Chapter 59 – The More Things Change, The Less They Stay the Same
by Leesa Dean
Everything is in so much flux right now, not only with yesterday’s horrifying (yet expected) ruling on Net Neutrality, but with broadcast and cable tv, web series and film, it’s hard to plan. A year and a half ago, right before I officially launched and jumped into the fray, my path seemed pretty clear: launch my first series, get immersed in social media and take advantage of a ton of free resources and networking opportunities for web series creators like the events YouTube, Big Screen Little Screen and the IAWTV held. The goal was (and is) to build my brand/audience. And the way to do that seemed pretty clear cut.
Well, things change don’t they?
A year and half in, I’m no longer (mostly) participating in Big Screen Little Screen and the IAWTV. Why? For Big Screen Little Screen the answer is simple: They’re charging now. And not an insubstantial amount. It’s pretty easy to get venues to fork over space and get free speakers–I know; I used to do it all the time when I was producing panels for NY Women In Film and Television. Perhaps if Big Screen Little Screen had a different format that I found was invaluable, I’d pay the $20 or $25 to attend. But not after a number of years of getting nearly the exact same experience for free.
I really respect and like Paul Kontonis, the guy started BSLS and the IAWTV. He’s an incredibly supportive and dynamic figure in the web series community. He’s also a really nice guy. And I’ve had great times at Big Screen Little Screen and met a bunch of cool people. If they stop charging or start putting together panels that I feel I can’t miss, I’ll probably start attending again. But as for right now? It’s a no go.
I decided to not renew my IAWTV membership because I found it was just a waste of money. It didn’t offer me much expect a Facebook group. Which is unfortunate. I joined with incredibly high hopes.
As for YouTube in NYC, I’m eagerly awaiting their reopening. They’ve had a lot of incredibly valuable and educational events for YouTube creators. I’ve learned so much from attending their workshops. They’re building out a new studio here in NYC and I hope it’ll be more of the same when it opens.
These were the three big sources for indie creators in NYC. And now, from my perspective, that’s shifted.
Is all of this indicative of the changes we’re seeing in general? I think so. Particularly for indie creators in markets that are now dominated by the same old big Hollywood players/productions. Once again, I believe you have to really think outside the box to get attention in a world that’s overly saturated with product. Cause following the traditional path laid out–at least according to the YouTube Playbook which is the guide most creators use–is no longer a guarantee of success.
It’s made me hunker down and specifically focus on writing and now, cinematography/directing. At least for the next few months. By fall, I’ll hopefully be shopping one show and in production on two. And I’ll be bringing it all up a notch creatively because the bar has been raised. Plus, you know, that can never hurt.
As for that other stuff–building my brand/audience, getting views–I’ll be sitting here watching and figuring out a new game plan that will have to be unique because the old rules–and by old, I mean anything older than six months–no longer apply.