New Media vs. The Movies

From all the rumblings in the media, it sounds as if Gov. Crist and the state legislature are going to throw some real money at Florida’s nascent movie industry.

Can you blame them?

Hollywood-style cinema is sexy, hip, happening, young and big biz — talk about the “creative economy” angle!

But as a wise old man once told me, “Anything that is too good becomes no good.”

It is not as though the movers and shakers in New York City, Toronto, Wilmington, N.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle and even the soggy state of Louisiana missed this movies-are-money thing.

These folks are plenty savvy, well-funded and have their eye on the prize. After all the giddy hoopla, can Florida in general and the Tampa Bay area in particular, win in the Darwinian game of big-league moviemaking?

But more important to policymakers and taxpayers who do not have stardust in their eyes is that Hollywood might be in structural decline; its heyday is probably over and the smart money is quietly leaving the table.

The most provocative analysis of this “structural decline” was a short article, The Movie Magic Is Gone, in the Los Angeles Times by noted media critic Neal Gabler.

But let us consider another scenario: What if for every state dollar thrown into feature film development, we threw just a thin dime into new media, including Webcasting, podcasting, digital animation and online learning and publishing? Just a few hundred thousand dollars per year in Florida (which is chicken feed by Tallahassee standards).

The potential return in money, creative jobs and cultural prominence could be astounding in 20 years.

I met the two “Ask A Ninja”guys at PopTech!2006 in Camden, Maine. They have created Webcasts that have garnered an audience of 20 million regular viewers.

These online shows were created at virtually no cost.

At our chance meeting last October, these 20-somethings had yet to earn much in the way of money from their webcasts and at least one of their moms was worried sick that her hip son didn’t have a good computer job with a nice cubicle and a regular paycheck.

But the young entrepreneurs are talking to “the suits” in the corporate media. The bottom line is this: These digital “ninjas” are leading the way into the media frontier, not just slogging through the old swamp.

Here are links to both the Ninjas and PopTech:;

We’ve got talented, edgy kids and fine schools. The University of Central Florida, Ringling School of Art and Design, University of Tampa, and the International Academy of Design and Technology are pumping out ambitious, well-trained graduates.

Let us invest a few taxpayer dollars to create low-cost New Media business incubators down here.

The best storytellers and metaphor-makers are going to win BIG on small screens.

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