Thursday, 12 November 2009
MGM Has Sucked For a Long Time
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 MGM going out of business (sort of) is not much of a surprise to those of us who have 'tried' to do business with them over the years.  They have been developmentally challenged for a very long time.  It's amazing to me how bad so many studios are at what they do.  It's pretty simple.  Make good movies, and sell them.  That's it.  Yet, time and time again we see studios struggle to do this.

Why?

Well, the answer is, people.  That's why they struggle.  You take people who have no business background and made their way up the ladder reading scripts (or, reading the coverage for scripts) put them in charge of a multi-billion dollar business, and...well...there you have it.  How often does this happen in the real world?  Oh, hi, you have an English degree from Yale?  Super.  Manage my hedge fund.  Super.

It doesn't happen.

Producers used to 'retire' to studios after lucrative, meaningful careers.  Guys and dolls who were immersed in the biz, in the trenches, nails for breakfast, man.  People who could get shit done.  Those people used to run the business.  They knew the business.  Today, many of these people at studios never even made a film short.  They know what a grip is, but have never even met one.  

That's the reality, folks.  And, most execs who actually know and are passionate about filmaking get run off because these ninnies feel threatened.

We're all to blame for the current state of Hollywood, but you can place the blame for the downfall of MGM squarely on the people who have run the studio.  It's just not that complicated.  Make great movies, and sell them.  That's what MGM used to do.

Lord knows they've had every opportunity to do that, and couldn't.

And, by the way--they gave Tom Cruise his own studio.  They gave UA to Tom Cruise.  To run.  As in, they gave an actor a studio.  To run.  I totally get the pseudo Robert Evans model here (out of desperation), but Tom Cruise didn't leave acting to be a producer.   And, Robert Evans was never an international star.  The comparison was really apples and oranges.

Or, maybe just rotten fruit.

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Posted on 11/12/2009 6:17 AM by Todd Carr
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Monday, 9 November 2009
So, the WGA is Asking Writers What to Do About the Lack of Work
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That's pretty interesting, in and of itself.  "Hey, writers, WGA leadership here.  Um--man, there isn't much work out there.  What should we do?"  Here's what you shouldn't do.  Strike again.  That's pretty high on the list of bad ideas.  Also, how about not striking and not shutting the biz down for 18 months on the advent of a recession?  How about that?  Thanks.

Other than that, though...

If you want to know why there isn't a lot of work in film and TV--take a look around.  The film business has taken their budgets, moved toward tent pole summer blockbusters, and cut film production by at least 66% (my own rough calculation) over the past 15-20 years.  They have also significantly cut staff.  It's not just writers who are out of work.  It's executives, as well.  Less movies that are more expensive = less projects = less writers hired, less need for development and production executives, accountants, everything.  Pretty simple math.  We're all getting laid off.

TV?  Well, there have been less and and less advertising dollars coming our way in the industry for a long time as well.  That  affects free television quite adversely.  Also, since less people even have cable these days because of the economy, that has affected HBO and Showtime, et al, as well.  Again, less money, less projects, less need for manpower.

Less money = less projects = less work.

Anything else you need me to figure out for you, WGA?

Here's the solution.  How do we make television and film production more cost effective, and also, of higher quality (so there are less misses and more hits).  How do we get studios to make $100-200 million dollar films of the same quality for half the price?  Or, even a third of the price?  That would free up a lot of money for the smaller films that used to sustain the industry.  How do we make films less expensive to produce?  Better--how do we help studios do that?

Because otherwise, this is it, really.  The model will have permanently changed.  There will be no more entertainment business.  There will only be an entertainment niche.

The first thing the WGA can do is start a program for out of work writers to embark on a career change.  I'm talking about subsidies for graduate school, computer/IT training, accounting, nursing, teacher's certificates--you name it.  How about we start there?  How about helping writers transition into something else?  Something where they can actually make a living?

Because holding out hope that the entertainment industry was/is going to change is how we got into this mess.

Oh, and digital media?  Forget it.  If that was happening, it would have made it here by now.

Hollywood has the same problems where digital media is concerned as well.  They simply do not know how to produce something of quality at a buck.  Either they don't, or they don't want to.

Does it really matter?

So, say it with me WGA--transition programs.

You want to find writers work?  Get them the hell out of this God forsaken business, and into something where they can actually make a living and support their families coming out of this recession.

How about we start there?

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Posted on 11/09/2009 12:20 PM by Todd Carr
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