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AI in Hollywood: A Management Perspective

AI in Hollywood: A Management Perspective

August 2023


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Artificial intelligence has been soaking up the limelight lately — especially in Hollywood.

In most cases, the buzz surrounding AI in the media and entertainment industry has been on the negative side of the ledger.

However, there are also many positive applications (and implications) of this cutting-edge technology that are showing promise across the industry. Whether executives like it or not, AI is impacting media and entertainment right now and will continue to do so in an AI-driven future.

The Growing Role of AI in Hollywood

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have the potential to touch nearly every aspect of life. With that said, there are few specific areas where generative AI can alter the entertainment industry. From scripts to screens, marketing to moving images, AI can already mimic a remarkable number of aspects within the media sector to one degree or another.

This era of entertainment is particularly prone to AI’s creative power due to the number of projects that utilize past IPs (intellectual properties) to create new movies and series. Generative AI programs can observe past content and use it to come up with new iterations in the here and now. Combine this with the pressure on studios to cut costs and streamline the creative process, and AI is starting to show up everywhere.

This isn’t an exaggeration. AI has the potential to make a splash in every step of the content creation process. In April, media site IGN shared a clever ChatGPT-generated script synopsis for a sequel to the spring’s runaway cinematic hit “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” The creatives at Curious Refuge made headlines when they released a series of AI-generated trailers that mashed famous IPs like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Avatar with director Wes Anderson’s signature whimsical style.

AI’s uses go behind the scenes, too. Yves Bergquist, Director of the AI & Neuroscience in Media Project at USC’s Entertainment Technology Center, claims (via MIT Sloan) that movie studios are already embracing generative AI, which the director describes as “a completely revolutionary technology,” adding that it comes with misinformation and “some insanity.”

Despite the unstable elements, the uptake of AI is happening, especially in post production. Machine learning and data-driven AI software can also help with marketing and promoting films. Some are even able to predict the marketability of new story concepts based on how users will receive them.

So, how should humans in that industry react, especially at the upper echelons of an organization?

The Need for Innovative, Empathetic Leadership in Entertainment

The natural follow-up question to all of this AI-driven change is how it is impacting the human side of things. But even more specifically, how should leaders be handling all of this change?

The first step is for the C-suite to invest in understanding the power of what AI already offers…and what potential could come in the future. After all, we still don’t quite know the full repercussions of what embracing AI looks like. Director Christopher Nolan even used his recent summer blockbuster Oppenheimer as a “cautionary tale” for Silicon Valley as we explore the potential of AI.

While the long-term potential remains shrouded in mystery, though, the current capabilities are easier to grasp. Bergquist adds to his breakdown of AI’s growing role in entertainment that many individuals, including Chief Technology Officers, are already well aware of what it can do. Visual and effects technicians within the media industry are also already highly proficient in the use of generative AI.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, for better or for worse, generative AI is already a factor in entertainment. Sure, the industry is in the process of ironing out the details. (The ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes are good examples of this process in action.)

How much will executives and leaders let AI handle? How will they address copyrights? Will they adapt to the ongoing shift toward short-form content, such as that created on platforms like TikTok and YouTube? Even hardware has the potential to feature built-in AI visual effects. How quickly should companies invest in these innovative tools as they’re developed?

The Challenge of AI in the Entertainment and Media Industry

Managing the meeting of ways between AI and existing human workers is one of the biggest hurdles for upper management. C-level entertainment executives must remain empathetic of their workforces while also taking advantage of the power of AI. They must be diplomatic and know how to compromise when necessary. They should strive for win-win scenarios whenever possible.

ChatGPT is a good example. The generative AI tool can help with brainstorming and even creating average content. However, this often features weak characters and lacks key elements, such as a strong narrative structure. For a generated story to become exceptional, humans must collaborate with these new machines to create synergistic positive results. It will take strong, savvy leadership to unlock and encourage the creative power of humans and AI without upsetting the apple cart in the process.

“It will take strong, savvy leadership to unlock and encourage the creative power of humans and AI without upsetting the apple cart in the process.”

The need for innovative, empathetic leaders has never been more important. As companies look to fill CTO, CEO, and other AI-related positions, they should work with an experienced executive search consultant.

By tapping these third-party resources, they can ensure they’re recruiting those with the vision, confidence, and skill set required to navigate the current AI revolution. They can rest in the fact that they’re filling the C-suite with the talent required to lead their companies into this unfolding new era in entertainment.

About the Author

Jill Leibowitz is a Director at Stanton Chase Los Angeles. She is currently based in Chicago, Illinois. With over 20 years of experience in media, entertainment, sports, and advertising, Jill brings a wealth of knowledge to her role. Her most recent positions include VP of Content for Publicis Media and Director of Production and Content Strategy for One10 Marketing, a renowned travel and events company.


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