Adventures of a Web Series Newbie Chapter 17 – Yet Another Offer
by Leesa Dean
So I took the weekend off. Since launching, I’ve been working seven days a week. That’s pretty much what it takes to do this. Especially if you don’t have a team helping. Having some time off was incredible. And relaxing. And necessary.
Played some tennis (I am a tennis fanatic), chilled out with friends, read, mostly stayed off the grid. Mostly. And magically when I started back up on Monday, it felt effortless. Now that there’s only one Chilltown episode left in Season 1 (I’m planning on relaunching the series in a secret special way in the Fall), some of the pressure is definitely off. Which is a bit of a relief. So I’ve officially decided to spend the summer taking weekends off (mostly.) To partially recharge and gear up for the Fall, which I know is going to be INTENSE. I’ll still be working on all the Lele shows and the new projects, which I’m really loving. But versus putting in about 90 hours a week, I’ll only be doing about 60.
So Tuesday morning, I wake up to another online network offer. And it was BAD.
Since I launched, I’ve been approached by approximately 8 networks. Some of are big (and I’ve written about them in previous blog posts) and some are tiny. Some actually have pretty fair contracts and most have AWFUL ones. Ones that you’d never sign in your wildest dreams if you were shopping a show to a television network. Ones that make the recent Game of Thrones Red Wedding feel like a warm, fuzzy kitten hug.
Hands down, the one I received Tuesday was the worst. During a phone convo, they claimed they weren’t using the dreaded “in perpetuity” phrase that’s been associated with Machinima and Maker contracts (meaning they get to do whatever they want with your content FOREVER, even after the contract’s over) but when I read it, it said they had the “irrevocable right” to use the content in whatever medium they wanted globally. Which is WORSE. While they weren’t paying me any money, either up front or financing any future episodes, they would split the hypothetical advertising with me and the split was pretty crappy.
But the prize for world’s craziest clause was: if they didn’t approve of the thumbnails you created to promote your episodes, they could create their own thumbnails and they would charge you $100 per hour to do so. Did I mention this was a startup and they didn’t even have any views/subscribers? It really was insane.
I think it’s a sign of the (web) times that everybody and their uncle is creating a network. And so many of them are harebrained concepts and dumb business propositions (that also happen to be wildly exploitative.) Harebrained and dumb, in a lot of cases, because while they might be a good idea for a network, they’re not savvy about what it really takes to get advertising dollars. Their pitch is, you’ll get exposure. People will hear about your work. That’s the tradeoff.
I came to terms a while ago that putting my work online was for the exposure. To build my brand (me, as a writer/animator.) That getting paid is a bonus. But to also give up the rights to your content in the process? As my character Lele would say, “No bueno.”