Exclusive: Zynga Executive Leaving to Change the Video Industry
We watched as social media changed journalism. We watched as it transformed music. Now we're going to watch, as it changes the way that producers and consumers alike interact with and buy videos. Or that's what Andy Kleinman, the former General Manager for Zynga in Latin America, is planning at least.
Kleinman has an entrepreneurial background. He launching a successful music company (EMEPE3) that was like iTunes before iTunes launched, co-founded Vostu, a social gaming company, and he worked closely with producers of several films. While Kleinman says that his company was too early to the game to change the face of music in the way that iTunes did, he believes that right now the film industry is ready to be brought into the 21st century.
Nobody is talking about the film "John Carter," and that's due to one simple fact: The company in charge of marketing the film didn't properly engage social media or produce spots that were designed to garner viewers' interests. The sci-fi film has been a flop, with poor ratings and poor box office performance. This is especially surprising considering that Andrew Stanton, the man behind Pixar hits like "WALL-E," "Finding Nemo," and "Monsters, Inc.," wrote the screenplay for and directed the project.
I've called this the Golden Age of entertainment, but it may deserve a different title: the Social Age. Audiences that used to having their art dictated to them with little or no say in the final product are starting to feel more entitled. If the game-makers' reaction to fan uproar over the ending of video game Mass Effect 3 teaches us anything, it's that audiences are using the Web as a platform to get their voices heard.
That's what Kleinman wants to take advantage of. He's teamed up with Scott Steindorff, the producer behind "The Lincoln Lawyer," to work with Steindorff's new production company Stone Village Entertainment and change the way that studios produce, advertise, and distribute films.
Sounds like a noble goal. Combining the talent of Old Media with the reach of New Media will offer Kleinman and Steindorff the best of both worlds, as they can -- in theory at least -- create films that cater to the audience while holding onto "adult" supervision.
The production company will begin working on a new film soon, a project based off of a book that is (apparently) insanely popular in both Russia and the US: "The Master and Margarita," a story about the Devil visiting the atheistic Soviet Union. Currently slated for a release next year, Kleinman's division in Stone Village Entertainment will focus on building out intellectual properties that can simultaneously supplement the film and stand on their own merit.
I was originally wary of the entire concept. Most of these kinds of social media integrations are little more than a Twitter hashtag or a Facebook page, filled with little bits of trivia and some behind-the-scenes photos. But Kleinman's passion for the project and genuine belief that social media can improve filmmaking for everyone won me over. The man is passionate about changing the industry and the opportunities that current technologies and social networks are offering, showing a genuine spark that most companies can't replicate.
Stone Village Entertainment will also have a branch called The Bridge, an incubator for new talent and a host of content ranging from movies to television series.
Am I sure that this will work? No. But I am sure that the film industry is ready for a change -- not so drastic as to completely "kill" Hollywood -- and it's good to know that there are passionate people working on doing something more than creating a Twitter account and half-assing their way until release.