Monday, February 20, 2017

Reboots, Remakes, and Existing IP

The Goldbergs (2013)
The Goldbergs (2013)
Last week, I wrote about nostalgia vs. a wont for good product. In further discussion, I note that one of the problems is that most of the viable ideas have already come to market in one form or another.

The classic emergency room, or hospital, drama is a staple on American TV - as an example - going all the way back to at least the Golden Age of Television. Basically, you can have a cast of any type of characters doing anything but, as long as it is set in a hospital, it falls into this category. NBC has been doing legal procedures under the Law & Order banner for 20 years now, and CBS has done the same with their CSI franchise. Neither is wholly original (even 20 years ago), as procedurals about cops and attorneys have proliferated the television landscape for decades.

Producers, financiers, and marketers are likely to be more congenial toward remakes specifically due to the fact that they are easier to sell - they're more marketable than an "original take" on the hospital drama, legal procedural, or cop show. It's doubtful your concept is all that original, anyway - you compare it to two similar films when writing your pitch - so attaching your work to an existing IP is not that big of a stretch.

Writers are then constrained by the previous incarnation of an established property, at least usually - "reimagining," "revitalization," and similar terms generally mean original content attached to an existing property. While this works for some properties, it is not a safe bet for "cult favorite" IP. No one is likely to be too upset about an all new cast of characters on a revival of ER, but cult TV shows are another matter entirely - especially if they're based on established property from another medium (such as Game of Thrones).

If your story is about a disabled, elderly, black male fighting vampires throughout the Civil Rights Era, and you call it Buffy the Vampire Slayer, fans and audiences are likely to be outraged. If exploiting that outrage is your marketing campaign, you might want to reconsider everything about your proposal. The Goldbergs is a great example of a successfully revived series which stayed true to the source material.

Older, and unsuccessful, properties are usually easier to secure the rights to, and offer a wider range of options for creators. Few people will remember the original series, so there's less chance anyone will be upset over a new take or direction - you have more creative control. But again, if you plan on diverging wildly from the original concept, you might want to reconsider - specifically if the property is a cult classic, or otherwise held in high regard.

Known properties tend to be easier to sell because they are easier to market, but securing the rights may be problematic - especially for established and well-loved properties, as well as those controlled by studios. This is why there are so many remakes and reboots of existing properties.

© C Harris Lynn DBA The Weirding, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

Don't Judge Me by My Social Media

Don't Stalk My Facebook
Don't Stalk My Facebook
A lot of people have discussed how social media is public and it can affect your work - that "professionals" who might hire you are stalking your social media profiles.

I have one word for those people: Don't.

I'm from the country - an aggressively rural area in a Fly-Over State in the middle of the Deep South - where many of my closest friends, relatives, and neighbors (who have known me all or most of my life) live. Many have Conservative political values, religious outlooks, and lead relatively simple lives. We disagree on many things, and agree on some unpopular views; sometimes we fuss and fight, other times we behave in a manner that would be frowned upon in offline public forums where smoking, drinking, and nudity are not allowed. But those are the people I love and interact with on a far more personal level; I do not maintain a professional attitude or outlook with those dummies - and they do not maintain a professional outlook when they are forced to put-up with me.

There are also trolls, stalkers, instigative and antagonistic clickbait, and more. Facebook admitted it had weaponized its platform and used it to intentionally and willfully, with malice aforethought, inflict emotional damage on users. President Obama signed the NDAA into "Law" - giving alleged "news" outlets the go-ahead to broadcast propaganda to American citizens. When this methodology was turned against them, they decried the proliferation of "fake news" on social media and started using taxpayer money to fund the NDAA! Astroturfers were paid to gangstalk people online and foment racial divide and gender discrimination during the last Presidential campaign.

Networking sites such as LinkedIn and Stage32 are for professional networking. I act professionally on those sites because those sites are specifically aimed at, and attract, professionals. If I develop personal relationships with people there, I will publicly behave less professionally toward them and vise-versa - but I will still strive to maintain a professional attitude and behave professionally toward others on those sites. I don't do that on Facebook or Twitter, because I don't use those sites as professional networks. If you choose to, that's great - but you shouldn't force that on others.

Add to this the fact that social media has been weaponized, and that people are being paid to target and gangstalk individuals across social media platforms, and there's absolutely no reason anyone should be judged by their behavior or interactions on social media networks - especially those that are not professionally-oriented.

If you choose to prejudge my work ethic based on the way I behave in my personal life, you're the type of person I tend to avoid, so I can't imagine that I would want to work with you. If you choose to ignore the more disturbing aspects of social media and its effect on users while still judging those users' behavior, you are either too dense or obtuse for me to consider working with.

We've all seen celebrity meltdowns, feuds, nudes, and worse, so this is not an issue that only affects certain people; we've all seen that no one behaves on social media the way they do IRL, and that should be expected at this point. Social media is not real life, and - with few exceptions (such as those paid to weaponize it) - is not reflective of the account holders.

© C Harris Lynn DBA The Weirding, 2017

Monday, February 6, 2017

Sony Writes Down $1bn in Entertainment

Alternative Tentacles - Home Taping is Killing Music
Home Taping is Killing Music
Assuring everyone that they are still committed to the industry, Sony took a $962mn write down on entertainment. This is just prior to Sony Pictures Entertainment head, Michael Lynton, stepping down - so this probably has more to do with corporate restructuring than anything else. But, even if that is the case, it evidences Sony Pictures Entertainment's insecurity regarding the future of the field.

Sony said the reasons for the write down included declining sales in DVD and home entertainment. It also stopped valuing "goodwill" items, such as branding - valuing only hard assets instead. I have been telling you for years now that this "branding" bullshit was a fad! Sure, you need to sell yourself - and companies need to be recognizable - but all this "build your brand" claptrap was invented by marketers, and hyped by agents and managers. It's short-term consideration at best, and chasing the market at worst. It reminds me of the boy bands of the '90s - you can be the "fat one," fatties!

If Sony is facing a decline in home entertainment sales - which may include items like TVs and DVD players (if not considered "hard assets"), but specifically includes streaming rentals - they have only themselves to blame. Studios, and Hollywood in general, have been defiant in the face of streaming delivery's growth - insisting on continuing to produce and promote DVD and Blu-Ray releases, and sticking to the same models they employed prior to the advent of YouTube and Roku. You can pick up DVD/Blu-Ray releases for less than $1.00 in most department stores - including new releases!

Most of this has to do with existing contracts, but let's not discount politics and favoritism. Recording executives responded to dual cassette decks and Napster the same way (albeit far more aggressively and litigiously) - to the detriment of the entire music industry.

So, if my dire warnings sounded like Chicken Little in times past, Sony Pictures Entertainment's $1bn re-evaluation is your wake-up call.

© C Harris Lynn DBA The Weirding, 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017

It Isn't Nostalgia

Evil Dead (2013)
Evil Dead (2013)
There's been a lot of talk about "nostalgia" throughout the entertainment industry - particularly in regards to Hollywood, which has been focused primarily on remakes and reboots of existing IP the last decade or more. In fact, Nintendo has even re-released their original NES video game console!
While these things are being well-received, people aren't "nostalgic" for the past; they're clamoring for better product, so - in the absence of such - they're returning to product they enjoyed in the past. I don't get "nostalgic" for my favorite foods; I enjoy them, so I eat them more often than foods I don't enjoy as much. I'm certainly open to trying new foods, but if I don't have access to new foods, I'm likely to eat something I know I enjoy.

Producers and financiers are looking for sure-bets and they've thrown creativity under the bus in favor of a better chance at ROI. I don't blame them for wanting to make money - I do, too - so I'm willing to do what's necessary to get a script optioned, but there is a difference between nostalgia and simply rejecting current product because it does not satisfy a desire or need. I believe that audiences are doing the latter.

For the most part, IP from the Glory Days of the '80s and early '90s are proven commodities - the success of superhero movies proves that - but it's wrong to assume that audiences crave these properties for nostalgic reasons, especially since much of the audience wasn't even alive at the time, or were too young to remember these properties clearly. New properties with better financing and marketing can thrive in today's environment, especially on streaming.

© C Harris Lynn DBA The Weirding, 2017

Monday, May 18, 2015

I have to Pay $5.00 for my Library Card

Due to the fact I technically live outside the city limits, I have to pay $5.00 annually for my library card. This policy was instated only a year or two back in this area.

Does anyone else have to do this? Is this a policy at your local library?

© C Harris Lynn DBA The Weirding, 2015