Web 2.0 expert tells Hollywood how YouTube is changing entertainment; expect more amateur productions

If you watched the No. 4 movie in the country in early May, you didn’t see it at the local cineplex but rather on your computer screen.

“The Hunt for Gollum,” created by volunteers for about $5,000, had 1.3 million viewers in the first week, topped only by “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “Star Trek” and a romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey.

“One of the things that this can alert us to is that someone with a good story could very likely do something that could be seen my millions of people,” said Michael Wesch, assistant professor of anthropology at K-State. “Compare the production quality of ‘The Hunt for Gollum’ to ‘Robocop,’ and, in a way, amateurs are only 10 or 15 years behind. With $5,000 you can produce what used to take millions of dollars to produce, and a good story can carry bad production values.”

That was part of the message that Wesch, who studies the Web 2.0 culture, took to Hollywood recently. The Wrap, an entertainment industry Web site, invited him to present his research to film and television producers, along with major players from Google and YouTube.

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