YouTube & The New World

Continuing the train of thought from last nights post, as the new world of YouTube and IPTV emerge, the changes in the media industry landscape are as inevitable as the falling needle on my gas gauge as I schlep from the Valley to Beverly Hills and back each day.

Many, many more people find themselves with the tools and the opportunities and the channels to tell their own stories and show off their own talents to a global audience – I think Wired summed it up thus: “Blood will flow in the gutters of Hollywood.”

There is a palpable fear here in Hollywood these days. It swells up from the many ranks of the mediocre, and those interested in protecting their high-overhead salaries and it is rippling across many of those in the ranks of the largest and smallest of companies.

The more I think about this situation, and whether or not I should be trying to protect my very hard-won position in Hollywood, and all these new opportunities… there is a bigger question than protectionism that looms large.

How in the hell do we now create compelling, exciting, and entertaining content in this brave New World that series like LonelyGirl has created? No more is the web a simple (or even complex) place to put “added value” materials all angled towards driving people back to a Network Broadcast.

The Web Is the Broadcast.

And we should be striving as content producers and creatives to design new forms of content from the ground up around it. LonelyGirl worked not only because of good writing and producing, but they successfully created an entire character and world for the show. They had staff answering emails written to the characters, and they were writing back IN CHARACTER. When people had comments about things happening in her life, or things she’d said and giving advice to her character, the producers listened and let those things become elements of the story.

In essence, they created the world of a Game, where a user can immediately affect change and reactions, and wedded it to what used to be a passive medium.

This is the new benchmark of television entertainment. It demands a whole new way of thinking about story, about audience, and audience interaction, and about the levels of character you as the storyteller must create. No longer is it just lines in a script, and a conversation with your actors over dinner about their hypothetical “backstories.” You must have all of that in your head and then let it inform the audience and the characters through script, through your directing, through the blog entries, the emails, the MySpace pages of your characters, whatever it is, it has to work on a lot of different levels.

And we, as creatives and technical professionals should all be excited, EXCITED!! by these challenges to push us way out of our envelopes and into something new… and yes, we should be scared too. Because if we sit around and keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll find ourselves usurped by the next generation of storytellers who don’t take very well to being spoon-fed their entertainment.

Now is the time for those of us already working and living in the industry to take a good hard look at all our premises of character and storytelling and figure out how to tell great stories as a whole, and part of those stories I’m sure will be video/film, but there will be much more to it than that. Look at game shows and reality shows and documentaries and figure out how to invest your audience as quickly as you can… and we’ll find ways to create amazingly successful shows that may or may not ever be seen on the old Networks. (Though I for one, would love to launch a YouTube or Revver based show, never intended for broadcast and just buy commercial time on the Networks to tell people to go watch a show on YouTube…. just for the hell of it! That time is coming:).

Good luck to us all.