Challenges Faced by Independent Content Creators in the Entertainment Space
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Tina is an aspiring script-writer, and after spending three years of her life juggling a full-time job that pays and her passion for writing, she has finally come up with a script. She believes that her script is unique as nothing like that has been created yet that can change the way people think. She is incredibly excited to have a show made on it so that it reaches out to people who can then decide if they like it or not. However, she doesn’t have any private wealth or insider connections in the entertainment biz to convert her script into something tangible. As a salaried employee, she doesn’t have enough savings to fund her show. Consequently, funding has been a burning roadblock to fulfilling her lifelong dream. Despite trying hard, attending film festivals and content fairs has not been accessible and getting a distributor on board seems improbable without these networking opportunities. Rejection has also been a setback for her since the traditional broadcasters feel that the show might not perform well with its niche content.
Like Tina, there are thousands of content creators who are capable of breakthroughs with ideas that are not ‘mainstream,’ and there are millions like us who are craving for content that’s raw and real. Our entertainment industry suffers from an inessential gap, and the independent content creators are facing a number of challenges.
The Big Old Funding
We have often seen creativity succumbing to finances. Often, content creators have required massive funding to finance their projects and stories which becomes a hurdle. From building a talented team to setting up breathtaking sets and promoting the content, every step of film creation requires big bucks. An independent content creator will almost never have the savings to fund his/her project. Even when they secure the finance, it’s structured on a piecemeal, project-by-project basis. Frequently, unmatched talent never reaches the screens because of the missing funds.
Distorted Distribution - The Opportunity Thief
Distribution channels for content are unable to support both the creators and distributors. The route to the distribution market is via film festivals and content fairs, which are often out of reach for the creators. The opaque and inefficient nature of this segment disrupts independent distributors and studios seeking fresh content. The lament of distribution worsens with the fees being as high as 35%.
The Demon Named Gatekeeping
What we watch, how frequently we watch and what we like are the determinants of what the content makers create. Strange, right? Content, the soul of this industry is ruled by profits and not by creativity in most cases. The big distributors dominate the market and filter out the content that reaches us, and the pre-selection is purely based on numbers indicating how likely the project will be ‘profitable.’ Worsening the situation is the Digital Rights Management that doesn’t allow creators to share their content on platforms other than the original one. The first thriller show, the first cross-genre novel, the first workout song would never have seen the daylight had gatekeeping been the way it is today.
If a creator gets the opportunity to engage all fans, sometimes millions of them who would readily pre-purchase content and passionately promote it among their contacts, many creators would not be dependent on intermediaries. Such a peer-to-peer system would also allow the content makers to know what we love and enjoy. This kind of positive encouragement is enough for anyone to use the best of their creative skills. However, the current industry ecosystem is not based on a peer-to-peer system even remotely, and the creators end up falling prey to the gatekeepers. The viewers are neither asked of their opinion nor are they allowed to have a stake in the industry that runs on their views.
Contracts - The Peril Everywhere
Contracts, negotiations, and agreements are lengthy and time-consuming. It’s true for every industry, and it’s equally inefficient for each one. They are also well-known for running across numerous pages with complicated terms in an incomprehensible manner. Repeatedly, deals take 6-12 months, or they don’t take place at all. The chaos that a creator encounters is unimaginable and quite nerve-wracking.
Technology - The Road not Taken
While the world moves on to more advanced technologies, the entertainment industry is not making the best use of new developments in the tech space. For the creatives to perform their best, the system must be more transparent and efficient with a structured, market-driven approach. Technologies like blockchain make this possible, along with innumerable other benefits. Terabytes of data could be stored freely, smart contracts could save months of negotiations, implementing IP rights could prevent piracy, and funding & distribution could be placed below talent and dedication. The creators will have more time to create the next big breakthrough!
The entertainment industry needs re-imagining with content creation, funding, and distribution working in harmony. Talent and creativity must be re-established at the core of the industry instead of the current drivers; personal connections, private wealth and insider knowledge. Let’s again thrive on talent and creativity and make the system more transparent.