I’m a wee bit apprehensive about heading out to the VSDA Convention this summer. One of the biggest home video shows in North America, this year it’s moving from its usual home in Glitter Gulch (a.k.a. Las Vegas) to Los Angeles, but that’s not why I’m hesitant.
I’m envisioning being absurdly trapped between undulating silicone/flesh, and the shiny, sugary antics of B1, B2, the Teletubbies and those of their ilk, whom I imagine will be featured on most of the leftover floor space and in frightening proximity to whatever Debbie is doing this year. (Let’s face it, the porn industry drives the home video industry. Prominent among the seminar tracks advertised by the conference is the ‘Adult Entertainment Expo.’)
Still, that’s not what vexes me.
The trouble is that VSDA brings to the fore a nagging editorial problem. How do we cover the relevant video angles for non-fiction when the factual and special interest categories are such small pieces of the whole biz? Being primarily production-focused, we’ve covered home video primarily as a rights-for-dollars issue, i.e. can a producer or distributor make a buck at it to recoup costs? But obviously there are more issues, and at VSDA we’ll jump into the cacophony and try to pull out some sense. (Please say hello if you see me – I’ll be the confused-looking one.)
This month’s VSDA report (starting on page 60) makes me wonder if traditional retailing (is there such a thing anymore?) will ever embrace special-interest or documentaries, or if such titles will be the testing ground for new ways of selling video. After all, you can take your kids to Blockbuster, you can take your lust to the local xxx shop, but if you’ve got a hankering to check out (or buy) some non-fiction, you’ll no doubt be going on-line, and probably to the site of a broadcaster. Maybe the diminishment of the video middleman will start with non-fiction, only because the producers of such material will be forced to self-distribute using more creative mechanisms.
And what if these outcasts/mavericks succeed? It’ll give more ballast to the argument that the entertainment sales businesses will be inevitably leaving the show floors for cheaper and more efficient real estate on-line.
Meanwhile, before and after the video show, this summer will be a busy one for us. Keep your eyes open for our Natural History special issue late in August, and look to www.realscreen.com for upcoming details on The RealScreen Summit II and the ID Award. We’ll also begin compiling a comprehensive buyer’s guide for 2000, so please be nice to our researcher when you get the call.
And finally, September will mark our second anniversary and, as ever, we continue to solicit feedback from our readers on what you want/need to see on these pages. Let us know how we’re doing – I promise, we can take it.
Mary Ellen Armstrong