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‘Maniac’ director says he doesn’t mind taking script direction from Netflix data analytics. Do you?




In this photo illustration the Netflix logo is seen on September 19, 2014  in Paris, France.  Netflix September 15 launched service in France, the first of six European countries planned in the coming months.
In this photo illustration the Netflix logo is seen on September 19, 2014 in Paris, France. Netflix September 15 launched service in France, the first of six European countries planned in the coming months.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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Director, writer and filmmaker Cary Fukunaga recently made waves on the web when he told GQ that he took notes from Netflix’s algorithm when writing his recently released Netflix series “Maniac.”

Fukunaga, who directed the first season of “True Detective” and was recently tapped to direct the new James Bond film, said that since Netflix has so much data on its viewers, they were able to give him specific notes as he was creating the story for “Maniacs.” Here’s an excerpt from the GQ profile:

"So they can look at something you're writing and say, We know based on our data that if you do this, we will lose this many viewers. So it's a different kind of note-giving. It's not like, Let's discuss this and maybe I'm gonna win. The algorithm's argument is gonna win at the end of the day. So the question is do we want to make a creative decision at the risk of losing people."

But not all creators are likely so receptive to direction from an algorithm -- what of the auteur’s vision?  Focus groups and layers of feedback are nothing new in Hollywood. But data analytics at such a granular level are a more recent development, and we’re curious to hear from creators working in Hollywood how it’s been impacting your work. For the better? Worse? How big of a variable is this kind of data in your creative process?

Guests:

Brooks Barnes, LA-based Hollywood reporter for the New York Times; he tweets @brooksbarnesNYT

Yves Bergquist, data scientist and director of the AI and Neuroscience in Media Project at USC’s Entertainment Technology Center, a Hollywood and tech industry group that does research and development