Making A Show Then. Making A Show Now.

“No one has ever bet enough on a winning horse."

Content is king… Until it isn’t…

More and more people are watching online media every single day. The biggest contenders at this moment happen to be YouTube and Netflix with the average user watching between 8 to 12 hours per week according to Defy Media’s research. Somehow, I feel it’s much more… Regardless…

“YouTube remains the most-viewed video platform among the demo: 85% of respondents said they regularly watch the Google-owned video service. Netflix came in at 66%, followed by TV (62%), Facebook (53%), Instagram (37%), Snapchat (33%), Vine (27%), Hulu (22%) and Amazon Video (19%) and Twitter (19%).”

The demand for media is ever growing, unsatisfiable and bottomless at this point. There are more than 1.5 billion users on YouTube and over 300 hours of content uploaded per minute… And you’d think with all the content uploaded every day, month and year; the need would be fulfilled with all the over abundance.

Oddly, with all the content creators out on the high seas of the internet, media companies would be having an all out shopping spree…

“In fact, the dirty little secret of the media industry is that content aggregators, not content creators, have long been the overwhelming source of value creation.”

Content as creative currency.

What’s even stranger, is now a days, in order for you to get your show on a channel or network… You’ll have to already have your own show on a channel or network! Creative content is currency. You want to play the content creation game? You need to have content cash in the form of properties. Properties with a fan base. You’ll need to have, in some way, shape or form, a provable track record of your abilities. A track record showcasing you know how to create, manage and execute a show. Just because you have a few sketches, a script… Maybe some designs… It’s not enough.

You have to remember the world we live in now. An insecure economy. Job instability. The average lifespan of a creative executive is between 1 to 2 years. Every executive out there is afraid of taking a chance on a no-named-nobody.

You can’t come to the table empty handed. Having your own show in hand, or proof you know how to make and execute one is the currency. It’s pay to play.

Back in the day…

In the golden age of Hollywood, you’d get a job as a staff writer or director or producer and work your way up the ranks. Or you’d source material, put together a plan, and get the studio to buy in. When it came to animation, sometimes just doing a short film was enough to warrant a pilot. But with the gatekeepers gone, and everyone having studios in a box, the valley is flooded with content and it’s harder and harder to get a show picked up out of the storm.  

If making your own show is too expensive, but you want to get your idea out nevertheless, here’s a few other ideas you can approach…

  1. Make a your own webcomic or comic book series. It’s more time than money, but you’ll have something in your hand. Something tangible and real with numbers to match.

  2. Start your own online series. If you’re going to go with live action, you’ll need to spend some cash on talent, spend a little more time on the shoots and edits. If you’re going the animation route, you’ll definitely need to think more economical with both your time and money. The real standout isn’t just beginning it. It’s consistently. Delivering. Content.

  3. Become famous. Seriously. You can make your shows or comic books or songs, but until you have your own audience… and let’s up the ante… an audience who pays… Your biggest enemy when creating your show is obscurity. If know one knows you, no one knows you.

  4. Climb the ladder. Get a job at a company you wish to work for. Work there for a few years. Find the ins and out. Adopt the company’s thinking and philosophy. Then, once you’ve been there for 5 years, pitch a show using your inside connections. It’s all about who you know now.

  5. Finance your own project. Some of your most beloved shows were self financed - by people with deep pockets - and then bought and distributed to the world. It’s the way most films are done, now it applies to television and online streaming media. Part of the reason is, again, network executives being held hostage to earnings and revenue demands. Too big of a risk and they’ll be out of job. Know your audience. And… Interestingly enough, it’s not the audience you’re looking to know.

Bottom line... People want to know who's the man/woman behind the mask. People want to trust before jumping in the entrepreneurial bed with them to make a show. Getting a show made now a days requires you to have a following, to have an audience already built in. Though I find it funny how in order to do business, people and companies want to see another business which is already successful... Innovation and creativity dies in imitation.  

If we’re going to create, let’s create with real intent.

There’s enough content out in the world now more than ever. Most of the work is garbage at worst, forgettable at best. 

The Emoji Movie is a clear case study with what's wrong in our media today. A lot of good people worked on it, but it's a shallow, vapid and spineless product. It says nothing. It offers nothing. It helps no one. If we're going to create, let's create with real intent. A real purpose. Art is suppose to help us understand ourselves, our lives, our world. Stories are a tool for living. 

There's a bigger issue at play here, too. Culturally, we're all sick and tired of empty and hallow products and services. People are rejecting big chain restaurants and shit beer. People are embracing smaller niche cafes and restaurants, craft beer and spirits... People want to feel connected to the person and people behind the product or service. There's a deeper social need. Art helps to fill it. Applebee's can do all the market research and focus groups it wants. It can toss on a new logo, revamp their interiors and hire more willing servers and hosts... But if they sell you the same shit food, the place will still suck. 

You can only polish the turd so much. After that, your hands just get icky.