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Notes from the Reel World: The President's Column, December 2005-January 2006

By Richard Propper

Dear IDA Members,

Times are changing again. Next up: television on an iPod. Where will this new technology go now? Most people are not going to sit around and watch a small screen for any length of time. There is another level of the business of entertainment that is coming forward with this new technology, and it also applies to the nonfiction world.

We are all familiar with pay-per-view (PPV) and on-demand programming, but what Apple has done with its iPod was quite interesting. Click and purchase, and everything is easily accomplished in this transaction for its end use.

This simplicity is holding true for early servings of television fare. For $1.99, you can have various episodes of five different series from ABC. What does this mean for the nonfiction world? What if Grey Gardens was available in this manner? How about the entire Up series? Bowling for Columbine? What Apple has created in video is the same seamless, à la carte serving as with its music service. For the nonfiction world this can mean some interesting returns. Let's face it: Other than the most popular theatrical documentary releases, no one is running to find the more obscure nonfiction titles at Blockbuster. While the Internet promises a future world of online downloads for video, it simply isn't a reality--yet.

It's the end of the year, and the IDA Awards have now arrived. Throughout the year, the IDA searches for the best in several different categories to bestow the honor of award winners. Our evaluation process is substantial, and we literally have legions of people viewing and rating hundreds of documentaries to come up with a very select list. This year, the IDA either honored (through our awards program) or qualified (through DocuWeek) 13 of the 23 Academy Award short-listed finalists for Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Shorts for 2005! This is great news.

Well, my time is up, having served as President of the International Documentary Association for the past two years and as a member of the Board of Directors for nine years. This organization has great diversity and a huge amount of creativity. I have been privileged to work with some stellar people on the Boards of Trustees and Directors. It takes a lot of work to keep this organization running and the IDA staff performs miracles every day. I would especially like to thank my wife for putting up with my frequent travels and more frequent board and committee meetings. Additionally, I would like to express my sincere admiration for the Board of Directors. They are a diverse group with a unique devotion to IDA and to keeping the most important people in focus when making the larger decisions for this organization--you, the IDA members.

Best Regards,

Richard Propper
IDA President