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Variety is the Spice of Life

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By Gordon Meyer
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Over the past few years, Variety, that iconic trade publication has expanded its business model to get into producing some of the most informative business conferences in the industry.  And now we’re hot and heavy into Conference Season.

In late September, they sponsored the 3D Entertainment Summit at Hollywood & Highland which featured panels and keynotes from 3D innovators in motion picture, television and gaming production, distribution and exhibition, including a riveting keynote conversation with James Cameron and Vince Pace about the effective use of 3D camera equipment in production.  Cameron and Pace have been collaborators for years and are now partners in the Cameron Pace Group, a company that provides 3D production equipment and resources for filmmakers. 

During the interview with Variety editor David Cohen, Cameron talked about, among other things, what he called the “hype cycle” and why, even though the initial audience excitement about 3D has waned because it’s no longer a novelty, in his opinion 3D is here to stay and now it’s time for filmmakers to learn how to use this technology as an effective storytelling tool.  In other words, Cameron was preaching a lot of the same message I’ve been saying for years.

Earlier this month, Variety presented its Film Marketing Summit at the Universal City Hilton where executives from both the studio and indie worlds discussed at length the challenges and, equally important, the opportunities the world of online communications and new media have affected marketing strategies through all delivery platforms, including theatrical, packaged media, the new “cloud” technologies and more.

Variety editor Peter Caranicas moderated an enlightening panel focused on new opportunities for indie producers thanks to digital cinema technologies and companies like Cinedigm, which both helps theatres acquire and install digital cinema equipment and actively acquires and distributes alternative content.  Brad Carroll, Cinedigm’s VP of Business Development was joined by Nikkole Denson-Randolph, VP Specialty and Alternative Content, AMC Theatres, Marian Koltai-Levine, EVP of Film at PR powerhouse PMK*BNC, Scott Mansfield, President and Managing Partner at monterey media and Sean McNamara, Director of “Soul Surfer.”

The panel discussed how, thanks to digital cinema, companies like Cinedigm and AMC’s initiative to showcase indie product in select venues, it’s actually easier now for indie films to get screen space around the country.  They also talked about the importance of using social media as a grassroots means of promoting those films when the kind of multimillion dollar campaign dollars studios often spend are simply not in the cards.  Now, more than ever, film marketing executives need to adapt and embrace new technologies and strategies to build buzz.

The folks at Variety aren’t done yet.  This year’s conference season includes a back to back pair of summits dedicated to Film Technology, the Future of Film, on November 7 and 8, followed by Entertainment Apps, Entertainment Security and the Variety’s participation in the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

It’s a smart move on Variety’s part to present these live events.  Not only do they leverage their brand at events that are both highly informative and incredibly valuable as networking resources, they also give themselves additional content that reinforces their image as the must-have information resource for the entertainment industry.

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