TIFF ’13: Show us the numbers

Books have an ISBN and there's a UPC code for other products, so "why the bleep is there no universal code for the film industry?" asked WME's Liesl Copland at the TIFF Doc Conference.
September 11, 2013

Books have an ISBN and there’s a UPC code for other products, so “why the bleep is there no universal code for the film industry?” asked WME’s Liesl Copland at the TIFF Doc Conference yesterday (September 10).

In a session all about how documentary filmmakers could be interpreting data, Copland said that although we’re not there yet with knowing how audiences are completely engaging with films, there’s hope in the future.

She cited companies such as Acxiom, a collector of consumer information, and Kevin Spacey’s Edinburgh International Television Festival talk, as examples of why there should be a uniform aggregating system across cable, VoD and subscription platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu.

Having data to track user engagement across all of those platforms would particularly benefit documentary filmmakers, Copland said, adding that it would help immensely to sell a film if one could say that similar films tracked a certain number of viewers across all platforms.

Her final message was imploring the assembling audience to: know where data is gathering, use new platforms, improve user interface, control your metadata and keep it somewhere, share data, and ask that accounting statements from distributors have more details and data.

For TIFF filmmakers, she encouraged them to ask their program coordinator what they can learn from festival audience behavior, and lastly, she requested that someone out there invent a universal content stock keeping unit (SKU).

MTV World’s Nusrat Durrani and artist Shepard Fairey were also at the TIFF Doc Conference yesterday, sharing their in-production documentary series Rebel Music. 

The global production features young people who are using music and art to rebel in their countries, including Egypt, Afghanistan, Mali, India and Israel/Palestine.

Durrani and Fairey, both executive producers, said that they’re trying to grab the attention of Millennials by serving up stories of courageous people their age, living in countries they would otherwise never think of.

“Amplifying the powerful humanity of character will entice people to seek out these [issues] out,” said Fairey.

Rebel Music will premiere the first week of November on MTV channels around the globe, with a website also set to go live that day.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.