New Media Interchange is a podcast spotlighting various developments in New Media & focusing on the media world beyond mainstream television and radio, including podcasting, YouTube, live streaming, gaming and more. Hosted by Douglas E. Welch , pioneer podcaster, blogger and new media consultant.
The Producer Mentality: Everyone Needs to Think Like a Producer from New Media Interchange 21
Every day I meet a lot of different people, from a lot of different industries, but due to the fact that my wife is a television writer and screenwriting teacher and I live in Los Angeles, I am especially surrounded by entertainment-minded people and those directly involved in the entertainment industry. The definition of this “industry” has also expanded dramatically of late with the inclusion or various YouTube, podcasting and blogging celebrities.
Whenever I start talking New Media and Podcasting with these folks, they often inevitably turn to discussions of finding a mainstream broadcast network, pitching a show and having someone pay them to make the show. While that might have worked in the old world, although none too well, in today’s environment, I think a different mindset is required. Today, you don’t necessarily pitch a show to production companies and wait for someone else to say they like it. Instead, you produce it first — in some form — yourself.
That’s right, everyone is now, or at least should think like, a producer of their own content. We have spent years being managed by agents, managers, directors and producers, currying their favor in the slim hope that they might cast us in their latest show, hire us to write their script or produce our heartfelt project. That world is quickly changing and morphing into something quite different. Sure, the mainstream entertainment business will still be with us for the foreseeable future, but now there are a host of other opportunities available to us all.
One reason for these new opportunities is that the past limiting factor of distribution has finally been broken. This should be obvious when videos on YouTube are being watched by millions of people and podcasts have listenerships of tens or hundreds of thousands. For the first time ever, you are able to produce your show and deliver it to the screens of millions of people, not just in America, but around the world. You don’t have to have your project approved by a TV network, radio conglomerate or movie studio. You gather your money, your equipment and your utmost creativity and make it happen.
Sure, if your creation garners enough attention, the big media might come calling, but this shouldn’t necessarily be your end goal. Increasingly, as Internet distribution models continue to open up and money start to flow into these new media options, you might find you can make more money without the network and studios of today. Even better, you will retain more control over your content and retain more of the income derived from it. There is no need to pay the middleman anymore, unless they are truly providing a service.
So, now is the time for everyone to start thinking like a producer. What would you “love” to create? Who would like to hear it, see it, read it? How can you reach out to them? How much will it cost? More importantly, the question should be, “How can I get started today?”
Far too often I see entertainment creatives get bogged down in analysis paralysis over what they should produce, how they should do it, who should they work with and more. This is far too common and often prevents projects from ever seeing the light of day. In New Media, as it was in the earliest days of film and television, you sometimes have to to just “DO” something and see how it works. Each production becomes a lesson for every production that follows. Each show, each episode, each song, each video changes and improves each time. In New Media you have the space to develop your content. It doesn’t have to be perfect from episode one. Heck, even with mainstream television, pilot episodes are rarely the best episode of a series, or even a season. Everyone — actors, directors, writers, crew — have to discover what the show is about, how it works, who the characters are over time. They are rarely, if ever fully formed at the outset.
Even better, these days, the costs involved in spreading your message are rapidly approaching zero. Days, months and years spent gathering financial backing are much less of an issue in new media than traditional media. Using today’s technology, you can produce high-quality audio and video productions for a fraction of what the equipment alone would have cost your only 5 years ago. Sure, if you want to do a traditional, 60 minute, television drama with a cast of 10 or more people, yes, you are going to need some serious backing for that. What else can you produce, though, while you are trying to raise that money? You might find that that smaller project turns out better — and leads to better opportunities — than the more traditional project.
My message? You need to get the producer mentality today and start creating your own content. Find those around you with great ideas or content and start producing for them. Think like a producer and you will quickly find a wide variety of opportunities around you.
Now, I realize that not everyone wants to become a producer. That’s fine, but those people, at the very least, will need to partner up with someone — perhaps you — who does have the producer mentality and can bring their projects to fruitions. The days f waiting on agents, managers and the traditional gatekeepers is no longer required and, in most cases, no longer advised. In fact, in today’s entertainment world, waiting on anyone is probably not in your own best interest. It’s time to put on your producer’s hat and start creating your best ideas today.