Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Long Time Ago, In a Film Not To Far Far Away

As December 18, 2016 approaches, many fans, geeks, and nerds anxiously wring the hilts of their lightsaber replicas, polish their respective republic or galactic empire battle armor, and recite epic catch phrases from the various episodes that comprise the initial and sequential Star Wars canon of films.  Similar to Tuscan raiders lying in wait to ambush would be travelers on the sandy dunes of Tatooine, these fans eagerly await the opening credits and first scenes of one of the most highly anticipated films to date.  According to (Acuna, 2015), early box office projections for the film were estimated in the neighborhood of $1.75 billion dollars, as of April 27, 2015.  I wonder if Republic credits will suffice, (waves hand as if using a Jedi mind trick).   With director J.J. Abrams at the helm, the newest installment of the beloved franchise has thus far lived up to the hype surrounding the film, however, the real test will commence on opening night as throngs of fans dressed in the cos-play likeness of their favorite hero or villain flock to theaters around the world to see if the newest addition to this intergalactic opera lives up to the mystique of the original trilogy. 

The reaction from fans has been immense leading up to opening day, especially as so much mystery remains around the fate of one of the franchises most celebrated icons.  Paging Luke Skywalker, please report to the Death Star.  However, as reported by (Spangler, 2015), 63% of fans polled expect the latest film to be the best to date within the franchise.  Personally, I can attest to being part of the 63% as I purchased by tickets months ago for a 7:30 pm showing of the film on December 17, 2015.  Don’t judge me.  Ultimately, the latest film in arguably the most epic film franchise ever created could potentially usher in a new era within the motion picture industry.  If the film is as successful as predicted, production studios will fight tooth and nail to reboot lost franchises or even take leaps of faith towards adapting popular content for the silver screen.  This trend has become more pronounced in recent years with titles such as Assassins Creed, Warcraft, and Ghost In The Shell all being slated or currently in production.  The flip side to this trend however, would be reminiscent of the late 90’s in which title after title of the Marvel franchise failed to live up to the expectations of fans and film critics alike.  Considering the talent and success of the projects that director J.J. Abrams has worked on to date, this possibility has a probability of coming to fruition akin to confirming that Greedo actually shot first. 

No matter your preference, one thing is for certain as it pertains to the latest Star Wars film.  The latest addition to the legacy pioneered by George Lucas will provide a fresh dose of the creative imagination that has captivated audiences for decades.  The only question that remains is if movie goers will be able to make that last minute concession stand run in twelve parsecs without missing the opening credits?

Acuna, K. (April 27, 2015). Wall Street thinks 'Star Wars: Episode VII' will make $1.75 billion worldwide.  Business Insider.  Retrieved December 6, 2015 from

Spangler, T. (September 29, 2015). ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Will Be Best Movie Yet: Fan Survey. Variety. Retrieved December 6, 2015 from

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sage Advice – Business Plan Key Success Factors

In researching the factors that make a business plan or start up venture attractive for venture capitalists and angel investors, I have chosen to focus on the advice provided by Guy Kawasaki and Paul Buchheit. 

        Guy Kawasaki, is most commonly known for his role as the former Chief Evangelist of Apple Computer, however this design and sales guru actually started his working career with a fine-jewelry manufacturer called Nova Stylings (Kawasaki, 2006).  Over the past thirty-two years, Kawasaki has watched his role in the ever-changing world of technology evolve as he has co-founded three separate firms, two of which, Alltop and ACIUS, are technology based companies, and the third, Garage Technology Ventures, which is a start up investment firm focused on assisting entrepreneurs in raising capital for the operations of their business enterprises (Kawasaki, 2006).

Over the years Mr. Kawasaki has written thirteen books aimed at guiding entrepreneurs down the path of successful business formation and operation.  In a recent interview with entrepreneurial community Startup Grind, Mr. Kawasaki shares his key insights regarding the ingredients that make a company an attractive opportunity for investors.  During this interview, Mr. Kawasaki emphasizes that before creating a business plan, entrepreneurs should focus first on creating prototypes of the products and/or services that they wish to sell in order to gauge the reaction and acceptance of their work by the intended consumer market (Startup Grind, 2015).  In his 2006 article The Zen of Business Plans, Mr. Kawasaki provides specific advice regarding the necessary components of creating a successful business plan once this initial “bootstrapping” phase has been completed; stressing that the executive summary is the most important part of the business plan from an investor’s standpoint (Kawasaki, 2006).  Additionally, Mr. Kawasaki emphasizes that the writing structure of the business plan should be deliberate, capitalize on the excitement that the plan could result in a huge success, and also be focused on and provide supplemental supporting information for the corresponding business pitch (Kawasaki, 2006).  

Paul Buchheit is widely known, in the realm of Silicon Valley, as the man that created Gmail (Buchheit, n.d.).  While at Google, Buchheit built the prototype for AdSense, and was responsible for crafting Google’s now famous slogan “Don’t be evil” (Buchheit, n.d.).  In 2007 he was one of the founders of Friendfeed, which in 2009 became Facebook’s largest acquisition to date (Buchheit, n.d.). 
As it pertains to his view on business plans, Buchheit has followed a similar mentality to that of Guy Kawasaki.  In 2009, Buchheit was quoted as stating that his view on start up success could be summed up as, “Consider spending less time talking, and more time prototyping, especially if you’re not very good at talking” (Nivi, 2009).  This philosophy has begun to take root in the minds of investors as the ultimate success of a start up enterprise is not rooted solely in the business plan, but in the ability of the company to produce the high quality services or products outlined in the plan.  In most cases, investors would place more value on companies that have “prototyped” as this experimental process offers would be consumers a chance provide feedback on the company’s products or services.   As an example of this philosophy in action, Buchheit has referenced the start up company Airbnb and pointed out several of the issues that the start up suffered prior to obtaining investor funding, specifically citing the issues which Y Combinator helped the company fix in order to offer the best service possible to the target market consumer base (NPResearch, 2012). 

Upon analyzing the advice offered by both Buchheit and Kawasaki, it has been determined that Blank Slate Animation will undertake the philosophy of prototyping the service and product offerings of the company and also producing a viable business plan in order to obtain funding.  The purpose of the funding acquired by the business plan will serve as the necessary seed funding that will allow the company to scale the sales of their 3D model assets, while also serving as a production outline for the episodic and animated features that the company will pitch to broadcast networks, online content distributors, and partner production studios.

Buchheit, P. (n.d.). [Online image]. Retrieved October 28, 2015 from
Buchheit, P. (n.d.). Biography. Retrieved October 28, 2015 from
Kawasaki, G. (2006). Biography. Retrieved October 28, 2015 from
Kawasaki, G. (n.d.). Guy Kawasaki [Online image].  Retrieved October 28, 2015 from
Kawasaki, G. (January 21, 2006). The Zen of Business Plans. Retrieved October 28, 2015 from
Nivi, B. (January 29, 2009). Paul Buchheit: "Consider spending less time talking, and more time prototyping". Venture Hacks. Retrieved October 30, 2015 from
NPResearch. (June 2, 2012).  The Future of Venture Capital and High-Tech Entrepreneurship (Paul Buchheit, Y Combinator). [Video File]. Retrieved October 30, 2015 from
Start Up Grind. (May 18, 2015). Guy Kawasaki (Canva) at Startup Grind Hangout. [Video file]. Retrieved October 28, 2015 from

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A New Horizon, How Technology will shape the Future of Planet Earth

During the 21st century the global entertainment industry will experience an exponential growth in the sense of how content merges with reality and the issues of our times and the future of the human race.  Recently, I read an article regarding the creation of a holographic image via the use of a smart phone.  The article was written in reference to the breakthroughs in hologram technology being distributed by companies such as Holho, 360 Brandvision, and Arena 3D.  The underlying implications of the technological advances that these companies are developing speaks to the future of the global society as their product offering can be utilized across all business industries from medical applications, space exploration, and planetary science to interactive advertising spaces and consumer electronics.  With that being said the singular focus of this technology will ultimately change the landscape of not only content consumption, but also cause a pivotal shift in the way information is shared across digital distribution platforms. 
In assessing the coming change to the entertainment and content distribution landscape, it is imperative that the consumer base evaluate how this new “in your face” distribution method will change global perceptions regarding significant events around the world.  To date Holho only accounts for 8.4% of United States visitors to the company’s website according to  Conversely, neither of Holho’s two major competitors, Arena 3D or 360 Brandvision has analytical data reported on  Only digital marketing analytics database is able to estimate the SEO marketing statistics to date of these companies, and per their results,  Holho has established itself as the clear market segment leader with an estimated monthly SEO click value of $103.00.  With this limited amount of knowledge, investors and thus consumers will have to rely ever increasingly on social media, product reviews, and individual product interaction to assess the true intrinsic and tangible value of these companies and the product and service offerings that they provide.  The underlying question across the board will ultimately result in “How far is each and every one of us willing to travel outside of our comfort zones in order to make the world the utopian society that it has the ability to be?”

Holho_home jellyfish. (n.d.). [Image file].  Retrieved October 4, 2015 from

Holho_home_3faces_business. (n.d.). [Image file]. Retrieved October 4, 2015 from

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Assuming Ownership/Taking Control

In 2014 it was predicted by Publishers Weekly that the self publication market would experience exponential growth in the coming years (McCartney, 2015).  Due to the fact that many self published content providers have increasing options for marketing their content, the traditional distribution model of publication is suffering from a lack of talent and also content to market as it correlates to investment returns.  This hemorrhage that the traditional market is experiencing has solely been self inflicted as agents and publication companies have increasingly tailored their services to content providers have attained a certain level of notoriety to date.  As a result of this trend, newly minted content providers have been forced to seek alternative avenues that allow them to distribute their products to their target consumer base.  Additionally, the emergence of this publishing model had empowered content producers to take charge of their business enterprise to the extent that they have more control of the distribution schedule, product marketing, and related publicity of their content.

Although the self publication strategy may be becoming more acceptable, the associate risks with this model may expose self publishers to more risk and responsibilities than they expect.  One emerging trend as noted by (McCartney, 2015), is that “serialization”, or the release of books, a chapter at a time, has become prevalent in keeping the target market engaged, while allowing the author the ability to gain necessary feedback, regarding the content as a whole.  In essence, the end game with this business model is similar to the comic book, television, and film industry, as it allows the consumer market the opportunity to consume a segment of content and provide feedback prior to a major release by the content provider.  In conclusion, the increase in self publishing has increased the difficulty of new content providers to be “discovered” by their intended target market.  Due to the market oversaturation created by self publishing, this trend has cause content providers to not only become high quality content producers, but to also to create content that is definitive and worthy of extensive notoriety to the consumer base in order to generate the forecasted sales for the applicable content.

McCartney, J. (2015). A Look Ahead to Self-Publishing in 2015. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved September 20, 2015 from

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Swimming with the Sharks: Intellectual Property in the Entertainment Industry

Over the past few years, the entertainment industry has seen a dynamic shift pertaining to the frequency and volume with which litigation has been filed against studios, filmmakers, artistic talent, and third party partners.  This trend is not solely limited to any individual sector of the industry, but has become persistently observable in every market segment.  

     In recent history, the scope of this type of litigation has even reached the federal district court level via Hart v. Electronic Arts, Inc., 717 F.3d 141 (3d Cir. 2013) as noted by Cummins (2014).  This case in particular hinged primarily on the right of a collegiate athlete to protect his individual brand image in lieu of waiving his rights to compensation under the official “amateurism” rules established by the NCAA, whereby a collegiate athlete is restricted from using his or her image, name recognition, or athletic ability to gain compensation or promote a product or service in any form (Cummins, 2014).  In the view of both the Third and Ninth Circuit courts, the right-of-publicity for the individual was viewed as superior to the First Amendment right of the defendant, Electronic Arts, as it pertained to using the likeness and biological information of an individual within its video game franchise as a form of freedom of expression.  In rendering it’s decision, the Third Circuit, relied heavily upon the transformative use test as the reference point in which to determine whether or not the rights or both parties were in alignment with the protections afforded by the established rights-of-publicity and the freedom of expression clause of the United States Constitution.  The trend of the transformative use test can also be viewed in cases such as the recent lawsuit filed against entertainment industry mogul Curtis (50 Cent) Jackson III, for the violation of the plaintiff‘s, Lastonia Leviston, right-of-publicity via the release of a sex tape.  As Rayne (2015) reports, the claims made by Ms. Leviston also revolve around the lack of stated permission to publicly release the footage and the ensuing damage to her commercial reputation as a result of the content release.  

 As a result of the decisions of cases such as Hart and Leviston, an interesting trend has emerged; consequentially ushering in a new type of litigant within the entertainment industry.  Known as the copyright troll, these litigants have become the recipients of several lucrative settlement agreements via the filing of multiple defendant lawsuits, with their key motivation consisting of creating a standalone revenue stream based on litigation.  In his analysis, Sag (2015) notes that these types of lawsuits predominantly involve an element of pornography and public distribution via file sharing torrents.  Additionally, these types of litigants utilize public shaming, via the release of the identities of the defendants, as leverage in obtaining settlement agreements in Multi-defendant and Joinder-defendant cases, especially where the file sharing of pornographic material has occurred, (Sag, 2015).  An example of this strategy in use can be observed in the legal filings against Vivid Entertainment by Kim Kardashian, Kimberly Kardashian vs. Vivid Entertainment LLC.  

 Ultimately, a decision such as Hart vs. Electronic Arts, in addition to the constant filing of litigation as demonstrated by copyright trolls has dramatically transformed the landscape of the entertainment industry.  The results of these events has established new standards for obtaining permission of use regarding the likeness or image of individuals, as well as setting a benchmark liability standard by which future cases will be weighed upon.  The broader ramifications of these actions can be witnessed in the lawsuits regarding Andrew Ainsworth, Lucasfilm Limited and others (Appellants) v. Ainsworth and others (Respondents) & Lucasfilm Ltd v. Shepperton Design Studios Limited et al.  In these cases, Lucasfilm Limited filed lawsuits in both the United States and also in the United Kingdom against the original designer of the Star Wars Stormtrooper uniform.  The issue at the heart of the matter was the recreation and sale of Star Wars trademarked assets to the public, without the express consent of Lucasfilm Limited (Vollans, 2012).  In the United State ruling the courts found that Mr. Ainsworth had indeed violated the rights of property of Lucasfilm Limited and ordered Ainsworth to pay damages in the amount of $12,500,000 including legal fees.  However, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom did not render a similar verdict for the subsequent filing for enforcement of the United States verdict.  According to Vollans (2012), the court found that the claims made by Lucasfilm Limited did not meet the standards for copyright protections under the Copyright Design and Patents Act of 1988 under the laws of the United Kingdom Parliament.  In conclusion, the court ruled that Ainsworth had not committed an act of copyright infringement and subsequently dismissed the claim for enforcement of the United States ruling as well as the subsequent filings within the United Kingdom.  

 In summary, the legal complexity surrounding intellectual property rights involve nuances and established thresholds whose specificity and application can only be truly understood by legal professionals with extensive experience in entertainment law.  The protections and legal liabilities for violating the jurisdictional laws both domestically and internationally can vary to the extent that a work of intellectual property may or may not qualify for protections under the laws of a specific locale.  Thus when working in the entertainment industry, it is imperative for talent as well as their management team to be aware to the general laws regarding intellectual property and have a well designed strategy regarding the protection of the right-of-publicity and right-of-property as it pertains to the image and commercial marketability of the underlying intellectual property assets within the portfolio of the talent. 


Andrew Ainsworth. [Online image]. Retrieved August 8, 2015 from

Cummins, G. R. (2014). The Right of Publicity in Video Games Plays Hardball with the First Amendment. Intellectual Property Litigation, 25(2), 7-16.

NCAA Football 13. [Online image]. Retrieved August 8, 2015 from

Rayne, N. (2015). 50 Cent Testifies in Sex Tape Lawsuit, Plays Down Details About His Finances. Time.Com, N.PAG.

Sag, M. (2015). Copyright Trolling, An Empirical Study. Iowa Law Review, 100(3), 1105-1147.

Star Wars Stormtrooper. [Online image]. Retrieved August 8, 2015 from

Vollans, T. (2012). The Empire Strikes Back? Lessons from the Supreme Court's judgment in Lucasfilm Limited and others (Appellants) v. Ainsworth and another (Respondents) [2011] UKSC 39, July 2011". Journal Of International Commercial Law & Technology, 7(3), 276-281.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Battle of Wills or A Mutual Benefit: You Decide the Outcome


In evaluating the various tactics used for negotiation and deal making I conducted an interview with renowned illustrator and digital artist Cris De Lara, in order to gain further insight regarding how a true professional interacts with clients to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. 

Hailing from Brazil, Brazil, Cris moved to Canada to work as a Fine Art teacher at Niagara College in 2008 (De Lara, 2008).  In the same year, Cris decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship by founding her own illustration studio, Cris De Lara Studios, which focuses on digital illustration and fine art.  To date, many of Cris’ works have been used throughout the entertainment industry, particularly her pinup depictions of recognizable characters from various television shows, movies, video games, and comic books.  The artistic creativity and signature style of Cris’ work has allowed her to acquire commissions for projects across the globe as well as establishing her within the industry as a subject matter expert.

During my interview with Cris, I focused primarily on the negotiation areas of positional bargaining, establishing and obtaining a mutual benefit, and the impact of defined positions on the underlying interests of all parties involved in the negotiation process. 

Chaz Trammell: How do you separate the people from the problem when you are negotiating? What tips do you have for new negotiators who are trying to do this?

Cris De Lara:  Each party in the negotiation process is trying to resolve a "problem" and will use their individual positions in order to manipulate any agreement to suit their underlying interests.  Additionally, individuals may present their positions in a manner that attempts to redefine the other party’s positions during the negotiation.  In this manner, the negotiation is more similar to a “battle of wills”; in which each party is attempting to gain the best negotiated agreement for them as an individual.  By using this sort of tactic, each party looses a little bargaining power as any agreement reached is solely position based.

Do not get me wrong, in any negotiation each party is seeking the best outcome for themselves and to believe otherwise would be unwise.  This type of positioning may be done unconsciously or even intentionally as everyone wants to get some kind of advantage in a deal making situation.  I personally believe that this is one of the main reasons why people burn bridges unintentionally during the initial phases of the negotiation process. 
When you negotiate, you need to remember that the concept of a deal implies that the result should be good for both parties, which means that each party will need to be flexible in their positions in order to achieve an agreement.  In the event that your partner in the negotiation simply wants to get everything, it may be time to reconsider or even cancel the negotiation as you may end up spoiling your resources or getting in serious financial problems due to the lack of a mutually beneficial agreement.

My advice for new negotiators would be to view every negotiation as a process that is focused, organic, and natural.  As an example, imagine for a moment you are negotiating a deal with the company for which one of your best friends or sibling works.  Additionally, assume that your friend or sibling is the individual representing the company in the deal making process.
I use this example to illustrate the importance of approaching every deal in a strictly professional manner with the focus on the business aspect of the process.  It is important to remember that you are there just for business, no hard feelings.  You need to focus on the end result at all times, and "forget" the human factor in this case.  Lastly, I would emphasize that new negotiators gain some basic knowledge of emotional intelligence.  When emotions become involved in the deal making process a new level of complexity is introduced.  Sometimes it will not be possible to define the impact that emotions have on a deal as they can affect several factors of the negotiated terms such as cost, intrinsic value, and compensation.

The most important part of any negotiation is also to conduct your research prior to engaging in the deal making process, especially for new negotiators.   You need to have as much relevant information on the specifics of the deal, the people you will be negotiating with, and the limits to the flexibility of your positions in order to establish your positional bargaining in a manner that supports your personal interests. Ultimately, you need to establish how much you can lose to gain something; with any terms that surpass those limits being a good deal rather than just a deal. 

Chaz Trammell:  How do you handle positional bargaining tactics?

Cris De Lara:  Wow…., let's see, I remember a time when I was at the university….. LOL. 
From my perspective, the correct approach to negotiation is that you need to be flexible because every negotiation has its details and its uniqueness, and we need to pay attention to them, which becomes difficult when you are focused only on “your” position during the negotiation.  You have to come up with a strategy to show to the person you are dealing with that there are some positions that are non-negotiable, but in a manner that still provides an opportunity to achieve a deal.  Additionally, I would never recommend that you start any conversation with a client by defining these non-negotiable positions.

My personal method for establishing my bargaining position can be viewed in the following example:
A client requests a quote for a project from my company.

After establishing the scope and budget (if possible) of the project, I will provide the client with the quote.

Finally, if the client and I are unable to come to terms after the quote has been submitted, I provide the client with alternative solutions to achieve their desired goals such as only offering to produce certain elements for the project at a more affordable rate or the flexibility to pay for my services in installments.  

This last step could be considered a counter measure, but if it works, we can say we achieved a win-win result.  Conversely, let us imagine that a client requests a quote and I start by saying: "my price is $100.00 and I cannot render any services for less than that."  In this example, I would kill any chance of getting the job. 

My approach is to first listen to the client in order to establish their needs and gain as much information as possible regarding the details of the project.  When I am confident that I have obtained enough information regarding the job, I confer with my clients to establish an initial agreement regarding the specifications of the project.  Additionally, I inform my clients on the resources needed to achieve the desired results and how they will affect the overall timeline for project completion.  By doing like this I "prepare" and also "advise" my clients regarding the production phase of the project and provide them with an opportunity to craft the project in a manner that will best achieve the desired results. 

After the terms and scope of the project have been established, I will consult with my clients once more to address and resolve any concerns they may have regarding the project….. (At this point I have a pretty good idea of what I can do and even how much I could charge for completing the project).  Finally, I "make my move" by asking the client if a budget has been allocated for the project or if they would be open to paying an upfront deposit for the services rendered.  In the event that capital is an issue, I always allow myself the option of offering any potential clients a discount, especially if the project is one in which I hold an intense interest. (Everybody loves a discount). 
This is an example of a script that I would use in a negotiation.  This strategy does not always work, to be honest.  After all, we are humans and sometimes our mood and other things affect the negotiation, which means we may need to improvise or deviate from the script at some point. In essence positional bargaining, for me, translates into having the flexibility to alter your stated positions in a manner that does not make the negotiation a "battle"; in my experience, any actions to the contrary have never produced a mutually beneficial outcome.

Chaz Trammell:  Can you give me an example of how you worked toward mutual benefit when you were negotiating a deal?

Cris De Lara:   Two weeks ago I posted an advertisement in the local newspaper, with the expectation of generating client traffic to my studio.  As a result, I received a call from someone who claimed to be interested in my services.  When I met with the individual, I realized that the person was actually attempting to sell me advertising services on a different media.  The "product" sounded nice so I invited the individual to come by and talk.  Long story short, the conditions of the services offered to me were extremely beneficial to my business, even though I knew that adding additional expenses to my budget were not in my best interest.  Instead of focusing on the cons of this situation, I chose this opportunity to present the individual with the option of purchasing my services.  I also provided the individual with the option to solicit my services to her client base when needed in order to foster a mutual benefit for her and myself. 

In this example, I chose to utilize the individuals advertising services, with the intention of promoting my business via her existing client network.  This arrangement was mutually beneficial for both of us. There are several ways in which you can obtain a mutually beneficial agreement when negotiating with someone.  The rewards may not always come in the form of financial compensation or immediate exposure for your business.  Sometimes a benefit could be something as simple as someone who will "owe" you a favor.  The point is that you need to be flexible, if not; you can lose a good opportunity.  Furthermore, approaching the deal making arena in a positive manner is essential.  By portraying a positive attitude throughout the negotiations you establish goodwill with your counter party with little effort.  This does not mean you are being fake; people will notice when you are faking.  By simply being polite and professional, you will create a reputation that speaks for itself.  


For further information regarding this interview or to obtain the services of Cris De Lara Studios, please reference the contact information below.
(289) 690-2357

De Lara, C. (2008). Biography. [Web log biography]. Retrieved June 15, 2015 from

De Lara, C. (2008). [Image file]. Retrieved June 15, 2015 from

De Lara, C. (2008). Holly Rocky Girl. [Image file]. Retrieved June 19, 2015 from