WME’s Taylor talks up media revolution

Global head discusses changes to landscape

With showbiz power in flux, it’s the best time ever for independents to be entrepreneurial, according to WME Global head Graham Taylor.

“The balance of power between studios, indies and consumers is changing,” Taylor said Saturday in a keynote speech at the Los Angeles Film Festival. “Whether you are a filmmaker, producer, financier, distributer or executive, now is the time to embrace the change. We are, after all, in the middle of a revolution, and nobody puts baby in the corner.”

Taylor’s remarks came during the fest’s Money Talks & Art Matters series of panels. He was formerly the head of Endeavor’s independent department before it merged with William Morris in 2006.

Taylor stressed that the business must adjust to what he dubbed “a consumer-driven revolution” and be the stewards of enabling this change.

“Fueled by the Internet and direct-to-consumer distribution, the consumer revolution has been brewing for years,” he said. “Even though we work in the movie business we are, first and foremost, consumers of art and movies,” Taylor said. “I want to come home to my Tivo’ed episode of ‘Mad Men.’ I want to text and influence my favorite contestant on ‘American Idol.’ I want to go to the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin and have a filmmaker and super fans curate the theater experience. I want to go online and play ‘Call of Duty’ with a 13-year-old kid in South Korea.”

Taylor reminded the audience that the growing ability to access content is taking place while the major studios opt for a tentpole strategy and increasingly look to off-balance sheet financing.

“The new studios of today — Netflix, YouTube, Google, AT&T — are taking away market share,” he said. “These new studios, along with retailers Walmart, Target, Tesco, and even a Seattle-based coffee company (Starbucks), are financing and distributing content themselves rather than just receiving it from the studios.”

His advice on dealing with the changes is to encourage young people; don’t cast off older filmmakers; have a strong point of view; don’t play it safe; take the time to tweet and blog; and have a sense of humor.”Don’t stand for apathy and cynicism in either the creative or business communities as it is ultimately cancerous to the evolution of art,” he added. “We are the inmates taking over the asylum. We finally have a bigger seat at the table.”

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