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Published:November 16th, 2006 12:51 EST
There is Nothing On TV?

There is Nothing On TV?

By Sean Stubblefield

Unfortunately, the selling or success of a movie/ show has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with marketability/ profitability (or perceptions of it) and politics. Out of 100 pilots for TV series that are written, maybe 10 are produced, and out of that maybe 3 are sold, and out of those maybe 1 or 2 are broadcast. These are not exact figures, but you get the idea. The point is that quite a lot of TV shows don`t survive, and that it`s near impossible to get a TV show produced, never mind getting an audience.

Fortunately, the video entertainment media landscape is changing " has changed... to match the times, and better accommodate filmmaking and film watching. New media formats are increasingly becoming more accessible to both amateur and independent filmmakers and their audiences. The internet is and provides for a different format from television, so it does not use the same protocols and conventions as standard television or film, therefore the standard rules don`t apply. A greater liberty and flexibility exists for online productions than it does for offline efforts. They are less reliant on and less limited by a need or greed to generate revenue and profit, because they are often less expensive to make, and not dependant on ratings or sales from a completed product.

Internet television and film projects are more amenable and sympathetic to amateurs in the truest sense of the word amateur ". Individuals engage in their film projects primarily, if not entirely, for the sake and love of the art " for the fun, passion and experience of practicing their craft. These people are in the business of making art, not making money.

More people are increasingly watching their movies and TV online through downloads or on DVD, as opposed to on TV or in theaters. Larger numbers of movies are going direct to video, and many movies and TV shows find greater financial and popular success on DVD.

In recognition of this trend, several TV Networks are now providing their broadcast shows online, as well as on TV. Until fairly recently, none of this was the case.

Of course, this phenomenon explains, in large part, why less people are watching TV " as widely declining ratings indicate, and less people go to the theater " as decreased attendance and box office sales reveal. Alternative online media sources and programs are also significantly responsible for detracting attention from TV and theaters.

Video upload services like Youtube, Revver, ifilm, Atom films, Metacafe, Yahoo, Google and The Force.net have made it possible for original independent amateur productions " both serious and casual-- to get not only made but seen, when they otherwise would not have because they lacked studio resources.

Anyone with a digital video camera, a computer, imagination and initiative can now be on TV ", by way of vlogs, or video blogging as a form of reality TV.

Alternative media outlets have enabled video bloggers to become minor celebrities as the star of their own show, such as Youtubers " Lonelygirl15, Katers17, Abbegirl, Minouye, Terra Naomi, Lisa Nova, Renetto, TheHill88 and LUCYinLA.

These videos and their presentation make it possible for the audience and creator(s) to directly " interact with each other with a sense of immediacy or intimacy, as video bloggers amuse themselves while entertaining their audience. (The social/ psychological ramifications and indications of this migration or gravitation to such video entertainment is another matter.)

Furthermore, it empowers and permits actors, and would-be performers, musicians, media craftsmen and artisans to utilize, practice and enhance their skills, and to express themselves creatively, in lieu of professional studio authorship or distribution.

The potential exists for these videos to act as a launching pad into other media opportunities " in the cyber and real world, if the vlogger receives the right kind of attention " and with a built in, already established fan base.

Lonelygirl15 is representative of a unique new format that functions as both a serial narrative, webisode based internet TV series and an alternate reality game that is supported and motivated by fan comments and financial donations.

Since the majority of what`s offered on TV and on film is generally considered various kinds of unsatisfying crap, people are more inclined and motivated to not only to seek out that entertainment elsewhere, but to produce their own entertainment. Granted the same rule applies here in these other mediums as anywhere, in that the majority of anything is statistically inevitably crap.

Which is the fundamental incentive for an independent film project " in exception to the rules-- written by Jessica Stover. Titled The Silver Legacy, this is also a new and original example of fan driven entertainment, in that its eventual (and eventful) production depends largely on audience demand and grass roots level promotion, intended to both feed and be fed by its audience.

The Lost TV series featured an online companion series called The Lost Experience, in addition to a series tie-in website for The Hanso Foundation; both of which created an interactive alternate reality game allowing the audience to participate in the TV series.

Mini-webisode featurettes were made as expansion pieces for the Battlestar Galactica TV series.

The internet has become the principal breeding ground and venue for short films and fan film enterprises like Star Trek: New Voyages, plus Star Wars fan films like IMPS: The Relentless and Reign of the Fallen and Broken Allegiance and Ryan_vs Dorkman.

Short fan films involving characters from the Batman comics, such as Batman: Legends, Patient J and Batman: Dead End, as well as a Superman/ Batman team-up in World`s Finest.

Original online movies " short and full length-- are also being produced, such as two super hero stories called Sidekick and Strength, and the serial short comedic vignettes of Ask A Ninja.

The Ore is a sci-fi movie available online, on DVD.

Many of these projects are amateur without looking amateurish.

Scifi.com is now hosting amateur science fiction movies online in a framework appropriately called Exposure, allowing the audience to vote on favorites.

There is even a cable channel called Independent Film Channel (IFC) that showcases non-standard studio fare from independent, non-studio affiliated producers.

This is essentially how now-world famous Kevin Smith started in the show business, with his quirky Clerks movie.

Some internet TV shows are being produced as podcasts, like Geek Brief.

Hoping and expecting to either compete or stay current, TV networks are planning original online programming, like many amateurs are already doing with vlogs, serial narratives and news reports.

Clearly, as television gradually supplanted books, the internet is now replacing " television as not just the major entertainment media, but medium.

We have entered a new age of entertainment media, blooming with a diverse variety of new programming, new kinds of programming, and viewing options as the media innovates its medium.