Culture Devices, , , , , , , — August 28, 2013 18:25 — 0 Comments

Kevin Spacey on how to tackle online piracy and create content for the iPad generation

kevin spacey,  2013 MacTaggart lecture

Kevin Spacey in Edinburgh: ‘Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in – at a reasonable price.’

‘It’s all content. It’s all story. The device or screen is relevant,’ says Hollywood actor in a lecture to TV and media executives


In his recent 2013 MacTaggart lecture at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey gave his thoughts on online piracy and how the film and television industry needs to adapt to reach a new type of audience.

The Oscar-winning Hollywood star, whose $100m (£64m) Netflix drama House of Cards broke with small screen tradition by putting all 13 episodes online at the same time, told the Guardian: “I can imagine there is going to come a time when someone will do 13 hours of a story without breaks.”

He told the gathering of TV and media execs that audiences are no longer making distinctions between television and other media, “so let’s throw the labels out,” he said  “Or at least let’s broaden the definitions – and if we have to call ourselves anything then aren’t we all just storytellers?”

“The success of the Netflix model – releasing the entire season of House of Cards at once and online – has proved one thing: the audience wants the control. They want freedom. If they want to binge then we should let them binge. And through this new form of distribution, I think we have demonstrated that we have learned the lesson the music industry didn’t learn: give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in – at a reasonable price – and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it. Well, some will still steal it, but I believe this new model can take a bite out of piracy,” Spacey said.

The actor, who is also artistic director of London’s Old Vic theatre, said he “absolutely believed” the online release of films would not affect the movie business.

“People say, if you open a movie online at the same time as in movie theatres, no one is going to go to the movies. That’s just not true. People love to go out and have a shared experience, they always will.

“One way our industry might fail to adapt to the continually shifting sands is to keep a dogmatic differentiation in their minds between various media – separating film and TV and mini-series and webisodes and however else you might want to label narrative formats. Is 13 hours watched as one cinematic whole really any different to a film? If you are watching a film on your television, is it no longer a film because you’re not watching it in the cinema? If you watch a TV show on your iPad is it no longer a TV show? The device and length are irrelevant. It’s all content. It’s all story.”

Spacey urged delegates, many of which have the power to green-light projects, to support what he called “the trailblazers”.

“The new generation of creatives is different. We are no longer operating in a world where someone has to decide if they are an actor, director, producer or writer – these days kids growing up on YouTube can be all these things. We have to persuade them that there is a home for them in the mainstream. It’s going to be up to us to decide to invite them in – just as I wouldn’t be standing here today if Jack Lemmon hadn’t put his hand on my shoulder at the age of 13 and gave me the confidence to seek out a career as an actor.”

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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.

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