When In Rome…

October 24th, 2007 by Timo Vuorensola

When in Rome…

For me, this autumn has been all about running around at different conferences and seminars around the world. I’m not complaining, though – it’s always nice to meet interesting new people and engage in valuable conversations, not to mention the possibility to visit countries I’ve never been to.

As winter comes, it seems that most of the bigger conferences and seminars are over. I’m returning now from my last major one this year, the Roma Film Fest held – obviously – in Rome. I’ve got my backpack stacked with cheese, pasta and wine, but more than that, I think RFF must’ve been one of the most enlightening of these seminars I’ve visited.

The title of the event was ‘World Going Digital’, and the main focus was the cross-platform linking of different medias – mainly, how to get the four main arenas (movie theaters, TV, Internet and mobile) to work together. The cast was pretty influential, a lot of people representing their own platforms and boasting vastly different views on how the future will operate. I was of course among the ‘left wing’ speakers, but the presentations on the other side were just as informative, by the president of the Italian Anti-Piracy Association. Although I didn’t agree with most of their policies, it’s always more educating to hear the opinions of the Other Side than rephrasings of the same views that you already agree with.

The strength of RFF’s World Going Digital seminar was indeed in this point – it was not a free-for-all fight, but there was a balance between all the sides of the discussion. Unlike the New Context Conference in Tokyo that I attended, which was more about meeting people and finding contacts, at RFF I think I actually learned something – or at least was able to widen my perspective.

Temple of Venus

The seminar was held in an old temple of Venus built back in the Middle Ages.

Ferrari vs. Lada

Coming to Italy on the eve of the Formula 1 championship race was nice, although nobody seemed to acknowledge the F1 races and Ferrari’s triumph. I actually needed a Nokia executive to tell me the results, since the Italians knew nothing about it.

In my presentation, where I introduced Star Wreck, I focussed on the fact that filmmakers fail to utilise the potential of the Internet. The backbone of the presentation was an analogy:

“Definition of a modern filmmaker: a person driving a Lada, when he has a Ferrari in his garage.”

I went on to discuss the reasons for not driving the Ferrari – you either don’t have the keys to it, you don’t know how to drive, or you are afraid to drive it. The first two are things that can be fixed easilly, but the fear is always psychological, and requires other methods to get over. Then I talked about the primary fears of the filmmaker, and finally granted the audience the key to the Internet – the community, and the key to the community – participation.

It seems that Italy is lagging behind a bit technologically at least in the media field – people were still talking about VOD services as if they were something pretty new, and the bigger newspapers were still wondering how the online newspaper will fit in, whereas e.g. in Japan these issues were so old that nobody even wanted to mention them. Also, user-generated content was feared and the creative chaos of the Internet was seen as if not a negative thing, then at least a very suspicious business.

I talked about communities and participation, showed them the Star Wreck trailer and told them about Star Wreck Studios. Finally I presented the premise of Iron Sky: (“In 1945, the Nazis went to the moon; in 2018, they are coming back”), which received a standing ovation. These are the moments when I love my job. :)

Anti-piracy panel at the Rome Film Festival
A panel discussing anti-piracy and all that… Oh boy, were they lost with their thoughts and beliefs. It’ll take many years before we can expect good decisions from the field they now call ‘anti-piracy’.

Dining With the Dinosaurs

One of the most interesting people in the audience was Mr Robert Pisano, the president/COO of the Motion Picture Association of America, the head honcho of the Hollywood industry, representing the Big Six. After the seminar, he invited a group of speakers to dinner, and we had a tremendously good dinner in a small but wonderful restaurant close by.

He was interested in all new things, and I had time to tell him a little about Star Wreck (and gave the DVD to him). After listening to some of us who had been doing films in a pretty different way, he admitted that he felt like a dinosaur. Of course it’s hard to understand his world, the massive multi-billion industry, from the perspective of small Internet film makers, but these encounters are important to all parties if we want to see some sustainable change happening in the future.

To wrap up the RFF on Wreck’s behalf this year, it was a massive success. Star Wreck is now well known among the professionals in the Italian film industry, and who knows, we might even get the DVD out there as well. I had great time in Rome, and although I didn’t have too much time to check out the city (my best view of the Colosseum was from the plane when leaving the country…), I enjoyed my time there.

Next, I hope I can go to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, but I can only cross my fingers. I should know in a couple of weeks, though – and I’ll let you know as well as soon as I do.

Timo, signing out while arriving to Tampere.

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2 Responses to “When In Rome…”

  1. Mike says:

    “The seminar was held in an old temple of Venus built back in the Middle Ages.”

    Timo the Historian strikes again! ;)

  2. fakjuu mike, that’s what they told me it was.