Mongolia is a fascinating, free-spirited country, and the nomadic culture extends into all elements of life, even business. Most of Mongolia's land is public, people basically go wherever they want. Therefore it was not too surprising to learn that their television industry is seemingly ok with piracy. I had the fortunate opportunity to take part in the 2nd Annual Mongolian TV Forum (MTF) held February 5-6 in the unexpectedly modern capital of Ulaanbaatar. Over 200 media professionals attended the forum and held quite lively debates about piracy and programming practices. Mongolians are an educated people, illiteracy was virtually eliminated during the socialist period with seasonal boarding schools for nomadic children, and English is taught beginning in 4th grade. They know what they are doing. Nomin Chinbat, CEO of Mongol TV has been driving change for the media sector in the country, having been educated in the UK and widely-traveled. She wants the future of Mongolia to be part of the global picture and that includes playing by industry rules. To demonstrate this mission, Nomin recently accepted the position as the Chair of the Mongolian Media Ethics Council. She leads by example in her business, buying programming legitimately from companies such as Sony, NBC Universal, ITV and built a first-class HD Studio and programming and production team that launched a year ago. The team was trained by The Format People and guided by Michel Rodrigue who brought western media experts to Mongolia for 2 years for the channel. Mongol TV now has a live morning show 6 days a week, all locally produced. Nomin spearheaded the creation of the MTF last year and invited her fellow broadcasters and government regulatory reps to join the presenters who flew in from around the world - Sony, Disney, ITV, Fremantle and more. This year they upped the ante by bringing in the studio reps along with outside media such as Julie Makinen, the Los Angeles Times Asia Bureau Chief, ContentAsia's Publisher, Janine Stein; and China Media Management's Kristian Kender to share thoughts on why and how Mongolian broadcasters can and should do better by going legit. They discussed the financial implications of piracy and the comparison of how China has turned its image around in the past few years by licensing Formats and buying other programming in the correct manner. The second day of the Forum was a market showcase where distributors could educate the broadcasters on how to buy and offered programs at reasonable prices that Mongolian broadcasters could possibly afford. There was also discussion from companies such as Singapore-based Bomanbridge Media who just opened an office in Ulaanbaatar to entertain co-productions. Stay tuned to this small yet emerging country - they will surprise you in the next few years with their evolution.
MGC is pleased once again to help launch the International Radio Festival's annual competition with CMJ and HD Radio to find the best college radio DJ.
The winner will receive an all expenses paid trip to Zurich, Switzerland, to present their show live at the International Radio Festival from 14-30 August , 2015.
The contest is now open and runs until March 15, 2015. To apply, upload your show to Mixcloud.
The more shows you submit, the better your chances. To be eligible, you must be over 18 and enrolled in an accredited US or Canadian university or college. See the full rules and enter now at Mixcloud.
The MGC Year in Review
Looking back on 2014, it is clear that MGC has been growing in unexpected ways—with a strong Asian focus. 2014 trade events kept us quite busy as MGC helped our clients gain visibility at several events around the world including NATPE, MIPTV, SXSW, LA Screenings, Real Screen West, Content Asia Summit, MIPCOM, AFM and Asia TV Forum.
With formats continuing to be a focus, MGC supported Vivian Yin—one of this year's The Hollywood Reporter Top 25 Global Women in Media—and Star China with the ITV Studios launch at MIPTV of the first Chinese original talent show format Sing My Song.
Singapore's Bomanbridge Media launched offices in South Korea and India and soon begin production on their first original production, Haute & Saucy with Kelly Sia, a fun cooking and fashion lifestyle show. We expect big things from this dynamic company and are happy to be along for the ride!
Zurich-based International Radio Festival (IRF) is now going into its 6th year! Founder Darryl von Däniken has built up quite a unique, global music event where people can "Listen to How the World Sounds". MGC is pleased to produce the college competition for the 4th year with generous partner iBiquity HD Radio!
Thanks to all who helped MGC remain a vibrant company poised for further growth in 2015!
Mixcloud Turns Five
Congratulations to our friends at Mixcloud, who celebrate five years of tremendous, organic growth. Over 6 million radio shows have been uploaded to the London-based streaming service and we look forward to seeing them grow even more over the next five!
Check out the evolution of Mixcloud HERE.
At this year's International Emmy Awards in November, considerably more attention was paid to the nominees— much more so than in the past —and with potential financial impact.
With the increasing globalization of the content world, buyers from all parts of the globe and several digital platforms are acquiring more diverse programs. There is a co-production proliferation and cultural awareness— and programming from around the world is finally getting the attention it desires.
I was fortunate to see much of this unique programming during my time working with the International Emmys. I was very impressed with the production standards and stories being told around the world, however many in the US and elsewhere were not privileged to see these great international shows due to availability.
As I spend more time outside of the US, especially in Asia, and China specifically, I see the hunger for more Western and varied content. And of note, many Asian people are viewing these programs on their phones or at least in movement so that should also be a consideration of producers who are planning programs for world audiences.
My hope has been and continues to be, is that the rich tapestry of global stories will bring us together as more people see the common themes in our lives; and people will be educated and entertained by cultural influences demonstrated by great international programming.
The recent MIPCOM edition had a record attendance of 13,700 from 112 countries and many of those attendees were in a buying frenzy of Formats, especially Asia. It is the number one genre that several Asian companies such as Star China and others were searching for. Star China picked up Miss Country Girl from Asian distributor Bomanbridge Media, in partnership with Small World IFT. And Gene Simmons of Kiss fame was in Cannes, courting certain Asian companies with his new Format Coliseum. Gene told me (a little name dropping here) that he was glad to be back in Cannes. He really appreciates the serious business done at the MIP markets and it was the best place to launch is new format. The show challenges contestants from all musical backgrounds to form bands and create an act to impress Simmons and the audience. It is being sold by Chris Philip's Sierra/Engine Television and co-developed by The Format People's Justin Scroggie and Michel Rodrigue. Expect deal announcements in the coming months.
Other Format happenings at MIPCOM, Fremantle Media was at the market selling several Formats while touting its success in Asia, with multiple deals for Got Talent, Idols, X Factor, along with other titles - selling an average of 2 formats per month, during the last year. Asian Formats pioneer, Robert Chua, returned to the genre with a pro-social Format called Someone Who Cares, as well as a food-themed show. In keeping with the theme, Robert told me he spent the past few years opening "formatted" restaurants throughout Asia. And C21 Media announced a revamped Format Awards for MIPCOM for 2015, including a Gala dinner.
All Eyes On Asia
Asian TV continues to be the real next big territory of interest for those of us in the global entertainment.
After my August Asian tour of Shanghai to visit Star China’s studios for both The Voice of China (currently the #1 show in China) and their new Global Agency new production Bring Em Back, I saw first-hand that China’s production values rival the U.S. and Europe. The Voice of China audiences are very invested in their particular star, creating elaborate signs. Anthony Bourdain just compared Shanghai to NY on CNN, saying Shanghai makes NY look like a 3rd World Country. I wouldn’t go that far but am more impressed every time I go to Shanghai.
Then on to Mongolia to visit Mongol TV and their new, modern news studios. The Mongolia TV revolution has been written up in several press articles and CEO Nomin Chinbat has been recognized as a Power Player in the industry by both The Hollywood Reporter Most Powerful Women in Media (2013 and 2014) as well as in ContentAsia’s Most Influential Women in Media 2013. Mongolia is a truly beautiful country straddling both modern and ancient. Ulaanbaatar, the largest city with over 1 million people, is booming with plenty of construction and also a serious look at the television industry, following the first Mongolian TV Forum held this past February in Terlj.
Singapore is the undisputable hub of entertainment media and I was pleased to attend the ContentAsia Summit in early September where Star China’s Chief Representative, Vivian Yin (see photo above) talked about China’s booming Format production landscape with ContentAsia head Janine Stein. Also, I am pleased to have just signed on with one of the largest independent distribution companies in Asia, Bomanbridge Media, headed by the talented Sonia Fleck and a superb regional team. Bomanbridge just announced a major expansion with investment from Hera Capital, opened two new offices (Korea and Mongolia) and two new hires – former Fremantle Asia executive, Lakshmanan Subbiah, as Director of Finance & Operations and former MBC Plus Korea's Gyeong-Min Moon They are producing their first original series this Fall, stay tuned for more info for a fun show…
I am headed to MIPCOM next month and then back to Singapore for the Asia TV Forum in December, and I hope to see many of you along the way
Not every business has or needs a twitter feed—but if twitter is part of your marketing mix, you most likely have automated your instagram feed to appear in your twitter timeline. This is a good strategy—you work hard to curate an interesting instagram feed so why not share that content on twitter too?
The problem is that twitter does not allow instagram images (or any 3rd party social media platform) to appear as native images. Native images are expanded in the timeline, are attractive and have higher engagement rates. Non-native images are still viewable, but they will appear as a link which forces your audience to care enough to click the link to view the image (they won’t most of the time).
Fortunately, there is a simple workaround for this problem!
How you can optimize your twitter feed to display instagram photos in all their glory
1. Open an iftt account. Iftt stands for ‘if this, then that’ and it allows you to create formulas using triggers that help to automate your social media workflow. The number of triggers are endless—you can get pretty creative here but for now, just open an account and activate your twitter and your instagram channels.
2. Browse recipes on iftt for ‘instagram to twitter’ and select one that allows pictures to appear as native twitter images. Then, install the recipe. Try this one!
3. Test out your new recipe by uploading an image to instagram and seeing if it appears the way you want it in your twitter feed; this can take a couple of minutes to happen, so don’t worry if it’s not instantaneous. If you are in the habit of sharing your instagram pictures to twitter within the app, you can skip that now!
Having a twitter feed that is as attractive as possible is so easy that i am continually surprised by brands that fail to do this—there is no excuse to be so sloppy! If you are going to bother having a feed, at least make it the best it can be.
Ps- images that are loaded and later deleted to instagram remain in your twitter feed. Personally, i like this feature and use it intentionally to ensure that content on twitter is in fact distinct from what i offer on instagram—which I tend to edit frequently anyway.
Several talented film producers and directors were in New York at Lincoln Center last week for the 19th annual Latin Beat Film Festival showcasing extraordinary films from all around Latin America. Program Director, Marcela Goglio, has been curating an eclectic mix of incredible Central and South American dramas, comedies and documentaries since the beginning of the popular film fest. This year’s 10-day fest featured particularly hot topics of gay love, obesity, drugs, etc. Joining the lineup were productions from most every country in the region: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela as well as an intra-regional co-pro between Ecuador & Argentina.
Goglio discussed her choice of films and filmmakers for this year’s festival as well as the “New Voices in Latin American Cinema” panel, saying, “The search for new, personal forms of storytelling in film has kept Latin American cinema vital and exciting even if a lot has changed in the 20 years since its rebirth. Each of the films in this year's slate represent this search, whether for their innovative storytelling or their boundary-pushing themes. With this year's panel I wanted to explore the filmmakers' challenges in finding funding while trying to stay close to their original vision, considering the fact that there is more money for filmmaking in Latin America than 20 years ago. I’d also like to thank the Mexican Cultural Institute of NY and Consulate General of Argentina in NY for helping to bring some of our filmmakers to New York.”
Since the 1990s the Latin American film industry has enjoyed exponential growth. Increased government and private funding has resulted in greater, and more varied, film production, along with more support from national cinemas. Another big change in the industry is the huge influx of young filmmakers joining award-winning, filmmakers who have made a mark on the world like Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel); Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Walter Salles (Motorcycle Diaries), Juan José Campanella (The Secret In their Eyes), etc. There are also now several regional film festivals for artists to show their work locally. The quality of Latin American films are on par with rest of the world, and many are winning prizes at festivals such as Berlin, Cannes, etc.
President of MGC, MJ Sorenson, saw several films and attended the discussion “ New Voices in Latin American Cinema” moderated by Program Director Goglio. Panelists were: Diego Araujo/Director & Hanne-Lovise Skartveit/Producer of Holiday from Ecuador; Mariana Chenillo/Director of Paraiso from Mexico; Neto Villalobos/Director, All About the Feathers from Costa Rica; and Jose Luis Valle/Director, The Searches from Mexico.
The 2-hour panel delved into the changes of the last 20 years in the Latin American film industry, citing the enormous surge in productions as a result of a few key elements: new government funding; increased education with more filmmaking schools opening; and more confidence in private sector investment, although controversial themes such as gay depictions are still challenging to secure government funding. New technology has opened the gateway for Latin American filmmakers to help them tell their stories efficiently. However film schools in Latin America are behind US and European schools in teaching some of the new technology.
Production volume has dramatically increased from 20 years ago. Mexico had about 20 films a year being produced in about 1990 to over 150 today; Ecuador had only 1 film being made in about 2-3 years and in 2013, there were 13 Ecuadorean films made. Directors on the panel worked with a wide array of budgets. In Mexico, two films showed a vast budget difference: The Searches was made for only $1,500 while Paraiso cost $2+ million and enjoyed some government funding. Filmmakers discussed their challenges to be seen theatrically in their own country, competing with major US blockbusters. There were some exceptions -- Paraiso recently played to a Mexican audience of 350,000 people within its opening two weeks – a major coup for a national film (recouping $1.3 million of the $2 million budget). All About the Feathers got 20,000 Costa Ricans to the theatre in a 7 week span -- a big number as well for a smaller country. Feathers was financed by crowd-funding and received $16K of its $14K initial request.
Paraiso (Mexico) and Holiday (Ecuador) received some government funding which came along with some compromises. The panelists described their challenge to stay true to their original vision, with input coming from funders. Holiday dealt with teenage gay love affair and had to fight to get an acceptable rating for wider distribution (finally received an R rating although it didn’t depict sex or violence). When producers were asked if they had bigger budgets, how would their films have changed, Villalobos (Costa Rica) said nothing would have changed except he would have paid his crew and talent more money. The beauty of the films were mainly in the complex stories and intriguing characters – showing that casting was very important.
NYWIFT was a co-sponsor of the panel. Paula Heredia, an award-winning filmmaker from El Salvador and International Board Member of NYWIFT said, “Latin Beat is known around the world as the number one place to see the best of Central and South American films. Over the years, I have seen the production quality improve dramatically and am pleased to support the Latin Beat Festival who shine a spotlight on our talented filmmakers from the region.”
A full list of the films can be found here. To learn where you can view some of the films or reach the filmmakers, please contact Marcela Goglio.
On July 13, former child soldier turned hip hop artist and MasterPeace Ambassador Emmanual Jal performed a private concert hosted by Sirius XM radio host Downtown Julie Brown at the Sunset Marquis.
Also taking the stage were the affable duo Alex and Sierra, the first and only group to win on the X Factor. The couple was so inspired by MasterPeace's mission and reach that they enthusiastically made the first pledges of the evening (and we wouldn't be surprised if a MasterPeace collaboration is in the works!).
Celebrities in attendance were Ric Ocasek of The Cars and actor Forest Whitaker, whose daughter was celebrating her 16th birthday.
The benefit concert raised funds for six promising MasterPeace club initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Sudan, Guinea, Morocco, and Afghanistan. If you couldn't attend the concert but would like to donate, head over to MasterPeace today!
Pictured above from left to right: MasterPeace Co-Founder Mohamed Helmy, Downtown Julie Brown and Emmauel Jal; Alexa and Sierra; Downtown Julie Brown, Ric Ocasek, and Mohamed Helmy.