Saturday, August 4, 2007

Storytelling for the YouTube Generation

I must confess I've never seen LonelyGirl15. I've only read about the video diaries that became a YouTube sensation--even after it was revealed that it wasn't real inner thoughts of a 16 year-old, but an actress named Jessica Lee Rose playing the part of "Bree" in a scripted series. Sort of like The Hills or The Two Coreys. Scripted. Not real. Get it, Tom Shales?

Anyway, apparently the season has come to an end, along with Jessica Lee Rose's part in it, as Bree was killed off by a religious cult that had chased her for the life-giving qualities of her rare blood type. Damn, I hate it when that happens!

Rose said of her death scene, "I didn't want it to be over the top or cheesy." Um, right... A 16 year-old lying lifeless on a table while her blood is transfused into a cult elder. Uh huh. Nothing cheesy about that!

But the death of Bree is not the end of the series--nor is it the end of this type of programming. It used to be that stories were told on a big wide movie screen. Then came television. Movie people scoffed--it's just a fad! It'll never last. But not only did audiences flock to the small screen to watch Jackie Gleason and Jack Benny--eventually they started watching movies on the small screen as well. With the VCR, people could choose which movies they wanted to watch and when.

Then came DVDs and Netflix and TiVo. The small screen was here to stay. Except it wasn't small anymore. Now we have flat panel high definition home theater systems which are the size of an SUV. While our theater screens at the multiplex get cut up into smaller and smaller pieces. But even as our screens at home get bigger, it's content for the small screen that is in growing demand. Even people with 60" plasma screen TVs are watching the "Turtle Boy" YouTube video on a little Windows Media Player.

You can download episodes of your favorite television series like Heroes or Desperate Housewives to your computer. Content such as "LonelyGirl15" called "webisodes" is being created specifically for computer screens. And if your computer screen isn't small enough--or portable enough--you can watch media on your iPod. Or even on your cellphone. The ABC television series Lost is creating "mobisodes" for Verizon cellphone users. The issue of this "portable screen" content lead to a groundbreaking mobile content agreement for writers.

According to WGAE President Chris Albers:

“New delivery systems need content like the Lost mobisodes to survive. It's in all of our interests that these new technologies succeed. This deal is a perfect example of what can be achieved when the companies actually engage in dialogue regarding these issues.”
Not coincidentally, this is the very heart of the upcoming WGA contract negotiations. Once again, Craig Mazin and Ted Elliot's Artful Writer is the best source to get the lowdown on what is going on and how things are evolving. Specifically, his post on John Bowman's (WGA Chairman of the Negotiating Committee) opening remarks is a great summary of the issues facing writers today.

The bottom line is that there's a growing need for creative content to fill up all these screens--both large and small. And who will meet the challenge of keeping eyes glued to those screens--thus enabling the marketing of cars, beer, soft drinks and cosmetics? Writers, baby. Writers.

1 comment:

  1. I liked this post.. and I like your commentary. It's very on topic and hits the mark