As Strike Wears On, More Screenwriters Explore Internet Ventures

4 Comments

At least seven groups of striking WGA members are shopping internet-based ventures along the lines of Will Ferrell’s FunnyOrDie.com, reports LAT. The business models, however, have yet to be worked out. Some see these ventures as a breeding ground for content that could then be licensed to TV, a la Quarterlife. Others see them as self-sustaining online-only plays, possibly tying into social networking sites for distribution.

So far, things appear to be in the exploratory stage, but announcements could be imminent. Accel’s Jim Breyer told the LAT: “It is likely we will make investments in Los Angeles screenwriter/content-oriented companies in 2008.” Other interested investors mentioned in the article include Spark Capital and various hedge funds. We’ve also reported on funds raised at talent agency CAA and niche studios like DECA, which is looking to finance original web content. The writers behind these ventures are mostly laying low, perhaps because they’re not fully committed to taking their careers in this direction, though WGA board member and Air Bud creator Aaron Mendelsohn is mentioned as being involved.

This has been evolving for some time, as dwindling production costs and new distribution outlets already made it easier for creators to bypass the traditional gatekeepers. It’s the disillusionment with the studios and the time off afforded by the strike that’s spurring writers to take the plunge. Once the strike is resolved, some writers undoubtedly will opt for the relative security of the studio system, but as the article makes clear, a growing number are now committed to going into business for themselves.

4 Comments

Michael O'Faolain

The Television Writers Guild strike is viewed by many as just another labor dispute. It’s not. It is the first nationally significant economic acknowledgment of the transition in home entertainment that has been under way for a decade. For this industry, 2008 is 1948 all over again.

Kelly O'Donnell

Launching original content online before and, in some cases, in place of traditional media outlets is an idea whose time has come. Jackass 2.5, the sequel to the theatrically-released Jackass 2, begins a two-week online release only on December 19th. Paramount Digital Entertainment and MTV New Media will offer the 64-minute film for free during this time. Studios must figure out how to monetize content on these new release venues, be it through sponsorship or subscription or some completely revolutionary avenue.

Tony K

Yeah, the creative genius behind the Air Bud franchise. Come on, that guy should be thankful for work, not out striking. He can't write well for the studios, what makes VC's think anything he can do on the internet will be creative and/or entertaining?

Frank Sinton

I'd love to see a debate : Studios vs. Venture Capital – who give you more creative control?

I'm not sure writers are aware of the business pressures of taking VC money. Having worked for a studio and started a company with VC money, IMO studios are more lenient when you go over budget before even delivering the product.

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