Children’s television production’s great success, Sinking Ship Entertainment


– Hi everyone. Hello. Greetings. My name is J.J. Johnson. I am one of the founding
partners of a kid’s TV company called Sinking Ship Entertainment. Rather than tell you what we’ve done, I’m gonna show you a little bit. This is our corporate reel from last year. Hopefully, you can get
a sense of who we are. (upbeat techno music) ♫ Let your wind carry us ♫ To the clouds, hurry up, alright ♫ We can travel so far ♫ As our eyes can see ♫ We go where no one goes ♫ We slow for no one ♫ Get out of our way ♫ We slow for no one ♫ We go where no one ♫ We slow for no one ♫ We go where no one ♫ We go where no one ♫ Goes ♫ – Makes me tired watching that. That’s Sinking Ship entertainment. We started in 2002, with just three people. There were three partners. A history of making history
is what we called this, how we were discovered. There was three of us, and basically we all graduated
from Ryerson University. There were three partners, Matt Bishop, Blair Powers, and myself. We enjoyed our time at school, but I think were unprepared
for what was going to come after we graduated. We all wanted to start
a production company. We wanted to do dark dramas, comedies, then soon realized that
we had no experience. No one was going to take a chance on us, so I ended up working at a talent agency. Which I would say is,
unless there’s agents here, one of the lowest rungs of the industry. In that, I was having to call in auditions for people where I was literally like, you are the before in the
before and after photo. Try to look as disgusting as possible. They were like, we can
do it, we can do it! Blair, who is my best friend, he was working at a coast house where he would literally
log video footage. They were doing industrial videos. He was working in this guy’s
basement in Burlington. They would log industrial
videos of medical videos. He logged every day, 10
hours of proctology videos. Cameras inside people, day
in and day out, to the point where Blair could tell
the difference in size. He’s like, “Oh that’s
Isabelle, no problem. “There’s a cyst right there.” It’s kind of gross. But that’s the way we started our company. To give you a sense of
how inexperienced we were, this is our first corporate profile shot. There’s the three of us. We thought, you know it went
with the name Sinking Ship. There’s Blair in the yellow. Matt in the blue. So while I was working
at this talent agency, I think I was making $350 a week. I had $25,000 in student debt. So, bad. Broke up with my girlfriend of five years. It was just the lowest,
darkest time of my life. One day this kid named Daniel
Cook came into the building. The agent knew Daniel’s parents, and thought that he was amazing. He was five. They’re like this kid is spectacular. They left him down with me, while they went to talk about business. I can only imagine what he saw, ‘Cause I was just hunched
over, waiting to die. He came over and was talking
to me about Transformers. All I remember he said that he liked Decepticons more than Autobots, because they were more
interesting characters. It was like this little bright moment. I was just enjoying the
conversation, for like 20 minutes. The agent came down. He’s like, “Now this kid
deserves his own show.” Which truthfully, the
agent had said about anyone that moved through the office. But, it was the first
time that I thought about, if I were to do a kid’s
show, what would it be? I jotted down the idea
for this Daniel Cook, which was literally just following around this five year old, and seeing how he experienced the world. It was the simplest thing. I called Blair at lunch. I was like, Blair, I have
this idea for this show. Do you think we should
shoot a pilot for it? Blair was like, “I’m looking
inside someone right now. “Yes we should.” I think, this was the other
shot that we sent out. So, Daniel Cook was started. One of the things that I think
differentiates Sinking Ship from some of the other
companies out there, is that we do our own
development in-house. We put our money up. We shoot pilots for everything. It’s a way for us to test a concept. It’s a way also, to respect
the person you’re pitching to. Every one that you present, has to pitch it up to other committees. They’re gonna show it to their kids. To think that people are going
to do that with a script, I think is a little bit crazy. We’re the TV industry. We should show it. Also, I think about this show. If I had pitched, if I had
gone there with no experience and said, oh my gosh,
I’ve got this great idea for this show, about this
really hilarious five year old. It’s gonna touch your soul. They would be like, I have
heard that from everyone. I’m gonna show you a little bit. This is from the original pilot that we shot in 2002, I think. – [Voiceover] Are you
gonna give it a shot? You want to eat that one? – [Voiceover] This is
Daniel Cook eating truffles. (bright music) Oh, this is good. – [Voiceover] Good. Do you know what else is very
good with chocolate, is tea. – [Voiceover] Oh. – [Voiceover] Yeah. – [Voiceover] And you know what? – [Voiceover] What? – [Voiceover] It’s not just
tea that’s good with chocolate. It’s also milk. When you’re making chocolate
cookies, it’s good with milk. – [Voiceover] Milk and
chocolate is very good together. Sometimes after you eat
a nice chocolate truffle, it’s good to wash it down
with a big glass of milk. – [Voiceover] It was very
nice working with you. – [Voiceover] Thank you so much for helping me out this morning. – [Voiceover] You’re welcome. (crowd laughing) (mumbles) – He went to Oprah, eventually. What was cool about that show, is that no one else had thought to do it. I think this is where
I got the first lesson for Sinking Ship, which was
partly our inexperience, was our greatest asset. That by not going to other companies and learning how they’ve done it, we tried things differently. When I shot with him,
there were things he liked, there were things he didn’t like. I left in the things he didn’t like, because I thought it was entertaining. Not knowing that in
kid’s TV, at that point, they dare not touch that
kids have negative emotions. They’ve just never seen it. But because it was done in this way, not as animated farm animals talking about why they’re upset about something, but an actual kid feeling, not that those are bad shows, I’m sure they’re good, just not the kind of shows that we make. Sorry, that’s gone. Alright. It’s from a real kid, and
a real kid’s perspective. I think seeing that made it acceptable. That goes into a lot of our shows. I think we learned in
this one to be as honest as we possibly could with the audience. We’re lucky because we
do a lot of live action. We have real kids there, that
will tell us if it’s wrong. With this show, it aired in 2004. While we were waiting for it to go, I should say, when it was picked up, we sent that pilot out to everyone. TVO called the next day, and
said they were interested. When we were at Arisan, they were like, at the point, the professors were like, they may never call. You may never get an answer. It won’t happen. Then we got this phone call. But, we had no idea what to do. We obviously all quit our jobs, expecting to be shooting the next day, not knowing that it
takes a year to finance. We were wavering like there was
another dark period of time. What we also did then was
shoot pilots for new ideas. As Daniel Cook, well when it was picked out by Disney
in the US, which is like, as we all know the light
of God raining down on you when a US network sees you. As soon as Disney picked up the show, all of our other pilots
that were in contention, got picked up by various networks. That show was the first
English preschool series to be dubbed in Germany ever. The first live action preschool show. And again, it was just that they said that they had never seen
anything as honest as that. It sold to over 120 territories, which for a live action show, we got told all the time
that live action kid shows don’t travel well. As you can see by the next
couple slides, that’s just fake. Then it won lots of prizes, which brings us two years later, so 2006. This is when we basically took everything that we learned from Daniel Cook, and started to incorporate
into other shows. At the same time, we realized
that we were still looked upon as people that
were making live action, interstitial preschool programs. Those are five minute episodes. That’s all we had done. To start pitching greater, we had to figure out
ways to make ourselves look more impressive. Hence, one of them was I wanted
to do a kid’s travel show. Now obviously, a kid’s travel TV show had been pitched a thousand times. We obviously chose to shoot a pilot. None of us, those three people
that you saw on the beach in ripped clothes, had ever
left the country before. That was one hit. It was about stepping
back, and be like okay, well what is the network going to ask. The first thing, if I
was pitching a TV show, and I was the network, I would be like, Why you? In fact, I think that’s what
they ask about everything. Why you? What possible reason do I have
to trust you with children in foreign countries? All we have is Daniel Cook and Blair’s experience
in proctology videos. (laughing) Don’t tweet that. We would like to shoot
a pilot, so I was like, who would be the best name to get onboard for a travel series? Right? And that would be National Geographic. Right? And why not reach out
to them and say, listen, we’ve done this other show. What do you think about
us taking that format and moving it internationally? At the same time, I was worried
that networks would be like, okay, well, if you’re going
to third world nations, what makes you credible? You don’t have an international
degree in development. So I was like, the next
person that’d be great, that would be UNICEF. We went to National Geographic and we started to talk to them. I may have mentioned that
UNICEF was more interested than they were at the time,
and said the same to UNICEF. Whatever happened, they both
came on the board relatively at the same time. Thank God those organizations
do not talk to each other. We ended up going in with a series that was kind of pilot shot in Mexico. National Geographic on board and UNICEF. That shoot was a nightmare. The pilot shoot, we actually had executives
from National Geographic come down, which is the
most stressful moment. We had arranged, has anyone
been to those pyramids in Chichen Itza. Yeah, they’re gorgeous, right? We took two Canadian kids, one’s an eight, and a six year old, set them up for this beautiful moment. Because the one thing that I love shooting is kid’s first reaction
to seeing something. Like, there’s nothing more
beautiful in the world. We had them kind of blind folded. They’re standing. We’ve got the pyramid behind them. We’d set up these shots
so that all they had to do is open up their eyes, turn around, and see this pyramid. We were going to capture
all of that, six executives from National Geographic
standing nervously. I called the moment, those kids turned, and the look on their
faces is one of the best. It’s so amazing. They’re like, ah. And then, immediately after
that, they’re like, a lizard. (audience laughter) They run out of the shot,
right, following this lizard. I’m there being like, look
at the natural children. This is amazing. Right, this is all a part of the plan. Thank God that lizard made
its way back to the pyramid, and that there was lizard
iconography all over that pyramid, so actually those stories dovetail. Again, what we realized is let
them kind of choose the path. That is what a kid would do. If I tried, and I was
trying to make an episode of the pyramid because you think it’s gonna be interesting. But truthfully, that lizard was cooler. They could hold it, and
they could talk about it, they could go to the pyramid. It was about kind of adapting to what our kids were telling us. Our focus research being
literally right there, on set. This is, so 2006, we’ve
grown to 18 crew members. We added post production,
just because we realized that we spent a lot of
time in post searching for those moments, and
trying to work with editors that weren’t just racing through it, but actually trying to find
where was the heart and soul of the show. So, this is the trailer
for Are We There Yet, World Adventure. (calm music) – [Voiceover] Woah. Here we go. – [Voiceover] Woah. Yeah, oh look. See what’s going up. Whoa! – [Voiceover] This is way up in the air. (calm music) ♫ On the way ♫ On the way ♫ On the way ♫ On the way ♫ I would like to reach out my hand ♫ I may see you, I may tell you to run ♫ On my way ♫ On my way ♫ You know what they say about the young ♫ Well pick me up with golden hand ♫ I may see you, I may tell you to run ♫ – [Voiceover] It’s spicy. (yelling)
– [Voiceover] Lizard. They really like to play. (mumbling) Yeah. – [Voiceover] This is
the best day of my life. ♫ I would like to hold my little hand (children yelling) ♫ I would like to hold my little hand ♫ (children yelling) – [Voiceover] That’s so cool! Wow!
– [Voiceover] Wow! – [Voiceover] I’ve never
seen anything like this. (upbeat music) (children yelling) – [Voiceover] We are
inside the pyramid now. ♫ I would like to reach out my hand ♫ I may see you, I may tell you to run, ♫ On the way ♫ On the way ♫ You know what they say about the young ♫ (mumbling) (audience clapping) – That’s a little bit of Are We There Yet. That was, (mumbling) that we got from UNICEF. We filmed in more countries
than any other kid series, that we can tell. I’m not exactly sure how to prove that, but from what we could
find from other shows, we’re going to lay claim to that, and sold to over 90 territories. This show does something
that I particularly love. I’m clearly not the
biggest fan of animation, especially when it comes to
certain educational things. For me, it’s if you’re going
to try to get kids excited about the real world, it is important that you show them the real world. Not necessarily from the
perspective of some animal in an animated world, although, I’m sure that could work as well. The one thing that I should say, that in looking back at
what we want it to be, in terms of this discover-ability, is that we were also pitching
shows that we could do. Right, This is Daniel Cook, the total budget for that
series was, I think, $600,000, which was for 13 half hours of content. It wasn’t such a big ask
that people were going to give us the freedom to do
that, and to be in the roles that we wanted to give. I directed every episode of that, because I directed the pilots. I could speak to the relationship
that I had with that kid. We were not out there
pitching a feature film, and expecting that to
be our first pick up, though we did get there eventually. Even for Are We There Yet,
that was a $1.2 million series. We went to 10 countries in the beginning. We stayed in horrible places,
but we were able to afford it, and got a lot of life stories out of it. 2008. This is adding script to reality. After we’ve done a lot of reality series, we were interested in certainly
pushing the boundaries. I think at that point we
had done maybe seven shows that were all reality-based. We wanted to see if we
could take the philosophy of what we were getting
in the reality stuff, which was off the cuff
things that sounded honest, and see if we could
dovetail it into scripted. We had grown to 35 crew
members at that point. We added interactive,
and again this was mostly to have more control. We found that when we were
working with outside companies, sharing of assets took forever. To be able to consolidate
everything into one place meant that the quality was better,
our teams were more inspired, and more people were talking, trying to figure out more ways. This is an updated corporate
shot that we took in 2008, six years later. We’re not in tattered clothes. (mumbling) We pitched Dino Dan. Dino Dan was a series. It actually goes back to Daniel Cook. Daniel Cook did 130 five minute episodes. Each one he tried a different career. When I met Daniel, he said he
wanted to be a paleontologist at five. Because he liked that grownups, in paleontology, grown ups
hadn’t discovered everything yet. I thought that was interesting, because it still left a place
for him to figure things out. After 130 episodes where he
did every possible career, he still wanted to be a paleontologist. That same reasoning was that
he could still discover things. He was like, you know, your next show should be about dinosaurs. The thing that I always try
to do is mold that idea, and try to figure out how
do you present something that no one has ever seen before. I do not understand, at the
core of discover-ability, is just have a reason to be discovered. Be different enough. Be compelling and original. And they will find you. If you go out, I’m gonna go
on animation one more time, with pitching a farm show with animals that talk about caring and sharing, there are a lot of those shows. Why do that? If you’re gonna be innovative and push it to some frontier
that no one’s ever seen, or animated and it’s the
most beautiful thing. If not, you are treading in the
same water as everyone else. When we hear networks ask or tell us what they’re looking for, we pitch the exact opposite
because they will get bored of seeing what they think
they were looking for, and then be surprised by, oh, maybe we should try this crazy thing. Look how cool we are. Not that they move like that, but I imagine in the corporate there’s a moment where they’re like, maybe we’ve got to change
our whole strategy. And you’ve got that pitch that
didn’t follow what they want. Because if people knew
how to make a hit show, there would be far more hit shows. This series was about going back to what I think kids
liked about dinosaurs. When we asked kids, they
were like, we like them, because they’re scary. Right? Every single one. Now there was like 1% that was like, I do not like them,
because they are scary. You cannot play with the 1%. I think that is actually
true, another little point, I’m just realizing now. If you try to make it for all audiences, it will just go into that middle view that doesn’t stand out because it’s kind of boring and plain. This was about saying that no
dinosaurs were big creatures, they would fight each other, they would try to kill each other. We do not show death on the show, but we get extremely close. Again, it was about showing what’s that going to be for kids. How are you gonna show that? In pitching it, because we knew
we were gonna shoot a pilot, is stepping back and being like what were those
questions going to be. Obviously, what’s the relationship between the lead character
and the dinosaurs, and can you pull off the animation, because you’re competing
with Jurassic Park. This is just a bit of the demo that we shot in 2000 something, eight. (dramatic music) (kid yelling) (dinosaur growls) – [Voiceover] I knew it. Only 17 kilometers an hour. Definitely not as fast as a car. Aw, come on. That’s still pretty fast. Hmm, now let’s see if you’re a scavenger. (dinosaur growls) Dino Dan! (dinosaur roars) (dramatic music) – We had one network describe
that as preschool horror, (crowd laughing) which is a genre that I’m
happy that we live in. We had Nickelodeon pick that up. We did a minute of scene,
and it was actually shown. There was another
distributor that was there, and it was a, (mumbles) It was amazing. In the meeting, the
distributor was showing a bunch of stuff. They were like, I’m
not interested in this. I’ve seen this all before. Do you have anything new? We had just casually sent
it to the distributor, they sent me a text saying can
we show this to Nickelodeon, I was like, yes, please do. They showed it, and they
picked it up within a week. Because they had a reason to pick it up. It was something that they hadn’t seen. It was different. It was compelling. They showed it around very quickly, got the sign off from everyone. But, we had proven it. That demo cost us $10,000. Which, it seems like a lot of money, but I think when you’re
asking someone for 5 million, maybe you should invest $10,000, and not complain about
where that money came from. Just do it, because it’s
going to jump you through, instead of developing taking five years, and being bitter at the
end, it’s six months and you’re up and running. Not that it ends bitter. It’s just a taste of, am
I running out of time? 10 minutes? 10 minutes, okay. This is just a taste of
what the actual show became. (dramatic music) – [Voiceover] This is me. Dan Henderson. I’m a regular kid. I have a brother, a mom. – [Voiceover] I’ll arrest him later, okay. – [Voiceover] A dog. I go to school where I have
some really funny friends and even some interesting teachers. – [Voiceover] Very prehistoric. – [Voiceover] There are no
piggyback rides in gym class. – [Voiceover] I have a really cool hobby. Dino experiment 116. Dino experiment 105. Dino experiment 103. A corythosaurus! Spikeasaurus! (dinosaur growls) (mumbling) You see, I love dinosaurs. I even call myself– – We don’t have a lot of time. (mumbling) We were lucky to get some
pretty notable Canadians in there. There was Andrea Martin. We got a lot of The Kids in The Hall. I’m surprised that those people
don’t pop up in more shows. When I asked them why, they were like, nobody asked us, or thinks
that we would be interested. They all came out at reasonable rates. That show we produced. It took about a year to make. It debuted as the highest
rated premier on Nick Jr. 2010. It sold to over 140 territories. It spun off two additional series, including the one that
we’re shooting yesterday, which is Dino Dana, the
first girl spin off. 2011. This will bring it in-house. Some of the animation there
that you could see was bright, but we had a lot of fights
with the animation company because they would say to us, and this is the kiss of death in working with certain with Sinking Ship they’re like you’re pushing
too far in the animation, trying to do too much. You need to realize that
this is just a kid show. I think that attitude actually permeates that people don’t realize
that the kid’s industry, what we’re actually making, has more viewership than any
adult prime time show ever, by a ton. We’ll talk about that, if
I have time in a second. We got to 75 crew members. We brought animation in house. People said that that would
be ridiculously challenging. We knew that would be the only way that we could guarantee that the quality of that animation was
gonna be spectacular. I think being able to get
control over your properties and how you make them, is one of the steps that you can make sure that those things are going to stand out. Because no one’s going to
push as hard for your series, or your idea, as you are. Dino Dan’s: Trek’s
Adventures was the series that to that. Hopefully, you can already
see that the animation is significantly better. We’ll skip it, because
we’ve got to keep going. That sold to over 160 territories. We actually bested our last one. We won the Emmy Award for
outstanding preschool series. This is one of the best
moments of my life. This happened last year. We were up against Sesame Street. Sesame Street and Sesame
Workshop has never lost the preschool category
since that award was created in like 1986. The looks on their faces– (crowd clapping) They were shocked, and then
we were equally shocked. We had pre-drank, because we
thought we were going to lose. Our speech is not the greatest thing ever, but it was still such a glorious moment. It shows that something that’s innovative and has a unique take, and is different, can take out a juggernaut like Sesame. We don’t get along obviously. Dino Dana is currently in production. We average 1.1 million
views per week on YouTube, because it’s dinosaurs and
obviously kids like that. There’s Dino Dana, the little
girl we shot in the submarine. They fight a megalodon
in the first episode, and almost died. Growing up. Then we decided and obviously
we were pushing the preschool, (mumbles) so we wanted to go a little bit older. We got to distribution. We added Annedroids, one
of my favorite shows. Annedroids, we were at a
conference where they were talking about how girls are underrepresented in kid’s TV. In live action shows,
girls only represent one out of every three characters. In animation, they’re only
one out of every four. I was like, oh, well that’s not a problem. I was working out a
show with a little boy, because I think you like to speak to your younger self maybe. I was like, oh, we can
switch it to a girl. It won’t be a problem. We did that. We shot a pilot. We showed it to all of the US networks, and we were rejected by all of them. Some were very overt. They were like, we would take this. We love the concept,
but we’ll only take it if you change her to a male lead because we believe that girls
will watch boys and girls, and boys won’t watch a girl-like
show, or something crazy. We’re lucky at Sinking
Ship, because we’re nothing, if not petulant and angry. We’re like, well, we’ll
find another way to make it. So we took this pilot and we
showed it around the world. I have to say too, there’s a
gender-less android character that they make in the pilot episode, Pal, who’s kind of discovering
what it is to be a kid. We took that all around the world and found the money elsewhere. It’s also like if you have
something original and different, and you feel it’s ahead of its time, there will be people that say no. Those people are not right, and it’s your job to prove them wrong. We went around the world. We got Journey on board, French
Canada, and SVT in Sweden. They were my favorite, oh shoot. They were my favorite
because when they saw Pal, they were like, we love the gay android. (crowd laughing) Who is he going to end up with? Al or Nick? It was amazing. This is a little taste of some of the things that happen in Annedroids. – [Voiceover] I said, it’s
impolite to spy on people. – [Voiceover] You’re a girl? – [Voiceover] You’re a boy? – [Voiceover] Obviously, do you live here? – [Voiceover] This is my laboratory. It’s where I do my research
and some of my experiments. – [Voiceover] What experiment
is underneath this sheet? – [Voiceover] This is Pal. – [Voiceover] This is awesome. So where is he? – [Voiceover] Who? – [Voiceover] Pal. You said to be here at 0800, so we could all spend
his first day together. – [Voiceover] What makes
you think Pal’s a he, and do you see a socket wrench? – [Voiceover] I don’t know. Isn’t he a he? – [Voiceover] We’ll have to
ask Pal after Pal wakes up. I didn’t program Pal
to be a boy or a girl. – [Voiceover] Cool. – Cool, I got a little bit of
the trailer from season three. I just have to say,
Amazon came into existence around this time. I think it was 10 years, not
the company, but going into TV. They specifically wanted
things that were risky, that no one else wanted. We were two weeks into pre-production, and they came on board, which
was obviously a challenge, but awesome. It took the creation of
an entire new network, for this show to find a home in the US. This is apparently– (suspenseful music) – [Voiceover] Barbed wire. Metal doors. – [Voiceover] What is she trying to say? – [Voiceover] Stay out. – [Voiceover] What’s going on? Anyone? – [Voiceover] You’re a robot? – [Voiceover] Yes I am. – [Voiceover] Annie? – [Voiceover] Just kidding. – [Voiceover] Welcome to
the android engineering bay. We made them all ourselves. – [Voiceover] This place is– – [Voiceover] Cray cray? I know. Meet Fang. He uses echolocation to hear. – [Voiceover] That is tickling
my facial tech sensors. – [Voiceover] Welcome to
Magnus Tech’s AI laboratory. – [Voiceover] What exactly
are you looking to steal? – [Voiceover] Power. – [Voiceover] Hello. – [Voiceover] We need to keep the junkyard safe from intruders. – [Voiceover] You think Paisley will let the intruders
out of the junkyard? – [Voiceover] You ready
to begin our experience? – [Voiceover] I am ready. (yelling) – [Voiceover] The three
of us worked together to bring Pal to life. Now, we have to work together
to make sure Pal has a life. – [Voiceover] Stop. Don’t do anything cool without me. (dramatic music) – [Voiceover] Annedroids. – Second season got 10 Emmy nominations, tying Sesame Street for
the most Emmy nominations for a series, which obviously further
strained our relationship with Sesame Workshop. That show’s doing remarkably well. That show, which has a genderless
android, has a girl lead, it is our top selling series. It is sold to every country in
the world, I think, but two. Iceland is coming, and France. (mumbling) This was my favorite, too. Described by the New
York Times in the AV Club as what 21st century kid’s
programming should look like, which was the best compliment because it was dealing with issues that kids are actually dealing with in their lives. Kids are interested in
talking about themselves and figuring out gender. They hear all these things, but no one actually talks to them. I think when we find that
kids are watching up, it’s because we’re literally
talking down to them. They’re watching older series, because those series
are actually compelling to their real world. They are far more sophisticated than we give them credit for. 2014, we are growing. We added audio post production, and brought us to Odd Squad, which is probably our most
successful series in the States. You guys have seen the show. I’m gonna talk a little bit. This was a series that
had two LA. creators. It went to PBS. PBS, though they passed on Annedroids because it had too much action, loved that the animation that we had done. They decided when that
content came to them, they brought that series to us to say, would you be able to do this? And I love, for us, it
was taking a concept that was brilliant, the
writing was spectacular, but it was originally set
in a office environment. It was kind of described as like your mom’s office environment. It was meant to be pretty
safe, pretty boring. We had, it’s a spy show, so
what we did was work the writers to upgrade the visual. We built a 50,000 square foot set, that’s completely interconnected, so we could move from
one zone to the other. We added tube systems, and gadgets, and just went 100 times bigger. It was because, from their perspective, everyone had told them no
it would be impossible. Other production companies
that they had met, who would obviously love to
shoot in an office environment that they could rent cheaply. It is not easy to build
a 50,000 square foot set, but if you want to stand out,
you have to take those risks. If you look at what your
competition is around the world, we’re not just competing in Canada, the benchmark for success
cannot be just having a show. It has to be does that show carry? Does it go around the world? That takes time. That takes effort. That takes stepping back and being like, I’m gonna make sure that this looks and feels like nothing
else that’s out there. And I hope you get a sense
from looking at the stuff that we make, that it doesn’t look and feel like what’s out
there, so it’s easy to pitch. If you go to MIPtv, if
you go to kid’s screen, and you go up and down those aisles, you will see like, oh, look. It’s knights this year,
or dragons, or something. Everyone’s chasing one another versus having something that’s different. I think about Degrassi as a
prime example of a series. I love them for it, but
Degrassi is just an honest show. It’s one of the number one
Canadian exports for content, because it’s honest. Why there aren’t more people
chasing Degrassi blows my mind. We’re going to try to do that soon. Yes, a very successful (mumbling) stuff. Averages 50 million monthly video views. That series airs on
Amazon, Netflix, and PBS. 50 million, that’s just
a ridiculous amount when you think that sometimes
we tout Canadian successes of series that are like, it gets 260,000. Odd Squad. 50 million. To that, I’m just gonna show Scaling Up. I’m just gonna show you a
little teaser of the movie, which technically I’m not
supposed to talk about. You did not see this here. Don’t put it on the tweet
and I’ll show it to you. – [Voiceover] I wanted to see it. – Is it gonna play? (dramatic music) – [Voiceover] I’m sorry. This squad is over. – [Voiceover] I am so
taking down odd squad. (dramatic music) – Beautiful. I mean, this summer as well as Dino Dana. I hope this speech was
helpful in some ways. (crowd cheering) To sum it up for me, is that you hear a lot of things are impossible. Everything is possible. This is TV. It can all be done. There are so many partners. There is so much new money out there. When you look at Netflix,
and Amazon, and Hulu, and all these people, there is no excuse to not present them
really compelling things that they haven’t seen before. That’s the chief piece of it. The others are obviously are
you the one to execute it. If you are not, find
those people that are. I’m surprised, like if you’re gonna go to an animation company, go to Pixar or find some
Oscar winner from the 1970’s. Dig them out, have them
animate it, have some story that makes it more compelling. Not dig them up, but find them. I’ve read stories, they exist somewhere. There are people that
want to be back in it. They want to feel the passion,
not someone that’s down and like, we don’t have
enough money to do it. Who cares? Find the money. Get the money internationally,
and prove them wrong. Questions? Oh, no question? No? Is there anything? No. Good. Great. Oh yes? – [Voiceover] Hold it one sec. We have a mic for you. – [Voiceover] I’m just wondering. What percentage of your
pilots are self-financed? Are they completely self-financed? – All of them. – [Voiceover] All of them.
– We are one for one, for every pilot we’ve shot, has been picked up. We did shoot one pilot a couple years ago that was like a Ghostbuster’s theme. Just when we were about to present it, I saw that two other Ghostbuster
type ghost shows came out, or were being pitched. We pulled that back, because I just don’t want to be known as the copycat or chasing someone else. But, yeah everything we’ve shot, that means that we spend a
great deal of time making sure, internally is far harder audience to impress inside Sinking
Ship than anywhere else. By having those teams,
like BFS and Interactive, they are all excited too. They’re pitching ideas
and concepts in technology that influences it. It’s just making sure that
you don’t hit the market with something that looks familiar. – [Voiceover] Can I ask one more? – Yeah. – [Voiceover] For that
pilot you showed us, with the partnership between UNICEF and National Geographic, that was after you guys
produced that demo in-house? – Yes. We brought them on board,
based on our working on This Is Daniel Cook, and them kind of believing they
were both interested. We helped finance the money
with them to go and shoot. They put up some of that money. We did not charge fees. We did not charge anything. Our time was free. You have to know that
we’re working our way up. We’re clawing our way up this ladder. We finally have features, but we will still do our own development because it gives us the utmost control. As soon as you accepts a
development deal from a network, they have complete control of it. If they wake up and they’re like, this would be great if
there was a raccoon in it. You have to be like, oh,
that sounds interesting. Let’s explore that. Versus holding that back, showing it to everyone,
having them say find a network that actually believes in it, and then working with them
to make something incredible. – [Voiceover] Great. Thank you. – Hello. – [Voiceover] This
might not be a question, but I would like to hear
you talk a little bit about gender parity in
the director’s chair. ‘ Cause I think it’s as groundbreaking as anything else we’ve seen here. I think we should talk about that. – Sure. One of the things, as
soon as we did Annedroids, we took a look it corporately. We weren’t as gender balanced
within our own corporation. I kind of love how the creative that we work on influences
us, as well as the audience. One hopes. One of the first things we did was we balanced out our post teams. They were all men. That was easy. It was just seeking out women. The two that we hired were
nominated for an Emmy Award for their editing work on Odd Squad. Then in the directing chair,
it’s something horrific. The DGC, I think it’s 16 percent
of the members are women. It’s a sad little number. Honestly, there’s no real excuse for it, other than companies are nervous about putting money on fresh talent. The strategy that we
did and we worked with, Women in View which is an organization that’s trying to change those numbers. We created a mentorship program, that actually ends up with a job. Versus mentorship programs
that currently exist where you do a mentorship
and you never get hired. We had so many female directors where the directors
approach us and been like, I’ve shadowed on eight different shows. That’s not helpful. What we did, and I understand
from a production point of view you want to be careful. Your budget of a TV show is $300,000, you don’t want to put that
in any one’s new hands. We partnered them with
an established director, one of ours that we had
worked with for a while. They would shadow that director, as they typically do three
or four episodes in a block. They would shadow for three, and then they would get a
chance to do their episode. That director, the mentor director, would be there in the background to assist them if they hit
something that was a challenge or they needed some advice. They weren’t meant to
speak, they were just there to be like, okay, here’s
a way to work out your way out of a problem. We did three new directors on Odd Squad. They were phenomenal. They netted out some of our best episodes. Those three now are continuing
to work on Dino Dana. We’re gonna do that program again. Those three women directors are now going to become the new mentors,
for the new mentees. They were spectacular, so
it’s just giving people a shot truthfully, and looking
to see what they can do. They did shots that were something. They did, it was spectacular. I think to some people. (mumbling) It was all good, but you do get. There’s this massive group coming up that just needs a chance to break through. I worry a little bit about our system, because it’s exec producer heavy. All of this creative goes
into these companies, and they manage it the same
way they would manage any show. It really stifles creativity. For me, the danger of Canada right now is where are the new production companies? Why do we still have the same group? If Sinking Ship is one of the newest ones, and we’re 12 years old, that’s sad. Every writer should have
their own production company and be foraging their way. Then you have that control. Then you’re speaking with the network, so that when you pitch your next show, the network’s like,
oh, I know who you are, not oh, I think I saw
you in a meeting once, and you weren’t allowed to speak. (mumbling) – [Voiceover] You’ve touched
on a couple of things that I’m curious about. One is, who’s out doing the pitching? Who has the context to get you
in to see these broadcasters? The second part is, where’s
the money coming from? Are you relying on tax credits? Are you into the traditional forms of financing associated
with Canadian film, Canadian television? – Sure. I don’t pitch. It’s a great question. I think getting access
to networks is hard. I don’t pitch. We email those off, and
it’s for them to watch it. Like I said, our fasted
pick up is 24 hours. Let it speak for itself. If I wrote a script, I
would have to go pitch it, and be like, trust me to do this. This is, see it, know
our track record now, and off you go. We were submitting those
things well before. If you like it, I can
come in and wax poetic about why I think the
show’s gonna be great. But, if you’re on the fence,
it’s not worth my time. I don’t want people to
invest in us, as people. I want them to invest in the concepts and what we can achieve. I think to some degree,
we have this problem where it’s dynamic
personalities that don’t, do they deliver, should
be the big question. It should be the question
for any new creative that’s going to any production company. What have they done? What have they done that shows why you would want to be there. Just having a production company say yes, is just like having a
network say we’ll develop it. It doesn’t mean anything
if they’re not the ones that can actually achieve
that vision and go further. Be a little bit more discerning. Just having someone say yes to your idea, though great, is not the
beginning of the battle. It’s just the start of it. On the tax credit comment,
we’re certainly supported. If you look at Sinking Ship’s model, we chiefly work with TVO, which is a small provincial network, who offers some of the
lowest licence fees. They just don’t have the money. What they balance that with,
is ridiculous creative freedom. What a company like mine
thrives on is that freedom. We take that freedom, we go
to the US, and the US is like, oh my God. We’ve never seen anything
like this come out of Canada, because we’re allowed to. I would much rather go with companies that have a little less money. Take that and get a ton of, not a ton, but enough money from
the US to bring into it, and now suddenly every single
one of our shows is airing in the US, and Canada, and 100 countries. You need a supportive partner that’s going to let you do the things
that you want to do, and let you push the barrier and risk. If the risk is low for
TVO, they’re gonna say, yeah, go for it. This is Daniel Cook. Give it a shot. It’s, for them like $40,000,
what does it matter. You have to find those
people that are willing to go down that rabbit hole with you, because otherwise, you’re just gonna slowly pull down your idea until it’s bland and won’t stand out. You do have to fight that. The way to fight that, is to show it. Have them, go take it,
show it to your kid. I say that all the time,
please take it home. Show it to your kids, see what they say. More often than not, they’re
like oh, they wanted to know if they come to set can
they see the dinosaur. It just keeps going, because you’ve given them
something to respond to. Then hopefully, pats their little heart, or gets them a little nervous. We don’t do any show that
we’re not terrified of making. If we’re not terrified,
other than we haven’t pushed it far enough. We haven’t tried new technology that we’ve never done before, we haven’t done a stunt
sequence, or gone further field. Every single season we try to challenge both the last season of
the show that we did, and every subsequent show,
so that it’s the best thing. I believe you should only be as good as the last thing you made, not something that was
notable 12 years ago. Although, (mumbling) All right, good, oh there you are. Thank you. (audience clapping) – That was great. Is this on? Oh my God. How awesome was that? Can we please say (crowd clapping) thank you once more? He is one of our Canadian success stories that I think should be lauded
way more often then not, here in Canada. I’m very pleased to be following him, and Sinking Ship in particular, because really what I wanna talk about are three things which
J.J. essentially spoke of. But in, in the exemplification
that he used in terms of the work that he’s done. I don’t even know if that’s a word. Where he exemplified my
points using his work. That’s what I meant. The three things that I
wanna talk about really is accountability, authenticity, and differentiated value, okay. Keep those words in mind as I
go through this presentation. Because really, what we’re
being asked of today, as the creative trailblazers section, is how do independent
thinkers, or trailblazers, or creative people, think about
notions of discover-ability? What are our sort of secret sauce, et cetera, and how can we then parlay these insights into a broader base of issues,
which may be public policy, et cetera, associated with
discover-ability as well, okay. I’d like to preface this
talk, sorry so many prefaces, but I have this hand talk that I typically do around this notion. But I’m actually gonna try something new, also inspired by what we
saw previously to my talk. One is to really frame
what I’ve put together in the context of what’s been
happening in the past month. The context being that we
have this incredible woman, Catherine, I’m afraid
I forgot her last name. If someone can shout it out
from the audience, that’s great. Who came up and talked about
her experience at the CBC, with the Ghomeshi issue. We have this terrible president
in the Philippines, Duterte, who just got elected. We have an American
political election activity going on that’s totally ridiculous. There’s all this stuff
that’s going on right now, that actually has material context to what we’re talking about today. I want to bring in some of
those thoughts that I’ve had, in terms of what’s going on in this digital network environment and society that we created, mash right up with amazing stuff that’s going on with really accountable, authentic, creative people who understand differentiated value, and then frame it in terms of this broader idea of discover-ability. Sinking Ship is like Cirque Du Soleil. This is what this picture is all about. When you think of Cirque Du Soleil, you can call them all
sorts of different things, innovative circus, a new product and service. Two guys called Kim and Mauborgne, in their Blue Ocean Strategy book, used them as their best practice example to talk about a whole new way
of thinking about business. The business that they’re talking about is this Blue Ocean strategy approach, where you take essentially
a core business model, and you look at what could be eliminated from that particular corporation; reduced, raised, or created. In the case of Cirque Du
Soleil, what they did in terms of what makes a circus a circus. Some of the things they
eliminated from circusness are notions of star performers, aisle concessions,
animal shows, et cetera. What they did, is then
they brought up things that were totally new, like
a theme, or a unique venue, or artistic music and dance. This became part of this model that these guys talked about, which is the blue ocean strategy, which is how to create value in a highly competitive market space. What you’re supposed to
do when you’re trying to think of how do I create
products and services, in this case creative content, in this attention economy that we’re in. One of the things that they’re looking at, is to look at these two sets of issues. Instead of competing in
this existing market, you want to try to create something new. We heard that loud and
clear with Sinking Ship. Instead of beating the competition,
you make it irrelevant. You don’t exploit existing demand. You capture it. You make the value, cost trade
off, instead you break it. You really want to align your whole firm around the pursuit of your
differentiated value proposition, which if can be done also at low cost, which we also heard from
the previous example, would really position you well. What this talk today is about, is this notion of how do we create this whole new market space
through differentiation and low cost. According to the Blue
Ocean Strategy folks, that’s what they call value innovation. I think the whole purpose of the CRTC discover-ability summit, is really to try to figure out how do we pursue value innovation
in the content industry. Especially in light of the fact that we’re now sitting
in an attention economy. Now, I wanna pause there for a second, because this book was written
quite a long time ago. It was also written in
an economic context. That’s quite a bit different
from where we’re in today. Some of the things that I’m
thinking about right now, and haven’t quite parsed yet so fully, but I’d like to share with you, and I’d like you to think about, are notions that the economic
context that we’re in, where we have a digital society,
has changed dramatically. People have started to
really question whether or not we are trying to solve
the right types of problems. What I’m talking about is
really this notion that, when you have a digital society, where you move from an
industrial kind of economy to one that’s knowledge based economy. Perhaps the way we’re
trying to extract value from our digital products and services, aren’t really the right ways
we should be extracting value. The book that I’m currently reading, and whose author I’m working with, is Douglas Rushkoff’s Throwing
Rocks at the Google Bus. Here he really talks about
the fact that most companies are so fixed on extractive growth, that they’re just kind
of like creating value for the sake of growing. In fact, may be growing at
the expense of everything; employee satisfaction, at the expense of their own success even. Twitter talks a lot about Douglas Rushkoff is a good example of that, where you’ve got this
billion dollar company that is perceived to be worth nothing, because they’re not growing as fast as what the venture capital investment into them wants them to be worth. There’s this kind of race
to the bottom, if you will, when your only impetus
is to grow infinitely. The Blue Ocean Strategy
that I’m looking at, was really predicated on
seeing the economy slightly differently from what it is today. I think we need to take this
idea of value innovation in the content industry, and
apply it to what we’re in now, which is this very uneasy space where we might have an
economic infrastructure, or economic tools, as
Douglas Rushkoff calls them, frameworks that don’t fit well into now, this digital economy we find ourselves. In light of that kind of context, how do we pursue value innovation? How do we do this? My very specific point today, is it’s actually not
about discover-ability. If we keep talking about discover-ability, we’re going to lose the point. Because at the end of the day,
and this is just one of them, I’ve talked about two other things, it’s actually about accountability. It’s about our accountability
to ourselves, creators, to our audience, that
we’re trying to serve, to investors that we might be beholden to, to the public to whom we are
extracting tax dollars from, to a government who supports us, to our stakeholders who support us. There’s a whole slew
of things that we ought to be accountable for. Perhaps that’s really the primary focus of how we might innovate
our value or innovate value. With that in mind, that
the notion that we should be focused on is account. I think you heard that from J.J. That’s what he talked about. He was completely accountable
to the creative vision that they had. He was also accountable
to the types of content they wanted to create, especially in light of the fact that it was kid’s content that they were creating, and they wanted to be authentic to that
particular experience. There’s a number of ways
that creative trailblazers instinctively know this. What I’m trying to do is unpack
that instinctive impetus, and try to put a framework around it. If it’s about accountability,
how do we innovate value? What does value innovation mean today? One thing that I want
to share is this notion that value innovation today,
is about finding all the dogs, and telling them you’re a dog. We’ve heard this talked about basically in the last two days ad nauseam; niche markets, know your
audience, really focus, et cetera. This is an old New Yorker kind of cartoon that came out in the early 90’s. If you can’t read what it says, it says, On the Internet, nobody
knows you’re a dog. How fantastic it was, for the first time we had this medium that actually, that seemed to level set all
the differences between people. While today, in fact,
what we want is that, I kind of scratch that
out, is on the Internet, I want all the dogs to
know that I’m the dog, so that you find the right audience. We don’t even have to belabor
this, but all the You Tubers understand this, that
it’s really important that you find your audience,
and you target them, et cetera. What’s happened, this is a presentation that I’ve done before, so
I’ve kind of stopped there. Fast forward to today, and my insight is that there’s actually
another corroboree to this. Which is, on the Internet everyone knows if you used to be a cat. This is a very important
distinction today. One of the things that I
think we can really look at, that will help us in the
cultural industries today, is how the American
elections have played out. In fact, to me that is probably
the biggest success story as it relates to content
production, content engagement, and some sort of cult action. This is a guy by the name of Myles Dyer. He has a Facebook page. He has a YouTube page. I don’t know if you can read it. He’s talks a lot, he’s a
Bernie Sanders supporter. This particular video is not
really about Bernie Sanders. It’s a way for him to
unpack why millennials are moving to support
Bernie Sanders in droves. I highly urge you guys to watch this video if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s called Five Reasons Why
There is a Path to Victory for Bernie Sanders. One of the things he talks
a lot about is authenticity. Millennials, most of them
live and breathe the Internet, are especially good at
detecting authenticity, which is a trait
associated with integrity. Now everyone talks about
this authenticity thing, and certainly I’ve sat in
enough YouTube sessions where that’s one of the key kind of comment top ten commandments
that they give the creators. You must be authentic, et cetera At first, admittedly I
thought, this is such hogwash. How can you be authentic
if you’re mediated. There’s no such thing. The reality is that I think,
whether it’s true authenticity or perceived authenticity, there is something very
powerful about creating that kind of intimate
bond between yourself and your audience, that was never part of
what creative content was about before, that it is somehow very, very important now. Perhaps it’s the way the
platforms are evolved. Perhaps it’s the context
of our life right now is that much more complex, so people need that immediate engagement with the content that they consume, and their mobile and desktop platforms. Whatever it is, it’s not something that I can no longer shove
aside and not pay attention to. That’s something that
really does resonate. We’re seeing this in droves. Not just the content that’s being created in the cultural sector,
but in American politics. The other part of this authenticity, which I find is an interesting part, is not only is Myles Dyer
saying that authenticity is important, but he says here, we now have the ability to
create digital footprints for each candidate,
which means we don’t have to just listen to what they say, but we can look at what they’ve done. That’s another things
that’s very, very new. Which is, you know, if for now, if now you can kind of
find the right audience, because now you can find all
the dogs, that you’re a dog, and you wanna tell them that you’re a dog, it is absolutely clear too,
that if you were ever a cat, someone will find out. How do we deal with that
notion of integrity over time, or authenticity over time? If it is sort of a perceived sense of, if it’s something constructive,
which for the most part, it probably is, then we need to think of that construction in
terms of the long tale. That’s a very difficult thing,
I think, for content creators to potentially understand, especially if you think about the work that you’re doing as from
being from project to project. Again, which is why serendipitously,
it was a genius move to put Sinking Ship before my talk. He even talked about
that, which is this notion that they took that initial
idea of This Is Daniel Cook and they grew that over time, so that people could see
that they were committed to that vision of the growth of this boy throughout the different
works that they’ve done. This is something super new. When you’re thinking about
this value innovation, around this notion of authenticity
and digital footprints, what are some of the tools that you might wanna use to really figure out
where to find your audiences? I think one of the pieces in our tool kit that we need to start really focusing on are audience finders. I’m just going to whip through these, because most of you probably
know what they are already. Sara Diamond, who was
here yesterday actually alerted us to Alert TV. This is a company in
Vancouver, run by Moyra Rodger, Magnify Digital. She’s got a very powerful platform that helps people determine exactly where the audiences
live, on which platforms and how to target them et cetera. We have companies like. Oh, gosh, I’m gonna forget
what this company is called. Can someone read that down by the, NewsWhip, which is essentially
a social listening tool that sort of reads all of the data from all the social
feeds, then parses it off into set of dashboard analytics. You can also plug it into
an API on your system, so that you can really, kind of separate the wheat from the chaff. Audience finders, there are a ton of them. These are just a couple of examples. These are tools now we
to have in our toolkit. Point-of-view generators
are also very important because when we’re trying to create, sort of this niche message, or this authentic message,
and we want to ensure that we the have the type of
longevity of digital footprint that we’re trying to create. Then part of what is required is for us to really understand how
to generate points of view. This example that I have
is kind of interesting because it’s not a tool necessarily, but it’s something that’s being used often by a variety of brands. Using the cultural context, we see it as using
influence from marketing to lend that halo effect of point of view to whatever it is you’re creating. Using the Filipino elections,
this is Mocha Girls which is this dance troop that essentially became the voice on Facebook
for President Duterte. This was one of the key issues, key tools that he used to gain popularity
amongst the large masses, who ended up voting for him. 38% of which ended up voting for him. This is an interesting turn of events. If a guy, from Davao, a mayor
of Davao in the Philippines is using Facebook, using an influencer on
Facebook to push his agenda and social message, and
have that halo effect affect the outcome of
one country’s election, this notion of discover-ability
has jumped the shark. People know how to use this stuff. This should not be something
that’s a surprise to us. Hence, this is why I’m
saying discover-ability is so old-school. It’s about accountability. How can we make sure if
anyone can use these tools in this manner. How do we, as creators,
as public policy makers, as governments, start to reframe
this new digital economy, from the kind of digital
networks that are being created, and the type of society
we now find ourselves in, in such a way that there’s
a sense of accountability in everything that we do? The next thing that can kind of help, in terms of how we do value innovation, is what I call by closing
the conversion loop. For so long, we’ve thought of traditional, cultural content as being immersive; books, films, et cetera. It’s absolutely clear that immersion now includes participation. Again, it’s not even, we’ve had big brother for a long time. We have Bell running branded
entertainment advertisement on their shows with Rogue Shark. How do we start thinking differently about this notion of participatory design of cultural products? I think the next stage that’s happening is what I’m calling engagement engines. Now it’s no longer about the
question of do we do this. Do we make interactive
participatory content. How do we do it faster,
cheaper, better, et cetera? Again, there’s a bunch of tools out there. This a Apester, which is used
by a whole bunch of brands, which essentially just creates
these embeddable interactive widgets that allows people to do polling, and surveys, and any kind
of interactive content on your site. This is an interesting
start up that we support in our idea boost digital
entertainment accelerator, called Video-gammy. Video-gammy essentially
takes the E-Sports market, which is a totally
different market already. These are people who play video games, stream them live online,
and then thousands, and thousands, and thousands
of people watch them. 50% of male millennials will
be watching Twitch this month. That’s how big the numbers are. What Video-gammy does is
they have an algorithm that clips the highlights
of these hours of streams, and they elect your average Joe consumer to essentially take those clips, and then annotate it, and then post it. There’s all these new engagement engines that are being created, because we don’t even have to talk about whether or not participation is of value. Now, it’s how do we get
participation faster, cheaper, and absorbed in the
workflows of our companies. Value innovation by going direct. I think this is a massive piece of the cultural economic engine
that is largely undiscussed. This is where essentially people are just gonna go straight to consumers to pay for the stuff that they’re creating. It’s still fairly new. It’s just starting, but
I think there’s going to be a lot of creators who are just going to bypass
intermediaries directly. This particular website,
is the Young Turks Network. They’re one of the fastest
growing news networks on YouTube. It’s run by a very a very aggressive Turk by the name of Cenk Uyger. The way they basically finance
their entire news network is through subscription. You join and you’re a member. Obviously, they have merchandise. Of course, everyone has heard of Patreon. This is essentially recurring
revenues for artists that you can then sign up on. If you’re a You Tuber,
you may decide not to go and sign up with an MCN, but instead get a Patreon
account or license, so that you can generate
revenues from your fan base. Value innovation through material means. This is, again, the shift where digital has become so pervasive. It’s become so part of
our lives, that in fact, the value is being created
outside of the digital spaces. I’m just gonna pass this through. Obviously, we’ve done a
bunch of work in this area, by developing projects that
generate physical products. This is an award-winning,
interactive narrative project that we did starring David Cronenberg, that resulted in a physical object called a pod being printed. There’s that kind of artistic expression of what I’m talking about. The other part of what I’m talking about is just the pure, kind
of commercial mechanics of how people are making
more money in terms of the physical experiences rather than the digital experiences. The escape game rooms
are an example of this. This is a whole new breed of participatory theater experiences that are cropping up all over the place, across North America. The ones in Toronto,
you can’t buy a ticket. The moment an escape room
goes up, it’s sold out. Brands are starting to look at how do they extend their experiences into these physical
games that people play. It’s participatory, but it’s
also live, and it’s ticketed. That will allow them to monetize
their properties further. Today we have CBC announcing
that Live Nation and NextVR are streaming the first
ever live VR concerts. Again, what VR is accommodating for us, is this whole new other product, which is a new point of view
within live environments that they can then start to ticket. Right? In a theater, you’re limited by the number of seats you can sell. With live VR, what you can do is, you can actually put a camera
where the basketball net is, for example. Then all of the sudden, that net view becomes the
most valuable property, and can also command the highest price. That’s essentially
replicable across whomever is interested in doing
that, increasing the value of that experience exponentially. Then we’ve heard people talk about VR, but I really see it as more than just VR. It’s about innovating by colonizing space. Digital needs to come out of the screen, because it’s this need to find more ways to monetize itself, I suppose. You’ve got AR engines, you’ve got headsets that are being created. This is part of what we
did with the Google glass, and of course you’ve got VR coming out in commercial mainstream this year. What’s really needed are
accessible platforms. Although, you have the Google
cardboard, and you’ve got which is arguably zero dollars, or at least two dollars, et cetera. You’ve got the higher end
systems like the HDC5. There aren’t really that
many authoring to a platforms that are being created
to make it accessible for any content creator to create VR. We’re helping one of these
accessible platform companies through our idea boost accelerator. They’re called Pinch VR. They’re developing a whole new way to create and publish VR content, and also allow for interactivity
to happen in mobile VR. Last, but not least, it’s
really about being able to fail faster than the incumbents. Again, J.J. kind of spoke about this, where he talked about the need
to do their own development. The need to finance that themselves, so that they can then
have control over it, and can move on if they
can’t find the right market for that. I’m sort of rushing
through this whole thing. We do a lot of experiments. This is our Google labs that
we did in San Francisco. We do a whole bunch of not
just prototyping of products, but also prototyping of business models. This is the business model
canvas that we use often, or the value innovation
canvas that we use. Really what you need
is a toolkit for that, in terms of that value innovation of failing faster that incumbents. What you need are
meaningful media creators. I think that’s what we want
to promote as policy makers, and as the government. How do we create a culture where we’re actually building more J.J.’s? I’ll end there. Maybe I’ll ask you to come
and step up and stand with me, in case there might be any questions. So my thing, I kind of rushed through this, ’cause I know we didn’t have time. My whole thing is really around the three points that I want
to make are the following. One is, forget about discover-ability because we’ve moved beyond that. Sorry. Jean-Pierre. The second thing that I think we need to really be mindful of is that it is about accountability. It is about our need to
connect authentically with our audiences. It is about the need to have a differentiated
value proposition, because we live in this attention economy, that is increasingly becoming
difficult to navigate. Unless you have all of those three things, I think it’s gonna be
very hard to compete. Not to mention the fact
that we’re also trying to compete in a space where, we’re really trying to figure out where to go. In terms of this extractive growth model, versus really trying to finally find a more appropriate economic model than the current one we have now. So thank you. (audience clapping) Are there any questions, yep. – [Voiceover] Thanks, Anna. That was great. A lot of what you talked
about sounds like you’re kind of looking the next phase of
media creation to think about. I mean, I’m not just
onto some wide thinking, I like thinking about
Christensen and disruption, and looking at how the
actual product changes when you’re changing the technology. How do some of these toolkit items that you talked about apply to people who are still thinking in terms of creating your next best series that’s gonna be as good as, or better than Game of Thrones, or, some of the Netflix originals, which is really still
just old-world thinking. There seems to be a sense
of your drawing a boundary, a boundary between old
product and new product. Where does that old product fit in this? – That’s a great question. I probably should have
predicated this talk by saying, there will always be a
space for blockbuster, let’s call it high-premium
blockbuster items. I think we can’t really
escape the fact that money will talk in many, many instances. If you’ve got the star power,
if you’ve got a boatload of money for marketing and
for promoting a product, and you’ve got a boatload for production, then there is always
gonna be a place for that. The reality, though, is that in Canada, we don’t have those same dollars. We need to figure out how to compete with the limited
resources that we do have. Within those limited resources,
I think it’s important for us to then figure out what that differentiated proposition might be. I think it’s about always
thinking a little bit ahead of everyone else, in terms of what might be coming down the road. Having not just the ability
to be an early adopter in that space, but to
have the staying power to stay there until such point that the market catches up with you. I think there’s a number
of different government mechanisms and NGO mechanisms
that help support either that ability to move into that space, and/or that ability to stay in that space until the market catches up with you. Which makes Canada a very, very compelling environment to be in. – [Voiceover] Hi, Anna. Really brilliant talk, and lots of fun. I wanna go back to the
question of authenticity, because I’m somewhat
uncomfortable with it. I get the, if you ever were
a cat, you may be discovered. If you look at the
construction of a Donald Trump, I think there’s a way where
history does not follow. Trump’s been able to, in a sense, construct a whole other identity that is not rooted in history. In a sort of Baudrillardian
sense, it’s the performance of authenticity that we’re talking about. I think we have to be really
very cautious about that. It’s the ability to produce
that sort of sentiment, rather than to be able to
have veracity of authenticity. – I totally agree with you. – [Voiceover] It’s an
ethical challenge behind it– – That’s why I started with
the notion of accountability because I do think that we
are now in this space where, whether that’s the
performance of authenticity, or a true authenticity is
privileged by the technologies that we’ve created, and
then the user behaviors that have come out of those technologies. Now, that’s done. It’s vaped. It’s done. We know it’s done because
of the results of the things that I spoke about. In a weird way that’s why
I’m saying, in light of this, where does accountability play a role, and what does that actually mean? It’s not about discovering
those people any longer, it’s about how do we make
ourselves accountable for that kind of potential exploitation of both the technologies
and the user behaviors who have grown up with those technologies. – [Voiceover] I think this
is a really interesting and important conversation
in the Canadian context, where there are public broadcasters. There is a public broadcaster. There is a public space. There is a film board. That dialogue about sustaining a space of authenticity and public discourse and what kind of investment
and projects go into that space that are meaningful, is
very different the US and other jurisdictions where
there isn’t a public space that requires some level of protection. As we continue the conversation, it’s going to be very important for us to be clear about what is
purely subject to the market. With the various supports
that we can put in place, what kinds of fences we
put around other kinds of discourses and spaces
around accountability. – I guess that’s why I’m also saying. By re- sort of framing the conversation away from discover-ability,
which flattens everything out, to the notion of accountability, which then allows for the nuances of, well there are different
types of accountability if you’re talking about the public, versus the market, versus your audience, versus your investors. That becomes a much more
nuanced conversation. Great. Thank you very much. (audience clapping)

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