That’s the Ticket

The solution to dealing with the changes created by new technologies is embracing them:

Dozens of striking film and TV writers are negotiating with venture capitalists to set up companies that would bypass the Hollywood studio system and reach consumers with video entertainment on the Web.

At least seven groups, composed of members of the striking Writers Guild of America, are planning to form Internet-based businesses that, if successful, could create an alternative economic model to the one at the heart of the walkout, now in its seventh week.

Three of the groups are working on ventures that would function much like United Artists, the production company created 80 years ago by Charlie Chaplin and other top stars who wanted to break free from the studios.

“It’s in development and rapidly incubating,” said Aaron Mendelsohn, a guild board member and co-creator of the “Air Bud” movies.

Hat tip: memeorandum

The Internet has dramatically altered the relationship between the cost of distribution and the cost of development. I don’t know that there are big bucks to be made in Internet entertainment but I continue to be skeptical about the prudence in squabbling over a bigger share of a decreasing distribution pie.

3 comments… add one
  • As a rule if two sides are fighting over something the something is worth something. I guarantee you that NewsCorp, Sony, GE-Universal and the rest think they see a path to continuing profits. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be fighting the WGA so hard.

    I wouldn’t invest in a start-up run by writers. 99% of writers are hopeless ninnies at business. I suspect these are closer to being acts of defiance than serious attempts at building companies. Hollywood writers, in particular, are not entrepreneurs. If they were they wouldn’t be squabbling over staff jobs, they’d be free-lancing, writing books, and so on. No offense to my Hollywood brothers. It’s not easy to wear the jaunty baseball cap of creative freedom, and the Armani suit.

  • Has that been the case in the recording industry, Michael? There it seems to me that they’ve been fighting a desparate delaying action over dwindling revenues.

    Again, I’m absolutely positively not against the writers in their dispute with the producers. It just strikes me that they’re not forward-thinking.

  • I think the fact that studios are willing to suffer significant financial damage rather than surrender a minuscule slice of the download pie, is prima facie evidence that they at least believe the download market is valuable.

    The video producers have done what the music industry refused to do: contemplate a major change in the means of delivery. Music producers refused to come to grips with downloads, insisting on defending the CD format. Only now, thanks to iTunes, have they begun to see their way to a new paradigm.

    Hollywood is less recalcitrant about media.

    The truth is I, as a novelist, have some very, very interesting options when it comes to exploiting new media. As I’ve written before, one of the earliest e-books was a book my wife and I wrote. At the time we sent a note to our publisher saying: we know why we like this idea, but why do you? This all but eliminates my need for a publisher, bookstore, etc…, who take 90% of gross.

    The screenwriter is in a very different position. He can’t go out on his own nickel and “publish” his screenplay. It costs millions to make a movie.

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