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Move over Hollywood, Here Comes Digiwood

Cass MBA is revolutionizing media industry business model

By  Sarah Halls

Tue May 25 2010

Zach Barfield is a venture junkie who wants to transform the movie industry.

The self-styled ‘serial entrepreneur’ has set up over 11 businesses spanning the property market to event management. His latest venture is Stuffed Animals Media, which produces audio-visual content across “any platform whether that is Internet or mobile [phone] based or traditional like DVD,” says Barfield. Consumers purchase the content directly, bypassing broadcasters or film distributors. Depending on the content, consumers will either pay for it or view it for free if it is funded by advertising.

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Stuffed Animals Media intends to establish itself as the “1st Global Virtual Micro Studio” coining the term ‘Digiwood’ in the process.

Currently enrolled on the Cass MBA as part of the Film Business Academy, Barfield, his co-founder Max Newsom and chief operating officer Damon Oldcorn have seen the idea gaining ground since its inception four years ago.

“I saw what was happening in the music industry and how Internet and technology were fundamentally changing the business model...” says Barfield who cites media impresario Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of CSI and Pirates of the Caribbean, as his industry icon.

“When we first started out in 2006 I think we were a little ahead of the curve...This year, [response] has been much better. There’s a lot of empirical data to back up our cause and both the clients and potential investors are interested.”

Digital Economy Bill

Barfield also has some scathing views on the rushed-through Digital Economy Bill. A controversial set of legislation which could see persistent illegal file-sharers severely penalised.

“I think it’s going to be unenforceable...how can you prosecute a household when you don’t know who’s using [the net]? I think it was rushed through without any consultation,” says Barfield.

“I think that the government wanted to get it through because it was an easy bill to pass quickly and they had a lot of pressure from traditional media sources to force this channel.”

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The future of the media industry

“I think [traditional television broadcasting] will not exist in the form that we know it in the next 10 years,” predicts Barfield. His prediction is based on the popularity of digital boxes such as Sky+ which allow the viewer to record, pause and stop live TV.

“I cannot see the feasibility for [traditional television]. The stats for iPlayer... are quite spectacular,” adds Barfield.

“The generation that is coming- the 15 year olds - who are going to be 25 in 10 years time...just want their particular content and they’ll want it now.”