Friday, March 26, 2010

Movie reviews & media: lessons from Roger Ebert

 Indulge my cinephile strain, but "this just in" from the nexus of film (as a storytelling venue) and new media, Roger Ebert’s next TV/web show. “At the Movies,” the syndicated TV show he pioneered decades ago with critic Gene Siskel was cancelled this week by its distributor Disney. See Roger Ebert’s Journal at the Chicago Sun-Times website.

“Blame the fact that five-day-a-week syndicated shows like "Wheel of Fortune" went to six days. Blame the fact that cable TV and the internet have fragmented the audience so much that stations are losing market share no matter what they do. Blame the economy, because many stations would rather sell a crappy half-hour infomercial than program a show they respect.”

Keep those factors in mind as you consider the opportunities for your own quality infomercial: cable and internet audience fragmentation (which means you can more effectively target your message to its best audience), broadcast TV consolidation (fewer corporations owning more stations). There may be some deals out there as TV becomes more affordable.

Next for Ebert’s inimitable brand, a new TV show and a few new media branch-offs. More from Ebert’s blog:

“We will go full-tilt New Media: Television, net streaming, cell phone apps, Facebook, Twitter, iPad, the whole enchilada. The disintegration of the old model creates an opening for us. I'm more excited than I would be if we were trying to do the same old same old. I've grown up with the internet. I came aboard back when MCI Mail was the e-mail of choice. I had a forum on CompuServe when it ruled the web. My web site and blog at the Sun-Times site have changed the way I work, and even the way I think. When I lost my speech, I speeded up instead of slowing down.”

How true. I follow Ebert tweets at my Twitter site, and the writer is especially prolific. It is perfectly understandable. He lost his speech, but he makes up for it with as profound a voice as ever.

Question: how has new media changed the way you work? The way you think?
Roger Ebert appears in Boulder this April 5-8 at the Conference on World Affairs at the CU campus in Boulder. Here’s the news release. His annual week-long film focus is the 1972 Werner Herzog film Aguirre, the Wrath of God. The “interruptus” format shows the film over four two-hour sessions, stopping the film for anyone in the audience who wants to ask a question or make a point. Kind of geeky. I love it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

OK Go strikes gold again - visionary follow up

Media Bistro does a great analysis of how the innovative band OK Go pulled off their second fantastic music video, set upon perhaps the world's biggest Rube Goldberg machine.  Most of us were amazed by their first video “Here It Goes Again,” now famous as the “treadmill” video.

People invest in success, so it probably wasn’t too hard to attract support for the next project. Even a corporate giant like State Farm insurance would happily write a big check and let the musician/performers have their way.

The lesson for the rest of us: plan for success. Have a vision of your next step. That calls for a bigger vision, maybe bigger than you first imagined. But it’s amazing how lucky the well prepared are.

I once worked for a college football coach when he engineered a winning “Hail Mary” last-play-of-the-game pass. Little did I know, good football teams actually practice the long bomb hail mary play. I though it was “luck.”

Turns out that during practice they send the receivers deep, the defenders take their position in the end zone, and the quarterback rears back and lets it fly. At the landing point of the football, the athletic training is more akin to drills for basketball rebounding: positioning, footwork, visual acuity, hand-to-eye coordination, and most of all, timing. What looks like a free-for-all is actually a well choreographed competitive event. And when it works, The spectators say, “what luck!”

Make some luck. Anticipate success and have your next play ready. OK? Go. (Sorry.)