With its combination of the rich and famous, fabulous skiing, and the potential to discover next year's hit "sleeper" movies, the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah epitomizes "The Good Life."
But for many, Sundance is a lot more than just a place to ski, catch independent films and collect
while mixing and mingling with the Hollywood glitterati.
For me and my friends, Sundance offers a great opportunity for networking, learning, thinking and talking about the future of all forms of content -- and yes, for some serious playtime too.
After four days of nonstop activity and a total of about six hours sleep, the most important part of Sundance for me came at the party after the awards ceremony. I certainly got a kick out of drinking champagne with movie directors and stars like Terrence Howard at the event.
But the real juice came afterward, as I chatted at length with all kinds of people from the movie industry. Far and away the discussions centered around what Hollywood is, should and can do as the Internet changes the delivery of all forms of content, including its precious movies.
Most often heard question: How much content do we put online legally?
Step back for a moment and consider what goes into that question, as the question itself really delivers all kinds of information to analyze.
First off, how much?
In other words, Hollywoodies are still grappling with whether they should make all of their content available online. The word content itself underscores the convergence of the delivery of the various forms of data, storytelling, reports, blogs and/or whatever other forms of content are now available online. Yes, online.
The revolution that can't be stopped really is rooted fully in the Internet. And finally, legally? The good news: Hollywood types recognize piracy as a problem that's here to stay. The bad news: piracy is a problem that's here to stay.
That such discussions were so prevalent at a party during which we could have been discussing Scarlett Johansson's latest role or whether
Little Miss Sunshine
will shine at the box office (it will!) underscores the importance of the Internet and the revolution that it's driving.
Whether chatting on chairlifts on
Park City Mountain Resort, sitting in the Lodge at Mountain Village's outdoor Jacuzzi with snow landing on my head, or even trudging from one early morning party to another, I talked, listened and absorbed discussions about the content revolution. The mainstream Internet has been here for a decade and video over the Internet has been easy for the last five years.
But revolutions aren't smooth; they're ugly, hard and full of death or at least serious dislocations for the entrenched powers (old-school Hollywood studios, network TV and the record companies, in this case). But out of revolutions arise greatness. Our job, as investors, is to find where that greatness will come from. I've had some great rides in
because I saw their place in this revolution very early on.
As I and everyone else was repeatedly reminded at Sundance: We're still so very early in this landscape-changing paradigm shift. It's going to take a lot of work, discussion, homework, networking (and playing!) to catch the next big winners.
I'm heading to the Grammys in L.A. this week for more on all of this. And maybe I'll see you next year at Sundance and we'll work on all of this together.
Word to the wise: my trip to Sundance was
a last-minute decision after two friends -- one from a giant Internet company that I've written about a million times and another from a giant music magazine -- chided me until I agreed to meet them.
If you want to attend, it's best to plan ahead as the prime condos and festival passes tend to go far in advance. Check out the
official Sundance Web site for information about planning, lodging and deals that are sure to be announced ahead of the 2007 festival.
Skiing With the Stars
At the time of publication, the firm in which Willard is a partner was long Google and Apple, although positions can change at any time and without notice.
Cody Willard is a partner in a buy-side firm and a contributor to TheStreet.com's RealMoney.
He also produces a premium product for TheStreet.com called
The Telecom Connection and is the founder of Teleconomics.com. The firm in which Willard is a partner may, from time to time, have long or short positions in, or buy or sell the securities, or derivatives thereof, of companies mentioned in his columns.None of the information in this column constitutes, or is intended to constitute, a recommendation by Willard of any particular security or trading strategy or a determination by Willard that any security or trading strategy is suitable for any specific person. Willard appreciates your feedback --
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