The Official Hotel for DC Web Fest #6 is...

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The Hyatt Place DC/US Capital (right on New York Ave)! We are super excited to be working with the Hyatt this year :) We spent ample time researching numerous other DC hotels BUT our experience with the Hyatt has been absolute TOP NOTCH- not only with Hyatt Place DC/US Capital but with every Hyatt we contacted. Their attentiveness certainly surpasses that of many other hotels (including some 5 stars).

We initially contacted one Hyatt location to see if they had availability during DC Web Fest 6 dates (April 6-April 7). That location didn't have any availability BUT they passed our request and contact to other Hyatt locations in DC. We immediately received responses from the other Hyatts and Hyatt Place DC/US Capital was the one we chose due to its location and convenience (the others were just as great too). We have been emailing back and forth to secure everything and it's just been awesome working with them thus far! We are certain that they will provide our out-of-town guests with an amazing stay in the nations capital.

It's crazy to know that DC Web Fest 6 will kickoff in just 2 months. We have so much amazing content amongst other cool things planned for you all at the festival this year. Stay tuned!

Web Festivals in 2018

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Perhaps it’s time to talk about the elephant tromping all over the new year: net neutrality, and how in the world it will affect digital creatives.

Let’s begin by saying this all might be a wash, or a cautionary thought exercise. A Senate bill to reverse the FCC’s December decision received its 30th co-sponsorwhich ensures net-neutrality will get a vote in the Senate. What happy timing, too, considering net-neutrality will certainly be a hot-button issue for 2018 campaigns which (if you haven’t been hit over the head with this too many times already) could change the balance of power in both legislative houses. And change the way our country functions. Hopefully for the better. (So definitely vote, please.) ((Back to your regularly scheduled post.))

If you have been living under a rock or just returned from an uber chic silent retreat, here is your one second catch up: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his cronies fellow Republican FCC chairmen voted to repeal net neutrality. In over-simplified-but-still-true terms, this victory would mean AT&T, Comcast Corp, and Verizon Communications Inc. would have power over consumer’s access to online content. The kind of content that we have made our livelihood. (This is one of the few times I would recommend reading the Wikipedia article.) Even behemoth distribution platforms like YouTube will not (and have not) be impervious to throttling and blocking, which makes the creators job x-times harder. What happens to someone entering the field, intent on creating work, when they discover they have to raise thousands of dollars more just for a better chance of popping up in the search bar, when even that multi-million dollar company can’t control who has access to their site? It’s a bet many creators and investors aren’t willing to take.

The ruling represents nothing good for us. It is now a debate of extent. If you have rose-tinted glasses on, maybe the future means some tougher times and trickier distribution, with the faith that some enterprising young mind will crop up and start the indie distribution company of our dreams. If you are plagued with a consistently pessimistic mindset, this might mean game over. In all of this, we have one truly actionable item: double down on Web Fests.

We’re indie too. We understand production issues as well as policy and IP limitations. We have a unique set of skills and knowledge that relate exclusively to digital positioning, and the DC Web Fest particularly has an understanding of how the needs of big-tech and big-policy converge. Festivals will almost certainly become the new distribution platform/ discovery ground for producers looking for new talent/ topics, and we foster a community of support. It takes a team, and we want you on ours. Almost like a workers union, except a lot more hopeful and (probably) a lot more fun. If you’d like to participate and join this growing conversation, remember the FINAL FINAL DEADLINE for the DC Web Fest is January 31. We would love to celebrate your work, and hope to see you this April 6th and 7th!

-          A.K. Young  

An Excellent New Year

Happy Happy New Year from your DC Web Fest fam!  This is Diana here, and I just want to share a little bit of what has been on my heart lately. EXCELLENCE. It's not just something you do, it's what you are. Each day when we wake up, whether it's cloudy or sunny, snowing or raining, we should fix our minds to be EXCELLENT! Now on our journey to excellence, we will FAIL and make MISTAKES; However, these things are only steps that make you stronger on your path to excellence. How can one build muscles unless there is some resistance?

So, I'm sure you're wondering why the Prince magazine covers above. Simply put, he was one of the best to do it. He realized he was musically inclined at a very young age, mastering numerous instruments by his teenage years. How many other musicians have you seen on the front cover of multiple instrument magazines? Prince took what he had and ran FAR with it all the way up to his last day on earth, paving the path for the following generations.

Everyone was sent to this earth with DOPE talents and gifts- it's just a matter of tapping into them. Don't know what your "thing" is? Well, it's usually something that you don't mind losing sleep over. It's usually something you think about and desire often. It's usually something that just comes natural. Practicing and learning it doesn't really seem like "work", but fun because you enjoy it so much. Once you tap into your gift(s)/passion(s), decide you're going to be the absolute best you possible can and only measure yourself against yourself, aiming to be better each day.

Bottom line- whatever you love to do, BECOME THE BEST AT IT! Practice and study, study and practice. Be relentless. Don't make a New Years Resolution this year. Make a lifetime decision to divorce your hindering bad habits and marry excellence. It'll be one of the greatest relationships you can have in life.

For geniuses who are living out your passion(s) through creating digital media, there's still time to show us what you've got! Who knows, your work just may be featured at the 2018 DC Web Fest.

Take care,

Diana A. Eaton

A Season to be Thankful

The new year is soon approaching us! We have smashed turkey, mac n' cheese, green beans, collard greens, pumpkin pie, apple pie à la mode, fried chicken, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes...OK I'll stop listing food now because it's starting to sound gluttonous (LOL). Then there are also relatives. Aahhhh. Some of them you are genuinely excited to see, then others....you know....you can only tolerate them in doses (mainly during the holidays). Everyone has that one aunt who has absolutely NO FILTER on her mouth. Any and everything can come out at any given time!

Anyhow, the holiday season is a great time to be simply....YOU'VE GUESSED IT...THANKFUL. No one's life is perfect, but we all have SOMETHING to be thankful for. Sometimes we can get so caught up in life's hurdles, we overlook the simple things to rejoice about. Check out the following list of the simplest things we should be grateful for (as they apply to us)::

  • Wellness/health
  • Sanity
  • Laughter
  • Peace
  • Loved ones/support system
  • Food (that we don't have to hunt for or farm. Note- our pets eat better than some of the folks in underdeveloped countries)
  • Clean water
  • A decent roof to reside under
  • Joy
  • Healthy relationships
  • Clothes
  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • Love
  • Prosperity
  • Creativity (got creative content? We want to see it!)

Maybe only one thing on the list applies to you (some of us have some pretty unfortunate lives), BUT if you can just find ONE thing to be thankful for, try to meditate on that. It's not always easy, but you may find a little joy creeping into your heart if you just focus on one thing you can be thankful for.

SPREAD LOVE, EAT MAD FOOD, AND ENJOY THE REST OF THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!

-Diana

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Creative Monopolies: Disney & Fox

Happy Holidays! Let's talk about MONOPOLIES! As in, I am about to MONOPOLIZE your time with this excellently crafted blog post. 

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There’s been a lot of talk about corporations this week, particularly about the current administration’s quest to reward them. Whether with tax breaks (which just passed) or the repeal of net neutrality, monopolies and conglomerates in the digital sphere are here to stay, with another, perhaps, joining their ranks.

One other notable headline? Disney’s official bid for Fox – and they bid big. To be clear, some analysts deem this the second-biggest merger ever. Disney’s $52.4 billion all-stock transaction (side note: learn what an all-stock transaction actually is) includes 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Searchlight movie and television studios, majority control of Hulu, and rites to Fox’s most successful franchises: X-Men, Marvel in general, Alien, Planet of the Apes, Avatar (including Cameron’s contacted two sequels and plans for two more), ALL of Star Wars, even JLaw’s upcoming deadly-sexy Red Sparrow. Let’s not forget National Geographic is in this mix too, and hey, Anastasia is officially a Disney Princess now! (The list is endless, tbh, so look at this list because my fingers are getting tired).  If you want to read more on the specifics of the deal, as well as projections and social stats, Dana Feldman wrote a great article for Forbes. TLDR; according to analysts, this merger brings almost no benefit to the consumer. But at the billion-dollar level, of course, there wouldn’t be.

Maybe I’m the only one, but it can be hard for the average viewer to associate mass media conglomerates with corporate greed – I mean, the ones that focus on entertainment. Disney makes movies about princesses! And apparently, Nutcracker’s too!  There is singing! And if it’s animated, you already know tears are involved!  Entertainment corporations acquire distinct brand loyalty by taking a back seat to their well-branded, social savvy stars and employ expertly tailored PR when that’s not enough. However, Disney is showing its teeth. Remember when they barred L.A. Times coverage for a month because their reporters called out Disney’s business dealings in Anaheim? News about that died down pretty quick, however disconcerting it may be. Remember how I mentioned this is the second largest merger of all time? Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) called for the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee to host a hearing about all this. At the time of this writing, no hearing has been scheduled, but it also has not been ruled out. When something garners federal attention, especially with *everything else* going on, we should all pay attention.

Look at you and your sarcastic clapping, Snow, you stop that. This is serious. 

Look at you and your sarcastic clapping, Snow, you stop that. This is serious. 

So. Now what? What does Disney’s deal mean for us? What does it mean for our culture, we who binge series and spend the majority of our precious resources on entertainment? What will happen to our brand of escapism, or our form of protest, or whatever digital media means to you? Well, here are some thoughts, in no particular order because orders are stupid:

Sourced from qz.com 

Sourced from qz.com 

1)   This is a move towards international markets. International movie markets make up more of the industry’s gross than ever before, so it’s easy to assume Disney will continue producing work with a global focus.  Just this week: Last Jedi earned $220 million domestically, $230 million internationally; Coco earned $10 million domestically, $27.4 million internationally; Daddy’s Home 2 earned $3.8 million domestically (somehow), $5.8 million internationally. Some movies do even better in markets like China than they do in the US, and especially when Silicon Valley has an aggressively hold on the streaming market (luv u 5evr, Netflix) it’s easy to see why Disney would want to keep international markets in play. Those acquisitions of Star India and 39% of Sky make more sense? And Disney’s new 60% majority of Hulu? Ah, yes, back to streaming for a quick sec…

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2)   Don’t Cross the Streams: A Fragmented Marketplace. There’s already a plethora of streaming options for consumers. The fact Disney will now own a huge portion of popular properties means that they will also control distribution, and could deal their franchises in a way that encourages consumers to pay for multiple services … that is, until Disney creates their own. Which, apparently, we can expect circa 2019. With their buffed out portfolio, heavy hitters in EVERY genre, there isn’t much out there to stop them. Getting on board with direct-to-consumer entertainment is a smart move, especially when uber expensive cable used to be the only way to access Disney titles and ESPN (oh yeah, Disney owns 80% of that, too).  And what happens when they make this streaming service? Can they pay to throttle other services? Can they prevent certain people from their viewing their content? Not to be hyperbolic, but we are headed towards a dystopian future where we end up paying the same price for cable, except for multiple services (almost like countries without net neutrality do, riiiiiight?) with, I’m guessing, content that continues to play it safe …  which is terrible because …

Not one of these stock photo adults will be happy when they realize their fun adult movie options are about to be seriously curtailed. 

Not one of these stock photo adults will be happy when they realize their fun adult movie options are about to be seriously curtailed. 

3)   Films for adults are up for grabs. Todd VanDerWerff brought up this excellent point in his excellent Vox article: Disney is almost entirely focused on blockbusters, while Fox subsidiaries (Fox Searchlight in particular) produce annual Oscar bait. Not even bait, like, fully prepared Oscar fillets. In the classic profit vs. prize schema, Disney has clearly favored formulaic hits. Seriously, read Mr. VanDerWerff’s article. It’s brilliant. But this doesn’t just concern original content, let’s think about the franchises. Most talked about, perhaps, is what’s going to happen to Deadpool. Great, less red tape between franchises means more potential crossover, but Deadpool by nature is an R rated series. It’s also the highest earning R-rated movie of all time. Disney has a rule about NOT making R-Rated movies. You see the problem here. In a battle of rebranding, who do we think is going to be the one to cave? Will Deadpool become some milquetoast, Comic-Con version of himself? No one knows, but Disney’s recent trend of turning animated hits into live-action “hmm”s doesn’t instill a TON of confidence. So maybe …

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4)   Independent creators may, ironically, get more play. Here’s the thing. A lot of people love Disney for sentimental reasons. 90’s kids grew up with them. However, of late, the movies they release on the whole (when they do) all share shades of the same well-storied narrative. Disney’s brand loyalty depends on viewers knowing what to expect. Now, when we don’t really know how large their market share is going to be, maybe this means we are going to see a large number of franchises play into that same trustworthy Disney arc. And maybe, if we play our cards right, viewers are going to get really fricken tired of it and turn to independent creators for some respite and original, innovative work. (P.S. If someone could give me more stuff like Call Me By Your Name and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, that’d be great).  Maybe this is too-far a long ball view, but call me a cock-eyed optimist. In the short term, sure, maybe some of our greatest franchises will become a little more generic. Maybe there will be fewer of them. But maybe this could start something cool. Maybe the political groundswell is seeping into our creative domain, and maybe we need to rise to meet it like we have every time before.

 

Well. Some thoughts. Sound off on Twitter/Instagram/ anywhere with your thoughts! You know I’d love to hear them.

Keep on keepin’ on. And hey! Happy Holidays.

- A. K. Young

Do We Know Know Our Rights?? (Part 1)

As creatives, we treat our creations like our babies. We put everything into them. We nourish them. We want to show them off to the whole world. We are proud of them (even if they're not that great). Most of all, we want to PROTECT them. We want the whole world to know that our creations are OURS, and no one else's.

Did you know that your content (be it literary works, musical, visual, etc.) is automatically under copyright protection the moment it is created? The only criteria the work must meet in order to be protected is it must be perceptible, either directly or by a device. In layman's terms, only actual works can be protected, not ideas.

As the content creator/copyright holder, you SOLELY have the exclusive rights to the resale and distribution of your work!

Check out this informative article written by DCWF friend Kim Tignor, who is the Director of Public Policy for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and phenomenal Author/Writer/Influencer, Jouelzy.

Now, that you have a better understanding of your rights as a content creator, WE WANT TO SEE YOUR WORK! We are gladly accepting submissions for the 6th edition of the DC Web Fest.

-Diana Eaton, DC Web Fest Team

 

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A Tale of Two Launches

Hello ladies and gentleman. First-time poster, long-time supporter of digital everything. Strap in, because today we are recapping two incredible initiatives, both new and invaluable assets to the digital community, in D.C. and beyond.

A lot of big things are happening in response to the political climate (take the past 24 hours for example – here’s lookin’ at you, Patagonia and Time’s ‘Silence Breakers’) but Full Color Future and Creative Control enable positive, ground-swell action in a brand new way. Created by Google Nex Gen Fellows Brian Woolfolk and Kim Tignor (cohort members with our festival founder Otessa Ghadar) we attended their launch events and are here to make a formal introduction.

Full Color Future is a think tank and advocacy group aiming to change the game for digital creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs of color. Their focus? This pull quote from their website puts it best – “Visionaries … changing their lives and our world by leveraging tech and the internet to redefine what is possible.” In a world where input from innovators of color is marginalized, Full Color Future plans to advocate and actively include their expertise and worldview in policy conversations to make the changes we seek truly multicultural ones. Members of the first Full Color 50 class  – writer and comedian Jenny Yang, Kweli.tv founder DeShuna Spencer, and FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn – set the tone for an amazing evening of discussion and empowerment. We made new connections with video producers, State Department officials, and documentary filmmakers – and hanging out in Google’s DC headquarters wasn’t half bad, either. (See my android bb below.)

(PC: Amy Young. Android grub says hi.)

(PC: Amy Young. Android grub says hi.)

(PC: Amy Young. Full Color Future Advisory Board, with Otessa fourth from left.) 

(PC: Amy Young. Full Color Future Advisory Board, with Otessa fourth from left.) 

It was an excellent way to start the week, and little did I know it was about to get better.

The launch of Creative Control at Redrocks H Street was two nights later, and proved a powerful counterpart to the first. Where Full Color Future advocates the work, Creative Control provides the legal know-how to protect invaluable IP. A collection of impassioned lawyers, creatives, and visionaries, all dedicated to protecting the creative rights of people of color, made for one powerful launch and one incredible room. The sangria was flowing, the pizza was bubbling, the atmosphere was electric. And the programming! Need help sussing out your legal needs? There were free legal consultations provided for attendees. Even as a walk-in, I met with a wonderful lawyer who taught me the difference between copyright and trademark. Want to join the conversation? Several panels (one moderated by Otessa) on IP law and how to monetize your content occurred throughout the evening with leaders in the field. It’s not often education is so successfully mixed with fraternization, but the takeaway was a strong one: whether in court or in the digital sphere, we are here to protect you.

(PC: Amy Young. If you don't have custom neon lights, what are you evening doing?) 

(PC: Amy Young. If you don't have custom neon lights, what are you evening doing?) 

(PC: Amy Young. A panel on IP, just about to start.) 

(PC: Amy Young. A panel on IP, just about to start.) 

It’s easy, in the face of this constant negative deluge, to feel injustice is insurmountable. However, in the words of oft and ever-quotable Mr. Rodgers, it helps to look for the helpers. The advocates. The tireless doers. Full Color Future and Creative Control are just such organizations, and ones we look forward to championing.

– A. K. Young

Got Content?

Kind of like sports, there is a world cup for web series, created by the one and only Joël Bassaget. The whole idea is to provide web fest creators with a platform for healthy competition- may the dopest content win! The process includes collecting the results from the best webfests around the world and publishing a table of the most awarded web series of the year to provide the audience with an up-to-date listing of the best content. Created in 2015, the series has evolved to become apart of Cannes MIPTV to showcase its top ten web series. All roads lead to Cannes!

This is an awesome indie movement and we, the DC Web Fest, are honored to be apart of it. Though the world cup is ultimately a competition, it's a win-win situation. Regardless of WHICH web series wins, we all win ultimately as we unite as a global community to maintain the indie spirit. What do we want? What is the goal? TO KEEP THE PENS WRITING AND CAMERAS ROLLING ON INDIE CONTENT! We've gotta' keep this awesome thing going.

Got content? We want it! Who knows, you just may end up at Cannes one of these days.

 

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Language Can No Longer Keep Us Apart

SO AT LAST! Much thanks to Google, IBM, Waverly Labs, and Mymanu for tearing down the language barrier that has hindered us from the privilege of enjoying each other's authentic content from across the globe! Subtitles are great, but how about being able to simply pop-in some pocket-sized ear buds that will translate language in real-time. In other words, rather than having to read subtitles (which can be a minor distraction from the visuals), you can just pop-in the translator earbuds and enjoy the content in its full authenticity- the original language in which it was meant to be heard in. This is super great because it's not just about seeing content, but it's also about experiencing.

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Otessa (DC Web Fest founder) recently gave a brilliant presentation at the Bilbao Web Fest where she discussed the rapid evolution of technology. Here's the dilemma:  50% of internet content is in English, only 20% of the world's population has some English skills, and 80% of the web is in only 10 languages. Problematic, right? Check out the internet maps below. The image to the left shows the massive use of the internet at different times across the globe, whereas the image to the right represents the internet as a massive universe, with numerous strands (users) intertwined. That being said, these translator ear buds are a major game changer for all festivals (and people) across the globe!

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Friday at the Mosaic

More location scouting for the right one- the right venue that is for DC Web Fest #6. So, we hopped on Interstate 66 into the Mosaic District of Fairfax, VA. One word to describe it- LIVE. Maaaan, the place is ultra dope! There is so much to do and it's still in development, as it's only a few years old. Surrounded by hip apartments and and 4-level town homes with urban design, the Mosaic District is home of the Angelika Mosaic (the theater we fell in love with). There are also numerous places to grab a bite to eat and something sweet to drink. We were like kids in the candy shop. The minute we arrived camera phones and the DSLR were snappin' shots left and right. Will the Mosaic be the home of DC Web Fest #6? Not sure yet. But it's darn sure a good spot to chill!