Media Convergence:
The World At A Tipping Point

By February 18, 2015 Blog
net-work-play

by Spencer Scholz

The world is changed.

No, it’s not just that familiar opening line to Lord of the Rings movies, but that tired and just-as-familiar buzz-saying that you have heard hundreds of times before in your lecture halls, on computer screens and from peers. The Australian film sector is changing. And it is changing rapidly.

The bedrock of filmmaking is shifting underneath its feet as audiences begin to move towards the online digital spheres. Where once it was unheard of to launch or distribute a film outside conventional cinema channels, one can now reach a whole new and fresh audience at the click of a button. We have seen this most conventionally with YouTube celebrities, who garner millions of hits from pranking their housemates or filming themselves playing videogames, but now larger production companies are starting to take notice, the most recent example being the 2014 Australian film The Mule receiving a completely online film release and snubbing conventional cinema screening completely in response to dwindling local box-office. David Cross’ new film HITS has followed suit, the actor allowing the public to download the film for whatever price they want via BitTorrent. Is this an anomaly? Or the shape of things to come?

NET-WORK-PLAY, a new annual conference and marketplace event created by the AIDC (Australian International Documentary Conference) is seeking to source and illuminate new opportunities for Australian and international filmmakers with the assistance of these emerging media and industry collaborations. The focus remains the current state of digital media convergence for television and streaming products, with an emphasis on the product of documentary and its current and undeniable collision with technology.

Thom Powers, as a high-profile member of the global documentary community, understands the current shift of filmmaking from traditional business and distribution models towards the eclectic and ever-changing avenues the world of online distribution and creation promises. He is the current artistic director of DOC NYC – America’s largest documentary festival – and a programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival since 2006. While maintaining a grip on the importance festivals and events pose in presenting new filmmaking talent to new audiences, Thom has also made forays into the digital spheres in order to create further opportunities. He is the curator of the subscription Video-on-Demand online platform SundanceNOW Doc Club, which presents and advocates new titles each month.

He has been described as a “kingmaker for documentaries” by the New York Times while endeavouring to build opportunities for independent filmmakers through various channels, many of which are online. Thom will be speaking at NET-WORK-PLAY on the international documentary trends he has noticed, which have begun to resonate loud and clear: an equilibrium must be found between traditional and digital filmmaking content.

*See Thom speak and more at NET-WORK-PLAY 2015, 23-25 Feb, Adelaide Convention Centre, South Australia. Thom is attending NET-WORK-PLAY with the generous support of Screen Australia.

See the full list of speakers and register HERE

A 25% discount on registrations is available for Metro Screen subscribers! Email metro@metroscreen.org.au  for the discount code and registration instructions.