Technological changes are challenging traditional funding models but also opening up new ways to make, finance and distribute features, said Hollywood veterans at the Cinematic Innovation Summit (CIS) in Dubai yesterday.

Chairing a panel about film finance, Lava Bear Films’ CEO David Linde said producers and distributors need to move with the times if they want to stay in the movie game.

“The economics of the global film business are transforming, largely driven by technology changes in and around traditional distribution mediums,” said Linde, who moderated the panel that also featured The Weinstein Company COO David Glasser, Bridget Jones’s Diary producer Jonathan Cavendish and US producer Vince Jolivette.

“The sudden and severe disinterest of Western audiences in the DVD format, combined with their increasing facility in downloading pirated content, has created real challenges to traditional film economics and thus the means of financing films,” Linde added.

However, all the panellists demonstrated that the same technological advances that are threatening film finance are also opening up new opportunities. Cavendish said the new financial climate had forced his company The Imaginarium – the hi-tech London-based performance-capture studio he set-up with Andy Serkis last year – to look for creative solutions to produce their pictures for less money.

“In this ever-changing landscape we need to find ways to make spectacular motion pictures for much less money than in the past. Being in a technical space as well as a creative space, we have a bunch of people working for us who can help us do this,” Cavendish said.

He added: “We acquire existing IP or create our own and we start developing the movie for way less than anyone would think possible. We create digital assets we can then use in TV, video games and interactive. We’ve created a new revenue chain in which we have a stake.”

Jolivette, who co-runs the prolific low-budget production house Rabbit Bandini with actor James Franco, said they had turned to crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo to finance a raft of first-time features budgeted at less than $1m.

“Film-makers who tend to be more creative than business savvy can use their creativity in the campaign,” Jolivette said.

Meanwhile, Glasser explained how TWC has embraced television, Netflix as well as VoD day-and-date releases for some of its films, through the creation of its multi-platform arm Radius-TWC, in response to market changes.

“We put the same amount of energy into a VoD release as we would a theatrical one. In the beginning I thought we would release 25 titles a year under the title, but we¹ve settled on eight or 10.”