Inspiring Work: The stuff that’s actually really good

Around this time of year (Cannes) all the talking heads, state of the industry speeches, new product launches and hype pretending to be new insight but instead repackaging the fundamental dynamics of film, just dominates the media. So I thought I would just highlight some stuff that I think is really good and worth paying attention to.

The Tribeca Film Institute site is a thing of beauty, wonderful design – something that does its job perfectly – all film funds, festivals, any organisation to do with film has to aspire to this.

In keeping with the transmedia agenda of TFI, I want to celebrate the wonderful Spreadable Media book, website and its parent conferences Futures of Entertainment and Media in Transition. These are fantastic, insightful resources that exhibit and prompt deep thinking about on-demand culture and the Internet. I was lucky to have Jonathan Zittrain, a speaker at both conferences, as a guest tutor for my year at OII SDP and there are many links between the practitioners e.g. Sam Ford and academics e.g. Henry Jenkins that contribute to these enjoyable explorations of the world.

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In terms of (relatively) new organisations, the birth of the Cinema Research Institute at NYU (screenshot above) has been particularly exciting to see. The output so far  through the grassroots film distribution blog has been excellent. Michael Gottwald and Josh Penn, producers of Beasts of the Southern Wild are drawing on their past experiences on the Obama election campaigns to explore amongst other things the impact of big data and strategic audience engagement on film distribution. Their writing along with Carl Kriss is a great resource.

Another new launch of great significance to me is that of the Journal, Valuation Studies. Having started my doctoral research in 2010 exploring how theories including those of the new economic sociology apply to the organisation of the film business in its digitally disrupted state, I was over the moon when I read the 2013 launch issue to see the authors had taken movies as a first illustration of the rich research question of valuation. The advisors and editorial board reads almost as a who’s who of the field and the wonderful first issue is a really encouraging read.

Enjoyment and encouragement are important, both academia and the film business are incredibly demanding and infinitely consuming. If you are going to give what it takes to be a part of them, then you have to love it. And I think this work, by people at Digital Kitchen (producers of amongst other things the Dexter titles) really encapsulates the feelings you get when things are really, really good.

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