Monday, November 26, 2007


We read and hear a lot about Wikinomics these days. Is it conceivable that this kind of open, collaborative business model will replace the traditionally hierarchical, protectionist organization of the film industry?

According to Peter Day a recent episode of the BBC radio programme In Business entitled Eureka Democracy, when Proctor & Gamble need a particular molecule for a new product nowadays, they put up an online announcement. Instead of having to make do with the hundreds of scientists they employ, they can now appeal to thousands of people all over the world. The risk is that they reveal the nature of the new product they’re working on, but the rewards make this risk entirely worth taking: They get their molecule far more rapidly than in the old system, and they create new and exciting working relationships in the process.

Imagine Steven Spielberg posting the following online:

“I want to make a film about a great white shark that terrorizes a small town on the west coast of the US. The local sheriff acknowledges the danger, but is told by the mayor to keep quiet in order not to scare off potential investors in new real estate. In terms of theme: The shark symbolizes our fear of the unknown. In terms of plot: the central conflict is the power struggle between the sheriff and the mayor, a metaphor for the struggle between greed and integrity. Please send scripts to …”

The risk Spielberg takes is that he’s publicizing his idea for a movie, which other producers might “steal.” But doesn’t it also make a lot of sense? Or at least more sense than all this secretive, paranoid behaviour? I mean how likely is it, that if Spielberg puts up a posting like this, someone with a “shark” script lying around is going to look for a different producer?

Production companies would get what they’re looking for quickly and efficiently and writers would get to send their scripts to people they know are interested in their subject matter.

Any takers?

1 comment:

Sylvia Dickey Smith said...

Powerful idea, and one that resonates with me, although I don't work in the industry. (I'd love to have either of my mystery novels networked this way, however! :-)

Competition is good, but a collaborative effort seems a much healthier way to go. Requires a lot of trust in the process--which, I'm sure is what scares away many. But who can deny that JAWS was a huge success.

Hierarchy, whether it be patriarchy or matriarchy, creates too many problems in itself that is inherent in the system. I look forward to watching this topic and see how the industry responds.