Monday, July 28, 2008

What A Nice Surprise!

I am back from Comic Con sans crud and I am cleaning out my personal email box. I am going through it all and lo and behold I read Warren Ellis's BAD SIGNAL with his take on Dr. Horrible which I will reprint here (with my commentary) :

bad signal



So, Dr Horrible, then. I only watched the end of it,
because, as much as I love Joss, I hate musicals.
Musical comedy makes my balls itch, frankly. And
no-one wants that.

But it was a lovely little production. Neil Patrick
Harris and Nathan Fillion are always watchable,
and some of the non-musical gags were inspired.

Not interested in the fanwank about the ending,
nor in Dr Steel losing his shit, so don't even
think about bringing me any of that. You'll go
right into the spam filter.

Most interesting to me, though, are the guts of
the idea. Joss Whedon blowing his savings
account on staging a 45-minute serial for the
internet (that will doubtless prove to be i2dvd --
internet to dvd -- apologies once again to Bill
Cunningham for perverting his "d2dvd" coinage).

I am excited to be the object of your perversion, Warren.
Though I wish I could take credit for the name, D2DVD and DVD Premiere
were created by other folk. I only popularized them.

I like that Joss and others (Strike TV) are working on stuff they
own. His financing it himself is Joss taking responsibility and
ownership of his property. Independent exploitation guys have been doing
it for decades, and its nice to see that Joss, et al are seeing and
utilizing the business model.

I was crapping away in the website the other day
about the ratio of linkblogs to people actually
producing original content. And then Joss blows
a couple hundred grand on not only producing a
bit of original content with unusually high
production values, but also an Internet Event. It
was free to view if you attended within a stated
time window. It was in fact Appointment Internet.

I think that was entirely the point - use the web for what its good
for - connecting large amounts of folks to a property or discussion -
to generate the publicity for the eventual DVD release. A wonderful
stunt that adds value.

And while there are elements of the project that
only someone of Joss' position could pull off --
the money, the cast, the values, etc etc etc --
I think there are still lessons to be taken from it
that apply broadly. Not least of which are, Be
Short, Be Bold, and Get It Done.


I can't tell you how many new hopeful comics
writers I meet who have never finished anything
in their lives because their intended first project
is a hundred-episode epic that creates a whole
new universe or three. And I tell them all the
same thing: you're screwed. No-one will want it.
Not until you've written something short, capable
of being produced on a budget, and finished.

And as many of these guys that are in comics, there are just as many
in film, which is frankly a harder row to hoe. More manpower
required to get something done.

Your epic may be world changing, but no-one will
ever know because no publisher will gamble that
kind of money on an unknown. And that's before
you get to the vagaries of the attention economy.

Online is a) your portfolio of work and your b) opportunity to sell stuff
to pay for it. Part of the business plan has to be bringing in the revenue
and part of that revenue is the attention you get in the right circles.

Production values are nice, but not necessary to
producing compelling work.

I kind of wish people would quit using the term production value
and go with the term "style." You need to develop your voice, your perspective,
your style.

People gave Dr Horrible 15 mins because it's Joss, but five minutes
is a great length for net video. 500 words, 5
pages, whatever. Be short. Be great.

Again, amen.

And if you can get an evil horse in there, that'd
be good, too.

-- W


Unknown said...

God, sorry...I wrote him back from the Myspace bulletin format I received it in, and forgot to post it on my blog or send a heads up to you.

2.0 is messing with my brain, man...

Cunningham said...

Imagine what it's going to do to us when it becomes 3.0 ...

I won't survive.

Unknown said...

Hopefully by then it will come with a RAM upgrade for those of us who didn't have more factory installed??

By the way, these are all the responses I've received to the same questions on my blog.

None of which will satisfy my film's investors.

Emily Blake said...

I really loved Dr. Horrible, but that's not a surprise since I always love Joss' work.

I bought it from ITunes, though, because I wanted to try to contribute to the return. If these kinds of projects make money, there will be more of them.

Cunningham said...

Valid point Emily.

I wonder how much the itunes release will generate?

How many people missed it when it was free online and now have to pay for the privilege?

How many other venues will he be able to sell it in - XBox Live, VoD, etc..?