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:: Entertainment Attorney Peter Dekom ::

Q&A:
BOOKS-TO-FILM

A CONVERSATION WITH
entertainment and new-media attorney

PETER DEKOM
Interview by Kate Sullivan


WS: You mentioned in a previous UCLA/JOLT article that you had planned to write a business essay on the financial implications of the open-content backwash and rampant Internet pilfering. How is the long-awaited book progressing?

PD: It had changed its name a couple of times, and I am in the process of joining forces with a major personality in the high tech/entertainment world with expertise in marketing at the highest levels where he has run marketing for Fortune 100 players.

Our blended insights should truly rethink the space. It's more than 400 pages now. Clearly focused on a path, very much different from the roll-back-progress-and-the-clock demands of traditional Hollywood. (more)

Editor's Note:
Peter Dekom and co-author Peter Sealey, Ph.D., completed a nonfiction book titled Not On My Watch (New Millennium Press) which we featured in the 2003 Autumn Edition of WordSmitten. This interview ran prior to its publication. .



WS: What are the emerging trends that capture your attention?

PD: I think there is entirely too much focus on technological solutions, which Hollywood mistakenly believes will give them total control of how consumers receive content in a digitized universe. Add trying to stop time through judicial action (like stopping Napster) and forcing Congress to pass legislation that kills the high tech world and you can see the issues.

:: Hollywood vs. the Future :: Peter Dekom on  the impact of New Media :: Chiefly, how to create a new economy that deals effectively with the new technology, embraces and uses it, as opposed to trying to return to the horse and buggy days of old Hollywood.

Everyone, from the high tech companies, consultants, educators, Wall St. analysts, and even Congress knows that Hollywood must change its economic models to fit the technology. Not to change the technology to fit the antiquated economic models. They think that they are damming a river — when it is the ocean they truly face.

I also think the future of the film industry will provide less focus on actors and more on written material and directors.

WS: Do the on-line moguls (and media/arts/film) still believe content is the wild animal everyone is trying to standardize, and how does convergence hobble that "international domestication" effort?

PD: Convergence is a slow process in which the Internet and television and telephony, etc. are all delivered to the home in a single pipe. It doesn't mean consumers want to watch movies on their computers or that they want to do their emails on the home TV screen. It just means that they want what they want where they want it when they want it. And as closed to a fixed fee as possible.

Standardization is a huge battle — and that's what Microsoft and its ilk are trying to do. I am content to let the big boys battle it out and deal with successful economic models regardless of what the standards might ultimately be.

WS: In the next few years what, if anything, could replace content-as-king?

PD: Content is what you look at and consume. If you like what you see, you'll want more. But if content is not delivered when and where consumers want it, and at a price they will accept, there will be enough piracy (the alternative) so as to materially impact the valuation of content libraries.

So if you look at this as a value proposition and the opportunity to provide consumers with something they are clearly willing to pay (well) for-then you win. If you expect to force them to buy it "your way" or not at all, then you are in for some big shocks!

WS: For Word Smitten's site visitors, would you hazard a realistic guess for what the ratio is for a successful book to be optioned — and then become a produced screenplay?

PD: By definition, if the book is really successful, and Hollywood is in the "book" mode - they are now - it is just a question of making sure the right producing team and right screenwriter get the project.

I think the odds of an obviously visual piece, particularly if it can appeal to a younger demographic, are better than 30%...maybe higher. But numbers here are almost silly.

WS: Consider what your three best tips would be. What would you tell novelists who want to transform an existing book into a high concept film — to use film terminology?

PD: If you are going for a younger demographic, you have to be edgy or spiritual or both. Over the top. New and fresh... iconoclastic. Visually edgy can do it too, or mystical. And allowing people to find hope and power and escape. I'm not sure if that is "three" but I guess you could interpret it that way.

~ * ~

Read Peter Dekom and Peter Sealey's recent book
NOT ON MY WATCH - HOLLYWOOD VS. THE FUTURE
Nonfiction from New Millennium Press

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