Steve Jobs of Apple, who may be the best marketer in America, introduced yet another product this week, the razor thin Airbook, that immediately went on my wish list. I have been a Mac user forever (it’s how “Mr. Macintosh” got his moniker in Blank Check — the alias little Preston took as his own was staring me right in the face, too!) but there was a more important element of Jobs’ announcement.
As part of his presentation, Mr. “I’m still cooler than Bill” noted that Apple has sold 4 billion iTunes as of last week, 20 million on Christmas day alone. They have also sold 125 million TV shows and 7 million movies, and with the new iTunes Movie Rentals they are going to launch one thousand film titles by the end of February, with future new films available 30 days after DVD release! You can watch these on everything — naturally on iPhone, too — and I do, Slave Master, I do!
So if you wake up one day in the not too distant future and wonder what that big, square thing in your living room is — it’s a TV! — it’s okay, it might also make an excellent planter.
We are in an historic period in communication. The WGA strike is only highlighting the rapid changes going on, and our need to address them is vital. I have been saying for several years now that if you want to know what the film business will look like in 10 years, look at the music business, and that evolution may be closer than I imagined.
But what does all this mean to we creative, and might I add quite attractive, writer/entrepreuners? For it’s not just the means of getting shows and movies that is changing, it may be the shows and movies we make that are facing a seismic shift too. There are lots of easy, do-it-yourself entertainments out there and I love the idea we are no longer beholden to set times to enjoy them. A favorite Internet diversion of mine these days is creator/director David Wain’s Wainy Days (www.mydamnchannel.com) a sweeter and sillier Curb Your Enthusiasm. There is also the world of YouTube.com which never ceases to amaze me for its America’s Funniest Home Videosquick-clip variety. But as a format these are the equivalent of silent film shorts — and that’s just about where we are in the evolution of this new world.
At the beginning.
What other forms are out there and available to us? Can we create something wholly new?
I once pitched an idea called Antarctic Base, which was to be the first of several Surveilance Cam Theater live shows for the Internet. The idea was “War of the Worlds for the Millenium.” What if you got an email from a friend saying, “Go to this website quick. It looks like it’s a live feed from from a government base in the Antarctic and there seems to be something really weird going on!” What would unfold would be a live, week-long “movie” told via the switching mulitple surveilance cameras of our fictional base (actually located in a warehouse somewhere in the San Fernando Valley) that was a “Monster in the House” tale of invading aliens. Though never launched, the idea was to make viewers think this might actually be real, even going so far as to plant false news stories prior to and during the show detailing an odd meteor shower in the South Pole, and several sudden U.S. military deployments.
Point is: it’s not a movie or a series, it’s something else. And as writers looking for place to “get our stuff made” we must always be open to new forms.
What are your favorite examples of new media entertainment? And what are your unique show ideas? More importantly, how do the principles of good storytelling still apply?
Because no matter what the media, the message will always be: story!