So I guess, at this point, an introduction is in order. I’m Barry Walsh, and as of this issue, I will be stepping boldly into the rather prodigious footwear previously sported by Brendan Christie, as realscreen editor.
As for where I came from, I got to witness firsthand the unraveling of the music industry during my time as editor of Canada’s music trade several years back. But despite the popular conception that the big players were merely shuffling the deck chairs of the Titanic in the wake of the Napster iceberg, I saw how the smarter industry execs were reluctantly but efficiently coming to terms with the new reality. The business has changed, but the desire for musical entertainment has intensified.
Similarly, I was able to see how new technologies impacted the commercial production industry during my time at our sister publication, ‘boards. Engaging with consumers in a post-TiVo world, where intrusive commercials can be gleefully skipped over with a click, remains a challenge for advertisers, their agencies, production companies and broadcasters. But with a mix of forward thinking and collaboration, new models are evolving that produce ads you actually want to see.
And so we come to the world of non-fiction film and television. Whether born out of economic necessity or tectonic shifts of audience, new approaches are needed to maintain non-fiction’s relevance (and ratings). Harnessing the power of the untamed beast that is the Internet is one way – in an interactive medium, storytelling evolves into story-sharing. Also, new technologies have always aided in grabbing eyeballs, be it CGI, HD (insert acronym of choice here). With DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg aiming to add another dimension to cinema with his 3D mandate, and more broadcasters testing stereoscopic 3D solutions, perhaps it’s only a matter of time before we see Survivor 3D. I recall a chat I’d had with Olivier Wicki, editor of the concert film U2 3D. ‘Shows like Planet Earth or Blue Planet would be outstanding in 3D,’ he raved. Agreed. Maybe it’s not on the sked for next year, but keep watching…
I’m reticent to invoke the Chinese proverb ‘May you live in interesting times,’ as ‘interesting’ usually means ‘turbulent’ (plus it’s a cliché). But non-fiction entertainment is poised to take advantage of new opportunities unearthed by a wee bit of chaos. I’m looking forward to continuing realscreen‘s tradition of inspiring, educating, provoking and yes, entertaining its readership, as we speed into the new.
PS: Some of you may notice the Global 100 doesn’t appear in this January/February issue. We’d intended to bump up the report, which usually resides in our MIPTV issue, in time for the Summit. But the tendency of most of our audience to take holidays in mid-to-late December led us to push the report back to its home in the March-April issue. To those of you who gave us your input, thanks, and it is being counted. For those of you who haven’t… we’ll be in touch!