Six Leaps of Innovation

Lots of change out there. New Web widgets, new biotech, new eco-friendly dirt bikes that can jump over your head. Here's a rundown of what and whom to keep an eye on in 2008. Photographs by Michael Lewis for Fortune.

Kelly Rodriques and Paul Schiff, Blowtorch
6. Nouveau filmmaking
Kelly Rodriques and Paul Schiff, Blowtorch
Los Angeles and Sausalito, Calif.

Don't expect a quiet evening of film at a Blowtorch event. The brainchild of a veteran Hollywood producer (Schiff's movies include Rushmore and My Cousin Vinny) and a former VC (Rodriques), Blowtorch's plan is to target the college market with what is essentially an old-school movie studio and some very new-school promotional techniques. Schiff is in charge of producing and acquiring a stable of low-budget (under $5 million) feature-length films. Rodriques's job is to build social networks around the movies, inviting 18- to 24-year-old audiences to gather online before, after, and during the film.

Having nailed down exhibition deals with 600 theaters near college campuses, Blowtorch has an edge over other would-be film companies: hard-to-get space on the silver screen. You'll hear a lot of clicking in the theater on Blowtorch nights. A typical evening might feature a festival of user-generated short films built around a theme - skateboarding, say, or football, or tango. People in the audience will be encouraged to pick up their cellphones or fire up their laptops to vote, text each other, and send messages to the producers - all while the show is rolling. The short film that gets the most votes is screened with the next Blowtorch feature or included in a DVD. The first Blowtorch movie, a twentysomething comedy called You Are Here, debuts in April.
Last updated December 27 2007: 9:36 AM ET






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