Monday, July 16, 2007
Interview with Brett Weinstein, CEO of 60Frames
Brett Weinstein is CEO of 60Frames (www.60frames.com), a newly funded company which is looking to connect Hollywood with the Internet. The company just received $3.5M in venture funding from Tudor Investor Corp. and the Pilot Group last week. Brett was most recently head of the United Talent Agency's digital media efforts. We spoked with Brett shortly after the funding to talk about the idea behind the firm, and what it is hoping to do. Ben Kuo conducted the interview.
What's the idea behind the firm?
Brett Weinstein: Artists and professional artists have shown that they want to produce original content for the internet. Many have done so for some time, now they have a marketplace, and are turning toward partners and representatives to see how they can monetize that effort. There are many more artists wanting a more user friendly set of options to avail themselves of. There are also many advertisers moving lots of money into the space. However, right now there is consumer generated content on one side, repurposed media on the other, and there's a lack of high quality, original programming for advertisers. The opportunity that 60Frames is custom built for, is to meet the needs of both professional artists and the advertising community. Artists can gain easy access to financing, and a streamlined legal process. We help them speed to market, handle all ad sales, syndicate content through web portals, social networking, peer to peer, and artists get to maintain a large ownership in the property and a larger share of advertising than many offerings in the marketplace. The benefit to advertisers is having the opportunity, much earlier, to participate in creation of content, both around the content as well as inside of it. Hopefully, at the end of the day, that means that consumers have a much larger selection of stuff to watch.
How'd 60Frames come about, and what's the story behind the company?
Brett Weinstein: I was the head of digital media for the UTA. One of my responsibilities was to make Internet deals for the agency's clients. The agency has always been very entrepreneurial, and looked at this as a huge opportunity. We formed an online division to represent clients on the Internet, and this came out of that as a natural extension of the agency's focus on the platform. The agency leadership, specifically Jeremy Zimmer, one of the founders and who is on the board of directors, runs the motion picture group. He had a relationship with Nick Grouf. When the agency was looking for a way to get artists to work online, Nick and his company were looking for ways for their advertising partners to participate in the sand box, to more efficiently reach their audience. It seemed like many of the interests were aligned, so we wrote a business plan, and led a Series A round of capital. It's entirely funded by independent funding sources.
You mentioned you were going to help fund content development--it's been very difficult in the past to actually find people willing to fund content development for the Internet, how does 60Frames help?
Brett Weinstein: I'm happy you recognize that. Right now, funding fits into two buckets--there are entities willing to share ad revenue, but who are mostly unwilling to finance content from the outset; and there are others who are willing to finance from the outset, but where it's very difficult to allow the artists to retain an interest. 60Frames will sit in the middle, and give financial incentives for artists to consider the Internet. Most artists are really busy with their film and TV careers, and this is something they're essentially doing offline. If they're not properly incentivized, they just won't do it. This will give them upside, and participation in the advertising revenues and ownership of the property.
Are the kinds of rates and revenues you get from the Internet something that would be interesting to professional artists?
Brett Weinstein: Yes, I think so. This comes from the direct experience I had at the digital media unit at the UTA. We were told very plainly, that there are artists interested in this space. The interest is definitely there, the process has just been too burdensome. 60Frames was custom built to respond to that state need of artists. It's kind of a "field of dreams", built it and they would come.
How are the Coen brothers involved in 60Frames?
Brett Weinstein: The Coen Brothers will be creating original content for 60Frames, and are also on creative advisory board we're putting together.
What effect is the Internet having on traditional Hollywood business--it seems like up to now it's still mostly been side projects for most artists--do they take the Internet seriously?
Brett Weinstein: I think at the end of the day, most artists are also consumers. They're fans of the medium, which extends beyond film and TV to the Internet. There's a group of artists being very aggressive and entrepreneurial for the the Internet. There's a whole different group that has seen what has been created, and it has inspired them. They want to do it themselves. But, they want to do it in environment that is artist friendly, fair, and where they get participation they deserve. There's a strong sentiment that if that an entity could be built which did that, they would respond.