Aspen Fest, Mondo Media, TV-Web Connection, Yahoo Fest, AtomFilms, Hitplay Media and more...
by Tim LaTorre/EB Insider
>> Aspen Fest Proves Comedy Rules Web Entertainm
As seems to be the case with every major festival this year, those attending
the Aspen Comedy Arts Festival spent much of their time buzzing about the
Web. At panels such as "Networks and the Net," speaker after speaker
discussed the sometimes insane pace of change in online entertainment, and
went back and forth on discussions regarding who holds more power, content
providers or distributors (content seemed to be the consensus), and how
entertainment is being "commodified" by advertising. The discussion left
some dazed, including James L. Brooks, who, according to Variety reports,
wondered aloud whether old-fashioned things like "story" and "character"
still mattered in this Next Gen Entertainment world. But there was no
stopping the dot-com armies, as reps from Entertaindom, iCAST, the Den and
festival sponsor Excite were out in full force trolling for Web-ready
content. As if to prove the point of comedy's primacy in online
entertainment, Dreamworks/Imagine's Pop.com took the opportunity at the
festival to make their first acquisition, of the 20 minute short film "The
Dancing Cow" from filmmaker Taz Goldstein.
>> Online Animation Stays on a Roll as Mondo Media Rakes it in
Alongside comedy, animation is currently the big winner in Next Gen
Entertainment, a fact thrown into dramatic relief by the $20 million round
of financing closed by streaming animation producer and syndicator Mondo
Media (www.mondomed.com) this week. Mondo Media provides a series of
episodic animated Flash shows such as "Thugs on Film," "Like, News" and "The
God and Devil Show" to sites such as Netcenter, Entertaindom and
Macromedia's showcase site Shockwave.com, as well as newly announced
partners AtomFilms, Alta Vista, Excite@Home and washingtonpost.com. Much of
the new funding came from Macromedia, a smart move considering all of Mondo
Media's work is done using their Flash tools - increases in Mondo Media's
reach can help Macromedia's Flash extend its penetration and exposure as
well. According to Variety, Mondo will use the gobs of cash to acquire new
content and lure in more A-list Hollywood talent, a trail blazed by
Shockwave's recent pricey deals with people like Tim Burton and Stan Lee.
(In a related announcement, Entertaindom picked up another season of "The
God and Devil Show," an additional 17 episodes to go into production
Yahoo Fest Slate Set...
Yahoo's Internet Life Film Festival, which combines a two-day real-world
festival and exhibition with an online short film competition, set much of
its slate this week. The jewel in the features area is the world premiere
of "Time Code 2000," director Mike Figgis' ("Leaving Las Vegas") improv DV
effort. Some of the 24 live action and animated shorts include iFilm's
claymation effort "More" and Atomfilms' "Men Named Milo, Women Named Greta."
To view shorts and vote, go to www.onlinefilmfestival.com.
AtomFilms Oscar Booty...
In a key moment for Next Gen Entertainment, Web distributor AtomFilms found
itself the proud producer of two Oscar nominees in the short film categories
- "Humdrum", a little claymation masterpiece about existential shadow
puppets (directed by Peter Peake of Aardman Animations) and "Killing Joe", a
longer short film mingling coming-of-age drama with the JFK assassination
(directed by Mehdi Norowzian and Steve Wax).
Hitplay Media Makes Moves...
Hitplay Media (http://www.hitplay.com), one of a growing number of LA-based
media-on-demand sites, announced some content deals in anticipation of a
Spring launch date. They will partner with Action Sports/Scott Dittrich
Films to provide extreme/action sports content, and fashion webcasters Dear
Addy to provide fashion content, both in exclusive deals that bolster the
streaming content library being built up by Hitplay.
Dual TV-Net Usage up...
Intriguing news for convergence-minded folk this week, as industry research
firm Dataquest released a report which found that the number of adults who
use the Net and watch television at the same time (called "telewebbers")
increased from 8 million in 1998 to 27 million in 1999, a kind of "organic
convergence" which means that the potential audience for interactive TV and
Web entertainment is expanding rapidly.
[EB INSIDER is a free weekly email service exclusively devoted to
the burgeoning next-generation entertainment industry. Check out
this week's feature profile: "MICROCAST: the new Internet Broadcast
Standard?" at http://www.ebinsider.com.]