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Advice for techies who want to star in Hollywood

Entertainment industry insiders say technologists looking to do business in Hollywood should hire a good lawyer or agent to help guide them.

Any technology firm trying to cut deals in Hollywood should find themselves a good guide, say entertainment industry insiders.

"You need a Sherpa down here," said a Lynda Keeler, a former chief of Sony Pictures Digital Group. "Finding a good lawyer or agent to help navigate is important."

Managers at the big TV networks and film industries say they are more receptive than ever to tech companies with good ideas and they say this has begun to draw Silicon Valley start-ups (see main story here).

Tech companies have plenty of people to learn the ins and outs from. One of them is David Tenzer, an agent at the Creative Artists Agency for 24 years before leaving to work briefly for video-sharing firm Revver in 2006. Tenzer has been a booster of digital entertainment for years and now is with Raskin Peter Rubin & Simon, a law firm that has designs on helping entertainment companies plan digital strategies as well introduce technology companies to Hollywood's power brokers.

Philip Lelyveld is also a good guy to know. He's the former vice president of Digital Industry Relations at Disney who is now on his own, advising entertainment-technology firms. Lelyveld said there is a large community of technologists who have been in Hollywood for years, mainly in the special effects fields. "You got an existing generation of people who have already made mistakes and the new wave can learn from them," he said.

Start-ups can also do themselves a favor by doing their homework, said Derek Broes, an executive at Paramount Pictures, in charge of finding new ways for the studio to generate revenue online.

"Make sure you won't be shut down based on the limitations of the business you're approaching," Broes said. "Many times, people come to me and say, 'Hey I want to do this with your content.' It's a contradiction many times to the creator and difficult to do or in impossible to do because of our business itself. Have a better understanding of what is possible to do on the content side."