Friday, May 17, 2013

Yay for the Internets!

Yay for the Internets!

For more information, visit Studio System News - Monetizing Content in the Digital Arena: Experts Offer Essential Tips

Oh yeah! This is a meaty read with lots to dig in on. But I'll center on some things that have sparked me before; that is consistency and audience-building (which is kinda like brand building). We'll assume the need to understand technical tricks, cross-promotion over digital and accompanying campaign avenues over the web and into the communities. 

Moving on from there, some emerging artists (film/tv college grads lets say) need a model and a timetable to follow to begin the serious chase for money that will keep the lights on and convince their folks that they are holding their own and making something of themselves. No bullshit: we don't want to feel the education is a waste. But it all comes down to gatekeepers for some reason, and a capable network which may not be fed to us and would require cultivation over many years. Some people can lead and others can only follow. Guts and life experience tell the difference. But organization is the commodity that turns barbarians alone into a tribe, or thugs into the mafia. If there isn't a clear and common goal to begin the work like: "we're here to figure out and take action on doing what we love for a living," at least to start (cause many of us are in garage-band status), then putting time into the perpetual development of quality content will only happen when someone puts a gun to your head shaped like a pay-check; and that makes you an employee. In today's world where the digital audience is so accessible, you as a film maker are the entrepreneur. You can't afford to wait for a handout - i.e. a script with no treatment, a synopsis with no logline, a pilot with no bible, an idea without the pitch, the equipment without a team or a team without the gear, or all of the above without a venue to mingle at and the deal to bargain with. It's all supply in demand and the road to consistency is in masterminding your human resources. This article linked figures that's all a given, but in my world it's still a struggle. It seems to be the biggest impedance to success from this tier to the next is a lack of organized and actionable conviction. But a family doesn't fight harder then when its members are fighting for each other. Organization can frame this and the camaraderie can fuel the machine.

As for debugging audience-building, I believe that has to do with figuring out who you're selling to. You sell a concept to a distributor and they want guarantees that you can't provide. You can't tell them the talent you casted is actually going to do well in this film or that the script is perfect to diversify their project slate or that this concept is like other successful concepts in this genre and they can expect so much, but it's all a bluff until the job's done. You can guarantee a budget only so much and will never a real clue as to how the tickets will sell. They manage risk by shifting the odds in their favor, often in spite of you though you may not mind because you're scared or lazy or just not interested in complicating things. But if you decide to determine the expectations of the audience and seek to provide these as a service, and you work diligently on developing that consumer base and getting that relationship right, then the distributor will seek to replicate that in a broader sense because what you're selling to them IS the audience. What do your people want to see and do they know that you can give it to them?

SO much of what we learn in school is physical production without so much awareness of the benefit of genre, or what we're really pursuing as directors or producers in the dramatic material we compile. Short films are often, and sadly, treated like punch-line jokes which is tier one practice for comics but don't offer a lot of personality or human truth. It's all irony or sarcasm or word-smithing but it's not the story yet; a matter of the heart. And if it's personality that makes the film, then we'd have to believe that every one of us is like someone else out there; that each of us has an audience and every group of us can stimulate a following if we can be smart about it. And so building a genuine friendship has a lot to do with knowing thyself. Building a consumer base has a lot to do with knowing what your business brings to the table that is distinct. For instance, every production company needs to save money but putting that on your business card won't make you a great filmmaker.

I'd love to see more horror films with real heroes adapting to the terror and owning it. I don't see horror movies where the protagonist absorbs the danger. I suppose the point for some is the victimization, but for a generation of kids who like survival-horror games, I think the point should be survival and in some cases retaliation (like in the original 'Evil Dead' or '28 Days Later' which I'm a fan of). This is why a business plan is so great. It gives you a chance to identify what your team intends to do and gives your audience a brand to put expectations upon. Then there is a basis to which people can relate and support you, if you have the team to address those expectations in the first place. When you ride solo and operate like a rock-star, you're betting to be bought and owned and to live like a mercenary beyond that. That works for creative participation in the world of unions and contracts but for the rest of us who have to do it on our own for a [long] while, it all comes down to what do you stand for. Be able to have that conversation and you should be able to filter that knowledge into a film that people will converse about. There's so much speculation on how to handle the digital era and no one knows. It won't be long, I fear, before the space is strangled with corporate mechanisms to streamline the flow of money. If the trend isn't set now for emerging artists and their small audience communities, then where and when else can it happen?

Lets get what we came for,

C. M. Sanchez III