LB: Are Crowdfunded Web Series a Good Way to Launch a TV Writing Career?

Glad You Asked Department 8/5/13

question_ditkoToday’s question comes from Andy, who wants to know:

“I saw your post on the Kickstarter Film Festival and was wondering, what are your thoughts on creatives using Kickstarter, Indigo and the like, especially with regard to TV? Is it good, bad, the future of the industry? Are crowd funded Web series a good launching pad for TV writing careers?

“Are those who go this route blazing a trail or trying to push a bolder up a hill only to watch it roll all the way down at the end?”

If that isn’t a reasonable inquiry, then I don’t know what is. Especially since I have a definite (read “violently strong”) opinion on the subject. Time to let it fly:

Dear Andy,

I am such a believer in crowdsourcing it’s insane. Best thing that’s happened in the entertainment biz since…well, since the last best thing. TVWriter™ regularly features our picks of the best web series (and other peer produced material) on Kickstarter. We’d go beyond Kickstarter to the others but just don’t have the time to monitor all the sites.

Sisyphus_by_von_StuckSome of the projects we’ve tried to help are Travis Richey’s THE INSPECTOR web series, which is a spinoff of the series within a series he developed and starred in on COMMUNITY; BECOMING RICARDO, a show by/for members of the Hispanic community; and, just the other day, MISDIRECTED, a web series entering its second season.

THE INSPECTOR and MISDIRECTED have gone the Kickstarter route, and each got the money for its first season that way. MISDIRECTED also got its second season funding just a few days ago, and, hell, my own daughter recently raised enough money on Kickstarter to enable her to greenlight a new music video for her band, Yevtushenko.

None of those campaigns was easy. Everyone involved really had to work the web – especially the social sites. But they got what they needed and took or are taking their best creative shot right now.

As far as I’m concerned the real risks are to contributors who may not get the little goodies they’ve been promised or may be duped on a larger scale by frauds. The fraud thing hasn’t happened very often to my knowledge, but the risk will always be there.

crowdsourcing-2For those who are serious about their work/careers, I don’t see much of a downside other than, oh, some embarrassment if the project doesn’t get fully funded. And that’s much more in the eyes of the creators than the world, which quickly forgets and moves on to other concerns like the latest internet meme.

And, yes, a great way to get your writing career launched is to have well shot samples of your work that producers/execs/agents/managers can look at. Because even though it’s supposed to be all about the writing, these people find it much easier to watch a finished product than to read a script…and let’s face it, a professional quality production always makes the writing look better.

Of course, if your production sucks, then, sorry, it’s more likely to hurt your writing career than help it. But yours will be great, right?

Speaking of pushing boulders uphill – of course anyone who does the crowdfunding thing is taking on a Sisyphean task. But know what? We all are. Every single human being is pushing dozens of boulders up a hill every single day. And all our boulders will eventually roll back down one side or the other. Big fucking deal. That’s life. I mean, what else have we got to do with our time except try?

Good luck, dood!

LYMI,

LB

My purpose here is to help as many undiscovered creative geniuses as possible. But I can’t answer if you don’t ask. So send your questions and make everyone’s day!

About LB

Larry Brody has been profiled in such national magazines and websites as Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, Starlog, People, Electronic Media, IndieSlate, TechTV, io9, and of course TV Guide.

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world, with a career going back to the late ’60s, Brody has written and produced literally thousands of hours of network and syndicated television.

Brody has also been active in the TV animation world, writing, creating, consulting, and/or supervising the cult favorite STAR TREK animated TV series, the SILVER SURFER, SPAWN, SUPERMAN, SPIDERMAN, and SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED animated series, and was showrunner of the French animated series, DIABOLIK, as well as part of the team that developed and wrote the live-action/cgi animation sci-fi series Ace Lightning for the BBC.

Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including – yes, it’s true – Emmys.