Monday, March 30, 2009

Would You Like Some Cheese to go With That Whine?

From Video Business:

"When Joss Whedon launched made-for-Internet tuner Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog last July, it repped a landmark in the development of the online economy.

"It was the first significant example of a creator bypassing traditional network outlets and bringing high production values to the Web," says Arash Amel, head of broadband media at Screen Digest.

Users flocked in the hundreds of thousands to watch the three-parter and paid $1.99 an episode for the privilege. Demand was so great -- some 200,000 hits per hour -- that the website crashed a few hours after the launch.

It had been generally assumed that consumers wouldn't pay for made-for-online content; the success of the show made it clear that they would.

But sadly, most creators of online content don't have the pulling power of Whedon, and for them, other rules apply."


Okay, does one imagine that Sam Raimi was "Sam Raimi" when he first unleashed the Evil Dead franchise?

Or Wes Craven when Freddy Kreuger was born?

Or Stuart Gordon when Re-Animator re-imagined the "walking dead?"

So because they didn't have a "name value" - did that stop them from trying and succeeding? No! What they did was work harder, did more press interviews, took meetings, and so on. In fact, the first Evil Dead movie didn't make any money for Raimi's investors so he made a deal with Dino DeLaurentis for them to be paid on ED2.

They kept at it. They worked it.

And these days - it's a hell of a lot easier. You CAN do it yourself and not have to pay huge percentages for distribution, promotion, marketing, publicity and so forth.

You're not Joss Whedon. So what?

That doesn't mean you can't make something cool and make money off of it. It just means you'll probably have to work harder and longer and yes, smarter.

If you can't do that. If you don't want to do that - then please - get the fuck out of this business right now, you pussy. You're clogging the system. You're stealing from the rest of us - our energy, our resources and our reputations.

People don't care when they click on that little play button. They want to be entertained first and foremost. If it's from someone who's entertained them before - it's a little easier, but it's not the most important.

Entertain first. The "name value" will come later.


Jon Molly said...

"Repped"? I'm sorry, I know it's trivial, but what sort of lazy writer shortens a perfectly serviceable word like represented. That one word pulled me out of the article for a good twenty seconds.

As to the rest of the article? The best promotion you can have for your next project is to do the best you can on your current project. Joss Whedon was betting Dr. Horrible would please fans and his stake was the good will accumulated during his career to that point. His bet paid off and he's got even more reputation to gamble on his next project.

But the bolded section of the artcile definitely applies; those of us who lack the name recognition of Joss Whedon do have to play the game by different rules. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I think finding those rules (and breaking them) is half the fun...

S. Harlan Cone said...

I don't think we have to play by different rules. Having to hustle and get your name out there isn't playing by different rules, not to me anyway. It's just part of starting any career.

If anything I've got it better than Mr. Whedon did when he first started out. I've go the coming wave of new media and internet marketing and distribution. I don't NEED a studio.

What I do have to do is work my butt off. But anyone has to do that at the beginning.

Aric Blue said...

btw: re your post about pirating. I just tried to buy an indy movie to watch off of a service I shall not name.

The cart wouldn't check out. I emailed them. They fixed the problem after 2 days.

I downloaded the movie. Wouldn't play. Some sort of Digital Rights Problem.

I kept trying to get the license, it kept failing. After two days they returned my money and said they were working to fix the problem.

The structure of delivery for internet movies has a lot to be desired.

Kidsis said...

Work your butt of at the BEGINNING? Um, try 14 years in with no industry paycheck in all those years, and having invested at least 160 k...

S. Harlan Cone said...

I would hope it is implied that you have to keep working? Who thinks you can ever coast in this business? We are talking specifically about being in a place where you venture out without name recognition - a functional beginning. Of course you always hustle :)

Cunningham said...

The problem is that someone is going to read that statement and think "Why bother?"

(and granted, if that's all it takes to discourage them then good riddance)

But it's a pretty wretched thing to imply that because you don't have a mass market 'reputation' yet you can't earn income from your work. There are tons of people here in Hollywood and around the world who earn a great living creating media and they aren't in the headlines.

It's the same wretched thinking that says that order to have your film taken seriously it MUST have a theatrical release. It's this financial myopia that's nearly ruined indie filmmaking, destroying several distributors who irresponsibly unleashed niche films on the mass market spending way too much for zero return...
and wondering why.

Take the celebrity.
Take the "theatrical release." Give me the F*cking check.

TheGamut said...

I have long held the belief that one going into the business with their eye on fame is going into it with the wrong intent. Nobody can guarantee what will or will not become popular or famous. Just do it and let come what may. Yes? No?