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Is Hollywood keeping up with current emerging entertainment technologies? What are the entertainment categories of the future? Who are rising stars of this new  side of the entertainment business?

Fourth Wall Studios CEO Jim Stewartson and other entertainment leaders recently addressed these and other questions at the the Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit April 30th.  The panel, titled "The New Entertainment Content: Apps, Social Gaming, and Commerce," was moderated by Eric Kuhn, and included these panelists:

  • - Hank Kanalz, SVP, Digital, DC Entertainment

  • - Bart Decrem, SVP & GM, Disney Mobile

  • - J Crowley, Director, Media Partnerships, Foursquare

Stewartson got to chance to discuss the mechanics behind Fourth Wall Studios new show interactive web series Dirty Work, as well as address the changing face of the industry.


"There's an incredible amount of work being done at intersection of tech & entertainment. We're coming at it from a different angle – that is to say, the content itself needs to change," said Stewartson. “It's not about sort of having a twitter thing happen separate from the show, or attempting to display a show on your email. That creates a single linear experience that is coming to you across all of these devices. Something that we've learned the hard way is storytelling is NOT broken. So we're creating content that allows you watch something on the screen, so that when the character picks up the phone to call 911 - while normally you're going to hear half a conversation, with with our show you'll hear the whole thing. Same with emails, texts, and additional scenes."

David Luner, Head of Consumer Products, Interactive and Mobile at Freemantle echoed Stewartson’s sentiments. "I think it's a great point, most people who have multiple devices open aren't engaging on the same content, so you want to create a second screen experience that is engaging," said Luner.

The panel featured a short question and answer session. Among the issues raised was the use of cell phones in movie theaters, to which Stewartson responded “locking down the movie experience is like trying to lock down music downloading, either you can be reactionary or you can evolve, and in my opinion you have to evolve. I don't think we'll have a future where people have the same experience as they do today."

From marketing to entertainment - much of the panel was used to discuss how different technology, from location check-in apps to digital comics, are being used to connect with the audience. But the most important question addressed was: what's next?

Stewartson felt that the form of entertainment itself is in flux; "We’re exploring the idea that linear video per se is not the form of entertainment for the future. You have all these devices around all the time, which makes the screen much wider than the one you happen to be looking at at the time. So all the activity about adding bells and whistles to their experience is not going to be the answer. The answer is how do you build content that fits across all the devices simultaneously?"  A question that will continue – no doubt - to be talked about for years to come.