Open source entertainment

Open source entertainment
: I met someone yesterday who quit her profession — the law — to write a script — the next Buffy! — and so I asked the rude question: Do you have an agent? Her reply was a tired roll of the eyes: Not yet. But she knows some people…

Someone else I know has a pitch for a TV series, complete with trailer. Have you started taking it around? Eye roll. Not yet. But he knows some people…

Afterwards, I started thinking that if Hollywood had half a brain — bets still out — it would use the Internet and specifically weblogs to beneficially disrupt the inefficient and expensive system now in place to find its raw material, clogged as it is with agents and managers and executives and all their go-betweens, their people who know people.

Why not put that script online? Why not put the trailer online?

Now you might say that that’s nothing but an electronic slush pile or perhaps a paperless vanity press. How does anything get attention? How does the gem rise above the lumps of coal?

The answer: The audience finds the good stuff and they do it through the magic of weblog links. The good stuff will get links and recommendations; the bad stuff will molder in a digital corner, ignored. And the best part of this is that these judgments are not being made by some cog isolated in an office; they’re being made by your own customers, your audience.

This has worked with two novels I know of, one a thriller, one sci-fi. And it worked because a couple of clever publishers saw something no one else saw, got there first, and grabbed it.

Clever editors, publishers, producers, and execs need to bother to look in new places for new voices and new material rather than relying on the same hidebound network all their competitors rely on. That who-knows-who network is better suited for finding personnel than product (do you buy office supplies at Staples because you know somebody who knows them?).

If I were an editor of a paper or magazine, I’d find new writing talent on weblogs. If Tina Brown were an editor now, I bet she’d do the same; she’s certainly paying heed to blogs.

This will work for books, scripts, treatments, and songs if creators put their work online and if the executives who control production and distribution let the audience do their work for them and point to the good and popular stuff (via Technorati et al). What happens if someone steals an idea? Then you have the proof online that you had it first.

All it will take is one hit found online for this to become the new darling of Hollywood.