Look outside the box, sez ‘Net huddle

Confab bridges gap between old, new media

The issue of convergence between offline entertainment and the Internet lies upfront and center at the Spring Internet World trade show at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the week-long Nerdvana of technology confabs.

At a forum on “next generation studios” Monday, venture capitalists and execs with Warner Bros. Online, DEN, WireBreak Entertainment and iFilm spoke to an SRO crowd about the need to look beyond the models developed by traditional media outlets to market and distribute films effectively.

“We’re asking old-media questions about a new-media format,” said Sandy Climan, managing director of Entertainment Media Ventures. “With the old, there was a limited spectrum and roadblocks for distribution. There were gatekeepers. For now, on the Internet you have an unlimited spectrum.”

Climan said the potential for word-of-mouth marketing should be exploited by any project that’s looking to make a splash in the Internet space.

“Has anybody here ever looked at the Hamster Dance (Web site)?” Climan asked, laughing. “If you haven’t, you’re behind the times. It’s one of the most visited sites on the Internet, and it did it without any marketing. Is that enough to get it to ‘Hamster Dance — The Movie’? I don’t know.”

The immediate feedback one can attain from Internet users should be seen as an advantage, said Kevin Wendle, vice chairman of iFilm.

“If you’re up online, you have your own live focus group,” he said. “You need to listen every day and see where people are going on your site.”

On the distribution side, the free-form nature of the Internet is a boon for digital film, said Kevin Foxe, exec producer of “The Blair Witch Product.”

“I’m excited that there is the idea that some kid, or even some 50-year-old, could be a studio for 15 minutes,” he said.

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