SXSW: Day 4 Recap

(Day 4: Monday March 10,2014): The day consisted of a panel on psychology and technology in mobile applications, The Golden Age of Drama on TV panel and a taco party hosted by a Texas State mass communication professor.

Nicolas Cage was at SXSW Interactive for day four for a conversation moderated by David Gordon Green. I decided to skip it for something more educational (Yes I know it’s Nicolas Cage, but I wanted to learn stuff at SXSW). The panels I chose involved what I wanted to know more about.

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The first panel, Can You Feel Me Now?, discussing the convergence of psychology and technology in mobile applications was a bit of a bust. The speakers included Cameron Clayton, president of Digital Vision; Gary Klassen, principal architect at Blackberry; Giorgos Zacharia, chief scientist at Kayak. The panel didn’t really discuss much about the psychological techniques used in created better mobile apps. The main thing repeated throughout the panel was how more people are becoming digital natives and wanting something that is easy to use. It turned out to be an okay panel.

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The Golden Age of Drama on TV was a panel on the increased quality of drama TV. Drama series have started to produce quality material that is comparable to theatrical films. Budgets for drama TV has increased, script quality has increased and character development has become way more in depth.

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Alex Cary, executive producer of TNT’s Legends; Hank Steinberg, executive producer of TNT’s The Last Ship; Rob Moynihan, LA correspondent of TV Guide Magazine; and Stephen Kane, executive producer at Turner Broadcasting were speakers for the panel on The Golden Age of Drama on TV.

The new nature of character development and scripts was talked about.

“There used to be a lot of resistance to character development of TV characters” Steinberg said, “with DVR, serialized shows like Lost┬ástarted to get popular”

Steinberg mentioned that studios have for the most part abandoned mid-level movies. They have opted to focus on shorter, smaller movies and $200 million dollar high packed movies. He said people and studio executives have been looking to TV in the past few years to fill the empty mid-level movie void absent from film.

Steinberg said shooting 10 or 12 episodes of TV provides great efficiency and opportunity for character development. He said it is more optimal to do rather than doing 22 episodes a season without all the scripts ready.

“I’ve never had this before where we have all the scripts ready before shooting. It was great efficiency” Steinberg said.

The last event of the day was a taco party hosted by Cindy Royal, a Texas State mass comm professor who is currently a Knight Fellow at Stanford University. The event was great. I got to talk with a lot of graduates from the graduate program at Texas State. One of them works at NPR now and recently did a panel at SXSW. Another one works at a food bank in Austin. Also there were free tacos and chips at the party so that made it all the more awesome.

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The greatest thing of the day was getting to meet Burt Herman, co-founder of the social media storytelling service Storify. He was pretty awesome and even asked for my website URL.

Feeling accomplished. Day four was a success. Whenever a day includes free tacos (or any food for that matter) you know it’s going to be great.

 

Amazon’s new pilots released

Remember last year when a Zombieland TV pilot popped up on Amazon and was panned? It eventually got “hated out of existence” (Rhett Reese, creator of the TV adaption’s words). Well fear not, a new batch of television pilots have been released on Amazon and nothing to negative has been said so far.

Amazon pilots coming to a screen near you.
Amazon pilots coming to a screen near you.

On February 6th, Amazon released 10 new pilots for free. Continuing the plan they had last year, viewers watch and vote on what pilots live and what pilots bite the dust. Out of the several pilots released last year, only two made it through the chopping block. The first was Alpha House, a show starring John Goodman that revolved around four U.S. Senators. It was met with acclaim and positioned Amazon as a serious contender against Netflix and its original programming.The second series that received a series order was Betas, a program showcasing a group of app developers looking for an investor.

Below is a list and description of the different pilots to take a look at.

The After: An apocalypse show from the creator of The X-Files. It centers on eight people of various backgrounds (lawyer, actress, etc.) as they face the events ahead.

The Rebels: Sports comedy revolving around a woman who must take over a team of football players after her husband passes away. It seems brainless, overdone and generic but worth a shot to watch. Plus it has Josh Peck (Drake & Josh) so you know it has some funny laughs to give.

Transparent: Not your typical sitcom comedy but it serves well. It involves a family as they face their host of problems. Three not-so adults including Jay Duplass (brother of Mark Duplass and mumblecore filmmaker). One might think it follows a bit in the footsteps of Arrested Development since it features Jeffrey Tambor. Rest assured it holds it’s own by providing good dialogue that doesn’t just go for cheap laughs.