For a blow by blow feel for this year’s Prime Time in Ottawa, check out my Storify of the top tweets. Yes, a lot of them were from me, Cynthia Lynch and Marcia Douglas but not out of favouritism on behalf of fellow wonks but we three do tend to be the most consistent tweeters at a conference.
Here’s a little overview thought on the conference.
No matter what the programming is, Prime Time in Ottawa is still a must attend event for the networking if you’re in the business of film and television or are a digital media producer who works with film and television producers. There are official and unofficial networking events, meetings, coffees, lunches and serendipity. Both mornings I sat myself at a back table so that I would not distract people with the bright light of my laptop screen during sessions. Random people sat down at my table and I had the most interesting conversations. I highly recommend it rather than travelling in a pod of co-workers.
As for the programming, there was a good mix of traditional panels (Exports, Selling to the U.S., Merchandising and Licensing) and more current panels (Financing Digital First Production, Mobile Rising, VR). The IdeaBlast’s were all technology related and some of them were quite interesting. I particularly enjoyed Kevin Keane of Brainsights, a company that measures brain activity in response to advertising and entertainment programming. He had some fascinating insights to offer on how different demographics react to content themes and why.
There were recurring themes from the panels. There wasn’t a big difference between the Mobile Rising panel and the Digital First panel so they did bring up a number of the same issues. What was interesting was when those same issues were echoed in other panels. Things to keep in mind:
- Think about the content that you want to create and then decide the length that you need for it and the platform(s) where it can find its audience.
- Understand your audience. Research, research, research. This is relevant for all audiences whether through Canadian broadcasters, digital platforms, U.S. services or international buyers. It even came up in the Merchandising and Licensing panel.
- Be flexible and learn to pivot quickly as new audiences and new platforms come out of nowhere with little warning. One key piece of advice was to get good at all the platforms because you can’t know which ones will be the most successful at any given time. The VR panel talked about developing skills in VR storytelling now so that you will be ready when the market takes off.
Now, if you’re a policy wonk you may be interested in these themes:
- The need to do something to create gender balance in production, provided it doesn’t just help white women.
- What can we or should we be doing to help reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous peoples. Reynolds Mastin, CEO of the CMPA suggested an Indigenous Film Office and Jesse Wente suggested that we as an industry need to help indigenous people tell their own stories (which I think means being more active than just funding an Indigenous Film Office).
- And of course the recurring (and will keep recurring until a solution is found for the growing shortfall from the regulated system) call to require all the participants in the broadcasting eco-system to contribute to the creation of Canadian programming (i.e. OTT and ISPs too).
In all, I would say that the vibe was hopeful. Some years it has been downright suicidal but I think more producers are experimenting with new content forms, distribution methods and business models and finding some success. There is a lot of production and a lot of great Canadian programming on TV, at least right now.
So, another successful Prime Time in Ottawa. Next year will be January 31 – Feb 2, 2018.