Yesterday the Conversation happened. That is, THE CONVERSATION on Social Media, Digital Distribution and the Future of Film (Tweet: #convoNYC) at Columbia University in Manhattan.

Organizers, Scott Kirsner (who wrote one of my all time favorite books: Fans, Friends and Followers), Tiffany Shlain and Lance Weiler and put together a full day of panels and beak out meetings that kept me focused for 9 hours straight. Really good stuff if you are an independent filmmaker and especially if you are in DIY distro mode with a documentary.We are at a cross roads of our industry, not only as independent filmmakers but also as producers and conent-providers at large. The web, new technology and new ways of interaction with content of any kind, audience participation, instant access paired with very limited time resources are completely, totally and irrevocably changing how we consume media, how we engage in politics, social lives and just pretty much everything else. The generational divide of participants and non-participants is bigger than ever and has little to do with age, and everything to do with willingness to engage and sadly for many with insufficient access to computers and the internet.

There were so many things yesterday that were of micro interest to an independent filmmaker, but the bigger picture was ever present in the back (and the front) of the room. My head is still spinning with all the awesome possibilities that not necessarily cost much in terms of technology or bells and whistles, but do tend to take a huge amount of engagement, sic. time, sic. labor and sic. cost.

After all that, my two favorites take-aways from the day had nothing to do with being at the cutting edge in terms of knowledge or technical savvy, but just two quotes that would have been equally as pertinent 20 years ago, but do take a whole new meaning in today’s environment.

The first, attributed to one of the organizers of this amazing event, Tiffany Shlane – more precisely her father: “If you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much space.” And the other, uttered as a throw away sentence summing up the panel he participated in by Richard Lorber: “Everything is possible and nothing is working”. Imight ad a resounding “YET” to the last quote. On on we plod….

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