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A View From the Top (Floors)

1 Aug, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

There was one complaint, and one complaint only, about this year's VSDA convention. It was that the elevator lines to the top floors, where all the suites were located, were too long.

After 15 years of video conventions, that ain't bad. The grumbling that has accompanied VSDA conventions since I began covering them in 1989 was conspicuously absent at this year's show, and despite the absence of a show floor this year's convention appeared busier and more colorful than it's been in years.

The parade of suites was a glutton's paradise, with gobs of free munchies and, in Wellspring Media's case, iced vodka (for Russian Ark, an upcoming release). The studios whose suites last year had been shuttered to the masses this time around took out additional space for hospitality suites, while independent suppliers who actually wanted independent retailers to come in and chat went all out with free screeners and other giveaways.

The net effect of the all-suites approach was that everyone was equal. In the old days, the studios outdid themselves with lavish booths and the little guys got lost in the proverbial shuffle. With suites, Ardustry Entertainment's product is presented on an equal footing as Columbia TriStar or Paramount's, and retailers with whom I spoke in the hallways and doorways of the Venetian invariably made the same observation: They had no idea there was so much good product out there, and so many cool little suppliers.

Going into the show, there was some concern about the lack of networking space that the show floor used to provide. But truth be told, I think people talked more business than in the old days. The parties and cocktail gatherings were confined to a much more central location than at the big VSDA shows of the 1990s, and overall they were better attended, as well, perhaps because most events were open to everyone and not just a hand-picked gaggle of “invited guests.”

At this point, I must note that Video Store Magazine and the show have common ties in Advanstar Communications, and that the kind folks at Advanstar write my check. But I've never been known to keep quiet about things that bug me, and those of you who have read me over the years know that in years past I have often been quite critical of the VSDA convention.

I'd almost like to find some bones to pick this time around, as well. The problem is, I can't think of any.

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