Maximizing New Media Distribution Revenues: Windows, Exclusivity and Global Platforms
- Rob H. Aft, President of Compliance Consulting LLC
- Bruce David Eisen, CEO and founder, HereIsTV
- Philip Goldfine
Moderator: Christopher Kenneally, Director, Business Development, Copyright Clearance Center
For podcast release Monday, May 11, 2015
KENNEALLY: Welcome to a program called Maximizing New Media Distributions: Windows, Exclusivity, and Global Platforms. My name is Chris Kenneally. I am with the nonprofit Copyright Clearance Center at copyright.com, and very grateful for the invitation to be here today from Victor Harwood and the Digital Hollywood organization.
We’re happy to be here because for Copyright Clearance Center, it’s an opportunity to get out of our usual corner of things in the text and book publishing world and learn a bit about the changes going on in video and film. I was struck particularly by this notion that we are going to be talking about maximizing new media distribution, because the question occurs to me, well, what does that mean, new media? How new are we talking about? It’s a distinction that is increasingly meaningless in the world that you all live in.
But the people we have on our panel today have a perspective on it. I don’t think they want us to talk about it as new media –
AFT: We’re old.
KENNEALLY: – and old media. You beat me to it, Rob. But I think that I would say that it is a more complete picture – that new media is only a piece of a pie and not the pie itself.
What they can tell us about is an approach to doing business, one that does the things that we’re talking about – maximize distribution revenues – because it incorporates the two mentalities that are at play here. There’s the mentality to think like a studio, and there’s the mentality to think like a YouTube star. Again, the differences are converging, and we are seeing a world where we’ve got Disney and RTL and other players, big players, studio players buying up multi-channel networks, because they recognize the potential here. It is possibly a golden age for television, possibly a golden age for the shorter form, yet of course, feature films are still very much a prominent part of our media landscape.
Hopefully the next 45 minutes will clarify some of the issues you have. We’re going to hear from our panel. We’ll have time for some questions. I think we’ll find out that the keys are entrepreneurship, innovation, and embracing all the different kinds of platforms.
With that, I want to start by introducing the panel, at least those who are here already. Rob Aft, welcome back. Rob’s been a regular for these programs here at Digital Hollywood. Rob is president of Compliance Consulting, a Los Angeles-based media, finance, and distribution consultancy, which serves a variety of clients, including banks, law firms, producers, distributors, directors, and talent guilds around the world.
Rob Aft had headed distribution and sales at a number of independent film companies, and recently executive-produced Sony’s You Got Served: Beat the World. He has served seven terms as a member of the board of directors of the Independent Film & Television Alliance and has many other significant credentials, as well.
Also joining him is Bruce David Eisen. Bruce, welcome.
EISEN: Thank you. Nice to be here.
KENNEALLY: Bruce is CEO and founder of HereIsTV, the web’s leading provider of daily human-curated TV show recommendations. Bruce Eisen is also president and founder of Digital Advisors, a digital distribution consulting firm advising a broad range of clients from startups to Fortune 500 companies, including 20th Century Fox, Blockbuster, and Technicolor. Most recently Bruce Eisen was vice president, online content, development, and strategy for Dish Network.
We’ll introduce – joining us, a substitute panelist, Phillip Goldfine, who is the founder of Hollywood Media Bridge. We’ll tell you more about him when he does arrive. But the key ingredient here is that all three of these men work together – in fact, they’re on each other’s speed dials on the phone, which is what Rob Aft is doing right now. (laughter) What I was going to say is the common point for our three panelists is that they all worked at Trimark in the past.
AFT: Trimark sort of morphed into Lions Gate about 10 years ago. Bruce was there for a long time running their –
EISEN: Legal business affairs.
AFT: – legal business affairs, but also then the platform.
EISEN: Producing. There was a platform?
AFT: Yeah, the new media platform.
EISEN: Oh, CinemaNow.
AFT: That Best Buy bought, yeah.
EISEN: Oh, talk into the microphone?
KENNEALLY: Yeah. And we didn’t say, but Bruce Eisen is an attorney, so that’s a critical distinction as well.
EISEN: Yes, right. Very critical.
KENNEALLY: Where I wanted to start with all that, and maybe Bruce, start with you, because what it comes down to when we’re talking about maximizing revenues on these new distribution platforms, and the windows and exclusivity and all the rest of it, is the contract. So my question to you, and then to Rob, will be about how different things are. If this is a new world, are these new contracts, or are we seeing the kinds of issues, the kinds of concerns – if I can put it this way, the kinds of clauses that we’ve always seen?
EISEN: Well, it depends, is the answer.
KENNEALLY: That’s a lawyer’s answer.
EISEN: There you go. If you’re talking about film distribution, it’s really very similar to what it was in the past, except now the word Internet is dispersed throughout the agreement, and issues pertaining to that – security, SVOD – which weren’t there in the past. But at the end of the day, the bottom line, it’s still distributing it, and so whether it’s SVOD or VOD or home video or EST or TV, each one has its own separate set of issues that need to be thought about and dealt with. But from the producer’s perspective, it’s how do you maximize the revenues for each of those.
KENNEALLY: Right. They have to pay attention to all of them, but there will be common questions, common concerns you should have regardless of the format or regardless of the platform.
EISEN: Yeah, it’s why are you raping me and taking all my money, (laughter) and then it gets into specific details.
KENNEALLY: Rob Aft, what’s your view on that? How new is the contracts that we’re looking at and talking about?
AFT: Most of them are fairly similar to the contracts that Bruce and I were doing at Trimark 20-some years ago. They incorporate the same general terms. What are the rights that are being granted? What’s the term of the agreement? How many years does it last? What are the payments going to be? What might be potentially some back-end? The back-end terms are usually not as – well, it depends on the platform. In some cases, they are. Netflix just gives you a flat deal. But in other cases, video on demand might pay you per transaction.
But it’s still understanding how the person you’re licensing the rights to is going to generate revenue, how they’re going to share those revenues with you, what you need to provide to them. You think, well, I need to provide a good program. I need to provide a good film. But beyond that, they’re also going to want your material in a certain format that might cost a significant amount of money to create for them. What are the delivery items? Especially if you’re producing something very low-budget, then to deliver to Netflix might cost you more than the budget of the material to begin with. There are all those issues.
In terms of the programming created specifically for the Internet, you’re facing a situation where often the distributor is also the financier of the entire program, so you’re getting into ownership issues. Who owns the copyright to that? You’re not simply licensing a window.
One of the points that’s always been important – it’s probably more important now – is when you create something, when you create intellectual property, what rights are you creating? You’re creating a theatrical right, a video right, a new media right, merchandising right, soundtrack. Whatever it is, you need to understand what you’ve created and what the value is and whether or not the person you’re working with is able to exploit that, whether or not they’re properly compensating you for it. Are they taking all of the rights forever in every media and giving you a huge amount of money? That’s the studio model, and that’s fine. If you’re getting enough money out of it, it is fine. But if they’re paying you a very low amount of money and taking everything away from you, you want the opportunity to make some money down the road.
EISEN: I want to talk about something that Rob mentioned, because you’re absolutely right on the delivery stuff. Typically, electronic sell-through between the distributor and the producer is done on a rev share basis. The producer will get X% or money every time the film is sold on an electronic sell-through, EST, basis.
AFT: That’s basically the iMovie model.
EISEN: Yeah, iTunes.
AFT: iTunes model.
EISEN: Quite often, on VOD, the same thing is true. It’s on a rev share. Where it becomes relevant is who’s paying for those delivery materials? The distributor wants the producer to deliver the mezzanine files and the metadata and everything that’s required at the producer’s cost. So you’re going to spend a good hunk of money to do that. If it’s going to iTunes, that’s probably OK, because quite a few people use iTunes. If it’s going to Bob’s VOD Service – no offense to Bob – who’s going to find that movie, and how are they going to market it, and how many sales are there going to be?
The bottom line to it, of course, is you could wind up spending more money to deliver the materials to a distributor than you’re going to make from that distributor. Just something to think about.
KENNEALLY: Something else to think about, Bruce, that I want to pick up from where Rob left off, which is about the rights questions – as an attorney, ask you whether the kinds of rights that are in demand, or that are demanded from producers, has that changed in this new media world? There is an expectation here around global distribution, and in the past, perhaps, territorial issues were more parsed than they are today.
EISEN: Yes. Less so in terms of the territory. Where it comes up more often is in terms of traditional versus online, particularly in terms of TV. We all know the TV networks, many of them, or most, have an online component. HBO GO is a good example. They’re going to want, in addition to the traditional television rights, the online rights, as well, and that could create issues.
Oh my God! Everybody, it is Oscar and Emmy winner Phillip Goldfine. Please stand up, stand up, stand up, stand up.
KENNEALLY: There will be no speech, though. Actually, you do have to talk, but you have to answer my questions.
GOLDFINE: Terrible traffic on the 405.
KENNEALLY: That’s Los Angeles for you. We just welcomed to the room Phillip Goldfine. Although you’ve just had quite a rousing introduction, Phillip, I think I should give people the background on you if they’re not familiar. Welcome, first of all. Phillip Goldfine is founder of Hollywood Media Bridge, a film and television studio based on the Universal Pictures lot, and he has over 60 film credits, five television series. He’s an Emmy winner and executive producer of the 2014 Oscar-winning documentary, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.
In television, Phillip Goldfine’s show Lawman was the highest-rated launch in A&E history when it premiered, and Seal Team Six, the multi-Emmy-nominated film, was also the highest-rated film when it premiered on National Geographic. Phil’s worked with talent as far-ranging as Oscar winner Hilary Swank, Jack Black, Wesley Snipes, Val Kilmer, and Steven Seagal. Welcome, indeed.
We’ve been having a conversation about this world of new media and just how new it all really is. I pointed out that each of you here – Rob, Bruce, and Phillip – all worked at Trimark in the past. Where I wanted to start with them, and I’ll start with you, Phil, to sort of catch up, is just how new this world really is. You still are very much grounded in film and television to some extent, but new media is a world apart from yours, or do you find that the distinctions are blurring or dissolving as we speak?
GOLDFINE: I’d say it’s mainly apart, just simply because still probably 75-80% of our business is with traditional media – with the studios, with the networks. But we do have a deal with Netflix, who’s an extremely important client to us, so we are into that. But again, for our company, we’re probably still 75% just traditional media.
KENNEALLY: But you’ve watched that number change over time, or has that been a pretty steady figure for you?
GOLDFINE: No, it’s definitely changed. We were probably 100% maybe even five years ago. Rob, when did you start with Netflix?
AFT: It was a little bit more than five years ago.
GOLDFINE: OK, so a little more than five years ago. But I would say it’s changing – each year, it gets more and more. Probably last year it was 20%. This year it’s already up to 25%. Maybe next year it’ll be even more.
KENNEALLY: Phillip, I also want to be sure that we bring up a point which I hope will come back, which is about the global perspective that you have. We’re talking here about maximizing revenue on these new media platforms, and global is a key part of all of that. For your business, even on the film producing side of things again, you’re not just producing for the screens down the street. You’re producing for screens around the world – China and elsewhere. That really informs the decisions you make about what you produce and what kinds of movies you make.
GOLDFINE: Yeah, sure. We really are primarily a foreign-driven company, so we’re going to make movies that are going to appeal to a global audience. The US is maybe 20-35%. It’s really not 35%. It’s closer to 15-25%. But the rest of the world is super important to us, so we find ourselves always saying to the group, OK, is this show going to work around the world, primarily pan-Latin America, pan-Europe, pan-Asia? China’s still a small market for us.
KENNEALLY: When we talk about maximizing revenue, you have to think about that world of screens, whether big or small. Would you suggest to people who are still on the new media side of things – they may have a YouTube platform or a deal with a multi-channel network – that they also think about the global potential for whatever they’re putting together?
GOLDFINE: Yeah, I do. I think the YouTube, Netflix, Amazon – they’re all going to be global networks. YouTube is already a global network. Netflix is going to be a global network, probably by the end of this year. So you’ve got to be thinking about everything for these guys. You’re not just thinking about the US market. You’re thinking about the French market. You’re thinking about the German market. You’re thinking about the Latin America market always.
KENNEALLY: Bruce Eisen, that’s going to have an impact on the deals themselves, right? Because there’s going to be expectations – we’re saying that in some sense, territoriality matters less than it might have in the past. Yet there still will be deals in France that will have certain expectations around windows and around exclusivity that may actually make it impossible for you to do that deal because of another deal that you’ve done previously, or a deal that might be looming which would offer more.
EISEN: Yeah. No, exactly right. It’s a question of balance, right? If one entity is offering you X amount of dollars for the world, as an example, you weigh that against what can you get out of each territory, or various territories. I’m sure it’s something that Phil deals with every day.
GOLDFINE: Yeah, we do.
KENNEALLY: But is there a formula? Can I put it this way?
EISEN: X plus Y equals 100%. (laughter)
KENNEALLY: But given your understanding of the situation, would you rather do a lot of different, smaller deals, or would you rather see that global deal for –
EISEN: Yeah, you’d rather do one deal that brings in a ton of money. You’ve got more money coming in, less transactional cost, less things to worry about. But you get the money wherever you can.
KENNEALLY: Rob Aft, we mentioned that you were on the board for IFTA there, the Independent Film & Television Alliance, and they’ve got a PDF available, which we will make available to anybody here, that looks at some of these issues, particularly that global perspective.
AFT: Right. They came out with this last year, and I was really impressed by it. It’s called the IFTA Television, VOD, and Digital Licensing Guide. I think it’s available on their website, which is just ifta-online.org. But it’s an amazingly complete document. I was really impressed by – it answers a lot of the questions that we’re not going to have time to answer here, especially dealing with how these rights or licenses, what they’re called. Between OTT and catch-up rights – that’s three years ago. I think we even had a panel about what everything’s called now, and now it’s all different.
You’ve really got to worry about that, because if you’ve licensed certain rights with your TV deal – if you’ve licensed catch-up rights with your TV deal, how is that going to affect your new media deal? How is that going to affect your Netflix deal? Is Netflix going to want exclusivity during a certain period of time? What does exclusivity mean? How are territories divided? In Europe, are you selling France, or are you selling French-speaking Europe? If someone’s buying French-speaking Europe, does that mean they’re also taking French-speaking Africa? I got an inquiry yesterday on Portuguese Africa. It’s from somebody that wouldn’t be asking me if they weren’t getting a significant amount of money per title. I just thought, wow, OK.
So you’ve got to be concerned about all these things and keeping your windows short. How short can you keep your Netflix window? How short can you keep your new media window when you license to a TV broadcaster? Those are questions that you have to always be asking, and the answers are always changing. So you often have to rely on the expertise of a qualified international sales agent, or there’s even a few domestic people that are really good at working those windows and not stepping on the various rights. It’s gotten more complicated, and it’s nearly impossible for individual producers to do it on their own.
KENNEALLY: That’s what I wanted to ask, Rob, because we did do a panel a couple of years ago on the whole idea of do-it-yourself. How good an idea is that, or not such a good idea? When it comes to these kind of deals – I see Phil Goldfine smiling.
AFT: Phil will say it’s a good idea.
KENNEALLY: Not such a good idea. We’ll let you tell us why.
AFT: Phil’s great at it domestically, but internationally, he relies on –
GOLDFINE: Other people.
KENNEALLY: As advice for people in this room and listening to the podcast, you might DIY the product, but you’re not going to DIY the deal.
GOLDFINE: I don’t think so. It’s impossible to do. There are so many territories. Then you also have to know everybody. Now you also have to be knowing about all the contracts, the stuff that Bruce is talking about. Now you’re doing 100 contracts. Who’s got time for that?
We always outsource, basically. We partner up with a foreign sales company. We’ll do North America ourselves, and then we’ll partner up with a foreign sales company, and we can either partner up with them 50/50, or they can just be a sales agent for us. But there is no way that we have the time to do it.
KENNEALLY: Right. And Phil Eisen (sic), that’s what lawyers are all about, is making sure that those contracts get read and parsed. I wonder, for the room, can you give us an idea of particular areas that you focus on? Rob’s been talking about windows, of trying to keep them as short as possible. Is that the first place to look?
EISEN: No, the first place is the compensation. That’s the first place to look.
KENNEALLY: How much are we going to get for this?
GOLDFINE: The lawyer’s compensation.
KENNEALLY: But even that’s a complicated answer, because –
EISEN: (laughter) Exactly.
KENNEALLY: But even the answer to that isn’t going to be clear either, right? Because the shape of the compensation is going to vary depending on the deal.
EISEN: Yes. You can’t look at any one part. It’s the whole deal as a whole, and I think to your point, what are the impacts on other deals? Which may be as obvious as, OK, this deal wants the same rights as this other deal got. OK, we know we can’t do that. But it may even be less obvious.
For instance, they may want a holdback that we can’t give because of a conflicting deal. It’s not that they’re getting the rights. In Demand, for instance, might say, OK, we want a 60-day holdback. After the film comes off of our system, you can’t put it anywhere for 60 days – making it up. In and of itself, fine, no problem, except when you go to do the Netflix deal, and they want it 30 days after. Everything is negotiable. How well you will do it just depends on your negotiating power. If you’ve got a Steven Spielberg film, you may do OK. If not – it’s all negotiable.
KENNEALLY: What about that, Rob? Your experience at IFTA – we should also tell people that you do a lot of work for WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and there’s some great work that you’ve done on copyright-related issues and rights issues, and we want to get into some of the rights that could maximize your revenue down the line from the shorter form to the longer form. But to the point about leverage in negotiations – Bruce was saying it all depends on who you are. But is there room for negotiation around some of those kinds of key points? How optimistic should people be that they could get what they’re looking for?
AFT: What I’ve noticed is because you’ve got corporations – when you’re going to Netflix, most people are not going to have a lot of leverage negotiating with Netflix. If you’re a YouTube partner, you have no leverage whatsoever. You accept their deal. Recently YouTube said if you’re a YouTube partner, and we’re giving you VOD advertising money, now you also have to be part of our subscription service. It’s impossible to go back and renegotiate, from my understanding. You can’t, as an individual producer, say, oh no, I’m only going to be on your demand service and not on your subscription service. That won’t work. You can’t negotiate your ad rates. You can’t negotiate any of those things with YouTube.
Netflix, you can negotiate a little bit more. One of the things that notoriously you can’t negotiate with Netflix is their payment schedule.
GOLDFINE: Yeah, payment terms.
AFT: They pay over a certain period of time, and they won’t change that.
GOLDFINE: It is what it is.
AFT: There are lots of negotiating points. But the most important thing is to try to talk to people who’ve done this before and get their read on things. Just don’t waste your time trying to negotiate with YouTube over whether or not it’s going to go on subscription. It’s not. Or what is Netflix paying for certain types of things? If they’re offering you half of that, then you know that you might have some negotiating room. They usually know everything, and you know nothing. So the more you know, the better you can negotiate the terms, and the less you’ll be frustrated by things that you can’t negotiate.
KENNEALLY: And to the extent that you can, you need to be thinking ahead. Because it’s not just the deal on the table, but if you’re trying to build a career, you’ve got to be thinking about where you’re going to be in a certain period of time. One of the things you pointed out to me was there’s a potential here for short-form to include IP that you may want to then spin out into other types of product. Talk about that and why thinking ahead on that area is really critical.
AFT: When you create original IP –
KENNEALLY: Intellectual property.
AFT: Intellectual property. You’re creating characters, storylines. Obviously the examples are all the superhero things – Batman, Superman, Spider-Man kinds of things – where they’ve existed on multiple platforms, on television shows, on comic books, but also graphic novels, and obviously films.
You don’t know right now if what you’re creating is going to become a global brand like Star Wars, which obviously Fox didn’t know was going to be Star Wars, or otherwise they would’ve kept all of the sequel, merchandising, whatever rights, and so you need to understand what rights you’re giving up in a contract. Obviously, you’d rather not give up sequel, remake, other format rights. You’d like to give up simply the distribution right in that medium for a specific period of time, for a specific amount of money, and nothing else.
People might want things like right of first negotiation if there is a sequel or a remake or something. But the format, the characters, the storylines – those are potentially hugely valuable in feature films, television programs, books, whatever media they create in the future.
KENNEALLY: Phillip Goldfine, I said at the opening that in a way, this is about mentality. There’s a mentality to think like a studio, and then there’s a mentality to think like a YouTube star. In a sense, those are converging along with the various platforms, too. I wonder whether the approach that Rob was just describing is an approach you must recognize as very familiar to you, thinking about the franchise, really, not just the individual product.
GOLDFINE: Yeah, sure. We do. We have a weekly staff meeting. In every staff meeting, we talk about the fact that everything we do should have that franchise ability, potential, but it doesn’t work that way. Just because the way that the film business is now in particular – very, very, very, very tough out there. All of our numbers have gone down. Where we used to, for example, sell a movie, let’s just say, for a territory for $1 million, today it could be $300,000 or $200,000. So we find ourselves having to be opportunistic. We’ll pick up a movie. We’ll look at it. As long as we can do somewhere between 30% and 100%, we’re going to pick it up. We’d love to say, yes, great, let’s turn this into Superman or Star Wars, but it doesn’t work that way. Basically we have to be opportunistic, to live to fight for another day.
AFT: But you do own some valuable franchise properties – or you own some franchise properties.
GOLDFINE: That’s true. We own Green Acres, which we’re developing as a Broadway musical. Tickets will be on sale in September 2016. (laughter) Let’s see. We own Art of War with Sony. We own Christmas Story with Warner Brothers. He’s right. He’s absolutely right. We try to make sure that we’re doing something that’s franchisable, but it doesn’t always work that way.
KENNEALLY: Right. It’s obviously a different level, but I think that’s an approach that makes sense for everybody, whether you’re on the studio lot or whether you’re at home.
KENNEALLY: It’s a worldview, and that’s what I wanted to explore with you. Bruce Eisen, what about this issue where you said that the money is the most important thing? That’s the place to look at first. (laughter) If the dollars are going down, in that direction, that changes things, doesn’t it? You have to start thinking about getting other deals later on. I just wonder how that has changed the negotiations. It’s made them tougher, I’m sure. Just talk about that.
EISEN: The truth is it’s less of a legal issue and more of a business issue. If there’s less dollars, that means you’ve got to produce content for less.
GOLDFINE: Got to make more, too. Volume –
EISEN: The issues don’t change. You’re just fighting over less money. But at the end of the day, you’re just fighting over money.
AFT: Doug Blake, who was going to be on this panel, his production in Louisiana got moved up by a week, which is why he wasn’t here, but it’s a fairly low-budget production for an online platform.
KENNEALLY: A multi-channel network, an MCN?
AFT: A multi-channel. It’s a known company, very low budget, much lower than he said he would ever have considered working with in the past. But it’s a fairly short shoot, and he’s getting paid. He knows he’s going to get paid. He knows how long the shoot’s going to last. It’s a decent –
EISEN: It’s a work for hire? He’s doing services?
AFT: Producing as work for hire. That’s a different world. The amount of money he has to work with on a per-episode basis is nothing. But he’s shooting in New Orleans. They’re getting some benefits out of Louisiana. They’re able to do it. You can make viable programming at these very low budgets. Whether or not there’s enough revenue that really makes it make sense for everybody involved, I don’t know. But there’s always the possibility that something like that’s going to jump to network television or is going to turn into something bigger.
KENNEALLY: Right. And to the point that Phillip Goldfine was making about you just have to produce more, you have to make more content, the multi-channel networks – I’ve heard them called multi-clip networks – are really collections of short-form, and it’s an opportunity to do just that, to make as much as you possibly can and get it out there. That’s a formula for success for a lot of people on YouTube.
AFT: Right. Back when we were working at Trimark, it was often our formula for success. We’d make as much as possible, throw it up against the wall, and occasionally we’d get a Leprechaun out of it. That was a huge hit for Trimark back in the day, and still plays.
GOLDFINE: It’d still be a big hit.
AFT: Right, and still generates revenue – starring Jennifer Aniston, by the way. The more you make, the more potential you’re going to have to get one of these things as a hit. But also you’re working with new, interesting talent, which is one of the things I like the most about it. I don’t necessarily understand why certain things on these MCNs are entertaining for people. I don’t like watching things where people get hurt, and that seems to be a large part of the programming. But the opportunity to find new talent anywhere in the world – I work a lot in developing countries, and I think it’s extremely exciting that I can turn on YouTube and see a film made in Kenya or see a short-form music program out of Sri Lanka. I don’t know if one of those things is going to break, but the opportunity for them to break is much higher than it used to be.
KENNEALLY: Bruce Eisen, you’re the founder and CEO of this HereIsTV, a provider of human-curated TV show recommendations. You are looking at that kind of material as a source for programming?
EISEN: No. No, I don’t care about that stuff at all. (laughter) I think it’s boring.
KENNEALLY: You had me going there for a second.
EISEN: This enterprise is strictly professionally produced television content that’s on broadcast cable networks and the long-form originals done on Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, AOL, etc. It’s not short-form MCN content.
KENNEALLY: OK. So there is still a wall there, then. You’re not going to –
EISEN: I wouldn’t say that there’s a wall. I don’t think anybody can do everything. This is what we do.
AFT: And ultimately, despite what I’ve been reading in the catalog here about every other panel being about new media – I guess it is Digital Hollywood, but I don’t know what digital means. Everything’s digital. But Leslie Moonves over at CBS still says that it’s great, all of the international and all the movies he’s making and this and that. Where he makes his money is from 8:00 to 11:00 PM in the United States, prime-time network television on CBS. That’s where the bulk of the money is, and sports. It’s not in all of these new media things, but that’s the future. So everybody’s in it, and everybody’s excited about it.
But Bruce’s recommendations are for what most people watch. It’s stuff that we’re all likely to encounter, whereas a lot of this other material is out there to discover, and it’s fun and exciting. But if you’re planning on making a lot of money in the industry, make prime-time network sitcoms.
KENNEALLY: In fact, I want to pick up on that, because maybe that’s the perspective we need. I’ll ask a final question, and we’ll give an opportunity for people in the room to ask the panel questions. We’ve devoted some time to this issue. As you say, Rob Aft, at Digital Hollywood, they’ve been talking a lot about new media platforms and the potential there. I was proposing that there’s a merger going on here. There’s a dissolving of distinctions. But are you saying, Rob, that your attention as a producer should still be on the traditional forms?
AFT: You should do what you enjoy and what you’re good at, because most producers do not make a living producing anything. It’s very hard out there.
GOLDFINE: I hate when he says that.
AFT: The exception here. Most of my friends who call themselves producers have other jobs, and they need to. Making one thing every couple of years, where someone might let you make $50,000 on it, is not going to pay the rent.
EISEN: I happen to think that being a producer is a great job –
GOLDFINE: Thank you, Bruce.
EISEN: – for somebody who does not need to work for a living. (laughter)
KENNEALLY: Wait a minute. I’m going to give Phillip Goldfine, our Oscar-winning producer –
EISEN: And Emmy. Don’t forget the Emmy.
KENNEALLY: And Emmy.
EISEN: And swimming. Tell us about the swimming.
AFT: Not just swimming. He’s a triathlete. (laughter)
KENNEALLY: I want to give you the last word on that. You make 10 to 15 feature films a year.
GOLDFINE: Yeah. We’re actually starting our sixth movie a week from Monday for 2015 so far. But again, I don’t really listen to – I listen to Rob a lot, and Bruce, but I don’t let the numbers or the negativity get me. I just look at the deal and say, OK, yeah, we’re going to do that.
For instance, we’re extremely opportunistic. A deal came to us not even a week ago, where a group of producers were shooting a movie, and the bank had come to us and said, can you help these guys? They’re in trouble. So we’ve now stepped in. We’ve taken over the movie. We’ve given them the money that they need to finish the movie, and now we’ll do it. So we’ll finish it, and then we’ll sell it.
There’s all these different opportunities out there. That’s why I think being a producer is a great job, as long as you remain focused and know what your goal is. Our goal is very clear. It’s to make 10 to 15 movies a year that are all profitable before we spend a dime and then move on. Our ultimate goal is to maybe make 30 of these a year, just simply because people aren’t doing it.
Like Rob had pointed out, I model my company after New Line, where I came from, and Trimark. It’s really a volume business at a certain budget level, because there’s plenty of distribution outlets for us. So we just try to maximize it as best we possibly can.
KENNEALLY: All right. I want to thank Rob Aft, Compliance Consulting, Phillip Goldfine, Hollywood Media Bridge, and Bruce David Eisen of HereIsTV for your contributions to the panel.
EISEN: Thank you very much.