Take 12: Interview with onedotzero
Interview with Shane RJ Walter (CEO, creative director and co-founder of onedotzero) and Karl Aussia (head of strategic + creative business development)
Why did you decide to get involved with NESTA and the Film Council’s digital innovation scheme, Take 12’
Shane: This is a really prescient time in our development - we are in the process of evaluating the strategic aims and direction of the entire organisation - and I believe digital strategy to be central to our activities in the next five years.
Everything we do - from festivals and touring events, curation, distribution, education and production - can be transformed by digital thinking. We have always eschewed a new way of thinking that has led us to innovate in a number of areas, ever since our ‘digital birth’ in 1996. Now the real opportunities, communities and technologies are there to re-engage and realise projects 1that were unrealistic 10 years ago. So this programme is key to our and the area’s exciting future development.
Karl: I have been looking at how we can develop different platforms and one of those is digital. Although digital is our background, the technology that we pursue tends to be in and around creative performance as opposed to digital distribution. We have concentrated on developing a live environment for digital entertainment. What we haven’t done is concentrate on how to spread that message online through digital technologies. We realised that it was time to look back, reflect on what we have done and start developing those things. By getting involved in this programme, and having access to the resources of a consultant like HUGE, we have a fantastic opportunity to do this.
How are you finding the programme so far’
Shane: It is early days but we appreciate the professional approach of both NESTA and our innovation partner HUGE Entertainment. We are very much looking forward to working together over the next 18 months.
Karl: I am pleased to see that there is a lot of emphasis on new companies and innovative approaches. Traditional film companies have the power and money, but what they struggle with is trying to break down their traditional approach to things.
The difference between them and the approach of the 12 companies on this programme is that we all grasped digital very early on. We have always seen it as the way forward, we just haven’t had the money to throw at it.
There is a lot of good will at the workshops. Everyone is emotionally connected and sharing the experience. We all want the film industry to do well and share what we are learning.
Inevitably, being on the programme is going to increase our work load. And we have to have the resources for this. We are putting in new systems and procedures to accommodate growth. We have entered the scheme at the right time because we are seeking to accommodate, but it might be more difficult for some of the others.
What projects are you working on which can benefit from Take 12’
Shane: I don’t think there are any projects that won’t benefit from our involvement with the Take 12 scheme.
We are particularly interested in content creation and distribution - two important aspects in almost every facet of what we do. To progress you have to create new ideas and to make an impact you need to get these ideas out to people. We do this via education, festivals, events, DVDs, and production across all media. We are really hoping to build a framework strategy that allows us to maximize our experience, reputation, contacts and content development into cross media projects that have impact, reach as well as developing revenue models.
Karl: Commissioning is also an important part of what we do and leveraging live experiences. Rather than just looking at creativity of talent out there, we are interested in the process - how it gets out there - that is almost as interesting as the content.
One of the best digital distribution channels is the live experience. People don’t think of it as ‘digital’, but in our case what we are doing is creating a digitally inflected live experience.
It would have been great to capture our IMAX show this year in high definition and package that up as a content that could be distributed. This is something we are looking at with our innovation partner, so it may be a possibility next year.
We want to develop our own platform as well. Our online offer is quite poor considering the age we live in now. When we set it up we spent a lot of money on it, but it has dated very quickly, as does everything digital.
Our starting point this year is developing our community. We have a very loyal one already and they engage with us, but not necessarily through our own site. So it is all about having something on our site for them. This will be something we will work on throughout the programme.
Audiences are more creative than they have ever been. If you give people the tools, they will go out and supply ideas. One of our aims is to engage with our audiences with narrative and content. The idea is to involve people at different levels, and we want to learn how to structure that - for example, trying to get audiences involved with the creation of content for live events.
We also want to try and keep things simple. We have all these amazing channels like YouTube and MySpace, but we need to have a clear and cohesive system of using these channels. Instead of just putting all our content on one, we use different channels for different purposes. For example, YouTube is a great place for us to store out archives, whereas we might use MySpace for new things that are happening.
What are the biggest issues facing the film industry in relation to digital innovation’
Shane: The problem has always been the fear of changing established models in every area of the film industry. People tend to want to hold on as tight and long as possible to the tried and tested traditional models and technology. This is understandable as there has been massive investment historically in these things and they have paid off handsomely. But it has to change and that can be hard for some organisations that are inflexible and resist change.
We are moving away from keeping knowledge and content to retain value to sharing that content. Open source, sharing, crowd sourcing, allowing audiences a greater influence, control and power are all scary propositions for many. When we started out in the mid nineties, people thought we were just young turks who would soon demise - that the digital revolution would be short lived and not affect the ‘professionals’. In some ways they were right - the revolution was not then but it is now - with a generation having grown up with a new way of thinking, consuming, producing, experiencing - and of course everything now is touched digitally.
It is a very exciting time, with massive potential but we must remember that is it is still young and immature. The rush to ‘monetise content’ is not the only challenge here - there is room for experimentation and failures as well as successes. We are in a position to develop whole new entertainment paradigms - that do not replace the past but re-invent our art, culture, entertainment and businesses of the future
Karl: One of the biggest issues, which no one is addressing properly, is the difference between marketing distribution and sales distribution. The internet has taken away the middle man, so now film makers can directly market their product. They argue that you should just give things away, but what they forget is that marketing people have always used the technique of giving away samples and freebies. But it is about getting the balance. The problem is that by pushing everything for free, filmmakers are also educating their audiences to have everything for free. Then when a new broadband package comes along, for example, which people actually have to pay for, they may have a problem on their hands.