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Friday, February 20, 2009

Small Money Eventually Gets Big

CinemaTech reader Michael DiBiasio sent me an e-mail yesterday pointing me to this blog post from Blip.tv, a site that hosts video and sells ads and sponsorships for video-makers. It mentions a couple folks who do shows on Blip and have started getting paid decent coin... like $40,000 (for two years' worth of programming) or $25,000 (for a few months worth of shows.)

I'm out in LA this week, and I've been having lots of conversations on the topic of content creation for the Web.

Imagine you are successful in TV or film. You're making six figures a year (if not seven figures), and they let you play with the big cameras, on the big soundstages. You have big budgets and big crews.

Why on earth would the prospect of making $25,000 for a Web series sound appealing?

It wouldn't.

That's why the opportunity exists, for the young and hungry, to define how storytelling will work on the Web... to establish the ground rules of how you build a big audience and interact with them... and to figure out the business models that will turn small money into big money.

I was on the campus of USC tonight, talking with a number of students, and it seems to me that if you're entering the entertainment industry right now, you have this choice: do you want to follow the path that successful people have walked, where you start by working as a gofer or production assistant and over a decade or two work yourself up to the point where they let you make shows for TV or feature films?

Or do you want to pioneer something entirely new?

At the panel I moderated tonight, Evan Spiridellis from JibJab Media had a great line. As he was beginning to make animated films in the 1990s, and starting to enter them in film festivals, he and his brother Gregg started to notice that the Internet seemed to be gaining momentum, and seemed to have some creative potential. Gregg asked Evan, "After you've seen the Model T, do you really want to keep making horse shoes?" Meaning, if you can see where things are headed... why keep doing the old stuff?

One answer is, because you're making a good living at it.

But I'm not sure there are a lot of other good answers...

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