Film Exec: Smartphones and Tablet Screens Will Overtake Theaters 'Within Months, Not Years'

 

ABU DHABI -- One-time film financier and production executive Angus Finney, who now runs Europe's Production Finance Market, predicts people will be watching movies first on tablets and mobile devices "within months."

Finney, the former Renaissance Films chief, says the shift will have profound implications for the movie industry while giving a Masterclass at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Finney said tablets and cellphones will take over as the dominant screen “within months, not years."

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"You only have to notice the number of people who watch movies and TV shows on handheld devices," he said. "That’s going to require a lot of thought as to the kind of content people make."

The finance expert, whose clients include ADFF organizer Twentyfour54 and $2.4 billion City of London fund manager Octopus Investments, delivered his verdict to mostly young Abu Dhabi filmmakers.

Finney spent two hours explaining how the film industry works and the qualities you need to be a successful producer.

“Stars are struggling because they mean less. They don’t dictate the market any more, and, as a result, they don’t earn so much,” was among Finney's opinions.

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"The dark art of film financing is for financiers to leave you dangling while they decide whether to invest. That way they get you pregnant. You start spending your own money, trying to push things along, and by that stage, you are so desperate to get into production you’re pushed into deferring your fee."

And he said that in the current climate created by Facebook and LinkedIn, "a good sales agent will know the names of the children of each territory’s distributor -- even what his dog is called."

Finney also told the audience that most financiers only read a script once.

"So if you go back to them saying, ‘Here’s the fifth draft, it’s much funnier’ by then it’s too late. You only get one shot,” Finney said.

And he also took a dig at L.A. agents.

"When I ran a sales agency, we used to call Hollywood agents ‘film prevention officers.’ Their job seemed to be stopping movies from getting made."

He also claimed most people decide what film to see based on its genre, not who's in it or who directed it.

But for Finney, the single biggest challenge facing producers over the next five years will be "managing talent -- the screenwriter, director, cast."

He said: "Many producers drop the ball when it comes to keeping talent on side by the time their film is released. Either they’ve fallen out with them or they’ve moved on to other projects. Which means the star or the director is not available when it comes to doing junkets. That’s bad management."

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