What We’re Learning from SPCotW

Six months ago today, I launched a weekly feature (well, I optimistically called it a “weekly feature,” hoping there would be enough content and enough interest do sustain it as such — and oh, has there ever been) called “Self-Produced Clip of the Week.” A couple of weeks in, a submission from Jeremy Releaf would coin the acronym “SPCotW” (thank you, Jeremy), and here we are six months later, having experienced 26 weekly clips produced by actors as vehicles for their own awesomeosity. Fantastic!

So, what have we learned from these clips?

Shorter Is Better

Seriously. I know you think it’s funny as-is. I know you love watching the idea develop on screen, remembering how much fun it was when the idea developed on paper (or live, if improvised). And you not only love seeing it in playback, but you love giving it that moment — that moment it so richly deserves — to be appreciated for the brilliance that it is.

Dude. It’s not that brilliant. Edit it down. We don’t need you to hit everything with a sledgehammer. We don’t need a full ten seconds to recover from the fits of laughter your joke has sent us into. We get it. It was cute. Move on.

The Best Vids Cement Your Brand

When done right, actors who self-produce have gotten very clear on their primary brand before roughing out an idea, before scripting a concept, before storyboarding a short, before shooting a single frame. When done wrong, actors who self-produce figure, “What the heck? Let’s roll!” And it may be after spending a ton of money that they realize they probably should’ve had a blueprint before attempting to build a house.

Since the whole point of self-producing includes building a fanbase and getting on the radar of the buyers as exactly what you sell best, doesn’t it stand to reason that you should do a good amount of research on that part of things before you start rolling? You’d think so. I’ve seen way too many self-produced clips that are a starring vehicle for someone who could start booking right now, today, as “the best friend.” And I think, “Wow. What a missed opportunity to cement that brand!” Know yourself. Know your target. Use self-producing as a means to get from one to the other.

Shorter Is Better

Yeah, Bon. You said that. Got it. Really? Do you? Really, really, really? Because I’m willing to bet you still keep a bit of the Scrapbook Syndrome happening in your work. Heck, I do it in writing these columns or in shooting my vids! I’m sure I’ve made my point, but I go on about it just a sentence or two more, just to be sure. Why do we do this? We either don’t trust our audience to be smart enough to “get it” or we know that there are folks who won’t get it, so we figure let’s give a little more in case it makes a difference.

I’ve learned this well: It doesn’t. Those who aren’t going to “get it” are never going to get it, no matter how much we repeat ourselves. So, let’s all agree to serve the audience that’s smart enough to get it in the first place, knowing that those who won’t get it weren’t going to get it with one or two or even ten more laps around that joke or that bit or that brilliant analogy. Moving on.

Be Ready To Move

If you’re calling what you’ve produced “the first episode of a webseries,” you’d better have five other episodes in post before you launch. If you’re calling what you’ve produced “the trailer to a feature,” you’d better have a feature script written and partially financed. If you’re calling what you’ve produced “a weekly feature” at your blog, you’d better be going up weekly. It’s that whole Second Act thing I talked about recently. If you’re going to open to an audience eager to see what’s next, you’d better have “what’s next” ready to roll.

Because if you aren’t ready to move, your ever-fickle audience will surely be ready to move ON.

Shorter Is Better

And finally, I’ll end with, you guessed it, one last plea that you watch whatever you’ve created at each stage of the process (rough outline, script, storyboards, each individual shot, edited scenes, the whole clip itself) with an eye toward, “What can I lose?” I promise you, there’s almost always something you could spare, and in doing so you wouldn’t make the story worse (you’d make it better), you wouldn’t sacrifice the point (you’d make it clearer), you wouldn’t miss a thing (and if you really did, you could always release that goodness as “deleted scenes” and “outtakes” and thrill your fans that much more).

Best of the First Six Months of SPCotW

Tough to choose, as there’s been some awesome stuff, but here are my Top 12 Favorites from the first six months of SPCotW. These self-producing actors are doing what I set out to show could be done, in sharing these clips to start with: Branding themselves, building a fanbase, and hopefully inspiring people to take a DIY approach to their careers.

Girl’s Night Out
Hollywood A-S-S-T
Odd Jobs
One Line on The Sopranos
Herpes Boy
The List
Puma Face
The Day Player
The Real Psycho Transformer
Everybody’s Doing It
The Unreal Housewives of Kansas City

That last one is what got me thinking about how much fun it might be to mention the “best of the best,” here as a feature of SPCotW. See, I got this email from self-producing actor Meagan Flynn:

David Hanklynn Productions, LLC, is proud to announce that their highly successful and innovative webseries, The UnReal Housewives of Kansas City, has been nominated for a Mid-America Regional Emmy Award in the category of Advanced Media-Arts and Entertainment. In addition, UnReal Housewives has been licensed to FunLittleMovies.com. Coming soon you will be able to download full episodes on your Sprint phones and Blackberries.

I look forward to many more success stories of distribution and beyond, from ALL of these fine, self-producing folks!

Before we get to this week’s SPCotW, I want to share two links about last week’s column on The Revolution. Social Media Revolution — holy cats, this is juicy stuff! Social media has actually surpassed PORN as the #1 online activity? Wow! And the number of years it took for other media to reach 50 million users, vs. Facebook? MAN! This revolution is happening FAST! And, there’s this article about the death of television as we know it. Thanks to Marvin V. Acuna for the heads up on both of these links. It’s an exciting, limitless time to be a creative!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001071.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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