I’ve been thinking about the internet as a gateway to the industry old-guard. Many of us internet video guys think about the content we’re putting on the web pretty much as a reel with an audience attached. It’s very clearly worked out before. Take, for example, Fede Alvarez. The week YouTube introduced their HQ [high quality] button, he uploaded this awesome short film:
It blows up, gets him in a room with Sam Raimi, and he just directed the new Evil Dead remake that comes out in a few months. Which, by the way, looks so brutal and amazing. He had the idea of pitching a version without Ash. That was a really smart take.
Then the news came down this week that the film adaptation of one of my favorite graphic novels ever Y: The Last Man found their director, this dude, Dan Trachtenberg, who made an outstanding fan film based on the Portal video game series called Portal: No Escape:
BOOM! Welcome to the bigs, man. Other than excellent craftsmanship, sweet effects, and selectively desaturated color palates, what do these shorts have in common? MILLIONS of views. So that’s a hard thing to just manufacture. And the internet is rife with Batman fan films that don’t launch their directors onto the backlots, so it’s not necessarily a formula for success. Trachtenberg has also directed a number of commercials for brands like Lexus and Coke and Nike already, so he must also be good in the room talking to execs, which is an altogether separate talent outside of directing.
Then there’s the other side. I just read on twitter that the creators of this popular web comic called Cyanide & Happiness have been brought in by three different cable networks to talk about turning their comic into a TV series. Each time they walked away because of ownership negotiations. Now they’re just going to Kickstarter their way into producing it themselves and put it online. Best selling author and internet personality, John Green’s response to this was essentially–Oh yeah. Every time we’ve talked to TV we walk away over ownership as well.
I find it hard to believe that a network or a studio is ever going to fund something that they don’t ultimately own, so there’s always going to be this ownership gulf between studios and creators used to the ownership and creative control of coming up on the internet.
I think many actual content creators are going to back away from the studio system for the properties that they develop themselves, but studios will still be able to cherry pick the internet for directors and writers for their adaptations and reboots. As for myself, I’ve always considered myself in the sell-out-in-a-heartbeat camp. More than anything, I’d still love to roll onto the backlot and work in the system. Sounds like the best thing ever to me. I know I’m over-romanticizing a system that creatives have been pulling their hair out over for generations, but I can’t get the sepia toned newsreel footage of glamorous people making MOVIES in studios out of my head.
Anyway, just stuff I’ve been thinking about. Thanks for reading.