Tips for Filmmakers and Video Production

Nice piece in indie wire featuring Edwards Burn, where he talks about the beauty of low-cost production. No booms, lights, or film. Just a Canon 5D and a small budget. And the ideas? Crowdsourced.

P.S. My birthday is May 12 in case you wanted to buy me a Canon 5D. It’s less than $3500. If all of my susbcribers chipped in, it’d be a fraction of a penny. If all of my active viewers chipped in it would be just $35 each. If all of the readers of WillVideoForFood chipped in, it’d only be $3500 each.

what digital camera does edward eddy burns use
Edwards Burn uses a consumer SLR still camera to film his low-budget movies

WTF is “Transmedia Storytelling”

Just like OTT is the new viral, transmedia storytelling is the new online video.

“Transmedia storytelling” is not new vernacular, but we predict it will be the buzzword of 2011… pushing the term “currating” into the archives. I became familiar with the term at a 2010 television/web events in NYC, where large media companies defended their crappy dabbling in online video as “transmedia storytelling.” Some online-video content (Office webisodes) are quite clever.

But only about .05 percent of the audience for a television show will ever see the webisodes buried on some archaic network website… so at least the web “add ons” are not typically essential to the plot. Like the secret code on Fringe intro/outros, they’re additive to the experience… and for hardcore fans. In years to come, the interactive content may be more of a main dish than an optional appetizer.

Now you can learn via AdHack what “transmedia storytelling” is all about. The definition, what makes it work (communal, personal, tangible, discoverable, character development). Anyone doing this stuff particularly well?

As on-demand web video becomes mainstream, large television shows will increasingly win audiences to “online video” “lagniappes”  that rise above the allotted 23-minutes of a 30-minute show. More importantly, they’ll be vehicles to provide engagement with fanatic fans (oh, and provide additive direct ad revenue to a medium that could use some vitamins).

Content producers should be thinking of this content the way retailers think about the high-end or high-volume offerings that are less about incremental revenue… and more about growing the baseline. For instance if you’re Starbucks, you add the TRENTA not to sell a load of them. If you’re a white goods manufacture, you add a pricey “top of the line” product not to sell more of them. The introduction of these items grow your “baseline” or “middle of the road” offerings in indirect ways that are difficult for our executive brain to understand. It’s the dino-brain, folks. It’s all about the limbic brain. It drives most of our behaviors, and is the reason an emotional appeal works in marketing and entertainment… more on that later.

The tricky balance here? The producers of network television can’t well justify investing in this content until an audience exists (and thus a financial marketplace develops). But viewers won’t be attracted to this storytelling extension until it’s more interesting than a silly “Black Ops” boat-racing game for Burn Notice. So it’s a catch 22 that will take years to escape. But we’ll get there.

Apple’s iTV: Using Evil Powers to Help The Little Guy?

My A-Team friends and I used to use our special ops training to build cabbage-tossing machines to protect the little guy. And after every car crash, you knew nobody got hurt.

What do Apple’s iTV, the A-Team, Leverage and Burn Notice have in common? Read on…

It’s been rumored that a $99 iTV may soon launched, and Bloomberg is reporting Apple “has a few content deals in the works that will allow iTunes users to rent TV shows for 99 cents” (via Technolog). Most Applephilaholics are fussing about the potential of a new iTouch that offers a camera and other features from the iPhone 4 (it’d be like an iPhone5 without the inconvenience of calls to drop). We at WillVideoForFood are not amused by incremental advancements on these products.

The prospects of iTV is wayyyyy more exciting. AppleTV, despite its strengths, is the red-headed step child of Apple. It’s still a bit expensive ($150 refurbished and $229 for 160GB), and is a conceptual leap for those in love with

  • high cable bills
  • road trips to Blockbusters
  • complicated DVRs
  • and the caveman-like posture from watching video on a laptop
My "Burn Notice" friends and I use our espionage and spy skills to help the little guy

Will a $99 price point change that? Yes if it’s fast and loaded with options. Hulu is cool, but I’ll pay $1.99 for 40-minutes of a cool TV-show to avoid slow streams, buffer problems, cheesy ads, and redirects to the network player. Of course most studios won’t want to piss off their primary revenue stream via cable providers — on the prospects of picking up some uncertain income from the 10’s of thousands of people that pick these up. However if adoption of the iTV doesn’t require a device and becomes pervasive as iTunes then we’ll see a radical improvement of the video space that will remind us of what Steve Jobs did to the music industry.

I’m not saying Jobs isn’t a black-shirt douche bag, and Apple does use its clout to pull a lot of dick moves (Flash-retardant). But iTV could help out the little guy, at the expense of Big Bad Cable.

Here’s what we like:

  1. This could make it increasingly mainstream to enjoy network ‘TV” shows on any device (television, laptop, smart phone/iPhone/iTouch) without the hassle of a damned app for every network.
  2. It will legitimize a pay-per-show model instead of ad-supported networks that are bundled with crap you don’t need. For example, I’ve become a USANetwork junkie (hanging out weekly with my friends on Burn Notice, where we use our skills of espionage to help the little people). I’m also watching a lot of TNT (hanging out weekly with my friends from Leverage, where we use our skills of con, grifting, cyberhacking to help the little people). And sometimes I want to catch up on classic episodes from vintage NBC (where I could revisit my old teenage friends from A-Team, where we use our special ops experience to help the little people). I buy an assload of television shows (despite having a minimalist cable bill), and my consumption would increase if I could rent for 99 cents instead of owning for $1.99 — I rarely watch the show again anyway… and if I miss it on the DVR/TiVO I buy it.

    My Leverage friends and I use our skills to help the little guy. The grifter, thief, hack, con artist... and me.
  3. You and I can pay for what we want. I’ve spent 100 times more on “TV” buying ala cart via AppleTV but I’m okay with that — because I don’t like monthly subscriptions that entitle me to crap I don’t need. My AppleTV is loaded with hundreds and hundreds of television shows… for instance, previous seasons of shows I now love. Force me to the “all you can eat buffet” cable bill and I’m just going to get sick while I eat sub-par food with 400-pound losers. It’s like receiving the stupid newspaper each day… it’s not the cost as much as the feeling of continual waste.
  4. By facilitating ala-cart options for viewers, studios will benefit from a new revenue stream independent of the abusively negotiated cable packages and suppressed ad income… and enjoy going direct to consumers, where they can upsell other shows and even develop sole sponsorships instead of cheap-ass GRP ads. I’ve never paid for HBO in my life, but there are shows I’d buy ala cart including Sopranos (a family who uses its mobster experience to torture the little guys).
  5. The biggest interim beneficiary will be “The New Establishment” (Next New Network, Revision3) who will gladly offer gratis its myriad of semi-pro content (Barely Political, Scam School, Film Riot) to gain vital new eyeballs and audiences. These players are aggressively marketing their content as “value adds” on Roku and TiVo. If we don’t see the Disneys and HBOs willing to adjust their cable-centric models, iTV would want to introduce this free and fresh content instead of old episodes of Alf (an alien who used his little-guy sarcasm for no apparent purpose).
Hi. It's Craig. Remember me? You used to pick on me in grade school. Now I work for a large cable company. So suck my Alf, baby. You'll use my shit-ass device, and buy what I tell you to buy.