From Studio Side to Software Vendor: Colin O'Keeffe's Career Journey


Meet Colin O'Keeffe, a seasoned professional in the media and entertainment industry with over three decades of experience in various roles. Foremost, Colin is an expert in IP management, theatrical distribution, royalty payments, distribution accounting, and availability reporting. He started his career on the studio side, working many years in distribution operations and IT. Combining his business knowledge with software proclivities, Colin managed a team of developers at a well-known studio for many years before transitioning to rights management for nearly 20 years. He has been with FilmTrack since 2019.  

What made you move away from working with studios?  

COLIN: A friend of mine started a rights management company in 2005 and excitedly recruited me to join him. I've been on the vendor side since, playing multiple roles. Initially, because of my background, I was part of the implementation process. However, as is common with startups, I was quickly utilized in other capacities, not just implementation. I was also working with the engineers, designing and building the software. 

That company was eventually bought by a major software company, where I retained my roles but eventually moved into product marketing—specifically the sales and marketing partnership side. 

A few years later, I spent some time consulting, where I was implementing rights management software for different studios and media companies. Eventually, I ended up working with FilmTrack, initially in sales engineering, but soon I was pulled into the product side because we were in the throes of designing and standing up our new UI. I have been working on that with FilmTrack's engineers for the last four years, and in March, I shifted back to the sales engineering side.  

So you probably know a lot of people in the industry?  

COLIN: Yes, it's part of the nature of what we do. The longevity that I've had has led to me meeting some of the same contacts and companies I talked to over 15 years ago. And now, some of those same customers and prospects are looking to implement new systems, renew licenses, or use rights management software for the first time.

What do you like about working at FilmTrack? 

COLIN: I enjoy the variety of pulling everything together, which was a big part of my product work where I would help enhance tool sets–whether adding or simplifying functionality–and design rights management software. 

I really appreciate that FilmTrack heavily focuses on and invests in the product itself. I've been with other software companies and seen other vendors focus more on gaining market traction in selling. But FilmTrack works on ensuring we have the best product possible.    

I also find the company culture at FilmTrack very collegial and supportive. Other software businesses I've worked at, big and small, are typically less familial. At FilmTrack, there is a culture of "we've got each other's backs". We help each other along, whereas other companies are more cutthroat and divided. 

What is one of your key accomplishments while working at FilmTrack?   

COLIN: Expanding and delivering the new UI, which was my focus for the last four years, is a vital goal I've helped achieve. And I don't just mean the presentation layer. The software has been evolving steadily for 20 years now. The features and functions are so streamlined and modernized—it's a big accomplishment.

What features or capabilities are the most striking about FilmTrack's software?   

COLIN: There are several different kinds of functions or "personas" that exist that match what media companies need for rights management. Rights management can get sliced up into four specific functions/personas:

1) You've got the salespeople who need to know what they can and can't sell. 
2) You've got the legal people looking for any sort of risk of content being used in ways it's not supposed to.
3) You've got the operations people who need to deliver the content after it's been bought or sold to fulfill agreements.
4) And you've got the finance teams overseeing everything, ensuring payments and collections are processed based on rights definitions and contracts. 

When you look at the marketplace for rights management solutions, FilmTrack is very well positioned to satisfy all four of these functions/personas. Whereas other solutions focus on one aspect or another. 

For example, other solutions may have strong financials but need stronger research for the sales team. Or, they have a very good contract management piece that both the legal and sales teams can take advantage of, but they're not as strong on the financial piece of it. 

So our strength is the fact that we support all those quadrants.

Additionally, FilmTrack is a very agile company with rich industry experience woven into their software. There's a constant evolution of how the media and entertainment ecosystem works. Streaming, for example, changed how people watch content, impacting theater revenue and how content owners monetize. Changes are always happening in our industry, which is why rights management vendors exist. But successful software companies like FilmTrack keep up with these new lines of business extraordinarily well. 

What are some common mistakes you see customers/prospects make?

COLIN: Enterprise customers often have a grand vision of overhauling their entire ecosystem and modifying things end-to-end—which is a terrific end goal. But practically, you need to implement it in smaller chunks. You need to roll out new tool sets in increments.

There can be a kind of a paralysis on large implementations where things are dragged out on and on which prevents them from going live. If you do things in a smaller context, you lower risk, and your team can start learning and using the software at a more realistic and manageable pace.  

Colin leaves us with some advice for those looking to work in the media and entertainment industry—specifically on the technology side. He advises that just getting out there and gaining real-world experience on the business side of things is experience that gives you a leg up when working for a software company that supports the industry.For more industry news and highlights, subscribe to our blog!

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FilmTrack is an RBC Company and subsidiary of City National Bank Member FDIC. City National Bank is a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada.
This article is for general information and education only. It is provided as a courtesy to the clients and friends of FilmTrack. FilmTrack does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. Opinions expressed and estimates or projections given are those of the authors or persons quoted as of the date of the article with no obligation to update or notify of inaccuracy or change. This article may not be reproduced, distributed or further published by any person without the written consent of FilmTrack. Please cite source when quoting.
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