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BLACK NIGHTS 2016 Industry

Tallinn hosts the first Storytek Forum

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- The Black Nights Film Festival served as the setting for a one-day forum about the current situation of digital marketing, financing, production and sales in the global content business

Tallinn hosts the first Storytek Forum
Sten-Kristian Saluveer, Mitch Mallon, Laura-Anne Edwards, Wolf Bosse, Erwin Schmidt, John Heinsen and Juko-Mart Kõlar during the Changing the Mindset panel (© BNFF)

For the first time ever, the 20th-anniversary edition of the Black Nights Film Festival hosted the Storytek Forum. Organised by the festival’s two industry branches, Industry@Tallinn and Baltic Event, in partnership with innovative investment group Head Capital, the event held on Saturday 19 November shone a spotlight on the current media content and intellectual property business - namely, digital marketing, financing, production and sales.

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Welcoming creatives, producers, start-up and tech managers, investors, financiers, students and consultants, the forum kicked off with an introduction by organiser Sten-Kristian Saluveer and a keynote speech by Estonian information technology scientist Linnar Viik, setting out the goals and the spirit of the meeting with the words of Melvin Kranzberg: “Technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral.”

The starting point of the forum, the Changing the Mindset panel, addressed the present and the future of technology, and the possibilities it brings to the media business. Regarding the film world, enhancements of the viewing experience can be seen as a source of new business. “Think about the apps to engage viewers after the films – those ideas bring together marketing, storytelling, e-commerce and community building, which is pretty much the way to go,” stated Oscars digital producer and transmedia storytelling expert John Heinsen. “As a creator, you need to be a partner of the whole solution, a part of the digital world,” stated Mitch Mallon, digital content partner of iTunes and Google Play, and the co-chair of America's Entertainment Merchants Association. “It’s a wonderful time; there are no negative aspects at all about it – and the future is about finding the new money in it.”

The forum did a remarkable job of bringing together speakers from both this and the other side of the pond, intertwining the inherently different American and European points of view on business and technology. Filling in the gaps between an industry model controlled by major studios and the biggest players in the world, and another made up of the smallest, independent agents, Storytek gave an exhaustive overview of the current developments. The speakers discussed the ways to finance and get invested in the business, expand the audience and market from local sales to global deals, and even the importance of video games as the biggest blockbusters in the content business, as they have long surpassed films in this respect. TED resident and open-data expert Laura-Anne Edwards, crowdfunding and financing pioneer Tero Kaukomaa (Iron Sky [+see also:
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), and games and VR producer Keith Arem were just some of the participants.

The forum came to an end with the intervention of renowned Sony Pictures Entertainment PR & marketing director Pamela Rodi, to discuss global IP marketing in the digital area. Later joined by colleague Milissa Doupounce, vice-president for international marketing at Sony, both addressed the relevance of not having undermarketed films. “Every producer should have their own marketing person if they do not have the time to do those things. You have to make sure all of these things are done, also during the production phase,” advised Rodi. She continued, “It is also highly recommended to test materials to take the pulse of the market. There are more and more research companies now that enable producers to put an idea out in the marketplace to guess what the reaction of the audiences will be.” In a more and more competitive business (where film is not the leader anymore), marketing has become the crucial tool to make room for one’s product.

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