You mentioned in a previous UCLA/JOLT article that you had planned
to write a business essay on the financial implications of the
open-content backwash and rampant Internet pilfering. How is the
long-awaited book progressing?
It had changed its name a couple of times, and I am in the process
of joining forces with a major personality in the high tech/entertainment
world with expertise in marketing at the highest levels where
he has run marketing for Fortune 100 players.
Our blended insights should truly rethink the space. It's more
than 400 pages now. Clearly focused on a path, very much different
from the roll-back-progress-and-the-clock demands of traditional
Peter Dekom and co-author Peter Sealey, Ph.D., completed a nonfiction
book titled Not On My Watch (New Millennium Press) which we featured
in the 2003 Autumn Edition of WordSmitten. This interview ran
prior to its publication. .
What are the emerging trends that capture your attention?
I think there is entirely too much focus on technological solutions,
which Hollywood mistakenly believes will give them total control
of how consumers receive content in a digitized universe. Add
trying to stop time through judicial action (like stopping Napster)
and forcing Congress to pass legislation that kills the high tech
world and you can see the issues.
Chiefly, how to create a new economy that deals effectively with
the new technology, embraces and uses it, as opposed to trying
to return to the horse and buggy days of old Hollywood.
Everyone, from the high tech companies, consultants, educators,
Wall St. analysts, and even Congress knows that Hollywood must
change its economic models to fit the technology. Not to change
the technology to fit the antiquated economic models. They think
that they are damming a river — when it is the ocean they
I also think the future of the film industry will provide less
focus on actors and more on written material and directors.
Do the on-line moguls (and media/arts/film) still believe
content is the wild animal everyone is trying to standardize,
and how does convergence hobble that "international domestication"
Convergence is a slow process in which the Internet and television
and telephony, etc. are all delivered to the home in a single
pipe. It doesn't mean consumers want to watch movies on their
computers or that they want to do their emails on the home TV
screen. It just means that they want what they want where they
want it when they want it. And as closed to a fixed fee as possible.
Standardization is a huge battle — and that's what Microsoft
and its ilk are trying to do. I am content to let the big boys
battle it out and deal with successful economic models regardless
of what the standards might ultimately be.
In the next few years what, if anything, could replace content-as-king?
Content is what you look at and consume. If you like what you
see, you'll want more. But if content is not delivered when and
where consumers want it, and at a price they will accept, there
will be enough piracy (the alternative) so as to materially impact
the valuation of content libraries.
So if you look at this as a value proposition and the opportunity
to provide consumers with something they are clearly willing to
pay (well) for-then you win. If you expect to force them to buy
it "your way" or not at all, then you are in for some big shocks!
For Word Smitten's site visitors, would you hazard a realistic
guess for what the ratio is for a successful book to be optioned
— and then become a produced screenplay?
By definition, if the book is really successful, and Hollywood
is in the "book" mode - they are now - it is just a question of
making sure the right producing team and right screenwriter get
I think the odds of an obviously visual piece, particularly if
it can appeal to a younger demographic, are better than 30%...maybe
higher. But numbers here are almost silly.
Consider what your three best tips would be. What would
you tell novelists who want to transform an existing book into
a high concept film — to use film terminology?
If you are going for a younger demographic, you have to be edgy
or spiritual or both. Over the top. New and fresh... iconoclastic.
Visually edgy can do it too, or mystical. And allowing people
to find hope and power and escape. I'm not sure if that is "three"
but I guess you could interpret it that way.
~ * ~
Peter Dekom and Peter Sealey's recent book
ON MY WATCH - HOLLYWOOD VS. THE FUTURE
from New Millennium Press