Yes, I admit it. I read WRITTEN BY. It’s the WGA’s bi-monthly magazine. Every writer I’ve ever worked for or with has been on the cover at one time or another. I’m the only Guild member I know who hasn’t been featured. So I produced AfterMASH. I didn’t kill anybody, okay?!
Still, I always find interesting articles and columns. There’s the obligatory profile of the “hot” writer who is so pompous and insufferable you just know in five years he’ll be the night manager at Sizzlers.
There are nifty features on which writers sold books, which writers contributed to the Guild Foundation, and which writers are now dead.
Usually every month there’s a different theme. Comedy, procedurals – I haven’t seen an issue devoted to TV Westerns in awhile. Maybe that’s next month.
But for October/November the theme is the internet – what opportunities are available for writers, how might we make money off it it, etc.? Very timely and useful stuff.
Obviously no one has yet to REALLY figure out how to profit from cyberspace. But there are ways to make a buck here and there.
For us bloggers and webmasters, there is the option of attaching ads to your site. So far I’ve resisted. It doesn’t seem worth junking up my blog for the eleven dollars a month I would probably make. Plus I would want to personally endorse every product I advertise and who knows if those penis enlargement crèmes really work?
Another suggestion was to sell merchandise. There are sites that make that very easy. But who’s going to buy Ken Levine T-shirts and coffee mugs?
The bulk of the issue was centered on videos and webisodes. When done right (i.e. your name is Joss Whedon) they can lead to tangible success. But finding the right platform can be problematic.
Still, the prospect of having complete freedom when creating content is very intoxicating. Imagine a world with no restrictions on content and no network executives trying to turn your vision into GARY UNMARRIED.
The trouble comes though when you say, “Oh shit! The rent is due.” You can just put your mini-masterpieces on YouTube and hope they’ll catch on and someone from ABC discovers it. You and ten billion other Spielbergs with rented HD cameras. No, you need a little help.
Networks and studios – finally seeing the handwriting on the wall (which suspiciously looks like Jay Leno’s signature), have flocked to the net in search of portals to show and sell their wares. One article details a writer who hooked up with a studio with a mass market website for a project. He had complete freedom, could stretch the envelope as far as he wanted.
The webisodes all had to be five minutes, self-contained. And they had to be structured in such a way so that they could also be assembled into thirty-minute programs for selling to networks. And they might even be stretched to an hour or a full-length movie. (Before you think this is a groundbreaking concept, Crusader Rabbit was doing it in 1949.)
So this writer set about writing these webisodes. First he was told to write 74 five-minute episodes. Then it was changed to 50 four-minute episodes. As he was slogging through that, word came down to instead do 44 four-minute episodes.
Excuse me but, uh… isn’t this like doing a network show but worse? Aren’t there even more restrictions?
Is there really that much difference between a three-minute show and a four-minute show? Yeah, I guess with a three-minute show you don’t have time for a B-story like you would in a four-minute episode.
With new mediums comes new ways to pillage and ultimately new forms of insanity. I’d love to do webisodes someday. Love to really be able to experiment and have fun. But I think I’d rather fund them and launch them myself. Yeah, I might not make the money I would have had I attached myself to a studio. But who needs that deal with the devil? Besides, I’m starting to think Ken Levine T-shirts could just be a huge seller.
So why the picture of Natalie Wood? As longtime readers of this blog know, if I can't find an appropriate image for my story I just post a Natalie Wood photo instead.