Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Starz exec Rob Markovich reception

The Austin Screenwriters Group held a pretty swanky reception tonight for Rob Markovich, Director of Original Programming for the Starz movie channel network. Rob has been the driving force behind such Starz series as Crash, Head Case, and Hollywood Residential.

At the ASG meeting, he talked about where his network, and the industry in general are heading (episodic TV, not movies), and how aspiring writers could get their scripts read. He was a great guest, very informative and gracious with his time, and I really appreciate him speaking to ASG.

I pitched Rob some of my own TV and film ideas, and he liked them. Hopefully we can discuss them more when I'm in L.A. In the meantime, I'm going to try and connect him with my friend Mike Alvarez, who might have an animation co-production deal that Rob would like.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nimble DV

HBO's Director of Digital Content, Adam Wolman, interviewed on On the Page, says that HBO is implementing new models for their Webisodes. Wolman directed the ABC's Micro Mini-Series one-minute, interstitial episodes, which aired during the commercial time (technially, after the scene-outs) of other broadcast shows. They were serialized, with cliffhanger endings, and there were several of them. They didn't fare too well.

Now HBO is trying the same thing, with a slight modification: they will start with 3-6 minute Webisodes, which can then be stiched together into a 30-minute or 60-minute episode and delivered via HBO On Demand's download service. If a series gets really popular, it might be re-shot and delivered on HBOs core channels.

In effect, HBO and ABC were using these short-format videos to test pilot new shows. It's a reasonable idea, and has the benefit of being quantifiable. But it does not tell the execs what kind of legs the show will have if and when it gets picked up, which makes it hard to decide how much production money it needs, and (consequently) how to price the advertising.

As I have said many times here, the television industry is looking more and more like the music industry circa 1998. As bands started selling direct to fans, they relied more on grassroots support from live shows (a concert is a small "test market group"), until they zeroed in on their most popular songs, style, and fans.

For those of us indie filmsters who can make quality stories for less than a gazillion dollars, this is good news. We don't have to compromise art in order to sell advertising; we just have to make good art- granted, easier said than done. But we can employ the same method HBO and ABC are: start a project, see how it does, put more time and money behind it if it takes off, and drop it if not. But like guerillas, we can move a lot faster, working together with other indie writers, crew, actors, and producers than the sluggish armies of the Big Studios.

So be quick, be creative, be nimble. Let's go make some movies.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Be informed! Be very informed!! Bwahahahahaha!

A Fed, a TED, and a LIBOR walk into a bar...

If you are as confused about this whole financial crisis as I am, you will really enjoy NPR's excellent Planet Money podcast, which breaks it down into layman's terms, and delivers timely news on a daily basis.

I highly recommend that you start with two most enlightening 'casts from Ira Glass' This American Life series:
They are about 45 minutes each, and are well worth your time.

New blog! I started a new blog to chronicle the current eco-storm for my daughter.

I'm not sure how this will affect the film markets, but let's hope cinemas give us a "hardship discount" on those $8.00 tubs of popcorn.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Curtis the Ninja

Hiitenge- jabun henja menjae ridooru!

I am pleased as punch to be working with Kat Candler on her new short film, Ninja James and the Beast Man. I guess that I'll be playing, uh... Ninja James? I'm not sure, because my script said "Mr. Smith." But it's all good.

As always, Kat has assembled a great team of people around her, and not just the actors. I look forward to working with all of Alicia, Leslie, Scott, and the whole cast and crew. Especially Sam, the young lead actor, to whom I will be arranging the marriage of my two-year old daughter soon. Too cute!

Moshi, moshi!