Tuesday, February 09, 2016


Well, that was informative.

I asked, and you answered THE CALL admirably.

Blunt questions and some thinly veiled (well meaning) sarcasm. But still, worth the exercise of hearing your perspectives.

So, without further ado, here is a selection of responses.

Cat's Make You Laugh Out Loud was the most watched show on Aussie TV.


Did this make you laugh or cry?

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Hmmm - both, internally.

If you've ever been on Youtube, which this was basically just an extension of, then you know animal videos get massive audiences. So, no real surprise there was an audience for this cat video show, or the follow-up dog version, or whatever other iteration they pull out of hell's TV guide.

Keep in mind, and this was an explanation I received from someone who knows intimately about these things, that this was a no-lose situation for Channel Seven. They had already decided to bury their failing, and expensive, new reality show; AND this type of 'pet video' show is usually super cheap for them to buy from overseas. If it didn't rate, they paid little for it. If it does, bonus.

The more interesting part of the issue, for me, is that 1.5 million viewers now constitutes a massive hit on broadcast television. Only five-ish years ago, the best programs were in the 3M and 4M range.

Broadcast TV is dying off, that's the real joke. Only none of the broadcasters are laughing about that one.

How can anyone make a living when Netflix gives access to everything for $12 a month? How much of that do I get? $0.0000002? There's no value on the work.

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It really depends on how you view the model. If you look at each 'stream' of your movie, then yes, the payout number might look like fractions of a cent. But if you take an aggregated view, it's different.

The problem is putting old world thinking, i.e. I bought this one DVD for this price, on the new model of subscription streaming.

Netflix, and subscription media services generally, are about volume. Not ownership of individual films. It's about keeping people as a member of the club, because having them signed up is a predictable, guaranteed, monthly revenue stream (as opposed to when people impulse buy on a DVD).

And, most importantly, it's about growing the club.

The bigger the number of subscribers, the more revenue Netflix has, and the more they can pay out in content licensing to filmmakers. The less people, the less they can pay out. It's simple arithmetic.

For example, Spotify pays out 70% of it's revenue to rights holders. The problem is the club of people paying for Spotify, and thus the revenue to distribute, isn't high enough...yet.

Eventually, there will only be subscription streaming, and people will wonder how they ever lived without the predictability of regular, monthly customers. It's why Foxtel thrived in Australia for years.

How are your films going?

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They're going.

We are in pre-production on a short called 'Dedo' that we are really happy with. It shoots in late September, and is in a program that will see it broadcast on the ABC. If you want to know more about it, you can visit www.dedofilm.com
Also, for a much more detailed answer on what I've been up to, I very recently completed an interview for ScreenNSW. You can check it out at www.screen.nsw.gov.au/news/screen-nsw-talks-career-pathways-with-emerging-producer-placement-pete-ireland-full-interview


What are your thoughts on crowdsourcing? Is this a way to connect with your audience and deliver the content they are after, or just creative laziness?

And as a creative, where do you draw the line? Is crowdsourcing a compliment to the creative process or a full replacement for it? If you are out of ideas, do you just rely on your audience to fill your creative hole?

Do you think this trend is borne of unrealistically high demands, for example needing to churn out something for your audience week in, week out?

I'm interested to hear how the industry perceives this new creative process.

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Interestingly, I've written something about this before. Paul Verhoven, who is famous for directing Robocop, tried to source a feature film script from the public.

It didn't go well:

“You know,” he says, “there may well be some talent out there waiting to be found. But frankly – I doubt it...We actually found the whole process a headache. Because no, the public can’t write – not professionally, anyway..."

In that vein, no, I don't honestly believe a creative can simply lean on their audience to fill the void left by 'jumping the shark'.

But where do I stand on crowdsourcing overall? I think it really depends.

If you are legitimately looking to source content from your audience, because you believe it will enhance the project, then go nuts. There are plenty of examples, of artwork and ideas being submitted, that have been some part of a creative work. It can certainly be a strong compliment to the main work, if done right. The key to it is very simple: keep it contained and specific.

Character art: yes. Poster ideas: yes. Feedback on a new character: absolutely.

But let the beast off the leash, and it becomes unwieldy. If you set the expectation that something is completely owned by the audience, then your audience will attempt to exercise a level of control that will destroy your creative direction. The best result is that you get to back out of it gracefully. The worst is that your audience abandons you because you hurt their feelings.

The caveat to all of this is that, if you are simply crowdsourcing as a promotional tool, with no real intent to make the responses a part of the process of creation; STOP. Pull the rip-chord now.

Promotion and crowdsourcing are like nitro and glycerin. Don't mix them, unless you've said goodbye to your hand.

P.S. yes, I picked up on the double meaning of your question.

Why do film people always seem depressed?

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They've had no sleep. For years.

Actually, the truth is there is a huge amount of systemic change in all of the creative industries at the moment. Technology has caused enormous disruption to recorded entertainment businesses, permanently shifting a business model that has remained fairly unchanged for a very long time.

As with all things, some people handle change well. Others not so much.

On the whole, I think you see a weariness because people are wondering when the change will finally stop, so they can work out what the new models should be.

The internet giveth (global DVD sales and digital file sales were a goldmine) and the internet taketh away (piracy).

But keep in mind, there are already three films with over $1B at the box office this year. It's not all bad.

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