that they conflate basic concepts like file-sharing with the selling of boot-leg DVDs in some back-alley market in Calcutta. The disconnect with fact and reality is just truly astounding.

That's why the first line of defense should be to open a dialogue with Hollywood. Before we vote any Congresspeople out and before declaring "War on Hollywood" there needs to be an open campaign to combat the lies that are pervasive in Hollywood itself. Because honestly, after all we've been through in the last 10 years, do we really need more wars? Is that the lesson we're going to take away from Iraq and Afghanistan?

The people who work in Hollywood are fellow humans and fellow Americans. They aren't malicious invaders, they're people who are just irrationally scared for the future of the industry they love. If you declare "Let's Kill Hollywood", you immediately become part of the "Them" to Hollywood's "Us". You fire the first shot of a War that you never had to fight in the first place and one that will only hasten the urgency with which even more draconian legislation would be pursued. All of which could be easily avoided.

Creating effective channels for communication between the informed members of the tech industry and Hollywood should be the first priority of any initiative that was realistically and maturely seeking change to the kind of legislative agendas being advocated by groups like the MPAA (the RIAA is a different story, that's a case of rats on a sinking ship trying to prevent anyone else from getting on the ship so that they can make money off of the glass-botton tours.)

That being said, I'm not against (in any way) the idea of funding start-ups to explore exciting new maxims of entertainment or helping to shrink the cost of production for film/television/gaming. That's brilliant and deserves praise for being supported. However, it's the call the War I find so very unsettling.

I think I've made those points clear enough so I'll follow-up this post with some ideas to kick around that would help bring production costs down for smaller-scale film/television production along with some notes concerning certain realities surrounding the different aspects.

EDIT: Grammar

You're attempting to derail the conversation by making the tech/start up/hacker scene sound like they are being immature and not listening. Tech and the internet have been in mainstream conscienceness for 15 years. They have had time to learn. They have already fired the first and second shot with numerous laws like SOPA, the DMCA and others.

Rather than them being too busy, I believe they are too greedy. I owe them nothing.

The problem with this discussion is that it's an echo chamber for people who know nothing about the film industry. For people who do (a few of whom are valiantly trying to impart some perspective), most of the posts here are laughably naive. They are just as embarrassingly ill informed as when movie execs pontificate about the internet.

As someone stuck in the middle (a hacker working in the film industry) the whole exercise is rather depressing, and not because I think pg's startups are going to disrupt my source of income.

I disagree with your assertion as I was pretty plainly addressing YCombinator itself and, more specifically, its declaration.

I also fail to see how the mere existence of the tech industry somehow should mandate that studio executives understand how IT architecture works. In fact, I find that downright baffling how you could believe such a thing.

Your assertion that "they fired the first shot" is really the kind of rhetoric I was condemning as this isn't some kind of malicious attack born from intelligent observations of reality. Instead, it is misinformation born from overzealous and irresponsible legal analysis, a point which I detailed in my post and you aren't exactly addressing.

The final line is emotional and irrational and doesn't deserve a response.

It doesn't really matter who fired first. What matters is whether you've got the ammunition to win. If you want to fight Hollywood you need to provide a more compelling replacement for its creative output and not merely a conduit for its delivery. Will Hollywood's legions of talent (and hacks churning out formulaic crap that sells extremely well) switch "sides"?

Well the book publishing industry could have been destroyed by now: its constituent parts have been replaced by digital distribution methods offering authors far better paper terms. But almost all top authors continue to accept big advances to do things the old fashioned way. And lumping Hollywood creatives in the "part of the problem" space isn't exactly the way to win their favour.

Similarities between hackers and painters notwithstanding, I'm not sure Ycombinator's skill in selecting the best engineers translates to disrupting the future of the arts. Which raises the possibility that throwing money at second-best alternatives is more likely to damage YC than Hollywood.

You say that conflict is artificially generated by lawyers and that the war that it starts is in fact unnecessarily, but I disagree. Yes, we may blame lawyers for the most of the current situation, but this is not the only reason that is causing it, nor it will in the future. I see two main reasons.

First, it is the "creative distruction" that comes into equation. Hollywood is big, things change to much around and... I am sorry. It's not pretty sight, but like a lot of other legends of the "good old days", Hollywood ought to understand it's time and place ...in the history! You see, it's not only the technology that is changing (which also happened before, and with some hops and trepidation the classic media industry managed to cope with), but an entire paradigm around it. People are not satisfied with the old ways anymore, and the old ways is what I'm afraid that Hollywood can't and won't get over.

Second, it's a power game. When you get so much money to afford paying millions per year to lobbyists, to afford to change the rules of the entire game in your advantage, well... What we see is not coincidence. It's what was expected to happen. It's what happens in other industries also - just rise you head and look around. When you have power, you use it. You must be a fool not to use it. Even if you had some altruism somewhere inside, power corrupts people and when you are so disconnected like you described, it's just a matter of time till you forget things that would otherwise matter. So, when it comes to make judgments and take decisions, honestly - what is there left for you to consider?

Okay, so some ruminations:

To create a film/television show you are generally going to need these things:



Reliably Available Crew

No matter what you do, you will always need money to accommodate these three needs to produce a project in any kind of time frame that could allow such productions to ever turn a profit and allow you to keep making films. Even if everything is going to be CG and you don't need a locked location, crew doesn't need to be driven, and no one is Union, people still have needs that can't always be interrupted. Usually, that is the need to eat and drink to perform their tasks reasonably (and filmmaking can be some fucking grueling, albeit fun, work.) The rest of the time, it's making a living. Money allows you the freedom of time. If you're making a low-budget feature, that's generally going to take between 15-30 days of principal photography alone. Trying to schedule that kind of a production around your actor's shift at the Quik-Stop is a fucking nightmare.

So finding a way to finance these smaller productions gives the cast and crew the freedom they need both financially and chronologically.

It seems the best way to do that would be some form of microfinancing infrastructure similar to Kickstarter. There's been some marginal success on Kickstarter itself for film production, but I'm not aware of anything that's actually managed to gain traction. So a service that was actually completely specific to film projects that could match scripts, with time/location and reliably available crew (pre, principal and post) would be a wildly powerful tool for filmmakers (that could potentially eliminate the need for a centralized physical location like "Hollywood" as the technology has pretty successfully caught up).

Okay, the next big problem is going to be equipment rentals. They're expensive, it sucks, but it's a reality of production. An equipment rental service that caters specifically to low-budget next-generation film production that ships all over North America from multiple warehouses with helpful and reliable customer service is necessary to decentralize production.

Focusing a little more narrowly on what YComb readers could help with, scheduling and budgeting. Collaborative scheduling and budgeting tools are extremely expensive, particularly services that exist in the Cloud. Drafting a set of scheduling/budgeting tools that can be collaborated with online without the crazy charges other companies have would be a game changer. I think the only kind of open source project attacking this problem is CeltX and they don't have a budgeting component. If anyone is interested, the industry standard tools for this have generally been EP (Entertainment Partners) Budgeting and Scheduling, with cloud-based services gaining popularity over the last two years or so.

Each of these three ideas could be expanded upon radically, so I would love to have some discussion on them.

Generally agreed. You need to pay for people's time. That is 100% certain. (There can of course be exceptions with lots of volunteer time like Iron Sky.)

Is equipment so expensive nowadays anymore? I don't think so. You can buy most with one month's median salary.

You can use still cameras nowadays, as their sensors and processors have sped up and they've overtaken traditional cinema cameras of a few years back already. They work quite well even in natural light. (Especially if you use a hack and enable high bit rate encoding.) You can edit with a normal computer. There are led lights etc. Cranes and dollies can be much lighter, simpler and cheaper with this modern technology too.

There's lots of possibilities of "lean" film making with this new technology.

I presume the revolution would happen in documentaries first as the technologically adventurous people wouldn't generally be those who have grand visions or are good at organizing the other parts like scripts, talent, sets etc the whole "running a play" thing.

Hell, there are character centric Dogma movies like Open Hearts that get rid of a lot of fancy technical stuff, and it never bothered me when watching them.

Look at what guys like Philip Bloom or Andrew Reid make with ordinary cameras. The freedom is already there, people just don't know how to use it.

Check out Browncoats: Redemption on how a movie can be produced relatively inexpensively.

iirc, they received ~$100k in cash and $250k in donated resources, equipment, etc. Yes, $350k is a good amount of money but compared to the production costs from a major studio, this is probably the catering budget.. and it's nothing for most of the VC's we read about around here.

(Disclosure: I was an extra and a buddy of mine was the producer.)

EP Scheduling and Budgeting could use an alternative - that's where a startup could make a difference, not a large one though. It costs $500 I think, that is a lot for indies, but not even a small dent in normal productions.

Final Draft is awful, but it's a standard, there are viable alternatives. I've bought 'Fade In' recently and am enjoying it, but I still have Final Draft and will continue to use it.

Largest contributing factor to cost is crew and set construction, equipment next.

I've been working on an alternative for indies for a while now. Hoping to launch in the next couple of months.

Looking forward to seeing what you did and how you have approached the task of producing and scheduling productions.

I totally get why this rfs was posted. SOPA is pretty egregious, and the YCombinator folks went beyond complaining and decided to do something about it. There's nothing more positive than funding startups to create the better world you envision.

I certainly appreciate that they didn't gloss over the fact that SOPA's potential damage to civil liberties and the world economy was what raised their awareness of the viability of startups in this space. People should publicly stand up for causes they believe in.

I've been looking into this space for a while with plans of disruption. I see a lot of posts on here from people who work in the industry talking about how expensive it is to create high-quality video. As an independent filmmaker and entrepreneur, I only somewhat agree (on the price of hiring indie filmmakers: http://crewtide.com/2011/11/03/price-of-video-narrative-vs-v...). There are a number of things that make Hollywood productions so expensive, like name actors or car crashes/explosions. But another big one is location, location, location. Hollywood production studios are expensive because they can create any location you can imagine. Crowdsource to award-winning independent filmmakers (as my startup will do) and each of them will shoot in whatever amazing-looking locations they know they can shoot in for free.

sanjiallblue writes as if every independent film shoot uses non-professional cast and crew -- that is ridiculous. In my recent shoot (we're releasing a six-episode thriller-romance web series around Valentine's Day) the only conflict was that one of our leads got into a play with the American Repertory Theater. I'm interviewing 20 independent filmmakers for my blog this month and all of them are full-time filmmakers -- some have day jobs shooting for local TV stations or editing for production studios, but most are full-time freelancers doing commercials, corporate work, music videos, and their own shorts and features.

By the way, brands are beating Y Combinator to the punch. Who has funded television since it began? Brands, and they're starting to skip tv and the exorbitant price of advertising there and create their own content. Since BMW's The Hire series early last decade, plenty of other brands have jumped on board creating their own mini TV shows (http://crewtide.com/2011/10/14/branded-entertainment-example...). You should really read these guys take on it: http://www.reelseo.com/every-brand-will-be-a-studio/. ReelSEO always has the latest news & best commentary on this industry.

Right now BMW, Kmart, YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu are still going to Hollywood to get their content produced, and they're paying through the nose. Kmart spent $100,000 per 8-mninute episode of a low-budget web series by going to Hollywood; an indie filmmaker could have made that for 1/10th the price with an all-professional crew.

Well said, crewtide. There's a positive paradigm shift taking place, and you seem to be facilitating it.

I wonder how long it takes to make a southpark episode. Or one of those news reinactment cg segments that asian outfit is famous for. Perhaps new forms of media won't take the same shape or have the same factors apply.

South Park makes one episode a week. From script to airing. They work very long hours during their season. If you're not part of the creative team you're still on call 24 hours a day during production.

There was a Comedy Central special on the process last year.

At least to me, the most important part of trying to make a current media killer is remembering that storytelling is still a fundamental part of society, and not all forms of entertainment (including a subset of video games) do not scratch that itch. To truly replace Hollywood I think you need to come up with new ways of filling that need.

Since books obviously don't quite do it (need for visual/audio component for some people, perhaps?) something else will need to do it.

Perhaps focus on interactivity with real story behind it in games and taking that to the next level? Lots of potential, but have to keep in mind what niche they're filling.

I think you're confusing the medium with the distribution method.

If you accept that modern-day Hollywood is in trouble, it does not necessarily follow that a solution needs to replace video as a multimedia narrative medium. While that very well might happen, the root of the problem is the distribution channel, not the content.

Yes but it's expensive to mass produce the type of content that Hollywood does. You may need a cheaper form of entertainment, where the content can be crowdsourced, where the production is quick, cheap, etc.

Making custom crap for MMORPGs, short youtube clips, vblogs, podcasts, rage comics etc. are cheap and quick, but not entertaining enough.

http://www.xtranormal.com style tech isn't there yet.

"Some of the best ideas may initially look like they're serving the movie and TV industries."

Somehow, I think it'll be difficult for your startups to partner with or serve movie and TV industries if they've been funded under a "Kill Hollywood" RFS :-)

Although leadership in Hollywood may be cruel and tech-stupid from our standpoint, they have a tremendous amount of talent at their disposal. Seems like a production system for what comes out of Amazon Studios could threaten their system if it was stocked with Hollywood-level talent -- actors, editors, cinematographers, etc -- and coupled with a smarter distribution system.

If we take a cue from Apple with iTunes, you could set up a service that does cater to the industry while stealthily eating up market share. Once you become too profitable and control too much of the market, you turn that on Hollywood and start dictating your own terms. The music industry was entirely unprepared when Jobs started twisting its arms to get the terms his way.

I agree though that eventually Hollywood will need to be replaced if the situation is to improve substantially.

They may have a tremendous amount of talent, but they aren't able to employ it effectively. If they were, they would be developing new popular online stuff instead of buying their way into "online properties".

PG - When you say kill Hollywood, who are you talking about exactly? I assume you mean the middlemen of Hollywood - people who add zero value to the entertainment industry. If so, I completely agree.

Startups need to offer content creators a better/cheaper/easier way to distribute their content. Distribution is where startups can really succeed. When I say distribution, what I mean is the method by which people consume content. The problem is the middlemen control the true content creators.

The biggest problem is quality. Youtube is a dead simple way to distribute content but the problem is you'll never see anything on Youtube that rivals the quality of something on NBC, HBO, CBS etc. I believe Netflix has the right idea by funding their own high-quality content to distribute on their own "network." However, Netflix may just end up becoming another NBC, HBO, Warner Bros. over time.

As I mentioned before, the best was to achieve the goal of killing the middleman is by providing high-quality content creators a way to get funding and distribute their work to large audiences without giving up the rights to their work. Additionally, there are plenty of ways to increase margin by using technology to get viewers more involved with the content. We've only just begun to scratch the surface of interactive entertainment.

I've been thinking about this stuff for a while and it's a difficult, complex issue. I'd love to chat with anyone who has thoughts about this, feel free to email me or respond here (email in profile).

I think pg is actually completely 100% on the money here. Kudos to him and YC being bold enough to come out and say it so bluntly.

Here's why I agree with him: I see a lot of comments from people suggesting that Hollywood works on a cycle, where things move along, start to stagnate, and then a dark horse director comes along and creates magic. Altman, Lucas, etc all fit this bill, and they've produced amazing hits. Using money from Hollywood.

So, if this cycle is indeed perpetual, and Hollywood simply has to wait for the next big thing, then why don't they? Instead, we are seeing prosecutions on a massive scale, and grossly out of touch legislation proposed like SOPA and PIPA.

If Hollywood were so confident, and had so much money, why should they care about these infringers? Is it that copyright infringement makes Hollywood lose that much money, or is it that the economic model has changed dramatically, the execs are scared shitless, and are trying dearly to hold on to their once-empire?

I don't think anyone can challenge the assertion that the field has changed dramatically. I also don't think anyone, including the Hollywood execs, has a clue where it's going now. Laws like SOPA seem to be about preventing this change from happening, to keep the power where it was. It sounds like YC's approach is to encourage people to be creative and try to come up with a viable suggestion as to where things are going.

This proposal is not just an attack against Hollywood, it aims to replace cinema with something else. It's about actively working to destroy an art form. It sounds just as over the top as shutting down the internet to curb piracy.

If you really want to devote your life to destroying something, please don't just jump on the latest annoying thing. Make a list of the most evil things you can do something about, and see if Hollywood's political influence really makes it to the top.

If you can get the artists on your side, you can kill hollywood.

Hollywood only allows a tiny fraction of people with talent to suceed... The remaining 99% who never got into hollywood would want to work if they could succeed. Probably becoming millionares rather than billionares.

Here is a free idea that I tried to get implemented in another country while working for a telecom company that was branching into TV services over their DSL connections.

Simply build a site like YouTube with lots of content to view. But unlike YouTube, this site would be pay per view and 100% of the content would be provided by teams of content creators. No backroom licencing deals.

The end user pays a fixed monthly fee for what they watch. After you watch a show, you must rate it before you get to watch another. That means 100% of viewings are rated. At the end of the month all the shows are ranked according to the ratings, and the portion of the monthly fee that goes to content creators, would be divided according to the rankings.

OK, maybe this is more like Netflix than YouTube. The UI is not as important as the system of acquiring and paying for content which is directly tied to viewer rankings. You would need to have a multiple factor ranking system so that cat videos with shot with a shaky video camera can rank high in entertainment value but low in quality and thus earn less. Also a longer show should earn a bigger share than a 2-minute short.

There are other types of things that would also work for this YC request, but I hope to see this as one of the ones that YC funds.

Reading the post and the comments, I really miss Steve Jobs.

Look, guys, Hollywood is not your enemy, you're not going to kill it, and it doesn't need killing. Hollywood's use of technical and business model innovation has advanced faster than most other industries over the past five to ten years.

Similarly, Congress and the carriers aren't your enemies and they're not going away either, although you certainly didn't win any friends in Washington with the tactics you used to stop SOPA and Protect IP for the time being.

Perspective is important here: Congress has been working on copyright and on-line piracy since the Napster days, and this one just one small episode in a struggle to rationalize creator's rights with new technologies of distribution. This fight emphasized the universal human right to speech, but there's also an article (27b) in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights respecting copyright. So it's not a simple black-and-white, good guys and bad guys issue.

Congress also has a long memory, and you can't steer the ship of state blacking out Reddit or cloaking Wikipedia (in a way cleverly designed to preserve page rank) every time there's a debate on the Hill that makes you uncomfortable. And be aware that Congress deals with tech industry issues several times a year, every year, no matter what.

Tech (I won't say Silicon Valley because the San Francisco Web 2.0 social media sharing cabal is on a completely different tack than the Valley in its heyday) needs to refine its marketing skills, develop better relations with Hollywood, Congress, and infrastructure providers, and to think about what it does well and what it's never going to do well.

Gaming and information processing are more up your alley than narrative, character development, and story arc. Get real.

Lots of people around the world have spent a lot of mind time on developing better forms of interactive entertainment, infotainment, augmented reality, education, and more. Even people in Washington who work in the policy space can fill you in on the details. See the latest Congressional Internet Caucus State of the Net conference that took place when you were staring at blank screens this week: http://youtu.be/4VF-EIXQCzE

But it's a good start, get beyond the anger and think about where you want to be in five years.

> Some of the best ideas may initially look like they're serving the movie and TV industries.

So that's interesting. My startup somewhat falls into that category. Hollywood is so entrenched that the only way to change it may be to work around it until you're big enough to take it on.

As far "dying"-- I'm not so sure. Celebrity, status, fashion, and passive entertainment do not follow the same set of rules as search engines, cloud storage apps, or apartment subletting sites. There is no way to say objectively one form is better than the other from the consumer side of it. Some people still insist on listening to records, but hardly anyone would argue that they search on Alta Vista because they think the results "feel" more authentic than Google.

Also, Hollywood has a long history of doing this. If they are dying now because they're fighting this, then were they also dying when the VCR was introduced? Or the cassette tape? Isn't it possible that they simply use the legal system to slow down innovation until they can catch up?

As someone who loves tricks and tactics it pains me to suggest this, but one sure way to replace Hollywood would be a frontal assault. Get a ton of money and make your own movies. You would definitely distribute them better than Hollywood, you might be able to make them better too. Do this for long enough and eventually you'll reach a tipping point.

> SOPA brought it to our attention that Hollywood is dying. They must be dying if they're resorting to such tactics. If movies and TV were growing rapidly, that growth would take up all their attention.

I'm not sure this follows. I'm guessing that Hollywood sees piracy and filesharing as vast amounts of unrealized profit for the work they're already doing -- "free money" essentially.

I think it's personal too; look how bent out of shape Scott Rudin got just because David Denby published a review for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" a week ahead of a previously-agreed-upon embargo: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/dec/05/girl-dragon-tatto...

Hollywood seems to like having control over when and how their material is released, and on this level piracy offends them on a moral level.

"I'm guessing that Hollywood sees piracy and filesharing as vast amounts of unrealized profit for the work they're already doing"

right, but the fact that they are chasing it implies very clearly that they believe there is more money in chasing free cash for work they have already done, than there is in creating new work.

That is the sure sign of an industry (or business) that has stopped growing.

You're right, there is zero logic in it. The whole paragraph is a total muddle really.

For better or worse there are international laws that protect copyright. They're essentially unenforceable. That these industries clamor for more laws and enforcement when the old ones don't work shouldn't surprise anyone.

Yea, where do you think the claim that every piracy equals a lost sale comes from?

I agree that Hollywood is in decline because is failing to change and innovate. Creativity has always been sold by record labels and movie studios and technically this looks an increasingly irrelevant role. Production, distribution and marketing of content can all be handled by the web, not monolithic entertainment companies.

The challenge is to create applications that remove that middle layer and keep things open for the creators of content. To date the pattern is repeating itself. App Stores and streaming services are take huge cuts from creators of content. Proprietary formats are prevalent everywhere, designed to protect marketplaces that exploit the creators of content.

Please prove me wrong but I'm currently watching a terrible show where Hollywood is morphing into VC-backed entrepreneurs and big Internet companies. They are no better.

This is something I'd been thinking about awhile ago (it's buried somewhere in my comments.)

Show production isn't necessarily out of the scope of whats possible as I've posted about the disconnect between cost of entertainment in the past on HN


I still believe digital animation is an environment where a small startup could produce content to pave the way for the online market. This was something I looked at some years ago - it turns out that I'm simply not talented enough as an animator to do anything like this.

However, I am reposting links to my previous thoughts in the hope that someone who is talented enough can potentially make it work. I'd love to see someone beat Hollywood at their own game.

We actually treated this as an opportunity - we invented our own animation style geared towards quickly and cheaply producing large amounts of rich, life-like animation. Here's a sample:


Rather than try and create something realistic, we opted to go with something stylized and life-like - pseudo-rotoscoped silhouettes. Yeah, it's a bit jarring, but we're trying to twist that to feel like a stylistic choice. And silhouettes are waaay simpler to capture, are easy to reuse, and let us massively simplify the lighting and perspective issues of traditional green screen work.

It's painful slogging through it - we're basically inventing everything we need. And because this is content heavy, it's cost is more daunting then a traditional web startup. BUT, by tackling the animation problem head-on we're hoping to move forward in a way most startups can't.

Did you just make it really hard for YC companies to get deals with movie & music studios?

Here's my suggestion:

Trailer Pitch

This is a simple design for a site and business where filmakers can crowdsource investment. It uses a simple mechanism to sell tickets and shares in advance based on the popularity of premade movie trailers. It uses a mechanism based on ideas tried by Pinboard, Kickstarter, YouTube, Vimeo, Betfair and Louis CK.

One: filmakers make compelling trailers for films they would like to be made (or potentially films they would like to see others make). They fund this part themselves although if the site is successful it might consider grants to improve on good ideas whose trailers lack finish.

Two: Professional looking trailers are placed on a website for the public to watch, enjoy, download and share.

(so far so normal)

Three: credits are sold to users of the site for the pupose of voting and investing in the films. 1 vote initially costs $1 but the price will rise as the film becomes more successful. Each person who votes for a film that is eventually made will get a ticket to 'see' the film. This is essentially a ticket to a high-quality download.

Four: Voting for a film becomes gradually more expensive. The final vote (and thus the final ticket sold) will be based on the budget of the film but will hopefully be in the 'Louis CK' ballpark of $5. No more than $10.

Five: Other special tickets are sold alongside the standard: Boxed collectors' DVD, ticket to special shows + meet the cast, ticket to the premier, ticket to the after-party.

Six: Votes & tickets are refunded if the film fails to make its investment or fails to be made.

This is where it gets interesting:

Seven: As well as tickets, shares are sold. These, start out cheap but will also rise in price as they are sold. Thus a keen smart eye might be able to make real money if they spot a winner early and invest. Investing always incurs a percentage fee. Shares are real shares in the real profit of the film and its merchandising. Shareholders get access to the film-making process and limited creative input during the development. Shareholders always get to go to the party. The filmmakers and Trailer Pitch will always get to keep some shares for themselves.

Eight: Shares are transferable and can be bought and sold in the in-built online market. The price of a share is wholy determined by the market and can continue to be traded even after a film is made. If shareholders agree to a dilation new shares can be issued and sold on the market. Transferring shares always incurs a fee which will be split between Trailer Pitch and the film: both should benefit from a runaway success!

Nine: If the film sells it's shares and advance tickets it goes into production: an executive producer is assigned and the filmakers are helped to make the film. In the case of totally inexperienced teams substantial help may be provided.

Ten: If the film fails to reach target all money (and $1 credits are returned).

Eleven: Once the film is made it is launched online with fanfare and parties. Each film launch gives a projector&hifi system away to a lucky voter so they can watch it in style. For some films a theatrical release might be considered. The eventaul plan would be to do both.

Twelve: Profit is handed out to all and continues to be paid out to whoever holds the shares at any time. Some films will have long tails especially those with merchandising.

Obviously this is a quick sketch of my idea, there would have to be a lot more thought put into the legal and financial details (as well as the enormity of a site with so many levels) but with the right backing it certainly could work.

Who's in?

"Shareholders get access to the film-making process and limited creative input during the development."

Dear God no.

Limited as in here's a newsletter, here's an occasional online vote to make you feel involved and add value to your investment. Not real creative input.

indiegogo.com started off focused on independent film making though they're now a more generalized crowdfunding platform (like kickstarter). I don't know much about their platform these days, but I know they had a lot of similar ideas when they started out.

There are definitely a lot of state and federal securities laws implicated with items 6-12 (and international laws if you allow shares to be issued internationally). These laws are what prevent kickstarter and indigogo from adopting a similar model in their current platform. US Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts has proposed some legislation that may make these kinds of structures more possible. http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/11/scott-brown-next-stev...

> Seven: As well as tickets, shares are sold. These, start out cheap but will also rise in price as they are sold. Thus a keen smart eye might be able to make real money if they spot a winner early and invest. Investing always incurs a percentage fee. Shares are real shares in the real profit of the film and its merchandising. Shareholders get access to the film-making process and limited creative input during the development. Shareholders always get to go to the party. The filmmakers and Trailer Pitch will always get to keep some shares for themselves.

If I recall correctly, not too long ago there was an effort being made to set up a futures market for box office receipts, although I haven't heard of it recently.

One concern, though, was of sabotage. It's relatively easier to make a movie bad (or a good movie do poorly) then a good movie. If you sell shares in a movie, then people will be able to set up derivative contracts on their value allowing you to bet negatively, essentially. And if someone bets negatively on a movie, that could spell trouble.

This was actually something the MPAA successfully lobbied to kill. http://www.ifc.com/fix/2010/07/futures

Trailer Pitch would remain executive producer to try to prevent such tactics (and plain stupidity).

Who's going to return the money if it runs out before finishing the work?

Could setup insurance for such things. If there are enough of these being made, then the percentage that get far enough to be funded but not far enough to finish becomes something an actuary can calculate, and risk can be assigned as well as the cost everyone has to "pay to play". Whether that can be done for a sufficiently small number is a matter of how fast you grow this market, and what things you can put in place to minimize the risk.

Its an interesting point but one I guess may not be needed. These are real shares being sold so they must come with inherent risk. The hope would be that 1) the film already has momentum and market because it got to funding 2) the Trailer Pitch community (and investors) would be there to watch over it 3) if it can't be finished before the money runs out then some money could be returned, if not its up to the investors to pull the plug when more money is asked for (in the form of a dilution of current shares and a new funding round).

I actually recently read somewhere that about 6 films at Sundance Film Festival this year were funded on Kickstarter.

14 films, including short films, at this year's Sundance received some portion of their funding via Kickstarter.

Idea based on pitches with short or expanded (up to 15 minutes) trailers could work, because that's how it's done for independent productions looking for money now. Thing is that this would work only for low budget movies and shows (up to $20 million)... I don't see how could this raise budget for a high budget movie ($200+ million) - that would need a serious coverage.

How will you get users?

We'd clearly have to spend money at first and advertise, perhaps even commission some trailers. My first port of call would be film schools and private production companies.

The secret is to keep our word and make the first movies according to the rules even if they aren fairly amateur. As soon as the professionals see stuff being funded that they can better, the trailers would pour in.

Film schools would make a good first port of call indeed. They may not give the largest number of users to spread the idea though.

A lot of people want to be part of a movie. They also want to have their own reality show. Since in a sense everyone's personal reality is already shooting, why not allow for that?


I'm a filmmaker and killing Hollywood is the best thing you can do. It is burning to the ground and Nero plays the White House. But they cannot stop it since WE are remaking it. I worked pretty much my whole live in the entertainment industry, writing directing, plays, tours you name it I have done it, to a very high level. In 2007 I released a film and within a day it was on torrents and I was so MAD. Mad at everyone IRL but the internet. Why because before I'd released the film I had build the biggest game online at the time to promo the movie http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/334475. It was kinda popular. I'd built a site to support the film which got massive and all I wanted to do but put the film online because I knew it was the biggest way to promote it, it was already happening. But the investors and the sales company would NOT allow the film to go online for free, they just didn't get how big it could have been. They spurned the millions of viewer and plays we were getting daily to delay the release by going through the bullshit analogue route taking months to get it onto Amazon. It is something that taught me a lot. NOW I am building two start ups to rip a fucking huge hole in Hollywood. one is going to be a live performance/entertainment site open to anyone anywhere to enjoy live global talent to rise to the top and the other will be a live investment site. If you code if you're good and if you want to work with me hit me up mrsimoncathcart@googlemail.com I will respond to you message.

>> There will be several answers, [...], through new media (e.g. games) that look a lot like shows but are more interactive

Some genres will not be replaced soon by games. The archtypes of How I Met your Mother are the same as in Friends, and they serve to appease our loneliness and self worth. The 'entertainment' TV Shows and Movies are our fantasies coming real in front of our eyes. While action movies are clearly replaced, fantasies on the Social level are a tougher problem we are a long way from solving.

EdTV. But interactive also with multiple Ed’s (channels). Free to watch. With adds on the parameter or occasionally a commercial during slow moments. How would it be interactive? There can be options for what your Ed might due. People could “donate” a micro-purchase towards making that option happen. Options, get a new car, go on a trip, get jewelry. Friends could chat while watching a particular Ed and get momentum going towards certain scenarios via social networking.

Sorry this is choppy just in a rush.

I came here to post something similar to this. With all the adoration over so-called "Reality TV", I'm surprised there isn't more of a movement towards true reality TV. JenniCam and other sites from days gone by come to mind. That sort of thing's entertainment value is questionable, but then so is watching the Kardashian sisters.


100 million weekly views in its prime and there was really nothing to it. Add interactivity and the social network and some interesting subjects..... Boom there goes the dynamite! LOL

If you can watch 24/7 you really get the life drama. Not the BS for TV stuff. Even if the influence of the viewers would be huge at least it would be honest. "everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame" Andy Warhol

Why not a startup that focuses on user-generated funding that releases movies into the public domain? In the age of digital media, everything is a fixed cost. Once the initial investment is paid for, distribution is free. Give producers, indie or otherwise, a platform to ask for money and promote their shows. On the user's side, offer options like direct donations and subscriptions. Give them the choice to say "I'll pay 30$ a month. Recommend me shows and split my subscription among them"

I am co-founder of Nuflick.com, we've been working since June in a model that challenges the traditional distribution of entertainment.

We have a model where users can browse a catalog of films to stream on demand by unlocking them through social interactions like inviting a facebook friend and we encourage to support creators. Like a reversed kickstarter where contributions give access to rewards related to the movies.

The day of the blackout we published a blogpost on our take on SOPA and new models of distribution: http://blog.nuflick.com/?p=129

Quote <Partially and oblique legislation will never be the right answer to protect intellectual property from piracy and prevent copyright infringement. Large copyright holders haven’t been working creatively around regulations, technical difficulties or thought of different approaches to offer consumers what they want and are willing to pay for.

The right answer is coming from bold people that dare to challenge the status-quo creating flexible models that allow distribution, availability and safety to consumers and creators. In the end it all comes down to “supply and demand”; the future requires copyright holders to understand that supply of entertainment will never cease and the success will be measured in relation to their understanding of what the consumers demand.>

On the end, we believe that hollywood, as a whole, have been damaging consumers in order to protect a business that would be nothing without them and their money.

I quite like Hollywood. Some of the best entertainment has and will come from their studios. It is the old guard that don't get that Piracy has had very little impact on their industry and would be a waste of tax payers money to legislate against it: (http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/01/21/does-online-..., http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/internet-reg...)

I don't think we need to do too much here as I think the suits will get rid of themselves by repeatedly showing how inept they are by not understanding the digital world. But if you do want to put pressure on the old boys I would suggest:

1. Don't buy Popcorn and Cola at the cinema. The ridiculous margins on these goods are the 'cream' that makes the movie houses their money. Literally your popcorn and coke'sie cash is what lines the studio's pockets and allows Brangelina to live lavishly. Hollywood == Popcorn + Coke sales

2. Support awesome UGC like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7...

The RIAA maybe.

Artists need initial help to rid of the startup fears which sends them in the arms of the enslaving RIAA.

Create an open pool of "service providers" that abide by an open contractual agreement securing musical talent with supporting talent.

Name it OpenRecordingAlliance.net or something more friendly.

Credentialed designers, developers, accountants, advertising skill bands together to create a supporting nucleus for aspiring artists. Affinity, past experience, geography are the free coalescing agents.

Artists post their intent, biography and whatever rules require. This in formation is visible to registered users which sign up to help. A minimum number of supporting skills will be required to secure success.

The artist will mind the guitar, voice or whatever gift may be. Within a given time, legal paperwork is completed, a website, recordings, accounting, trade marks etc. Timelines and rules are set by the OPA.NET governing body.

Contractual agreement expires within few months. Ensuing success is shared, credits given. The team may continue to work together with renewed contract as each party agrees.

Details of the agreement and its scope are of course, key to the success of this idea. I believe that given such a platform, many artists, designers, web developers would gladly work together to succeed. All activity remains public and auditable during this process.

The artist only maintains copyright.

We open source the music. As it used to be.

Here's what I would love to see. And I'm 90% sure there are companies already thinking & working on this.

I'd love to see a service that offers various "channels" of video content. These channels would be genres, like food, home, comedy, action, etc. The content would be a mix of amateur videos (like home videos), semi-pro videos (like amateurs who've worked hard to create near-professional quality videos), and professional videos (created in formal studios with a full staff).

I could subscribe to particular shows within a genre, or just let a channel play random shows for me. Shows could also be recommended to me in a Pandora-like manner that uses my previous viewing behavior + my active ratings to determine my tastes. Most popular shows could also be shown somewhere, in case I wanted to browse what's hot right now.

As an example, my wife loves cooking shows. She's found a few amateur/indie chefs on YouTube that seem just as good as "professional" chefs with their own produced TV shows. It would be great to view both types of videos in one place.

I love sci-fi and action movies. And you know what? Twitch.tv is pretty damn cool too. As are some cinematic game trailers. I'd love to see all of that in this service too.

This service would come with integrated hardware, much like Roku. In a way, this idea is like Roku, but with YouTube videos bundled together. Plus, a "video genome," a Pandora for videos. Oh, and a much better UI.

To the people who are already thinking & working on this, please hurry. I can't wait to give you my money and subscribe to your service.

youtube is already doing this

Almost. And I certainly hope they're going to go this way. Their concept of "channels" right now aren't genres, but specific accounts, like CollegeHumor. I'd love to see a generic "comedy" channel that included CollegeHumor, comedians (amateur & professional), clips from TBBT, etc.

I'm not sure the suggested approach is right. Trying to replace the medium is overkill, because it's actually just the companies that need to be removed.

The companies are able to exist because the $-to-quality ratio is currently very high. It has always been decreasing, but the way to kill the companies quickly is to lower all of the barriers to entry toward $0 sooner.

I think it's easier for startups to lower production costs than it is to replace mediums. Shouldn't take too long, either.

I am still digesting all the comments, but think I agree.

Storytelling has existed as a form of entertainment for quite some time. The primary change has been the delivery mechanism, which provided for alternative ways to consume the content, altered how it was made (think putting on a play vs making a film), and also shifted the power structure. Seven years ago it cost over $60 million to make a Hollywood blockbuster, and nearly another $40 million was spent on marketing (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3564377.stm). Getting that kind of reach requires deep pockets, hence few large players.

I may be thinking small here, but I think any significant changes to this power structure in the near-term will have to start with new delivery systems. At least in terms of consuming video content in the home, I imagine most of it occurs in front of the tv. I know there are various ways to watch movies, shows, and sometimes even sports without needing a cable or satellite subscription, but the options are still limited and way too spread out. The content that I want isn't available where I want it to be, when I want it to be, in a manner easily usable by most people.

I'm sure this is only one piece of the puzzle. I imagine if more content was more readily available, that would change things as well. Ultimately I think people are willing to pay for content they enjoy, but the current availability and especially packaging are outdated.

Which are the biggest production costs that could be lowered?

My tweet about a month ago in my ideation session for a weekend project: "I'm thinking cinemas are obsolete, and movies should be streaming in my house on their premier." https://twitter.com/#!/chegra/status/150519505636950016

I was thinking maybe groupon / kickstarter for movies. A studio large or small[ie individual] creates a trailer and people pledge to it. Initially, I was thinking about streaming, but now I'm think just have a download of the movie[better quality].

In terms of what would happen in 20 years, I'm banking on the singularity would have happened by then. Films would be generated on the fly to match your mood, personality and preferences to guarantee maximum pleasure.

Coming back to the present, the advancement of strong AI[1] would be the natural end to Hollywood.

Edit: Took a look at this picture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PPTSuperComputersPRINT.jpg . Apparently 2013 is the year when we are suppose to have enough computing power to simulate the human brain[feels less crazy for suggesting it.].


Experiments along these lines have already been performed. The struggle between VOD and theatrical is one of the major battles underway in Hollywood right now.

Contrary to what you might initially suspect, the studios are in favor of VOD over theatrical.

It's the exhibitors (theaters) that are fighting it.

Here's a youtube interview with the NATO (theater owner trade association) president which focuses a lot on the VOD issue.


Checkout http://setkick.com/

They just got accepted to StartMate, seems to be targeting the right industry.

*Disclaimer, in no way affiliated with SetKick!

I am affiliated with Setkick,

and yeah - Setkick is aiming to digitise the project management of film & tv productions.

Managing a large scale film or tv show still relies on some quite archaic practises (and zillions of dead trees) - so again this is something that needs to be disrupted.

Is there a social network / kickstarter like site for making movies. A LinkedIn for Actors, Writers, Directors and everybody else you need to make film and television.

I'd be interested in building a site that helps people find each other, review projects and scrape together whatever funding they need to make indie films happen.

There have got to be hundreds of people floating around Hollywood trying to get into the mainstream industry.

How hard is it for these people to find each other right now?

Most good blogs and communities are more specialized than that. Aspiring screenwriters go to John August's blog [1], documentary filmmakers go to The D-Word [2], cinematographers go to forums like DVXUser [3] and RED User [4], sound folks go somewhere else, etc.

Your idea sounds swell, though. I think a lot of people would be interested in a such a site, if done well.

[1] http://johnaugust.com/

[2] http://www.d-word.com/

[3] http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/

[4] http://www.reduser.net/

Francis Ford Coppola has a site that is a "virtual studio" called Zoetrope (http://www.zoetrope.com/). I haven't visited in a few years but it was a lot of aspiring screenwriters at the time.

I'm currently working on a collaboration tool for filmmakers and am hoping to launch it in a month or two.

My idea is this:

A website where you create an account, are able to transfer money into it, and are able to search for a film or episode of a TV series (for a list which we have licensed somehow). When you find the film you want to watch you are given the option to buy it using your credit, if you have bought it there will be download links available: direct/HTTP download as well as something more robust (able to stop and restart half way through with ease). What you get to download is simply a video file (mp4, mkv, something like that) of the episode itself: No adverts stuck onto it, no digital hand cuffs, no hidden water marks than identify you personally: Just the video you want to watch. You can then watch it on your computer as many times as you want but you are not allowed to upload it to the internet or broadcast it publicly etc.

I think this is a good idea because it gives people freedom from DRM and harassment and similar such things (many people that currently use torrents do so because they do not like these anti-freedom technological devices). I do not know whether or not any publishers would actually sell licenses for a site like this to use though, I imagine they will argue that as soon as one person downloads it then you can't stop them uploading it and giving it to everyone so they'll get no sales.. in fact this is not a good argument because all this stuff is already available on torrent and file sharing sites.

I hope I explained this clearly and suitable for this site. Have been thinking about ways to end DRM (something I am terrified of strangling us even more painfully in the longer term future than hollywood could ever do) for many years but I am not going to make my own startup so I hope someone might find some insight in my idea.

Well, this might be the solution : http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?t=1028109

When a few students can do Pixar quality animation, you know where the world is headed, right? Sotfware makes the barrier to entry to creation lower and lower, while the Internet makes the barrier to entry to distribution lower and lower.

Entertainement startups will take-over the old giants.

One area I would encourage startups to get involved with is hollywood analytics: predicting the revenue of films based on their properties. Ryan Cavanaugh has revolutionized film funding, and there is a real opportunity for analytics startups to compete in this area.


I have two friends doing content in new ways:

* The New Kind - CG Television show, created by a global group of artists with the development posted to Facebook day-by-day: https://www.facebook.com/pages/THE-NEW-KIND-series/246243672... https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=127971893907947

* "'One Day On Earth' is the documentary new media project about the amazing diversity, conflict, tragedy, and triumph that occurs in one 24-hour period on this planet. More than a film, 'One Day on Earth' is a multi-platform participatory media project. The flagship of this project is a documentary to be released theatrically. Through a creative commons we will establish a community that not only watches but participates.' https://www.facebook.com/onedayonearth http://www.onedayonearth.org

Both community created on a global scale, they could only exist in the internet age.

Also consider the thing that got movies into the forefront in the first place was excellent use of the medium. The movies of old, due to lack of technological advancements (or even in some cases due to them) were masterfully crafted in the context of the medium. There have been relatively few movies since that era that have utilized dialog so intimately and intelligently as those that were made in the era where all you really had were cameras and audio. I would tend to think that this would translate into where we are currently. The next initiative that can masterfully take advantage of the obvious things at their disposal and package them up into a tight, sound package will be the ones that excel at the craft - and the ones that can get steer us into a new entertainment era.

That being said the only thing I can really think that is equivalent to the old era of movies is mobile or streaming. Both of these have potential to disrupt, but both are trying to force old idioms into new technologies. Youtube at least is trying some new things, regardless of how well that works out.

When we are serious about disrupting the industry we need insiders, the whole Hollywood network is very powerful.

They have a very weird scheme, with production companies who always make a loss and agencies who make enormous amount of money with the whole star system. It's very complex, but totally artificial. Look at South Korea, they made a star system out of computer games.

This scheme works only in combination with media, what gives them the ability to make marketing and stars at the same time. The big cycle is:

Make a movie -> your newspapers write about the movie or the actors -> people watch the movie, actors become stars -> make money with print

This is the whole reason these conglomerates exist, there are not many synergy effects in print. It would be totally decentralized/commoditized, but when you sell your PR as content.... big profits.

These big schemes have always have flaws, but we need insiders who know where to find them. I am interested in this topic, but all i know are from very few sources. Most of them books, or public funded contend. When i think about it right now, it's totally obvious.

I'm gonna revive the TwitchTV thread with a true story. I've killed the cable and gone with higher-speed broadband, ordered but not yet installed. I was tired here on Saturday night and went looking for some NBA, and not reading the links closely wound up watching NBA 2k12 on twitch for a few minutes until I snapped it wasn't actually live NBA. That tells me the animation is close to passing for photorealistic, and even that might not be important if the players (the humans [or AIs] playing, I mean) are so good that it is as interesting to watch as it when watching live giant humans really play basketball.

Second true story was chaperoning a 15-year-old overnight birthday party right after Skyrim came out. Watching seemed to be quite acceptable entertainment, although there were occasional switches to the Fallout channel. This despite enough controllers for actually multi-play.

As has been noted, this is still somewhat Hollywood-y in the movie-sized investment in those games, but the revenue is definitely not going to traditional motion picture studios.

The leading British film critic Mark Kermode hypothesises that Michael Bay style blockbusters are hits solely because they were expensive to make.

He likens these films to a PT Barnum sideshow - people aren't expecting anything of artistic merit, but are instead driven by curiosity as to what the producers spent $140m on. Media attention is inevitable, in the same way that a restaurant announcing a $1000 hamburger is easy fodder for a slow news day.

The logic is persuasive in light of the fact that critics and moviegoers alike don't enjoy these films much, nor expect to enjoy them. There's a culture of "movie events", a self-fulfilling prophecy of huge budgets and massive opening weekends. The theory would have it that the re-introduction of 3D is part of this phenomena, with mainstream commercial cinema slowly morphing into the kind of superficial novelty thrill that was once the preserve of IMAX theatres.

If the theory is valid, I have no idea how you'd beat Hollywood; I'm fairly certain that the answer won't involve making anything with cultural or artistic worth.

You first fragment the audience so that earning a return on $140mm becomes less and less likely. The goal is to bankrupt the incumbents by keeping them on the same spending path, while reducing the likelihood of big returns. Amazon is doing this with publishers: http://pandodaily.com/2012/01/17/confessions-of-a-publisher-...

IMHO, movies will be the last to go, but attacking the TV industry is doable now.

There is at least one startup I know trying to do that: http://www.wreckamovie.com/

One obvious, if nontrivial to implement, idea: simple, low-cost, distributed authoring tools to enable collaboration of geographically distributed production teams in creating YouTube-like content, including "one-click publishing" to YouTube and similar sites and strong integration with consumer-level capture devices such as mobile phones (e.g., flexible iPhone and Android recording apps).

Perhaps a less-ambitious place to start, at least bandwidth-wise, would be music — some sort of "GarageBand in the cloud" to enable easy yet powerful "spacetime distributed multitrack recording", again with strong device support and easy publishing of the results, possibly even including track sales, or at least an "e-tip jar", and possibly even an "instant compulsory license" tool for cover songs.

In both cases, I'd focus on tools to create "entry-level" original content rather than "mash ups" or "remixes", though the latter would, of course, not be actively discouraged (modulo "unfair use," of course).

Well the next big step in entertainment must involve something like brain-computer-interfaces that induce whole-senses experiences. But storytelling won't go away. Games will not replace movies or theater or books, it's a different genre. People like stories, they crave for stories, even little kids love stories; stories move people; it's what art is about.

What I wonder is, what role does talent play in this transition? I am a hacker by trade but am always thinking about how to "break in" as an actor and be in movies and on television. A myriad of other challenges (including finding the time to compete with a large talent pool) aside, one thing that I realize again and again is that participating in traditional media means supporting and receiving a paycheck from precisely the companies that fund bills like SOPA and think of their customers as "eyeballs with wallets".

With the costs of production and distribution ever falling, more and more content is being created outside the traditional media ecosystem. How would I position myself (as an actor or set designer, or sound mixer or etc) to take advantage of the coming transition?

Live theater comes to mind as something that might be inline with PG's last paragraph, which suggests more recreational time be spent not looking at screens but engaging with other people.

Musicians and film production companies need to start acting more like tech startups. Bootstrap, find an audience (traction), raise funding to pay for production costs (friends, family, fools, or kickstarter.com), distribute in iTunes or elsewhere, make money from digital downloads.

You could create a tech startup to sell user generated digital content and give back 100% of revenues to the artists. Got a great idea for a film? Find investors, gather the talent, shoot it, and sell it online. Forget about Hollywood.

Hacking new ways to distribute user generated digital content is only one part of the solution. iTunes and Youtube already exist for garage bands and film school students to bypass the entertainment industry to sell their work. And most of it is terrible.

Technology companies could take an active role in financing the production of quality digital content. Invest $20k into 10-12 artists to seed an album or film leaving enough upside for the company to get back a return.

This comes across as very reactionary and frankly silly. YCombinator believes we should actively work toward making narrative video obsolete? It isn't itself inherently a faulty product or art-form. Do you really believe film's potential to produce creative and commercial success is over, or even implicates being so in the foreseeable future?

I don't see the initiative as the full scale take-down of an artform, but rather an industry built around an artform. What will probably prevail when hollywood is beaten to death is an even more vibrant representation of the artform!

The problem with "killing" Hollywood and replacing it with other forms of entertainment is that GOOD movies fulfil a very specific function: through storytelling they shed light on the human psyche and give us an insight into life itself and our journey through it. This has been the function of stories since our ancestors sat in the dark around fires. (It could be argued that when we sit down in a dark cinema we are tapping into this latent desire to share a common story experience.) The idea of a shared experience hearing a story is as old as the humanity itself.

Good novels give us insight into life/ourselves but I doubt video games or surfing the web can be held up as providing the same. They are just ways to pass the time, which could also be said for 90% of Hollywood's current output.

Independent film makers therefore have an opportunity to tell the stories the studios do not. So, this begs the question; why haven't we seen the first internet blockbuster?

Movie studios' sole focus is money. Money allows them to hire movie stars, to use the best equipment, to buy ad space and to rent movie theatres. In short, money (and how much they are prepared to spend) is what separates anyone with a video camera and an idea, and the major movie studios.

Indie filmmakers cannot compete on a level monetary footing. So they must disrupt and stay lean, not only in production but ALSO in marketing and distribution.

This is where I believe a lot of indie film makers need to focus on: disruptive distribution.

As an example, I directed a movie and treated it as a lean startup from pre production.

We are looking to disrupt traditional movie distribution by offering individuals and businesses something tangible and of intrinsic value when they buy our movie: to feature them on a billboard on Times Square. More info on our strategy can be found at: http://on.fb.me/osp0oE

Let's jump out way into the future first. Ideal entertainment would be full immersion Matrix-style virtual reality.

Closer than that, as a New Yorker, I have found going to the cinema increasingly rare. It feels quaint - arranging my schedule around a place and time of another's choosing.

Based on this, I think the film will become more personal. Some have interpreted this as meaning interactive. I think this violates the human need for story telling and receiving - interactivity changes the social function of storytelling profoundly.

Instead, I see a more intimate experience. The key part would be entertainment, films, specifically designed for the format.

Note that intimate and social are not mutually exclusive. Better than interactivity would probably be characters and settings that build off their audience. Down to the dialogue.

That is something that I don't think Hollywood can do today.

Right now Hollywood make money out of the game by converting them to a movie. I think the next "big thing" would be creating artificial game polygon, where people can go in, pay the same amount of money as they pay for the ticket and play the game as player, not just watcher. People can were all artificial gadgets ( helmets, gloves, even the full suite) and be part of the action. Imagine you can create avatar and play Quake 3 arena death match, or be part of the Fallout, etc. Computer power is already there to create it, it's just a matter to allocate money and gaming developing will begin. It will be win-win scenario, since this new type of entertainment will attract all industry from software / hardware to graphic designed and script writers. And then it can be monetizing the same way as movie.

I believe that 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!

Check out Feed-Forward.net, I'm the founder and CEO I think you'll like what we're doing, given your interests.

If you see a film that no one else has seen, you'll spend all your time telling others about it, and to go see it. Despite film viewing being a largely solitary experience, even when holding a girlfriend's hand watching a movie... It's still important in a communal aspect. Just like great songs; they always make us think about other people or our interactions with them.

That's why games will eat film's lunch. One day, they'll master that.

If I had a startup capital? I'd focus an mmo-like server based game on small communities. Maybe base them around a few hundred players, so you KNOW the people you game with. And your actions have consequences to people you know. The fun of Skyrim, the familiar face of FarmVille, without the crass exploitation of metrics like Zynga, with the heart of Team Ico.

Hey, a guy can dream.

Here's my proposal: "Vertical Facebooks", social networks for certain industries, are a big opportunity. Hollywood is the biggest and best opportunity for this. If Ben Stiller needs to pitch his new project to, say, Mila Kunis, it's pretty inefficient. If a screenwriter has finished a script and wants to tell people about it, same thing. IMDB is already used by studios to vet people -- this is broken and could be made much better.

Once you've built and instituted such a Hollywood Facebook (where privacy is everything and joining requires clearing some big barriers), if they try something like SOPA again, you can just go dark. They would be helpless and quickly back down. Don't kill the horse -- just give it a harness.

My email is in my profile if you like this.

If the killing the movie industry is anything like the dead software industry, I predict another 10 years of billions in profits before they.. keep making billions in profits?..


I know that ideas are easiest part, but it's also important we find a viable alternative to classic Hollywood studios and distribution. The solution is actually strikingly similar as to the one for piracy--provide a solution more convenient and effective then traditional methods.

What about a vertical launch platform for media--a combination of Kickstarter, LaunchRock, and more, specifically tailored towards media like music or video. Incorporated social aspects to publicize your project while you fund it. Provide reliable recommendations for resources classically provided by a studio. Allow artists a platform to collaborate and share resources. Etc.

Make it more effective then going to a classic label. Won't be easy, but it certainly seems lucrative.

As an engineer working at a startup that is actively challenging the entertainment status quo through a slightly non-traditional vector, this RFS strikes me as amazingly naive and lacks any realistic suggestion for what kind of challenges might be most effective.

Hollywood isn't dying, nor is it anywhere close. Shedding some excess, maybe, but not dying. It's an overweight person rationalizing away his weight problem instead of committing himself fully to do whatever it takes to become lean and efficient. Apologies if that offends; I don't mean any malice. I simply mean to point out that even without Hollywood, there are any number of entertainment pieces constantly being produced and distributed. Indeed, Hollywood is, in my opinion, little more than a destination and mini-society that brings together and publishes works, as well as an ecosystem of funding. Try finding an animated movie that truly, terribly falls flat like some films. It'll be harder than it would be for a fully live-action film, because they know that without star power or explosions as a fallback, that much more effort needs to be spent on narrative to produce something that, if nothing else, will not tank incredibly. Is it any wonder that the animated versions of large or popular franchises typically have terrible movie productions†?

(† in this case I am also including live action movies with a very major animated component, i.e. a mix of live-action and animated characters)

The people who build the technological platforms hosting today's entertainment are, by and large, not dumb people. It takes some real skill to scale a site that serves up any number of combinations of video profiles and different target platforms. This, especially, is somewhere the cloud has trouble with cost-effectiveness. Video loads are large, and can be CPU, RAM, and I/O bound (if you're trying to make the most of your resources), and iteration and improvement on the process can take hours or days, not simply minutes, for almost-imperceptible but possibly still important improvements. There are reasons it works for Netflix and reasons that it's more expensive for smaller companies to scale. There's also the fact that DRM is often a contractual obligation, and the start-up costs can run well into the several hundreds of thousands of dollars range, not including high upkeep contributing to a gargantuan TCO by any startup's standards. Then there's the revenue sharing, of course.

The problem is not technology, or throwing more startups at the problem. The innovation must come from hacking the business side, or altering the deal with how content providers bring their content to the masses. Building more technology without doing this will waste people's lives and embitter them, because entertainment is being held back not by the available channels to get it to you, but because taking risks and failing fast nets you a blacklist from the people licensing you the content. Put another way, the content providers are choking off new media, not the actual proponents of new media. The pipeline of people making a living off of this stuff leads into hollywood and anything that can be done to divert them away from that walled garden and into a content bazaar will do more to kill Hollywood than actually targeting Hollywood ever will.

The solution, in my opinion, is to empower the entertainers and the content producers to reach their audience more directly, more broadly, and with more engagement than a TV or, let's say, a comic book will ever be able to give you. As a medium for entertainment production, YouTube falls flat. It's not the product online entertainment wants to be. It's not a product designed for simulcasts, and it's not a product designed for building communities, or for social watching, or for alternative media formats, or for worldwide publishing with subtitles of customizable language or styles, with pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll ads, or for subscription-based monetization. And even if some of these exist separately, they're not all in one place.

Also, large video ad tech is fucking terrible and poorly specified, except for Hulu, which has full access to its own tech, which it doesn't license out, as it runs its own in-house ad network. Ad companies tend to have shitty engineers or get bought by Google. But Admob's video ads monetize poorly compared to the other (technically worse) options, surprisingly.

While I would like to see Hollywood get competition, I suspect real changes in this industry will eventually come from industry insiders. The success of Spotify is essentially one big lobbying campaign.

In the meantime, I would like to see startups that manage to keep an eye on congress while making money. I don't know how, but here are a couple of loose thoughts.

- A service that helps people determine who to vote for and who to avoid voting for.

- Something that keeps track of representatives based on current issues and where they stand.

- An easy way to visualize where backing for new legislation comes from.

I'm sure stuff like this already exist, but I suspect it's not easy enough for most people to bother using. It should be dead simple and connect with ordinary stuff people follow in the news.

Anyone else remember the days before the internet/smartphone? I distinctly remember spending the majority of my time hanging out with friends, playing in the park, etc. I can't recall the last time I even went to a park anymore... Maybe we need to do more of that.

We were younger back then too. Now put that in a bottle and you could replace more than Hollywood!

What I miss from that time was the ability to sit around with friends and argue about simple issues of fact. E.g. "who was the actor in that old movie blah.." "no it wasn't, it was ..."

Smart phones + IMDB & Wikipedia killed that. How could one bring that back?

Internet's killer app will be interactive.  But the Hollywood killer will be a passive mode of consumption (I still do like just to be entertained)

Add to this the rise of Facebook and I would do the following.  

Put a microphone and speaker in the corner of each room of the dorms at MIT or Yale (not cameras note, we know where that will lead).  let people talk to their friends, whilst not "using" a device.  Let others listen.  Vote up conversations.  Eventually most people are listening in to the most interesting conversation in College.  I would love it to scale so I can spend an evening listening to the most interesting conversation in the world.

Reality TV, Social Media, no longer shouting through to the next room.  It's got everything.

I think Hollywood's (and also the Music industry) problem is that the talent and artists are commoditized, instead of the financiers. Compared to the tech startup industry, there are only a few major studios that finance most of the films people watch. This concentrates too much power in too few entities and that's ultimately what has created this Hollywood problem. I don't think movies and tv shows are going away anytime as a form of entertainment.

Killing Hollywood is going to require some way to reverse balance of power and commoditize the financiers just like in the tech industry. Then tv shows, movie franchises will more resemble startup companies and hopefully become more forward thinking as well.

I very much disagree that what Hollywood thinks is killing them now, is not killing them.

It is!

There are two parts to Hollywood:

1. Being the distributor.

2. Being a source of funding.

That's it!

The internet has been disintermediating (fancy economic term for killing middle-men) industries since it began.

Piracy often offers not just a lower price but a far better product. How many stories do we all know of people willing to pay who can't because of how shitty the distribution of Hollywood is? People frustrated by all their legal options to the point of seeking out pirated content despite their ability and willingness to pay. I am one of those people!

Better distribution is one half of killing Hollywood.

The other part is financing. Big Hollywood studios are in the well known business of managing high risk investments. You spend a lot of money on developing movies, shows, etc, on most you lose money, on some you make a bit, on a few you make all the profit you need to keep going.

Who has the same business model? VCs! Also video game publishers.

So all you need to kill Hollywood is a tone of cash to fund talent, attract better talent by giving them a better deal and then distribute it better.

But here is the catch, a company like that would exist with much lower profit margins than a traditional Hollywood company. It has to! Because that's what killing the middle man is. You take his share of the profit and drop it. Prices of the end product drop, end consumers have more money, the middle man is out of luck.

And that is why you can't hasten the end of Hollywood. It's going to be ugly and painful and they know it. That's why they are lobbying like they are going out of business, because they are.

The only thing you can do is limit the damage. We should aim for an equal and opposing lobbying arm. If we libertarian minded, super individualistic, detail obsessed, disagreement loving, intellectual bunch of geeks can make that happen, I highly doubt. But I don't see any other way out.

Question on Quora to explore possible market opportunities:


In my mind, there are two ways to "kill" the movie and TV industries:

1) Replacement of the medium--have movies and TV go the way of Vaudeville through a more popular form of entertainment. Comcast makes upwards of $150/month per customer (2010 data), so there's money waiting to be made, and

2) Competition in the medium--low the barriers to entry for movie and TV production to displace today's power centers. Data from GE shows consumers are willing to spend $15-16/month for VOD-like services, so there's a market to foster alternative content in the medium.

That said, it's a difficult market. People's habits don't change easily. I worked for a Sequoia-funded streaming movie startup that just went out of business.

"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."

This seems hypocritical considering YC's funding of companies like Cloudant that go on to work with companies (Monsanto) actively engaged in the worst kind of subversive geopolitical work. Compared to Monsanto, Hollywood is a shinning beacon of freedom and peace.

Of course, going on to read the rest of the article it sounds as though YC is more interested in the financial interests of killing Hollywood than the potential political impacts.

That's the sort of disingenuous remark a politician would make. It's hypocritical of us to want to fund companies doing good things because one of the 383 companies we've funded has one customer you don't like? We don't have any control over who companies we fund do business with.

You may not be able to control them, but you can influence who YC startups do business with. You screen founders heavily based on perceived intelligence, and probably based somewhat on perceived ethics as well. You probably have some sense, before you fund them, whether founders would be willing to do business with the RIAA or MPAA.

You could be doing something to dissuade YC-funded startups from engaging with Monsanto. I think it's a valid question why you're putting significant effort into fighting the MPAA and RIAA, even banning SOPA supporters from demo day, while you do not take a visible stand regarding Monsanto.

Genetic engineering is outside of YC's core competency, but there are strong parallels between trying to exert tyrannical legal control over digital IP, and trying to exert tyrannical legal control over genetic IP. Unlike copyright infringement which at least requires an infringer, genetic IP spreads itself, and embeds itself into other [public domain] IP that was not originally infringing.

Since you've opened the door by taking a stand regarding the RIAA, MPAA, and draconian copyright laws, you shouldn't be surprised when you get flack for being silent on other issues: Monsanto, companies (including Monsanto) directly involved with the drug war... perhaps even private security contractors which operate in war zones, the private prison industry, big pharma, or environmental polluters.

My take: because Monsanto or similar firms are not supporting legislation that immediately threatens YC and the internet in general. SOPA et al is pretty much a declaration of war, it shouldn't be much surprise there's a response to that.

I take issue with the name-calling: "the people who run it are so mean..." You could say the system is corrupt, broken, blinded by self-interest, etc.

There are probably all kinds of people running Hollywood, like in any other industry. There must be some execs with sociopathic tendencies, others who simply go with momentum or believe they are doing what's best for their shareholders, etc. In my opinion, stating that people who run the industry are "mean" is inappropriate for an investment fund.

I read "mean" in the older sense of "low, sordid, base, penurious" rather than the modern sense of "not nice" - because I agree that when you use the modern sense of the word it comes across as schoolyard whining. But with the interpretation I offered, I think it's merely an accurate description of their motivations.

Why don't you issue a call for people to bring down Monsanto then? You can't feign do-gooder interest just because there's a financial interest. I guess my issue is with consistency. Reading this call to arms just sounds hypocritical. I believe you even called me dumb for voicing my displeasure in the original Cloudant thread.

Nothing disingenuous about that.

So if he doesn't fight for your cause by exactly your standards, then any good YC is doing is worthless?

You've set standards in a way that only you could possibly meet them. You should start a business of your own, and you can refuse to do business with everyone you disagree with.

Of course not.

But it does sound hypocritical (not sure how many times I can use that word) when you're supposedly fighting for "civil liberties and the world economy" when you have a financial interest in a company benefiting from the likes of Monsanto.

So you will sell to Hollywood.

1) Please don't preface your comment with a statement about people downmoding you. All that does is make me think, "well, the following opinion will probably be poorly thought out flamebait". It's also against the site guidelines.

2) There's a large gap between funding a company which sells something to a company which has a political point of view you disagree with, and actively sponsoring bad legislation. In fact, I can't see how those two things can even be compared. So, your first statement "I will probably be downvoted" is true. Implicitly you're claiming the downvoting will be unfair, but your claim doesn't make much sense, so that's probably the reason it'll happen.

Not to rehash the entire Cloudant thread again, but if you honestly think Monsanto's way of doing things is just a "different political point of view" then you're disturbingly out of touch with reality.

And as I said in another comment: "..it does sound hypocritical (not sure how many times I can use that word) when you're supposedly fighting for "civil liberties and the world economy" when you have a financial interest in a company benefiting from the likes of Monsanto."

So anyone who owns a whole-market stock index is prohibited from making political comment of any kind, because they "have a financial interest in a company benefiting from the likes of Monsanto"?

Think about what you're saying. No one has defended Monsanto, because the point is that whether Monsanto is good or bad is completely irrelevant to point being made about intellectual property rights.

Perhaps we could start with the elements of films that inspire and delight? The array of emotions that they evoke makes us feel human and connected to a greater human experience; something that I have yet to experience through a game. (Good) films build empathy - they invite us to engage with a different perspective (a miner in Nicaragua, a ballerina etc) and impassion us. This requires effort. Tech often gives us an escape from the effortful human experience, with quick hits that appeal to our egocentrism and primal instincts. Instant gratification. Long-term dissatisfaction. Perhaps why Hollywood is dying.

>When a striker is fouled in the penalty area, he doesn't stop as long as he still has control of the ball; it's only when he's beaten that he turns to appeal to the ref. SOPA shows Hollywood is beaten.

Love the futbol analogy, but it opens the door for counterattack - many times when the striker is beaten it's by an illegal tackle (dangerous, from behind, or where the defender went for the player rather than the ball) and his appeal to the ref is justified.

Of course, many times he's faking and acting, but Hollywood would argue that's not the case here - if they're being beaten it's by illegal means and requires ref intervention.

What's the timeline for killing Hollywood?

This year, a normal movie year, Hollywood will make a profit of $X million.

Now let's suppose we "kill" Hollywood. We produce 100% of the new content in 2013, Hollywood produces 0% of the new content. However, Hollywood still has a massive catalog of copyrighted works which they continue to sell. What fraction of that $X million per year they currently make comes from selling old content? What fraction comes from selling works which are two, three, ten years old?

Basically, what is a realistic timeline for Hollywood to wind down sufficiently that they can no longer maintain a significant lobbying presence?

Hollywood might answer this with a 'Request for Discovery' in some future lawsuit.

I think killing Hollywood shouldn't be about killing movies and tv shows. It should be about killing the large content providers who is pushing SOPA/PIPA by spending astronomical amount of money on lobbyist. We need to find a way to bring the cost of production and distribution down to a point where creative contributors like directors, actors, and screen writers have more control and majority piece of the pie. Similar to how cost of starting a technology company came down in recent years and founders control and own more. We also need a Y-combinator for movies and tv shows.

Yes! I was thinking the same thing. I'm hoping many more will come to this conclusion:


Artists are the key. Can we offer them something better than the existing system? The answer would suggest content production, but how is it funded initially? Is it crowd sourced? Do investors take on the initial risk? Do we make it easier for people to purchase subscriptions to the (new) content they enjoy while giving artists a much higher percentage of revenue?

I'm addressing this: www.about.me/Blakes

I believe that this is a very good idea. Actors right now are products, and they might go into some kind of startups where they can have a better share of what they worth.

Maybe I didn't understood it very well but look what Johnny Depp says: ~"after beeing turned in a product by a very huge corporation, that the hands over me"~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v...

Hence I believe that here is a problem that can be solved by startups.

I believe in creating a mix of a.empowering the content creators to create b. quality content that is c. distributed in the most accessible way for consumers and is d. financially sensible for all parties involved.

PirateBay pointed it out yesterday; the entertainment industries got greedy and started demanding more rights and driving up costs to fill their pockets.

Wouldn't it be awesome if you could have a healthy career, making $60,000+, by entertaining people with what you love? As in, do you really need to make $20,000,000 to act/sing/write etc?

Hollywood won't die until the movie theater monopoly on new releases ends. Most people have comparable bigscreens and surround sound systems already. All that is left is the ability to pay $12 to see a new release in your home. Film producers would make more money by cutting out the middlemen. People would see more new releases even at $12 each you could see 6-10 movies per month for it to cost as much as cable. Some people would see most new releases and cause middle and lower tier movies to make more money.

Ok, here is the plan: cut them off from the internet:

1) Open source service that identifies every hollywood agency, movies studio, and major individual by IP. 2) Home IP address as well. 3) Attach tracking cookies to them 4) Open source API that operates just like an ad server does, and instead of checking home for ads to serve up to these customers, we serve 404 pages. Just black them the hell out.

The result: hollywood is now unable to use a sizeable portion of the internet.

They fired off the nuclear missiles first, fuck it, it's time for DEFCON-1.

What's all this about 'predetermined' ?

That was exactly what I was going to ask. PG, would you mind explaining the predetermined wording? It seems counter intuitive for someone who funds disruptive companies to say so I have a sense that there is more to it.

Look back a hundred years (or so). Even if you shot the people who invented colour film or sound in films, somebody else would have developed those.

I cannot think of a good counter argument to that. This could be a totally different way of thinking about investing than the way I previously thought.

Assuming the investor can figure out what the next big thing is, their only goal is to find the team with the highest likelihood of success.

The savvy investor doesn't even need to do that. If the payout is high enough, he can invest in all the teams with any chance of success.

Depends. Some industry get big in terms of revenue, but not in terms of profit. The eternal example is airlines. Flat screen makers are a more recent variation. (The Economist runs on article on them this week.)

Sometimes selling shovels is more lucrative than digging for gold. Or ignore those industries altogether, like Warren Buffet did with technology.

The idea is often called "Steam-engine time", e.g. http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6089/the-art-of-fic...

OK, off topic, and I got down-voted last time I asked this question, but here goes...predetermined occurs twice in this post, so what is it, determinism or free will?

The movie itself is no longer the value. You have your 50" TV at home, with your own drinks and friends.

Why would you go out and pay a lot of money if you can One-Click-Download your way to better "value" watching the movie at home?

So focus on creating extra value. The movie ticket has a dual role as a lottery ticket. Maybe you can win 1% of the revenue -or- your can win a trip for 2 to a Hollywood red carpet event.

Hell, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory style golden ticket: win yourself a chance to star in the movie studio's next big production.

A big THANK YOU from me. I have been talking to my wife for some time about how I'd like for Internet companies to start taking aim at the same people that are aiming at us. It's not about revenge though, but as a way to move forward past what I see as the old ideas of IP.

Besides, entertainment can be better. I believe in what this post says about getting people to actually spend real time together. I know a lot of people who's idea of quality time is sitting in front of the TV wasting away, albeit together.

Golly. We're sooo close to getting a rough, web-playable demo of what you're looking for it hurts - a better way to entertain people (with a gamery blend of TV and interaction).

It's been a painful slog, though - trying to create rich content's been both more expensive and more daunting then most web-centric MVPs.

Is there anyone else already actively working in this space? I'd love to find more folks to network and bounce ideas off of. (And I'd like to hear how you're dealing with the cost of content production. :P)

What need to be done, is to move games into real poligon games, where people come comein pay the same amout as for movie tickets, but wear all virtual reality gadgets ( helmets, gloves, maybe full suite) and play the games in virtual reality. Imagine poligon for Quake arena, where several team can fight, or Fallout, etc. Its sound expencive to create now, but once it running, it will be much better than go to movie. Gaming industry will like it and will start develop for it.

I sense real anger in this RFS, which is uncharacteristic for pg.

I think if you really want to fight Hollywood it would be best to boycott them at the movie theaters and try to support their competitors (Does Netflix count as a competitor?) as much as possible. That means not going to see Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises". Wait for the DVD/Blu-ray release and don't purchase it. Rent it, or borrow it from someone who has purchased it. Spend as little money as possible on Hollywood. Rinse and repeat with other movies.

But sadly, that would be used as an argument of why they need to pass new laws to protect them. And anyway, they would simply make the physical discs disappear earlier, so there's no borrowing anymore, replaced by something like Ultraviolet.

But they're already arguing exactly that, using garbage statistics. So what would we be losing?

Keeping your economic adversary content and well-funded kinda doesn't seem like a great strategy to me.

Mankind has an evolved evolutionary need to tell and listen to stories. Before writing, it was the primary means of knowledge transfer across generations. Most human conversations, in fact, consist of telling stories to one another.

Hollywood fills the storytelling need. It's so primal that I think there will always be an industry manufacturing stories, and thus there will always be content owners who want to get paid when someone consumes their work.

Sad and naive.

One day art was about a meaning, and works of art carried a message. That used to be true about movies, and it sometimes still is, though rarely so in Hollywood.

Now people mix art with entertainment in its lowest form.

To me the range looks like: Classic, deep, inspiring, thought-provoking stories on one end; and shallow and worthless entertainment on the other. Sorry, somehow I'm not trading movies for Farmville, even though it's huge, social, addictive and so on.

Actually, what should be done is make it easier for small groups of people to make movies. There's always going to be a need for what Hollywood produces. However, for example, if we could start by making Pixar type movies then distribute them somehow for a small fee then lots of independent movie studios would appear. At some point in the next decade or so, we'll be able to create "real people" that replace Hollywood stars.

Here is MY idea.

Anyone can post a movie to the web service (website access/roku access). Hollywood, or freelancer gets to publish on the platform free.

Anyone can stream a movie completely free, but every 10-15 minutes the price to see the last 10 minutes of the movie cost 1 dollar more. (ratio variable)

You can pay a dollar after the first 10 minutes and watch the whole movie for just a dollar, or you watch all of the movie free but dont see the last 15 minutes ending.

/end crazy idea.

Lifelike voice synthesis (with emotions) and lifelike simulated actors. With such tools anyone who can write a soap opera script can make soap opera.

I think the best way to kill Hollywood would be a large amount of independently funded/produced tv series that are solely broadcast on youtube or some other website. Once entertainers figure out that they don't need to go to Hollywood to become famous, more will follow. Perhaps services that could help web-based entertainment shows reach a larger audience would be a step in the right direction.

I don't believe you will replace movies with another form of entertainment. They are just stories when distilled when distilled. The stories are a fabric of values, beliefs, morals, and culture that is inseparable from society. Some stories are so representative of the culture it becomes a direct part of culture. Replacing movies will require a more creative way to spread that fabric of ideas.

It's the studio and record label system that needs killing. The creative, skilled people who make entertainment and art need to be able to thrive.

I just left this comment over on Fred Wilson's blog (http://disq.us/536i4t). I hope that the message I'm attempting to convey is meaningful to the "Kill Hollywood" crowd on HN as well...

There are a lot of comments on this post, but I'm going to attempt to chime in from the EVIL Hollywood perspective.

First, let me make it known that I am 100% anti-SOPA/PIPA (I called my representatives six times), but the armchair punditry and belligerent "Kill Hollywood" explosion I've witnessed over the last few days has infuriated me to no end. When I left Paramount to do a software startup, at least I knew what the hell I was taking about.

Regarding Nat Torkington's rant: It's true that the tech industry "gave" us many things, HOWEVER, MP3's are meaningless without audio content, MP4 is meaningless without video content, Netflix is meaningless without movie content, iTunes is meaningless without music content... you get the point. In fact, between bittorrent and Netflix, it appears that half of the Internet (if not more) is used to share CONTENT. So yes, thank you for the pipes, but for the love of all that's holy, try and keep in mind what people are ACTUALLY paying for here! Hint: it's not 3G, wifi, iPads, or iPhones, those are merely the vessels to what is actually valuable to the user: the content! What do you think is the driving force behind the evolution of technology? Sheesh! I'm asking that all of you engineers take a breather and try to gain some damn perspective.

Yes, the film industry's organizational structure appears to be outdated. Yes, the theatrical distribution model seems counterintuitive. Yes, yes, yes! But... Record revenues (or close to it) continue year after year. Revenue from theaters still represents $30 billion of the ~$90 billion dollars the industry rakes in each year. Growth in China is almost 40% annually. The film industry isn't exactly in a hurry to abandon the scarcity model.

Bottom line, there are a lot of elements at play here. Please, please, please get some perspective before you go off extolling the virtues of your newest "platform." There are ways to disrupt Hollywood, both in a Schumpeterian way, and in a collaborative way, but I have yet to see anything that truly encapsulates the content industry's needs in a meaningful way.

Thanks for listening to my rant!

P.S.Crowd funding is to killing Hollywood, as Kickstarter is to killing Apple.

What monetization options are available in a hyper-efficient distribution model like the one killing Hollywood? Anything besides advertising? Is advertising even enough considering digital media can be manipulated and ads can be parsed out? Are we going to rely on DRM?

What about micro-payments? Can we make small payments easy and efficient enough to work? Is flattr scaling well?

This sounds like the first hurdle.

Virtual Trips with your friends to explore the real world. Something like Street View. You will go in your car with the possibility to invite people to join your car. Your friend could take the drive too. The platform would have video chat and would create environment sounds(city buzz, birds in the park, etc). There will information layers for history, culture, restaurants, etc.

Fine by me.

"I can tell you that the No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia. That's the biggest problem for children in this industry. ... It's the big secret," Feldman said.


Might you consider directly funding artistic startups?

It would make sense for each movie or television show to be a corporation mostly owned by its founders (the author, director and major actors). The model looks a lot like conventional VC, except for the shape of the exit.

It's not clear if long-form video can be made on YC-like funding. If not, maybe start with music, which clearly can.

I tried to read all comments, but after roughly half of it (300/625) I give up. I think HN discussions could greatly benefit from introducing quota on the number of comments/day and words/comment. I am firm believer, that if you cannot fit your idea in a couple of sentences, you need more time to polish it. I am not suggesting 140 symbols. Oh, wait...

So you want to kill and industry that thousands of people love and live for, because you want to 'recreate' it for your own financial gain because you're 'tired' of it. Even though you have absolutely nothing to do with it. Just woke up one morning and went. "Oh, let's kill Hollywood because I have a new idea as to how I want it". Great guys...

It interesting to see how narrow the responses are here, what may be the standard entertainment in 20 years time might be something that unlike anything mainstream today.

It could be something completely new or something that's incredibly niche right now (for example machines which induce lucid dreaming - what happens when they become reliable and cheap?).

Which machines do you know that induce lucid dreams?

In terms of TV, disrupting the current measurement norms would be a great start. The current methods of measurement are horrible at recognising new media, the success of a TV show and it's ability to attract more funding to continue is far to highly dependant on a small number of users on free to air and traditional cable.

I know this is completely off-topic, but pg: reading that football analogy from an American makes me love you.

On topic, is there not space for (if there was enough funding put into it) a new studio, one that understands the internet and modern culture? I'm not sure it's the content that's wrong, it's the business models around it.

You realize pg was born in England to welsh parents right (although he grew up in the US) ?

I had absolutely no idea, that explains it!

This battle will be long and tedious gentlemen with setbacks for both sides... but I can see it slowing degrading for Hollywood and you can bet new legislations will make sure they will remain with considerable power for decades after their market lost all appeal and logic sense of existence in a digital world.

Right now http://machinima.com/ is killing it. Their monthly stats for video game play views (ya just people watching videos of people play video games) is better than any TV ever was. Lost only had a small percentage of what Machinima can field for audiences.


This is a meme that comes up every few years like clockwork. Unfortunately, this one, like others before it, just shows how little people know about Hollywood. I guess it doesn't matter, as it makes for great link-bait. So maybe they know more than they let on, but dumb it down to "mean" people and "dying" industry. Yet, if that were the case, no one would want to take it over. The industry is, however, closer to a zero sum game than not. Offers to be a "partner" are offers to "take" some of the revenue.

There are two "modes" of entertainment (I am not counting learning or socializing, which are separate): "games" and "story-telling". I've pitched ideas on a cross-over between the two (over ten years ago), but really the two are very different, right down to how the brain behaves in each mode. Music is interesting because it doesn't take our full attention -- it would interesting to see other entertainment that had that same quality.

But anyhow, that doesn't mean that there aren't opportunities in the space, or opportunities for other ways to spend our time.

Take music, for example. Drive a brand that curates indie music, and let people invest in the bands (real money), drive that band to their friends, and eventually take a token of their success some day (a 360 deal, not just records, but everything including merchandizing, live performances, etc -- that way each band can determine the best mix, which may be all album sales or free music distribution). Early fans have skin in the game, bands that pick up fans get money to accelerate their reach, and everyone can have fun in the process since they are all partners.

And as far as time, think of teenagers and college students (and 20 somethings), hormonally driven to socialize. It was a huge catalyst for AOL (chat rooms), Friendster/MySpace/HotOrNot/Facebook, etc. Later in life there are children, and the need for everything to be all about them, understand them, get away from them. But competition for time is such an open thing, that it seems out of scope unless it is a form of entertainment, even if it is entertaining, like sex.

It would be nice to get people to vote on movie selections so a theatre could get it and show it knowing that there is an audience. I'd love to see "Go!" again. There is a business idea for you.

So instead of "killing Hollywood", I'm going to see Rocky Horror Picture Show in PacHeights next weekend. It is not an iSomething, it is not virtual, it means real warm bodies and a preset schedule. See ya there!

I forgot to mention some other side things: how about ideas on "Killing Piracy". (Also would be cool to Fix Privacy, but that is not really entertainment related per se).

Note to self: I use a lot of "quotes" (and parentheses)...

I have posted a rejoinder on Ben Parr's rants at my blog http://manku.thimma.org/2012/01/in-defence-of-y-combinators-...

Essentially I believe the time is ripe for disruption to happen at Hollywood.

Does anyone have a connection at Netflix, preferably in biz dev or online partnerships of any kind. They make it notoriously hard to get in touch with anyone there, no emails listed, phone call leads to call center support who cant transfer you to anyone worthwhile, no reply from twitter msgs etc..

Fix the way the Electoral College works, and you've liberated the market. Only then will good ideas actually flourish, and bad ideas/companies fade away.

Until we abolish the "first-past-the-post" system and adopt Proportional Representation, there is no hope in fixing the corruption that takes place in Washington.

I would love to see a technology wave wash over Hollywood the likes of which we saw with the introduction of Desktop Publishing on the print market 25 or so years ago.

Very little comes out of Hollywood these days with any creativity, originality or soul. If there was ever a market ripe for the picking, that's it.

The tech wave already happened; it's called CGI. Like any effective tool, whether CGI augments or substitutes for creativity depends largely on the creator.

What's the opinion of people from Hollywood? http://www.quora.com/Future-of-Entertainment/What-are-all-th...

Thanks for spreading the Quora link.

Possible Solutions 1. Invent System like The Matrix. My own Personal Movie,All we need to do is somehow combine neuroscience , Dream Technology, AI etc.. 2. Improve Internet Technology like Private Satellite, Distributed DNS, True internet without Government Intervention.

my two cents...... 3.

There was a possibly insightful comment on a reddit thread on the topic of killing hollywood:


The main point is not to kill Hollywood but to force them to compete and evolve.

Hollywood sell entertainment services that demand the time of people.

The ultimate goal of winning would be to compete and win the time of people. E.g. Newspaper industry is dying because the Internet won the time of people.

Graham's Randian techno triumphalism(teh haxxors shall inherit the earth!) is becoming increasingly asinine I see. Movie studios are in decline? I thought their profits and share prices were public record, once you get past any creative accounting, but what do I know: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/13/movie-executives-see-r.... If anything a switch to streaming would throw the ball back into their court. In fact someone already created what Graham is asking for, you can see it at www.youtube.com. What's that? Youtube was built on copyrighted content? You say creating footage and promoting it ain't cheap? That the advent of digital video didn't kill Hollywood with a flood of indie films about ugly looking people and their depressing lives (which don't involve vampires and werewolves)? Oh...

This is excellent, why should a convention be preserved solely for the reason that some want to continue to extract profit? It's like having a great new technology that cures everything, but physicians opposing it because it endangers their livelihood.

It's definitely possible to kill hollywood, think about how Old Time Radio was killed by TV.

However, whatever kills Hollywood must revolve around storytelling and not just generic entertainment. People won't completely move away from story-based entertainment.

My idea is to build a strong AI system. Point it at your TV and Movie directory/directories. Let it scan through to evaluate what you watch. Then let it start "pitching" ideas for your evaluation. You now have the basis for a personal Pandora of AI created shows (primarily animated initially, although with CGI advancements you could "rig" humanoid video actors to almost a live effect). You can even share your results with others, and perhaps particularly popular ones could be "picked up" by a YouTube or Netflix for wide distribution (though do you pay me or my AI for it).

I fully expect that by the 20 year goal that you will see this happening. I suspect someone willing to work with an engine such as Blender and build XML files to control it externally could have a rudimentary version in 2-3 years. I will be happy to discuss further if someone is seriously interested.

The first thing that came to mind when I saw 'Kill Hollywood' was Guy Kawasaki's 'Killer Gene' theory of business plans:


Just sayin'.

Idea: Open-source "movies". Both the tools and the resulting content are open-source.

(Incidentally, making a good movie doesn't necessarily have to be expensive. However, making yet another boring car chase scene does.)

I honestly believe that technologies like Flatr will make this possible.

You have to lower the barriers to having people purchase content. There's a mental barrier which stops you from spending $1 to watch another episode of House. Even though you like House, and you'd like to watch another episode.

And for "free content," well, ads suck. Nobody likes ads. We don't like being forces to watch ads, before we watch content. People who buy ad space don't like you to be able to skip their ads. YouTube is trying to pitch "skippable ads". Still not close enough, I think.

If I watch Sherlock from the BBC and like it, I Flatr it. I think that model works. I'm not sure - but that's my hunch.

Humble Indie Bundle is another great example - but I don't think it works for broadcast video.

Disappointed that an RFS is just a thinly disguised rant. I love HN, YC, and PG, but this tit-for-tat attempt at retaliation is childish and unworthy of the great minds that populate this forum.

With all due respect to the authors of this, I think this kind of writing is just going to fuel the opposition. Imagine if some journalists get a hold of this and do a piece on it.

The Apple TV (if it's real) would definitely facilitate this. Imagine the opportunity to build apps that compete directly with television programming, on the same device.

Id like to see more content production companies, like revision3 or some of the big youtubers, but aimed at mainstream audiences. I think that would be a good first step.

It would nice to see other people start creating quality content or shows that could really connect with people. Heck, there is probably a lot of good content already online that I don't know about it. But, I really like what revision3 is doing by creating and I hope they can add more shows.

Three things that would help to kill Hollywood:

1. Make it less expensive to create entertainment.

2. Raise the quality level of what amatuers can create.

3. Turn people who would ordinarily be consumers into creators.

As a minority, I'm fine with this. Hollywood constantly casts minorities as stereotypes and almost always casts a white lead with the occasional African American.

Movie/TV Show industry != Hollywood.

There could still be a movie industry that doesn't involve Hollywood in the same way that there can be a music industry without record labels

You don't have to "kill" Hollywood as a whole. All you need is to heavily disrupt the distribution channel. Control distribution and you control the game.

My suggestion for YC: As an experiment, get some people together and produce a full length feature film. I think you'll learn a bit about how hard it is.

I interpret this as a call to use innovation and creativity to produce something constructively that will bring Hollywood the fear, and I approve 100%.

Let's kill one of the few remaining private industries where we're still the best in the world?!

How about "let's build the next Hollywood" instead?

I interpreted it more as "Let's kill off the Hollywood way of doing things."

Give me the programmers, UI geeks, the money to pay them to do as they are told, and I will build it. I have the idea, and it's actually a proven winner, among a smaller segment of users. Like most other internet phenomena, it's something that was once only done amongst computer nerds only to be later done by the general public as if it was just another usual day-to-day practice. And it actually involves more friends and family and ideally less mass market products.

Pitches don't work like that. If you want other people's time or other people's money, you better throw some more skin into the game. The most simple thing to imagine is creating a small prototype. But there are other ways.

With this "RFS" who's pitching who?

I'm working on the prototype to prove the concept. But there is no GUI, I am strictly a command-line user.

What are the "other ways" you allude to?

you're strictly a "command line user" and you are reinventing the visual art and entertainment world?

It's a platform not an application. Nothing needs to be reinvented. We simply reuse what's already been invented and tested. But we do it in a "new" and useful way.

Wait, this has detected now? Not seen the bullshit that has been published by hollywood over the last years? The stuff that promotes false images and militaristic views? Hollywood looks like an extension of the department of defense for a decade now. Now that the industry wants to control this output in the digital age, people are waking up? I hope it's not to just defend the possibility to copy the war movies for free.

Select an actor for main role in the movie. ie: Samuel L. Jackson in the Fight Club movie instead of Bard Pitt.

I hope SHADO [1] will do it.

[1] http://entertainment.shado.tv/

Don't you think that is a bit extreme?

Cool, but, I don't think framing it as "killing" something is the best way to name the RFS.

This is what Youtube is already doing...

Creating millions of channels that anyone can tune in to.

there is plenty of independent movies, the trouble is getting it into cinemas.

Companies working in a space like twitch.tv will eventually kill Hollywood.

I'm struck that there are great sites for learning how to code and how to build a small business around software development. Nothing like this exists for the entertainment industry. We have BFAs and MFAs that are roughly equivalent to your terminal degrees. But, as in software, many of our superstars and journeymen emerge from an entrepreneurial path instead of academia.

Most people who learn-by-doing in entertainment do so without a clearly structured path or often even identifiable short-term goals. They meet and impress people, get on a gigs doing (relatively) menial labor and learn as they go. As their career grows, they learn both craft and business: how do what they like and where, with whom and on what they should be doing it.

Sound familiar?

As with software, folks who hit the ground running on their own without much skill or business knowledge generally fail quite a bit before they succeed, even if they are in the top 1% on smarts and ambition.

Sound familiar?

Boards like this one, the various VC blogs and services like Code Academy, StackOverflow and umpteen Rails training sites all help software entrepreneurs focus their early efforts and move through the learning-to-do-it phase of their careers as quickly as possible.

Where is this for entertainment? We need a Code Academy for people who want to tell stories and get paid to do it.

Start with the basics: What is a story? How does it work? How is something funny or sad?

Move to the specific: Write a story to be read. Tell a story to your friends. Tell a story in a video.

Cover the business: Where to tell your stories. What different audiences expect. How much money do people expect to pay.

Get Detailed: Editing, lighting, acting, advanced wordplay, making-sure-every-single-thing-in-frame-is-perfect.

For the startup-makers: The absurd proliferation of MFA programs in every discipline of entertainment suggests that there is a large market for a service that caters to people who want to learn to entertain people professionally.

And for the user-students: 1. The emerging industry of professional YouTubers suggests that there is a viable marketplace for entrepreneurs with the skill to make small-scale entertainment people want see. 2. The value that smart, well-trained MFAs bring to the "big entertainment" world suggests to those of us on the inside that some training is totally worth it. We would love to see a way for people to come to us a little less green and with a lot less debt.

From an insider's perspective, this would be hugely disruptive.

Disclosures: I work in commercial theater, not in film. I have an MFA.

Another idea: choose your own adventure movies.

Some people tried that already.

Garage Band + open distribution platform?

Film school already killed Hollywood.

What problem does this solve?

Narrative visual storytelling as an entertainment form won't be killed any more than books will be killed.

If you're trying to kill movies and the idea of a shared emotional experience I don't think it'll be done.

If you want to kill Hollywood as overly powerful force on our planet then TAKE THEIR TALENT.

Enable artists to make money more easily without Hollywood. Save musicians and freedom of speech at the same time. That seems to be the true essence of this thread. Not killing movies per se, right?

Check it out: I'm a low budget movie shooter. I've been living this industry for about 8 years. Like a starving artist. I get hired by a string of dreamers that almost always lose money. The movie doesn't always lose money. The artist does. Usually the producer does too. The funds to make the movie have always come from another business or job.

"Hollywood" is a marketing, publicity and distribution juggernaut: An independent investor that produces a $100K movie can not invest $15 million in marketing and distribute that movie traditionally. If they could they would. They literally have to go through a Hollywood Studio.

Find a major release - other than Passion of the Christ - that wasn't a studio release. I don't think it exists. Plenty of movies get made independently. The tiny few of those that make it to theaters go through a studio. The studios are part of a vertically integrated marketing, news, publicity and distribution system and that is "Hollywood".

Conglomerates own the Studios, TV Stations, cable channels, newspapers (they wine and dine critics and reporters on top of that), talk shows and radio stations. Hell, they own the billboard companies. And a chunk of the Internet. But the Internet scares them. It's not piracy that scares them. It's the news / marketing / publicity monopoly they currently own that they fear losing.

The Theater Scam: Hollywood studios prebook all the movie slots available at all the theater chains. Theater chains give deference to the studios when booking movies all year long to ensure they get "The Hobbit" when it comes out. If the Theater chains knocks a Hollywood offering out in favor of an Independent movie then maybe they won't get the Hobbit until 1 or 2 weeks after the open. It's a barely legal, "nod and wink" oligopoly that replaced a previously completely illegal monopoly.

The clear evidence of this truth is that the most powerful people in Hollywood can't break out of that system. If Tom Cruise could make a $2 million dollar movie and market it for $20 million to make $200 million using his name and fame to skip the studio system he would. Tom does own his own production company. But he can't build a distribution company. 95% of the media is owned by a handful of companies. And they control the theaters too.

The Internet is the ONE thing the conglomerates don't own. Barely.

A chink in their armor - THE DEAL: Replace the licensing system used to sell movie rights worldwide with an online marketplace. The studios don't own that. Connect the rights buyer and artist directly. In turn, all ARTISTS are joined together in a devastatingly powerful way. David Lynch and Lars Von Trier would be at the head of the pack. Everyone else would follow. A truly independent union of entrepreneur artists. Even independent of a union.

Here's how it currently works: Right now, little distribution companies that are actually movie sales reps (not owned by Hollywood) get in the middle of every low budget non-Hollywood movie transaction. They do Hollywood style accounting against the filmmaker so the filmmaker never sees a penny of the money Germany pays for the film. Worse still, you've now lost your rights to YOUR movie in that region. If money is actually made it takes 18 months to get to the filmmaker. That puts a ton of people out of the business. *EDIT - Important point here. This is where all the best talent is funneled into the Hollywood system. You can't make a living as an artist unless you join them. That's a crucial part of my rationale. You don't change Hollywood. You create an alternative to Hollywood that works better for the TALENT. That's how you bring Hollywood down. Steal the next generation of talent from them.

A friend of mine works for one of these companies actually DOING the deals so I'm positive I know what I'm talking about here. He's a filmmaker too. He can't even get a good distribution deal out of the company he works for. That's how bad it is. Every indie filmmaker hits this killer brick wall and they are all frustrated.

The Money: Paying my bills: If I could sell broadcast and DVD rights directly to German broadcasters without going through a SLEW of middlemen I'd make good money. They pay decent money for decent content. Even stuff without movie stars garners OK cash. You probably can bring in $100K to $300K for a tiny movie if you do it well and maximize the value of your rights. If you win Cannes and Sundance with a commercial piece then you'll sell to a studio (sad, but true). They'll give you the most money for a commercial product that is ready to go. But that's a handful of movie per year.

FALLACY- "They wouldn't keep making little movies if they didn't make money" Most little movies are funded by wealthy people for tax benefits, glamour, fun, publicity or to meet an actor. Or a bunch of enthusiasts make a labor of love for free. Some little movies do make money, it's just rare.

Public Exhibition rights: Major theaters have to run movies for weeks at a time. Small independent films can't put enough butts in seats to justify that. The theater won't risk their relationship with the studios by running much (if any) content that is not studio content. Technically they "could" legally run independent content. But most theaters require newspaper advertising in support of a movie run. That huge expense kills the deal right there. Who owns the newspaper? The Conglomerate corporations . So they buy advertising from one of their own companies. No real loss. If a little guy wants to "compete" guess what? The big media players STILL take a cut of your profit via Newspaper/TV/Billboard ad revenue.

The Internet to the rescue again: If a local art house cinema (or Coffee Shop, Club, Church or ANYONE) could license a digital showing of my movie and pay me even "SMALL X" dollars and sell tickets then both of us may have a viable business model. They could do a SINGLE SOLD OUT showing and move onto the next indie film. They market my movie to their Facebook Fans or Meetup group. Or I market my movie in your Zipcode via Facebook and send people to your theater and provide a sold out show. None of that can happen with Hollywood content and without digital distribution. Indie theaters could more profitably promote Indie content if it was easy to find, preview and acquire. They could show 1000 different titles a year! Finally a competitive advantage over Hollywood for the small theater.

Amazon, Google, Youtube, iTunes, Spotify and Netflix are all theoretically in position to help indie artists. They would have if they wanted to already.

Currently Spotify and Netflix pay one royalty (high) to major studios & music labels and another royalty (very low) to independent artists. In fact, Hollywood has jacked up the licensing costs to Netflix returning most Netflix profits back into the Studio System. There's no getting around those mofos.


That's the power of Hollywood. They essentially own a monopoly on talent and content because they have longed owned a near monopoly on Marketing & Publicity. You will go through a studio if the money is BIG. Period.

Netflix is fighting back by creating their own show. They'll need to create a lot of shows before they become another HBO but it's a reasonable plan of attack. They really could build what I've described here if they wanted to. Maybe Vimeo could do it too.

THE REAL PAYOFF: Now imagine a central marketplace for movie rights has aggregated all independent content creators. How tough would it be to start a centralized streaming service for Internet viewing? Internet rights & revenues are always owned by the artist and never sold.

THEN all the best content creators in the WORLD would end up creating all the BEST ADVERTISING in the world promoting this new shared "Network". And they probably wouldn't share their content elsewhere. Hollywood would still make blockbusters and larger budget fare. But they'd be locked out of everything else. Hell… even large budget stuff would make it into the system and Hollywood might actually get killed. How long would it take 500 million Internet consumers to switch from Netflix or Youtube? Facebook fast.

Completely change the world in 3 years. But all artists have to unite. They have the REAL power.

It couldn't be a traditional company that exists to maximize profits. The organizing principle is to maximize artist exposure and/or artist revenues. Perhaps it would have to be a cooperative. I don't think any American company would ever have the balls to do this right. Unless a wealthy artist funded it.

So that's the real stuff to wrap your brain around if you want to protect free thought and expression.

Oh... Paranormal Activity was purchased for $100K, the STUDIO made $100 Million+ and now SAG is going after the lowly creators (who got the $100k) for royalties of $4 Million. Yeah, the studios and unions are our protectors and Hollywood is the land of milk and honey if you have talent. LOL.

Bollywood > Hollywood

Hollywood needs to shut up and evolve just like everybody else.

I haven't read all 655 (current) comments so correct me if I've missed something. It seems like there are two threads: 1) "how do we reinvent the screen entertainment and distribution business" and 2) "how do we make something that currently exists more popular".

I read the RFS differently. Semantics aside, it seems like the point is to find something better to do with ourselves. It's not to streamline Hollywood, or redistribute the wealth in Hollywood. And it's not to figure out how to make current gaming technology or social networks more popular.

I think a key question to ask is, what did we do for fun 300 years ago? What did we do for fun 700 years ago? How about 5,000? If there was no Hollywood, what would we do for fun 20 years from now? Don't assume the internet or video games will play a part, even though they may. Don't box yourself into that corner yet. Don't assume it means replacing movies with more movies.

Here are just some examples from the sports world that take us out of our element and, for many fans, create mania: FIFA World Cup. The Tour de France. The Superbowl. The Indy 500. Formula One. The Kentucky Derby. Dakar Rally. Cricket World Cup. Wimbledon. French Open. The Masters Tournament. The PGA Championship.

And please don't look at it from the ticketing perspective. I know that sports ticketing is as much of a scam as Hollywood. The point is, how would you create something that excites that mania in people?

Don't limit yourself to something YC would fund, either. Perhaps the internet startup will be dead in 20 years. Think about it.

* Use semiconductor technology to create real-life quidditch. * Invent hover shoes and create a sport around it. * Invent the successor to the book (the entertainment/information wise, not medium wise) * Invent the successor to the skateboard * Be the next Tim Berners-Lee and invent whatever comes after the web * Invent a way to make friends with every person on the planet * Invent a near-instantaneous means of artistic self-expression that doesn't involve more than $50 up front cost and doesn't require a laptop, tablet, or smartphone * Invent whatever comes after NASCAR * "Kill (your pet peeve)" * Invent a game that involves moving your money away from investment banks * Invent a team sport that a person in any physical condition could excel at and potentially become a highly recruited, highly paid, international star. * Invent a game that kills internet piracy AND Hollywood. * Create a movie that creates a game that creates a movie. * Write a bestselling novel that is optioned by Hollywood and that, by the very creation and production of the film, signals the end of Hollywood, such that Hollywood has no choice but to eat itself. * Create a race of robots whose mission is to kill Hollywood. * Convince everyone in Hollywood that they never wanted to be in the movie business: they've always wanted to be lumberjacks.

Or none of those. But just, let's get away from the meme of "Hey, now we're going to do Hollywood internet startup style."

While I appreciate the sentiment of this RFS with regards to the sclerotic dysfunction of the legal system of copyright (and the business models that perpetuate it), truth be told, as a life-long citizen of startupworld I've often found myself quite jealous of the Hollywood business model. Hollywood is a start-up machine that places huge bets and enables entrepreneurs to form teams, create product, and achieve success or failure 10 or more times in a decade. What a liberating notion!

Looking at the talented nerd in their third or fifth year slogging away at a successful enterprise with the possible monetization of their efforts still years over the horizon, I find myself asking: are there ways to make startupworld more like Hollywood? Perhaps there is something to learn from the way that the 'talent' in hollywood works with the 'money'.

As a thought exercise, what if doing a start-up was like making a film. Teams assemble, shuffle, and disassemble in an orderly fashion. Artisans are measured in a regular and public way and trade on their value. Quality results are rewarded in short iterative cycles. Its possible for the very best young talent to rise to the top of the profession in ~5 years. Entrepreneurs are funded by the 'money' with terms that are transparent, reasonably standard, and public, so shockingly free of embarrassingly predatory clauses. Shorter cycles, quicker valuation/monetization, a system that screens talent and quickly elevates the best.

Oh wait a minute, PG and the Ycomb revolution is actually making all this stuff happen. Which is why I find this conversation amusingly ironic. "Kill hollywood" coming from the institution that is doing the most to re-make the money/talent relationship in startupworld in Hollywood's image. So what keeps them from finishing the job?

So this is my real point. Startupworld has its own legal system with sclerotic dysfunction every bit as entrenched as copyright; it effectively bars start-ups from achieving a plurality of investors in common shares at any revenue level below $200m. There's lots of manifestations and motivations for this, but fundamentally, its bad for startupworld and to stretch just a bit, bad for capitalism and democracy.

There was a time not too long ago when an excellent young company with $20m in revenues could sell common shares to common people. What a liberating notion! How can we put a SOPA/PIPA-like focus on this issue and sway lawmakers, change votes, write legislation and move governments.

While I appreciate the 'kill hollywood' discussion of revolutionizing entertainment... I have to confess that its just not nearly as big a problem, and not nearly as broken as the world all of us work in every day. I'm jealous that Hollywood, through its own ignorance, has managed to marshal our industry's best efforts to midwife its own creative rebirth.

What about us?

challenge accepted

hehehe :)