SIGN UP

Creating an account with Tribecafilm.com gives you access to more features and services, like our weekly newsletter and other special features just for the film community.

SIGN UP
Large shaycarl maker
CULTUREARTICLE

Racking Focus: The Dissolving Divide Between Web Content and TV

Maker Studios's new initiative with Fusion brings to mind ideas about the future of web content.

What if the low-budget web series is the next indie film? That thought reverberated through my mind as I read of the news this AM that Maker Studios, the web video content powerhouse now owned by Disney, will be teaming up with the Fusion TV network (which itself is partially owned by Disney) to create content for the channel, which hits a youthful demographic that absolutely coincides with the reach of Maker's online content. What are the ramifications? 

As partnerships between web content producers and TV networks continue to form, it's guaranteed that those web content producers will turn to some of their writers and directors for content that might fly on a TV network. 

A few things are happening: first off, web video content is becoming increasingly popular with young viewers, relative to the popularity of TV content. That's not necessarily an indictment of the form of TV viewing (as opposed to web video viewing), but rather, an indictment of the content on TV - innovative companies like Maker are making various programs that fascinate younger viewers in a way little on TV does, at the moment.

Secondly, we are—as always—seeing a broadening of the number of TV networks that distribute popular content, which means that the zero-sum audience for TV is becoming increasingly divided amongst the various channels. Sound familiar? It's the same framework within which web content is viewed, with the amount of various options for web content absolutely dwarfing the amount of shows on TV. So naturally, if TV networks want to try to recapture the audience share that they are losing to hip web content producers like Maker, the best bet is to, duh, engage Maker in making content for them! If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. 

What does this all mean for independent film, and why do I say that web series may be the next indie film? Well, it's a given that, in the current climate of independent film, making a TV series is far desirable to toughing it out in the difficult indie film climate - but of course, having the option to even be considered for having your own TV show is far more difficult to attain than being eligible for having your film distributed via a film festival premiere - the former typically requires contacts at TV networks, agents, managers, experience in TV, etc., while the latter requires some friends, a cheap camera and some editing software. But perhaps the ability to get considered for TV is all about to change. 

In the current climate of independent film, making a TV series is far desirable to toughing it out in the difficult indie film climate.

Back in the 90s, indie film was sort of a farm league for the major studios - and, to a certain (albeit lesser) degree, it still is. Make a good indie and that becomes a calling card you can use to direct a bigger feature. The same may soon hold for TV; that is, the realm of web series may become the farm league for TV networks. As partnerships between web content producers and TV networks continue to form - as inevitably they will - it's guaranteed that those web content producers will turn to some of their writers and directors for content that might fly on a TV network. And so the barrier for entry to the TV business, once so daunting, gets lowered to be no higher than the barrier for entry to indie film - make a web series on your own, show it to some web video production companies, and see where that leads. A new realm of opportunity may be opening up for indie filmmakers who are inclined toward making web content. 

CALL SHEET

What you need to know today

    RELATED STORIES