February 04, 2008

Writer's Plot Hollywood 2.0

While a deal may be close at hand, the current writer's strike may have already given birth to a new Big Bang in the form of Hollywood 2.0.

Doug Liman, director of Swingers and The Bourne Identity, has started a digital production company called Jackson Bites, which will use striking writers to create content for the Internet and Mobile Web.

Writer Aaron Mendelsohn, meanwhile, has recruited big talent for a company called Virtual Artists. The list of founders, who have agreed to invest $10,000 apiece in Virtual Artists, include writers and directors behind The Aviator, Chicken Run, Hotel Rwanda, Oz and Sweeney Todd, among others.

Virtual Artists Inc. is the collaborative brainchild of a pool of Hollywood’s most prominent writers and several leading software designers, and it is being seen by many as a potentially revolutionary force in the entertainment industry. The independent venture is composed entirely of WGA writers and industry professionals and is hoping to receive over $30 million from investors in order to begin developing films and television shows to release on its website, virtualartists.tv.

Another is Lexicon Digital Communications, a company with ties to David Caruso, the star of CSI: Miami, and Nils Lahr, a onetime bigwig at Microsoft Corp. Prose Media Group is our own writer's production company.

InShot has also been approached by a number of Hollywood writers keen to discuss the emerging role of online video sponsorship of WebTV platforms.

Since the strike began in November, studies have recorded a surge in audience consumption of online video content. On YouTube, traffic to the site has increased by as much as ten per cent in the past three months. A Pew Research Center survey published Jan. 9, shows daily traffic to the video sharing website doubled in the last year.

The strike also comes at a time of growing technology disruption to the broadcast television advertising model and the impact of TiVo and ad avoidance amongst audiences.

Rapidly evolving media technology and the Internet-heavy activity from young consumers continue to deliver increasingly popular entertainment options as alternatives to traditional broadcast television, furthering the growth of an entirely different approach to media consumption.

Venture capitalists are betting the strike will give the tech sector a chance to move deep into the entertainment sector. In fact. we hear reports that up to seven groups – each with major venture capital and serious creative talent – are looking to form large production companies.

The platforms are certainly there. If more professional Internet programs like Michael Eisner's Prom Queen begin to surface, then Hollywood 2.0 may well be on its way.

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