We published 23 articles on film, web, and design this year. Here are my favorite subjects covered this year, often by guest columnists.

  1. Is It Popcorn Time?
    There’s an increasing demand for digitally-delivered entertainment. While the black market has quite innovative approaches, when might older and slower media take a hint?
  2. How Filmmakers Use Pinterest
    The digital corkboard isn’t just for recipes and fashion. Many filmmakers use the up-and-coming social network for project moodboards and self- or project-promotion.
  3. This Time It’s Personal: 3 Tips for Connecting with Your Audience
    Insight through an example indie film, “Gasland,” on getting personal, showing vulnerability, and ending strong. (Guest post by Andrew Linderman.)
  4. Texting Portrayed in Film
    Filmmaker Tony Zhou examines when texting in film is a good thing, and how it’s becoming a more engaging as a storytelling device.
  5. Making the Apps: How Screenwriter John August and His Team Make Apps for Screenwriters
    This well-known screenwriter has a business on the side, filling a void of tools for writers both on desktop and mobile platforms.
  6. Three Efforts for Defending Net Neutrality
    This year’s debate in Washington affected filmmakers who use the web as their delivery platform, since large files and slow bandwidth (proposed by legislation to cap and charge extra) would change today’s open landscape.
  7. To Win An Oscar, Enter These Festivals
    We rounded up the 77 Academy-preferred film festivals to more easily gauge and click-through to where to send your short films.
  8. When a Short Helps Make a Feature
    We rounded up short films that directly led to a feature film counterpart being made. This highlights the few-and-far-between strategy of turning a short into a feature script, while also showcasing how it can be done with memorable results.
  9. “Inspiring Advice” from Matthew Silver
    What began as a meme online – a homeless man in New York City with a great take on life – proved after further investigation to be all an act — from a very creative fellow
  10. Good to Great: 8 Steps to Improving Your Storytelling
    Using “The Karate Kid” as an example, the host of The Story Source shares insight on making a story all the more compelling. (Guest post by Andrew Linderman.)

Got a favorite that’s not here? Browse the archive and comment below.

Finally, check out our 10 best posts of 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

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Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.
  • The Wire. Poster design by Ignition.

    The Wire. Poster design by Ignition.

    There’s a new debate about re-framing cinematography in post-production years later, not the way it was ever meant to be seen, but because it was captured in a way that now fit our 16:9 televisions and phones. David Simon, who created the show “The Wire,” has his critique of the re-alignment effort with videos comparing the 4:3 original and new 16:9 crop, presumably to sell a new Blu-ray edition. /Film has a clear overview of the issue with the so-called remasters. This hot topic gets talked about a lot by cinematographers, who usually aren’t involved with their shots being re-framed. Variety recently interviewed some DPs about where the collaboration often breaks down and composition goes separate ways.
  • Stars of the big screen and little screen are doing something different. Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford among other name actors lend their voices to pro-environment adverts called “Nature is Speaking” for Conservation International, according to a write-up in The Guardian. The short-form videos are quite effective in using just a scripted voice-over to something you wouldn’t expect, therefore giving the advert more recognition. Then, on the small screen, there’s a great opinion piece in The New Yorker about how YouTube has graduated from amateur hour while one of their rivals, Vine, has become a hub for up-and-coming professional talent. According to the article, Vine really took off when mobile phones began to have better self-facing cameras. There’s also something to be said about very short storytelling online, since Vine limits you to six seconds. (Footnote: Vine is owned by Twitter, not YouTube.)
  • The Interview. Poster design by Ignition.

    The Interview. Poster design by Ignition.

    Best reactions to the Sony hack / “The Interview” yank include Aaron Sorkin’s opinion piece in the New York Times. The co-editor of Variety also summarized his thoughts on how Sony and theater owners aren’t the bad guys. One issue that hasn’t been well reported comes via PBS Newshour and discusses the poor I.T. security at the studio and how the hack was easier than usual due to bad practices. After all of the drama, out of solidarity, small art house theaters around the country banded together to show the film as planned for Christmas Day despite the threats. This was followed by video-on-demand — renting or buying the film for a fee — thanks to Google Play, Microsoft XBox, and YouTube all stepping up. Inversely, this effect also made “The Interview” ineligible for any Oscars, since they frown upon films that debut online first. That’s the price to pay for finding a solution.


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

  • Published in General


Did you have a stellar year? Did all your clients pay on time, you were constantly being given amazingly fun projects, and the work was never hard to come by? Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly the case. Either way, as we near the end of the year, it’s a good time to take a breather and be grateful for what you have. To get into the holiday spirit of generosity, here are a few ways you can give back during the holidays and also some benefits that may be associated:

  1. Donate some of your time to clients.

    If you’re feeling particularly generous, offer an end-of-the-year special where clients can receive and hour or two of your services gratis for every X number of hours of work you put in.

    Benefits: Besides it being a nice way of to show your appreciation for working with your clients, it might be able to help you pick up any work if things are slow while not having to lower your rates.
  2. Volunteer.

    There are a ton of awesome organizations out there doing great work that would really use your known-how. Whether it’s creating a short educational video, doing some copywriting for their website, or designing some of their marketing materials, you’ll be able to flex your creative muscles and feel good about doing it. Hit up a charity whose mission really jives with you, or you can search for one via Idealist or VolunteerMatch.

    Benefits: Although you won’t be able to write off your services, you’ll be able to deduct any traveling-related expenses such as gas mileage. And who knows, the charity may consider you for paid work in the future. Just mention that you are available for paid work if they ever have it in their budget, or if they can refer you (which they will most likely do if they like you).
  3. Donate a percentage of your earnings.

    Publicize on your site or through your Behance profile that for the month of December you’ll be donating a percentage of your earnings to a featured charity. It can be one that’s related to your line of work, for instance if you are a freelance writing you can donate to a literary organization such as WriteGirl.

    Benefits: You will be able to write off any donations to not-for-profit organizations. Just be sure to keep a proof of payment.
  4. Teach your skills to newbies.
    Tap into your zone of genius (what you do uniquely best) to You can do this by creating an online tutorial and put it up on your website or volunteer at a organization. You might even want to pitch seeing a weekend workshop or series.

    Benefits: This will establish credibility and could open the channels of dialogue between you and potential clients. You’ll also be more visible and could attract your intended audience.

Although giving back is rewarding in and of itself, there are some benefits to giving back for solopreneurs. While this may appear as being a bit opportunistic, it also wouldn’t hurt to know that you can save a little beans or maybe get more work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking: What’s in it for me? Because what’s better than giving? Giving and receiving.

(Originally published at Cheapsters.)

Jackie Lam
Personal finance blogger helping people thrive in the gig economy

  • Published in Film + Web

Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.
Terry Gilliam on the set of "The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus."

Terry Gilliam on the set of “The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.”

  • Back in 2011, Terry Gilliam’s shared ten lessons for directors — given to a Master Class to Moroccan film students — which was re-printed in Filmmaker Magazine. Tips include anecdotes like “surround yourself with improvisers” and “all you’ve really got in life is story.”
  • Feature filmmakers behind “The Guest” decided to give away their soundtrack for free. According to a promotion on their Tumblr, by hashtagging their film with a photo of your ticket stub, you could get the digital download. The effort engaged early fans well enough that they extended the promotion for longer than planned.
  • Mike Monteiro (Design Director of Mule Design Studio) recently wrote 13 tips for designers to not screw up client presentations, which can easily apply to anyone in work-for-hire professions, like “[don’t] talk about how hard you worked” and “[don’t] ask ‘do you like it?'”


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site


Steven Soderbergh showcased an experiment in cinematic staging yesterday on his website, Extension 765. For educational purposes, he notes, Soderbergh put online a full copy of Steven Spielberg’s “The Raiders of the Lost Ark” that he easily converted into black-and-white, and then also replaced the entire audio track with a wall-to-wall soundtrack.

Why would you want to watch “Raiders” in black-and-white with electronic music? Soderbergh’s point is regarding the visual staging via the cinematography and the edit, and how it affects how the film is consistent and iconic. Like a silent film or a foreign film without subtitles, Soderbergh believes “a movie should work with the sound off” and wants us to watch and “think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, [and] what the cutting patterns are.”

The original 1981 film was shot in color by Douglas Slocombe, who before this picture lensed several black-and-white features. The replaced music is the soundtrack of David Fincher’s “The Social Network” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, as well as “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by the same director and musicians.

We would include the video here but the file’s embed settings appear to be limited to only Soderbergh’s website. View the feature film on the original article at

(Thanks to Charlie Beckerman for the head’s up on this effort.)


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

An editor by day, filmmaker Tony Zhou has a series of videos that are both entertaining and educational, especially “A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film.” In it, he’s taken excerpts of films from the last decade and provided a voiceover commentary to his compilation about which highlights how the portrayal of text messaging and the internet on screen has evolved.

According to Zhou, the best examples utilize motion graphics rather than literal shots of phones and screens. Sometimes the text is by itself and sometimes it’s wrapped in bubbles, emulating the user interface design of various apps we’ve come to recognize.


One of the most well-liked example in this video spanning decades of examples comes from the BBC’s “Sherlock Holmes” series and Netflix’s “House of Cards.” In the former example, we see things like a character blowing while the text message reactions to the motion; in the latter, we see letters being typed as the character types them.

Since Zhou’s trimmed-down “explainer” video is intentionally not an exhaustive list of use cases, commenters have added to his list, referencing examples like “Man on Fire”, in which a character yells as the text gets larger. Other cinephiles brought praised films like “Her” and “The Departed” for their portrayal. Surprisingly to some, usages of texting and the Internet in “The Social Network” just didn’t make Zhou’s final cut.

After the edit went up online, a debut trailer for an upcoming film made yet another unique use of the texting monograph. Take a look at this from Jason Reitman’s “Men, Women, and Children.” The film just premiered at Toronto.

YouTube Preview Image

This isn’t just a conversation for the fans – other filmmakers and designers are also joining in on the conversation. Screenwriter John August, who we interviewed recently on the FWD:labs blog, also brought up the piece in a recent blog post, saying:

In ten years, some of our choices will look quaint and foolish, but that’s the fun and challenge of making new things.

(via Subtraction)


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

John August

John August

Screenwriter John August wasn’t content with the tools of his trade, so he teamed up to make his own company — Quote-Unquote Apps — to deliver better results. Despite a handful of apps for screenwriters already on the market, they made Highland, Weekend Read and several others. Here’s our interview with John and his lead developer Nima Yousefi on their work, their challenges, and their ideas for the future.

John, you’re a successful screenwriter, so what led to making apps on the side with forming Quote-Unquote Apps?

John August Most of the apps we make are things I needed. Or at least wanted. For example, I’m constantly looking up credits on IMDb, but the site kept getting more and more overloaded with ads and cruft, so we made the browser extension Less IMDb.

I wanted to be able to take a screenplay PDF and melt it back down into a editable file. So we made Highland. Along the way, it became a great general-purpose screenwriting app.

I needed to watermark fifty scripts for Big Fish, so we made Bronson Watermarker. I wanted to read scripts on my iPhone without going blind, so we made Weekend Read. It’s all about fixing the things that bug me.

Apps John Wants isn’t the most profitable niche in the App Store, but these apps genuinely help me with my screenwriting work, so they’d almost be worth it even if we never sold them to strangers.

How did you team up with developers and designers to create apps like Highland and Weekend Read? What’s your involvement with the actual apps — creative director or coder?

John August Nima Yousefi had volunteered with an early web-based project called Scrippets, which ultimately grew into the open-source screenwriting format called Fountain (developed in partnership with Stu Maschwitz, who went on to make Slugline).

Nima agreed to do the coding work on Highland, then eventually joined us full-time in Los Angeles.

I’d hired Ryan Nelson to do web stuff, but he clearly had skills for everything visual. Between Ryan and Nima, there was a lot of app talent.

As in film, I’m a writer and director for our apps. I describe what I want, then we all collaborate to figure out how to achieve it. I’m not a coder, but I’m good at whiteboard logic. I’m not a designer, but I know what I want it to feel like. The challenge of the job is giving direction without stifling inspiration. I steer the ship, but I don’t run the engines.

You’ve been doing the Scriptnotes podcast for a while now. How has that built a digital-first following for you that pairs well with digital apps for desktop and mobile?

John August Scriptnotes is sort of its own beast. I never expected it would get as popular as it has. But it’s interesting that so many app developers are also podcasters; I love guesting on their shows.

As someone who makes apps for screenwriters, it’s obviously helpful to have a platform like Scriptnotes for talking about what we make. But I’m careful to never let it feel like an ad. I want screenwriters to find the tools that work best for them.


Highland is your flagship app. How do you feel it’s evolved since coming out in 2013? Knowing what you know now about making the app for screenwriters, rivaling staples like Final Draft, what would you have done differently — if anything?

John August Highland was never meant to be a full-fledged screenwriting app. We saw it mostly as a conversion utility. In fact, we added the editor pretty late in the process. But over the months, I found myself doing more and more of my daily writing directly in Highland. Its minimalism really helps me focus on the words, not the formatting.

With hindsight, I would have been more ambitious about allowing Highland to be a “real” screenwriting app right out of the gate. Many people still think of Highland as that thing that melts PDFs, when in fact it’s for daily writing. You can talk about apps and websites pivoting, but once you’ve established yourself as one thing, it’s hard to change people’s perceptions.

Another thing we were late on was robust customer support. We now use a combination of Reamaze and Slack that lets us be very nimble, and takes a lot of the burden off Nima.

How do you see the future of screenwriting apps, either with Quote-Unquote or the industry at large? What hurdles do you hope to overcome?

John August I think the first wave of screenwriting apps — by which I mean Final Draft and Screenwriter, mostly — focused on getting the formatting to work when printed on the page. For the most part, they succeeded. But they did it by forcing writers to work in unnatural ways, by declaring what type of element (dialogue, action, transition) a piece of text was before it was even written. It’s like trying to typeset a book while you’re writing it.

Fountain apps like Highland focus on the words instead, and for most screenwriters I think it’s a much better experience. But we can go further. The same processing power that makes it possible to interpret text for formatting should be able to interpret text for meaning, and give us new ways to look at our scripts. (Charles Forman has been doing some experiments along these lines.)

I believe we’re also near a tipping point where we’ll stop using simulated paper pages for everything. PDFs are terrific, but they’re frozen in amber. Keeping text as text allows collaboration, editing and version control that helps both writing and production.


Nima, you’re the lead coder at Quote-Unquote. How did you first begin to work with John?

Nima Yousefi Around 2008, John put out a call on his blog for someone to help put together a WordPress plugin to convert short, plain text screenplay bits into nicely formatted HTML. I was a long time reader of John’s blog, and this was actually something I had thought of before, so it wasn’t very difficult for me to come up with a working solution. We released it together as Scrippets, and continued to work together on growing, maintaining, and supporting the project.


Your apps are all Mac, mobile and desktop. How has that been helpful for getting first to market and evolving? How has Swift changed up the roadmap for future efforts?

Nima Yousefi It’s been extremely helpful. By focusing on Apple technologies we’re able to continuously build on our previous work, both in terms of reusing existing code (as is the case with our Mac app Highland, and iOS app Weekend Read), but also in terms of being able to build on experience with Apple’s frameworks. This means each new app can get off the ground and iterate faster than the previous, even if all the code in it is new.

Swift hasn’t really changed our roadmap. Although Swift is immensely exciting, we’re going to hold off on making the jump to building apps in Swift until the dust from its 1.0 release settles down.

How do you best collaborate on these apps with Ryan Nelson and John?

Nima Yousefi Collaboration with them has been great. The most important thing for any team effort is for everyone to want to get to the same place, and that’s true of the three of us: we all want beautiful, usable software that makes it easier for people to get work done.

How do you see the future of screenwriting apps, either with Quote-Unquote or the industry at large? What hurdles do you have to overcome?

Nima Yousefi Honestly, the biggest hurdle for screenwriting software is the (mostly) standardized screenplay format we all need to adhere to. John and his podcasting partner Craig Mazin have discussed this on their Scriptnotes podcast: we need a new screenplay format that embraces the rich capabilities of digital content. Embedded movies, notes, images, storyboards — these are the types of things screenwriters should want from their screenwriting software, but incorporating these into the existing screenplay format is difficult, if not impossible.

This is a nut that’s going to get cracked, eventually, and when it does we’ll see a tremendous leap in what screenwriting apps can do, and more variation in how they’ll do it.


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

  • Published in Film + Web


The digital bulletin board called Pinterest has flourished for a lot of generalists (e.g. foodies, fashionistas, et cetera), but I’ve found a few ways it can work well for filmmakers.

1. Mood Boards

When I don’t have the luxury of face-to-face production meetings, explaining ideas in e-mails, documents, or even PDFs can be cumbersome. Instead, I’ve made either public or hidden “boards” to build off a single link. I’ll then either upload or curate image-based content that exemplifies a visual style or color palette for jobs where I direct the photography. I can easily invite the production keys to review the link, comment on the looks, or even add to it themselves.

For one project which used a board called “How the Moon Made Me,” I tried out Pinterest as a collaborative film production tool with singer/songwriter Lucia Comnes:

In making my music video with Aaron, I relied heavily on Pinterest to communicate visual ideas online. When team members live in different cities or can’t be together in the same room for all that brainstorming and visualization meetings, a tool like Pinterest makes collaborating possible. It’s also so much easier to find visual references online rather than in print, so Pinterest gives you that digital bulletin board or mood board you normally had to create out of paper.


For another project that used a board called Mood board for a Short Film Inspired by a Comic Book, I sent a few still frames over to illustrate some visual styles over to the project’s director, Thomas Faustin Huisking:

While prepping for the short film, “Poor Joey,” Aaron and I were trying to coordinate the look of the piece. We live on opposite sides of Los Angeles and there wasn’t enough time to meet repeatedly prior to shooting. Aaron mentioned Pinterest; I checked it out. I had described wanting a contrast-y, almost graphic novel look for parts of the film, “like when Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes) imagines himself as an adult.” Aaron was able to effectively grab stills and looks from multiple films and other art in order to build a suitable mood board for the film. In that way we were able to decide long-distance on cyan and straw as opposing light color sources, which ultimately played a huge role in the final look of Poor Joey.

2. Social Bookmarking


While Facebook just rolled out their “Saved” feature this week, and I’ve been a proponent of Delicious for years, I’ve found more interaction with content I’ve shared on a public Pinterest board. It’s also fairly easy to search, which is hit-and-miss sometimes with social networks… (looking at you, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook).

Every artist likes to be credited. Unlike most users on Pinterest, who have no requirement to be so formal (or ethical?), if I have the time I’ll take the time to correctly annotate and attribute the link, picking the best and most official source for the image that I can find. Here are some that I’ve enjoyed curating, to benefit others besides myself:

Tip: When I come across something that’s been shared to infinity and beyond, I’ll jump over to Google Images and do a search based on that image itself — either the image file or it’s URL. I’ll then often fine it points me to the best and/or original source, rather than somebody’s Tumblr or other attribution-less service.

Other boards that provide a useful, visual reference:

3. Brands


Much like other social media, many brands have a presence on Pinterest. For example, Kodak heavily uses Pinterest to highlight trailers, films, and articles from their online magazine — all, of course, shot on Kodak film.

I think this is helpful to filmmakers. It turns web content into a visual repository that’s linkable unlike Instagram and infinitely scrollable unlike most websites. However, on the flip side since no social network is perfect: the image resolution is limiting, the click-thrus require a double-click, and all of the visual content is ripe for being re-shared without attribution nor linkage.

Other active brands:

4. Other Filmmakers


Looking for other avid Pinterest users for inspiration on starting your own? I’ve come across several other filmmakers who use Pinterest for professional promotion, reference, and connecting. Here are some of my favorites of who to follow on Pinterest for professional pins:

Or perhaps you’re selling your style and personality. Here are some projects and people to follow on Pinterest that rock their full identity:


Pinterest is a mostly public, generalist social network. It’s not for everyone, especially it’s visual-geared design. However, the ease of browsing and simplicity of uploading make it a player to consider for filmmaking productions.

Additionally, in terms of self-promotion for your own projects, adding stills and other visuals can be set up to link to your website. While it doesn’t give an SEO boost (due to a rel=”nofollow” tag in the link), it does boost incoming traffic to your site if people click the linked image for more. Furthermore, captions can have visible links as well that are automatically clickable when typed.

Like many of these start-ups, Pinterest grows in unusual ways. Originally, you could only have a few private boards, but recent upgrades have removed the cap on the number of private boards a user can have. This helps for confidential projects since this social network operates under a opt-out / follow-all paradigm. In other words, every public board is broadcast to every single follower, unless they manually opt out of either the board or the follow.

What are your thoughts on Pinterest? And any favorite links to recommend?


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site


Digital and disc distribution of cinematic content needs to catch up with the music industry. Cost, time, and access are getting closer but still fall short despite some technological advances. Here’s a look at iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Popcorn Time, and Aereo when it comes to accessibility to the same kinds of content.

Poor Quality Assurance in Digital Delivery via iTunes

I recently wanted to see the film “Snowpiercer.” Even in Los Angeles, the screens playing the film looked sub-par: sticky floor, soft focus projection, and squeaky chair kind of places. Some colleagues who went to see it in theaters even commented that nobody else was there. Fortunately, the distributor decided to release the film on iTunes an unprecedented two weeks after it opened in theaters. The film cost $16, which was fine to own the digital file, however, and on a business DSL line it took a massive 3 hours to download. To make matters worse, the non-streaming digital file had intermittent glitches: lo-res frames that would stutter every few scenes, which led me to complain to Apple about poor quality assurance.

Irregular Disc Distribution via Amazon

Unrelated, I recently needed a physical, disc copy of Malcolm in the Middle Season 5, which was made in 2004. The only available copy was an Australian copy that would either need a region-free player, or take a bite out of my DVD player’s five “reset” options (which sure is archaic, huh?). The shipping time was estimated at 1-2 weeks. And, other than a massive series DVD set, it seemed the distributor wasn’t interested in providing even U.S.-based customers with access to content that’s a mere decade old.

Disappearing Titles via Netflix

For streaming only content, Netflix sure has a market. When I load up Amazon Instant, it pales in comparison. But one thing that has bothered me for years is Netflix’s transparency. They once published expiration dates for all of their titles. Third-party sites could tap into this, like, and I could see which films on my queue were going to expire soon. When they pulled this feature in the wake of thousands of titles expiring at once, prompting negative headlines, their head engineer blogged about how the feature was unsustainable. But that doesn’t make sense: they have that data and they just didn’t want it public anymore. Now, when I cruise though my queue, I might get a few days notice, buried in the film’s description, that the title won’t be available after a certain date. But I can’t search or sort for this, and that’s a shame.

Illegal Content via Peer-Assisted, Legal Networks

Meanwhile, there’s Popcorn Time and Aereo, two services that shut down soon after launching. Popcorn Time provided a new face to accessing torrents, or free peer-to-peer file sharing that’s a fine line on copyright infringement. Aereo was a television streaming service that offered paid access to cable content without the bundled programs; but it was recently called illegal by the United States Supreme Court.

When Popcorn Time shut down on their own terms, they did two things. Their founders wrote a public letter explaining that the piracy problem is the service problem, not a people problem:

[T]ons of people agreed in unison that the movie industry has way too many ridiculous restrictions on way too many markets. Take Argentina for example: streaming providers seem to believe that “There’s Something About Mary” is a recent movie. That movie would be old enough to vote here.

They also released all of their source code on Github, which spawned two clones run by others — and — which are all apparently completely legal as infrastructure networks.

When Aereo was sued by Walt Disney Co., which led to the Supreme Court decision, it highlighted a problem with the technology platform. According to NPR, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia calls “it ‘troubling’ to see the majority opinion’s suggestion that companies seek action from Congress to clarify how new technology interacts with U.S. copyright laws.”

In the dissent, Justice Scalia noted the service was like a library card to an antenna, rather than a specific video-on-demand service. All told, it highlighted a dated take on copyright laws for an otherwise very innovative idea that paying customers may have preferred for their cable.

Next Steps

Somehow the music industry got it. After Napster, iTunes and other efforts made the MP3 a gold standard. Now you can get almost everything in music quickly and legally. It’s not great, but it’s accessible and economical for big and small time artists.

The film business at large doesn’t yet get it. Instead of engineering or nurturing more competition to Netflix and iTunes, we hear about knee-jerk lawsuits. Instead of creating more customer-centric tools, these cutting-edge services get called Hollywood’s worst nightmare because they’re still connecting to illegally distributed content, even though the service infrastructures are fast and organized.

I feel we’re close. There’s clearly interest and demand, even to pay to play. Creative minds are engineering new routes and breaking old models. Inconsistent disc distribution and hidden expiration dates are utter failures, going against the grain of accessibility to a hundred years of cinema.

I have to applaud the distributors of “Snowpiercer” for trying a multi-pronged distribution, which tops the iTunes charts when it’s not necessarily going to top the traditional box office. And it’s incredible what Popcorn Time and other have engineered, even if to just prove a point.

While they’ve not necessarily provided a sustainable model for the business of show business, perhaps there’s going to be a breaking point soon, balancing the fairness of legality, cost, and accessibility.


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

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