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Webbywood, or How I Learned to Drive the New Media Super Highway

JETSET and Smashface Productions were recently mentioned in a Guardian article written by our friend and online producer Casey McKinnon. The title reads "Will Hollywood kill the web-only stars?" I wanted to thank Casey for the highlight and to write about my thoughts on the topic.

In the article Casey asks if Hollywood is creating a "new" media if they bring television to the internet. Here are my thoughts on the topic at hand, and what I think Hollywood should be thinking about:

Television is not the Internet
Just like theatre wasn't radio, radio wasn't film, film wasn't television, the television is not the internet. We all watch films on our television, but it's an inherently different experience than watching it on the big screen. The same goes for the internet. Thinking about the audience experience will dictate whether or not you're utilizing the medium to its fullest capacity. A three-camera shoot is par for the course on TV, on the internet it's definitely NOT going to knock my socks off.

Innovate
Are you using the web to dump stuff that didn't work on television? I say dump away, that's the beauty of the web, you can upload and distribute ANYTHING. Just don't expect it to work, and don't expect me to watch it. What are the tools that you're using to push the boundaries? At Smashface we get excited about new ideas and possibilities. If you want to add more same-ness to the mix, well I guess you're a C student. There are a lot of those. Go sit in the back.

Listen...
...people are talking to you! This is not a one way street. I repeat - this is NOT a one way street. This is the internet superhighway baby. There are pit-stops, communities, and dirty whores around the bend. You can not make a great show unless you take off the blinders and look at what's happening around you. I mean, really look and listen.

Know who you're talking to
If you knocked on my door and tried to sell me encyclopedias, I would laugh in your face before I slammed the door shut. Maybe I would also spit in your face (depends). And you expect me to not laugh in your face when you tell me I can't watch what I want to watch where I want to watch it? There are no boundaries online, the state and country lines are blurred. You are talking to a global audience. Yeah -- it's that big. And you are also talking to people who have options. TONS of them.

Find your crew
On the first day of school do you: A. wear brand new clothes, say cool things and hang close to the "cool" people? B. Stand in the corner scorning all the posers? C. Think about your classes and how excited you are to be taking super-calculustic-expialidoicious regents level? D. Wake up wondering if today was supposed to be the first day of class?

Pick one. On the web, for every multiple choice, there is a multiple answer. The niche. In spanish there is a saying "para cada gusto existen los colores" (Or something like that. My spanish proverb recollection is bad these days.) Basically - for each taste, there's a color. Pick a color. There's a whole rainbow. Just don't mix them all together, it ends up looking like shit.

Experiment
Please, please don't tell me that a thirty second pre-roll advertisement is a good idea. I don't want to hear it anymore. We're talking micro shows. The average web show is what, 5 minutes? It should all be relative... and it should all make sense. We're still fighting a battle where advertiser and producer can live in beautiful harmony. I believe it can happen.

It's still personal
On the small screen you're still talking/showing/communicating with one other person on the other side of that screen. At most, they call a friend or two over to take a look at what they're watching. Usually, they'll just send a link. Please keep that in mind when you're creating, selling ads, or just talking. Don't talk to me like I'm a four year old. Don't try to sell me the most popular shade of lipstick. It's really not the lowest common denominator. You're talking to me.

It's all media
Yes. It is. And all media is a changing landscape. It's also a sort of spiral. We take things from old media and apply it to new media. Some of it works, some of it kinda works, and some of it definitely does not work. It's a constant battle trying to define a landscape when all you have is a machete in your hand a map of the old world. But hey, machetes are freaking cool. And there's nothing like the feeling of hacking down a couple of old leaves and sitting down with a cold beer to enjoy the sunrise (not that I advocate drinking in the morning). This will be one hell of hell of a journey -- that is one thing that's as certain as the sun is rising.

comments
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Steve Woolf said:

The points you outline here basically outline the Smashface mission.

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jay dedman said:

yep, the internet is not TV.
this is the mantra.
The great news is that big media can only dominate online if independents choose not to participate. I can watch your site as easily as i can watch the NBC site. it's a good time.

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Tony Katz said:

The battle is about changing expectations. Pushing the boundaries, as you say, is truly about teaching the new and growing audience that its not TV, and showing them all the new wonderful things they can enjoy from not watching (or expecting!) TV. Its a long road, but such a worthwhile road.

I look forward to reading Casey's article.

Tony

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Halcyon said:

bravo!

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Daniel Miller said:

Love me metaphorical machetes!

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Casey said:

Best title for a blog post, EVER!