(This is part 2 of a post I tried to break into a few pieces because it’s too big and interesting to write a novel about. There’s part 1 on revisiting my transmedia dissertation and part 3 about who sees your facebook posts)
One bit of the talk was this idea that nowadays indie content producers (film makers generally) have it much easier when it comes to distributing their work. There are websites and places like Kickstarter, which can work for pretty much anything from coffee machines to films and all sorts of crowd-funded projects.
Henry Jenkins talked about the fact that if you produce something and try to harness the friends and social network you have online, you could get enough people interested in a project and then, in a best case scenario, approach some local venue and ask them if they can screen it for you instead of doing it the other way around: put out content, end up with a fairly empty room. Given places only make money when they fill up venues and sell tickets, it makes more sense for them to work with someone who knows that they can count on a certain number of people to attend.
He made the point that most indie producers would love to be signed by bigger studios because of the sheer size of budgets and media spend on promotion – which is exactly what Netflix is doing. Of course it’s great for producers and their shot at fame, whatever their individual ambitions and career trajectory might be, but I can’t help thinking about the bigger picture. Netflix has always had the monetary incentive: remember The Netflix Prize for algorithm improvements? It’s not hard for them to offer financial incentives to independent content producers to make things that give them a competitive advantage over the likes of Amazon and YouTube taking their chances with original content.
Something to ponder. As you read this on The Daily Beast: Ted Sarandos’ high-stakes gamble to save Netflix:
After two Academy Award nominations for best director, Fincher was shopping a television project, a political thriller about a conspiratorial congressman. With Kevin Spacey playing the lead, it was the kind of high-gloss, Emmy-shoo-in series that viewers expect to find on HBO. Sarandos wanted it to premiere on Netflix.
He knew Fincher was likely to greet him with skepticism—Netflix had zero experience in TV development, and even the companies that did, fail at launching shows all the time. But Sarandos also had money, and, more important, an appetite for risk. He gave Fincher’s proposed House of Cards an unheard-of commitment—two full seasons, before a single frame had been shot, at a rumored price tag of $100 million.