Where there’s controversy, there’s likely to be strife — and it’s not often that the tension is felt inside the office. And that’s how member meetings of Netflix’s decision-making staff learn to navigate — but it’s where controversy shines brightest.
Now the global Netflix community has featured in Amazon Prime’s documentary, Chinese Meets Hollywood. The film follows more than 20 key members of the movie-making community, including actors, directors, producers, and musicians, giving viewers a unique perspective on how Netflix functions.
The app was developed in 2013 in a traditional office environment — in a variety of ways.
China, where Netflix is one of the world’s largest companies, has a different type of office culture than many of its competitors.Vanity Fair reports:
A Netflix executive working with China’s state-run Chinese Television News estimated that Netflix had more than 3,500 employees in its international headquarters in Shanghai, where things are “chucked up, regimented and structured,” according to a meeting participant who was there during the two-month factory occupation. There, the leader of a production studio produces and distributes films to foreign distributors, then casts the film worldwide for distribution.
China is an attractive source of talent for Netflix, it’s a competitive marketplace. But it’s unusual for members of the global community to have this kind of access.
Like most of the other Netflix human resources staff, they spend their time preparing for future growth by cutting costs.
My colleague Kai Koen has an all-encompassing view of the Netflix film-making community’s views of the company, quoting and discussing on top of each other their own opinions on everything from DVD sales to the firm’s advertising practices.
They discuss alienating content creators, fostering an aggressive relationship with China’s regulators, and even going so far as to wage internet war.As one of Koen’s colleagues wrote at an employee meeting: “I watched the movie and there were so many positive images… in so many ways, the film changes the relationships we have in China.”
Five days after the film screened, the company fired the film’s manager, and he put the film on to disc. Netflix is now selling the disc for 99 Chinese renminbi, which is less than the price of the original digital download.
Employees, including those working on international productions, have launched a petition demanding that the company change their policies in the case of illegal releases. It’s currently received more than 15,000 signatures.
Both Netflix and its members seem to share the same philosophy of productive work. Either the actors, directors, and writers at Netflix enjoy the perks of freedom they’ve always experienced at a company on the east coast, or the company gets it’s money’s worth in terms of political contributions to charities, lobbying efforts, and lobbying deals and deals, and – most importantly – free office space.
But there is the unspoken question of whether China’s potential market for film consumption outweighs the effects of illegally released, restrictive content.I suppose there are shades of Gallic intuition in the question: “Are they just going to let you get ‘tasty’?” Well, unless he starts making it in China, he ain’t gonna do that!