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‘Embrace AI in TV now or risk tech industry getting there first’, says Lori McCreary

Revelations Entertainment CEO Lori McCreary and Nicely Entertainment CEO Vanessa Shapiro

MCTVF: Revelations Entertainment CEO Lori McCreary has called for the screen industries to find the AI tools that can take their work to “the next level,” before the technology industry gets there first.

Speaking on a panel during the Monte-Carlo TV Festival’s Business Content programme, the executive producer likened the emergence of generative AI to the battle against movie piracy 20 years ago and urged the business to work with tech companies to find solutions before AI advances beyond control.

“What we learned [then] is we need to get ahead of technology before technology races ahead and we’re catching up,” she said.

“Technology has always changed this business, from silent to sound to colour to TV to DVD to cable to streaming and now AI. If we can grab onto AI and use it as a tool before the technology companies use it as a tool in our own business, then it’s better.

“I say, find the tools that can help you make your product quicker, more beautiful. Keep your IP, make sure as producers you’re defending it, and if we can do that, the technology companies will be more than happy to work with us and help us get to the next level. We don’t to wait until they’re already 20 steps ahead and we’ve got to play catch up. We’ve got to be at the table and sit down and hold hands with the technology companies and help them understand what we need.”

During the panel, titled The Rebirth of Content Creation & Production Following the 2023 Strikes, McCreary shared the stage with Nicely Entertainment CEO Vanessa Shapiro, who noted that AI movies are still “very robotic.”

“They don’t have the emotion of human touch or the story behind it,” she said. “Great content is always going to be important, and talent is very important. That’s why [actors union] SAG was fighting against AI. I see testing from those tech companies and it’s great but no, no, no, I don’t want to see it. It’s scary. I know you can do it but I don’t want to see it.”

The discussion also led the pair of executives to herald the “new normal” of year-round pilots, replacing the traditional pilot season for US broadcast networks, while fewer new shows in production will mean viewers have greater opportunity to find hidden gems or discover older series in the same way legal drama Suits found new fans when it landed on Netflix.

McCreary, here in Monte-Carlo for the premiere of Revolutions’ US Civil War drama The Gray House, also offered some advice to aspiring filmmakers looking to become part of “the golden age of storytelling.”

“You’re not constrained,” she said. “When I started I had to fit a story into two hours. That was it. Now we have television so I can tell eight hours on The Gray House. Then I was constrained. You don’t have to think about how long. It can be as long as it takes to tell perfect version of your story and you have multiple platforms to sell to. I would say concentrate on a story you can’t get out of your heart. Concentrate on that and it will find the platform.”

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