AFMA: trying to keep pace

Dekom: Technology has changed the way entertainment is consumed

Your teenagers are smarter than your production execs, libraries soon will be without value and the only thing the entertainment industry can really count on is accelerated change.

This was the sobering, if not startling, message delivered by Peter Dekom, keynote speaker at AFMA’s annual Producers Conference, held Wednesday at the Wyndham Bel Age Hotel in Hollywood.

At a luncheon of AFMA delegates, the entertainment attorney-turned- consultant said the accelerated nature of change today is second nature for both the Y generation of 15- to 25-year-olds and the Z generation to follow, thanks to growing up alongside rapidly advancing technology.

These advances, Dekom said, “have fundamentally changed the way people consume entertainment. We now live in a world where we do not know anything about our consumers.”

Iconoclasts

Dekom said these consumers have become inherently iconoclastic — that is, difficult to track or to please — due to a globalized and fragmented marketplace.

Nor did he have comforting words for those who look to technology to protect once-sacrosanct concepts like copyright.

“If you can’t get into a movie theater to see ‘Zoolander,’ don’t worry,” he said. “It’s already on the net. Any kid can hack into anything now. There is no single encryption technology that cannot be hacked.”

As a result, he said, libraries are valueless and the major studios are trying to transform themselves “into major retailers, intent on developing a direct one-on-one relationship with consumers.”

However, he argued, this misunderstands the nature of the modern consumer.

“We are now dealing with the constant alteration of environments,” he said. “Our kids have grown up knowing that if it’s cool now, it can’t be cool tomorrow.”

Working together is key

Instead, Dekom advised, the majors should pool their resources to create a revenue-sharing model for a user-friendly video-on-demand delivery system.

“If consumers don’t want what you are selling and you make it too tough for them to get, they will just steal it,” he said.

Dekom concluded his brief but energetic speech with advice that echoed William Goldman’s Hollywood truism that no one knows anything.

“We need to re-evaluate everything we know about the movie business every six months and look at it from a fresh perspective,” Dekom said. “Ultimately, at the end of the day it all comes down to one thing: informed common sense.”

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