Farewell, Alloy Entertainment!

Ladies and gentlemen, my term with Alloy Entertainment has come to an end. Over the past 15 months, I helped teacher and friend Tripp Reed build a new media division, produce six original hour-long series, and premiere them across the web. My experiences on these series served as an unmatchable education in production, content, leadership, marketing, and technology. Lessons gleaned here will inform me for a lifetime. I could not be more grateful to Tripp and the Alloy family for this amazing opportunity. Thank you for trusting and empowering me to help you build this company.

To the 511 individual department heads, cast, crew, executives, assistants, accountants, lawyers, vendors, and clients I have worked with over the last year and a half: it has been an absolute pleasure. I love you all. Never hesitate to reach out if you need anything. Please stay in touch.

A few special shouts: to Korey Budd, for taking care of everyone and reminding me why I love this business; to my editors and post-production staff, for putting up with me daily and keeping the culture fruitful; to Courtney, for taking everything so seriously; to SonicPool Post-Production, for going above and beyond to meet our needs; and to our office staff, for putting the work first and keeping me alive.

Today, I pass the baton on and begin the next era of my life. I wish Tripp, Alloy, and our team all my love and best wishes as you venture into the shows beyond. We shall meet again down the road.

Here’s to the future!

Advertisements

Wendy [Film Friday]

Yesterday, my final web series with Alloy Entertainment premiered on YouTube. Titled “Wendy,” this series borrows from the Peter Pan lore to tell the story of a girl looking for more. Overall, “Wendy” is the most ambitious series our company has produced to date. I could say a lot more about it, but I would get in trouble. For now, enjoy!

Advertise What You’re Advertising

I appreciate the need to launch marketing spots or materials to build brand awareness. But when you want to drive attention to a product, then make sure you . . . drive attention to your product. I am astounded by the number of designs, commercials, prints, and public gimmicks I see on a daily basis that fail to clearly communicate the product they mean to sell. Every good marketing campaign should tell a story, make the product clear to the customer, and clearly articulate where the customer can find the product.

For the last several weeks, my company has been running a spot for our latest web series on national television. Perhaps you’ve seen it? The spot is failing to communicate that it’s a web series that you should watch online. Am I crazy?

New Media: Revenue and Profitability? [Film Friday]

This is the third post in my series, “Understanding New Media.”

So far, it’s safe to define “New Media” as “content financed, produced for, and released exclusively on the web that serves itself and no other.” Last week’s post tried to rule out marketing materials and spinoffs (content promoting other content or products). But I asked a key question: what happens when one of these videos generates its own revenue online? Since “New Media” is a tech and entertainment industry term, it is relevant to discuss the format in the context of commerce.

If a company authors products that collect money from the hands or by the influence of consumers, then it deserves to be called a “business.” If the company’s products drive profits, then it deserves to be called a “good business.”

In web land, advertising, subscription, download, and rental revenue are mere pennies and cents compared to the millions generated by the multiplex or family room tube. Web video is still young, and very few Internet networks have been able to grow through these sources of income. Most content is financed by upfront sponsorship and rarely sees extra money after launch. For example, our company depends on sponsorships from large brands to kick-start our projects in exchange for guaranteed impressions. But in several cases online, the cost of video production was so low and viewership so high that notable returns have been made. It is not uncommon these days to find content producers on YouTube bringing in generous annual salaries through the site’s Partnership Program. They might be small businesses, but these producers definitely deserve to be called “businesses” on their own. And in a select few cases, some large budget web series have garnered such a following that they have paid their bills in full and earned a DVD release. My favorite is The Hire, starring Clive Owen.

Some spinoff series online, as well as commercials and promotional skits, have attracted huge audiences and generated revenue beyond the marketing spend. The Old Spice commercials are famous for this. While these pieces definitely serve a greater purpose, audiences have awarded them the respect and merit of being autonomous content online. When this phenomenon happens and commercials become Internet memes, it is hard for me still to call this material “marketing.” Likewise, when spinoff series build so much traction that they turn direct profits for the label, I owe them respect as autonomous entertainment product.

When first approaching the subject, I assumed all web endeavors were only ever marketing extensions that inspire viewers to spend money in a way that indirectly supports the content producer. For example, a sponsored video promotes a product that, if purchased by consumers, can afford new content produced in the future. If a series makes money on a DVD release and not by itself online, the web release is really just promoting home video sales. In this case, the web endeavor is still a marketing extension – even if it is promoting sales of the exact same material. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between content that makes money through viewership on the Internet and content that makes money elsewhere.

Long story short, I think it’s fair to say that any content that makes money online deserves the “New Media” industry label. So, for the sake of iteration, let us expand our definition to include “content financed, produced for, and released exclusively on the web that autonomously drives traffic or revenue online.”

All of that is well and good, but I am still stuck on the evolution of the Internet. In five years, there will be little-to-no difference between the way television and web video are distributed. The pipes will be the same and the viewing devices will be the same. So what then is the difference between “New Media” and other forms of content? While television and web may converge, audiences interface with these platforms very differently.

Next week, we will address the penultimate quality of “New Media” entertainment: active viewership.

Talent

Today, I am taking a break from our regular programming to announce the launch of our latest web series, Talent. For those who do not know, I currently produce and supervise post production for the New Media division of Alloy Entertainment. We have been charged with tackling large scale narrative form on the Internet.
 
Talent is our latest and greatest, little over four months of hard work in the can. We wrapped production in February and have been busy cutting ever since. Below, you can find Episode 1 of a ten episode series. New episodes will launch every Tuesday and Thursday for the next four weeks. Enjoy!