Southland Adventuring, Video Projects, New Media Musings & Web Ephemera

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Celebs or Cewebs?

Stunt casting is old hat, even on the Internet. Whether you're friends with Will Ferrel or Michael Buckly, star power pulls in views. Liz Miller wrote a piece for NewTeeVee a while back that asks whether it’s better to cast cewebrities or old media celebs. The article stuck with me, and as a person who’s intimately aware of the pros and cons of both Independent and Hollywood content production, I thought I’d weigh in.

Star power is a time tested tactic old Hollywood knows too well, so of course Strike.TV, a Hollywood organization (with a capitol H), would go with what we know. Has it worked for Funny or die? Either way their model appears to be structured around one off skits, not full blown series (for now). 60 frames hasn’t seen anything take off and Strike.Tv hasn’t found the smash hit we’re looking for ( I don’t see anyone wearing a House Poor t-shirt yet). It’s interesting that My Damn Channel’s biggest hit, You Suck at Photoshop found it's audience without proper star power.

So why do we keep hedging our bets on Hollywood types? You can’t turn around without seeing another web series starring Jessica Rose. Shouldn’t Strike.Tv wise up, cut costs, and start turning out the next Hooking Up? I’d love to say that it has everything to do with creator rights and artistic integrity – and it does. But the ruthless business person in me wouldn’t be a part of an outfit if it weren’t for the fact that those ideals work in conjunction with business sense.

If this “new media” space is to be supported by advertising, then we need to make it friendly for advertisers. Just as the likes of Ask a Ninja and French Maid Tv have done a great job paving models for distribution, marketing and merchandising, we’re doing our part to make it easy for Advertisers to get comfortable in the new media space*. It's one thing to pitch a solid new show to an advertiser as a web producer, it's something else entirely when Kristen Wiig stars in your show. The more advertisers spend here, the more comfortable they'll be, and the more money we'll all see.

It’s clear to anyone paying attention that there’s plenty of room for content so long as it's quality. For all the press that Strike.TV has received, if we’re not out busting our asses 17 hours a day to build an audience, then that early surge of views isn’t going to earn us more than a bar tab at the next Digital LA mixer (at least the way I drink).

Pretending that it’s an “old media” vs. “new media” world is counter productive. Just because we Independents have been kept out of the game for so long, we think that Old Media is going to get hip to whats up and sidle us out of the game. Some would like to, believe you me, but they can’t. And even when they figure out how to play the game right, they still wont be able to keep independents from making a splash. Content is now, and will always be king. So let’s acknowledge that we’re all figuring this out together.

And if anyone can get me a meeting with Fred's people, I’d really appreciate it. I’ve got a part in my next project that’ll just knock his block off ;)

* Not that Kent Nichols and Tim Street haven't set their own precedent with advertisers as well.


Holly said...

great article...very well said. I have pretty much stopped watching tv all together in the past year. Partly b/c I stay pretty busy doing other things, but also b/c I haven't really found a show that grabs me with that content factor. Good stuff buddy.

Zack said...

I don't know what the whole fuss it about this Fred kid. I wanna punch him in the face...