Recently, the Tribeca Film Festival held a panel entitled "Big Data at the Movies," which was covered comprehensively by this article in Indiewire. The article defines Big Data like so: "extremely large data sets detailing -- in this case -- how media is consumed... Whether through long planned advertising campaigns, social media, or on-the-spot last minute marketing pushes, Big Data is shaping what you watch." In other words, Big Data is a vast amount of privileged information to which only corporations that can afford it have access. These days, with the multifaceted way that consumers watch films, and the all-important role of the internet in the watching of film, access to Big Data may be the attribute of a studio that truly distinguishes it from grassroots, independent film. It's not necessarily about not having a huge P & A budget, or more employees, or the ability to hire a PR company; it may boil down to just not being able to know who watches what where. The ability to see and use that information could allow independent filmmakers to be nimble with where they put the small resources they do have. Time and time again in these posts, we have hit upon how important access to data is -- even if it is just a list of email addresses.
However, the Indiewire article also hints at where big studios could be faultily using Big Data. FilmTrack Co-founder and CEO Jason Kassin "elaborated that the ideal method of data analysis on the studio end should always be in determining the best strategy for finding an audience and not in developing properties entirely around gaining an audience." If the studios overplay their hand and use Big Data to design properties, grassroots filmmakers could use smarter, craftier ways of finding audiences for their (usually more original) content. Original content can inspire passion, and even the Big Data prophets present at the panel knew that passion can win out over number-crunching. "Being in the filmmaking community, it's all about that passion. You can see it whether in a certain actor or actress or a director's vision," said Stacey Spikes, CEO of MoviePass. "Data at the end of the day can never grasp that."