Settling into the Web
A co-worker at my magazine job asked me “Did anything come from that web festival you went to?” And it took me a second to figure out what they meant. It was the “Were you discovered? Are you going to be famous now?” question. The fact that it took me a second to figure that out means that my expectations have finally aligned with reality. So many people–and a few of the interactions I had and overheard at LAWebfest only served to confirm that the numbers are large–launch their web series as a means to get into the traditional industry. That’s exactly why I started my web series. But now I’ve come to realize that this thing we’re doing isn’t a means to some kind of larger end. PoPS itself is the result. The fully told story that we’re slowly unveiling is the end that I’m working to achieve. It’s stopped being a calling card and become a project of its own.
As I work on visual effects I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts; Nerdist, Smodcast, The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, The Kevin Pollak Chat Show, and it’s all long conversations with writers, directors, and actors. Great stuff. And one thing has become abundantly clear. Even people with amazing track records in the industry aren’t able to get their movies made anymore. The few-million-dollar indie movies are gone. There’s the tent pole studio films which they’re not handing to web content directors, the boutique studio and production company star studded relationship dramas and quirky concept’ers which are going to the industry directors who aren’t getting the tent pole flicks, and the find-the-funding-yourself straight-to-streaming passion projects which are getting their stuff done the same way we’re getting our web series done. I’m obviously oversimplifying, but if we, as web series creators, are still doing what we’re doing to be discovered, guess what–that time is over. If you have a story you want to tell, you’ve got to find a way to tell it yourself. Either adjust your scope to what’s readily available (Rodriguez’ing it) or start crawling slowly across the bed of nails that is raising money (The Raimi and Campbell method). Every studio has a pile of properties they’ve acquired that they already quasi-believe in, and each person at that studio then has a handful of concepts floating in their mental wishlist that they know would make great movies, they’re more interested in seeing every one of those properties and daydreams hit the screen before that spec you just sent them. Specs are basically mined for talent to then be plug-and-played onto the roster they’ve already assembled. I’d love to get in on developing any one of those properties to see a project happen on that scale, but I have no delusions about any of these entities dropping their yearly budget into a project I make up. That’s why I’m making it myself. People say, “You must love the creative control of producing it yourself,” but I’m less concerned with the “creative control” than I am with the “seeing it actually happen.” I can’t tell you how many lost in development stories I’ve heard in the last few months. My series lives because we go out and make it. It exists. And over the last few, it’s finally become what I want it to be. Each episode is a destination of its own. And it’s a great place to be.
Thanks for reading.