Why Hollywood’s Old Guard Is Slow to Embrace Innovation (Guest Blog)

“Adversity to technology is endemic to many working producers and AD’s in the film industry,” writes StudioBinder CEO Robert Kiraz

A photo illustration depicts a person typing May 4, 2001 in Denver, CO. Technology (Getty Images)
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Creating any type of video content, no matter the scale, is a haphazard collision of personalities, personal processes, software incompatibility, Excel spreadsheets, paperwork and miscommunication.

As an entrepreneur and filmmaker, I live at the crossroads of both worlds. One year ago, our team set out to streamline the production management experience.

There is plenty of postproduction software on the market, but when it comes to production management software for producers, you’re left with antiquated solutions that you swear have been around since Windows NT.  You would think a new, elegantly designed solution would be welcomed by producers with open arms.

Not exactly.

Prior to our development of StudioBinder — which helps production companies better organize crew details and generate stripboards, to create and send call sheets — we conducted a number of product validation interviews. The concept is commonly associated with the “lean startup” movement in Silicon Valley, asking potential customers to discuss pain points to identify solutions. After extensive interviews with day players, AD’s and producers, the response we got was more defensive rather than embracing of innovation:

“I have my own system and spreadsheet, I don’t need to use anything else.”

“Templates for free. No one will pay for software.”

“You’re putting the hospital there on the call sheet?! That’s crazy.”

“I don’t need read receipts for call sheets. I pay a production coordinator to do that.”

The feedback was not so much a reflection of our product, but more of a general resistance to change. No wonder film-tech startups aren’t jumping into this industry. It’s run by old-guard production folks who stand behind a shield of tradition. And the attitude is toxic for innovation.

By and large, adversity to technology is endemic to many working producers and AD’s in the film industry.

But you know where this isn’t the case? Online content.

There are more production companies, agencies, MCN’s, YouTube channels, and online video sites popping up every day. The common through-line is that these productions are being operated by a younger generation fresh out of film schools, tech-savvy, and open-minded. They’re looking for more free-time, and technology to automate their grunt work. They’re turning around content at breakneck speeds and a fraction of the cost.

How? They use chat tools like Slack to chat with their team members during preproduction, Asana to assign to-do lists, Celtx to write screenplays online, HelloSign to send and e-sign paperwork, Uberconference for production meetings, and StudioBinder to manage and track their call sheets and schedules.

This is why I’m very optimistic about the industry. A new generation of filmmakers are inheriting the industry from the old guard. Some companies will re-evaluate bottlenecks in their workflow, others will continue throwing more PA’s at the problem.

Which companies do you think will move faster? Which ones will cost less over time?

It’s an exciting era of reinvention, and technology marches on.