The world is in the midst of a digital revolution. For the past twenty years most popular forms of entertainment have been driven to digital distribution. Radio has been replaced by services such as Spotify or Pandora. Talk radio was given way to the Podcast. Newspapers and magazines are being replaced by Blogs. Even television and film has shifted from theatrical and broadcast distribution as the only method of delivery. The medium itself does not really matter. A well-written editorial piece published for a weblog shouldn’t be any different to the readers than if the same article were published in a print magazine. If digital distribution channels have begun to supersede traditional methods, why hasn’t the digital content producer become equal to the content producers who rely on more traditional, restrictive mediums?
There shouldn’t be any difference between a filmmaker, television producer or a YouTube content creator. At the end of the day, the content is all that matters, the distribution method is just that, a way to consume the content. The writer, photographer, and editor who producers a web series uses the same skills as a team of producers working on a television production all doing the same jobs. What YouTube creators specifically do is create digital content that is consumed using the internet. While a lot of content on YouTube could be considered social media to some extent, there is a host of quality content that itself could easily be mistaken for a medium budget television production.
High production values, good writing, quality editing, and compelling stories are all what makes for a good production. The end product could be streamed via YouTube, in the case of something like the Angry Video Game Nerd. However those same videos are also available for purchase on DVD (and Blu Ray in some cases) where they can be viewed on a more traditional screen in a more familiar setting. Sitting down with a DVD set of AVGN DVD’s, a bag of popcorn and your favorite soda should be no different than having the same experience with a run through of Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD’s. The only difference is in the actual content itself. Even James Rolfe, the “Nerd” himself has stated his goal was to be a filmmaker. In fact he achieved that goal just a few years ago when he released his feature length theatrical debut in the form of “The Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie.” I had the opportunity to interview Rolfe during the production phase a few years ago for my college newspaper. Sadly the story wasn’t deemed “local” enough for the editors and it was canned. The point remains the same. Rolfe did not become a filmmaker the day his movie was released to audiences in limited theatrical runs. He was a filmmaker the first time he edited together a series of shots.
Visit FilmmakerIQ and take a trip back in time to look at the history of cinema. The earliest films were little more than just “animated photographs” in essence. They would become more complex over the years as audiences became more invested in the medium. Then Television, or the small screen, threatened the Hollywood system. Television production had it’s start in a similar way as movies. The earliest movies were just experiments. They didn’t become successful until filmmakers learned to create a narrative. Once they discovered to edit shots together they were able to adapt whole plays into motion pictures. Hence why we call the script of a film the screen play. Television got it’s beginnings in radio. The earliest TV stars were just radio performers standing on a stage doing their acts in front of a camera. Not much different than the earliest Angry Nerd videos, or even much of the content that is produced on YouTube these days if you get down to it.
Whether a content creator releases their product via television to audiences over FCC regulated airwaves, projected onto a silver screen in a large auditorium, or streamed over WiFi networks via YouTube, the point is the content is all that matters. Digital content producers deserve the same respect as filmmakers and television producers. In fact many deserve greater respect as they are often one-person shows. When a quality, professionally produced product can be written, shot, edited and dubbed by a single person, or a team of two in some cases, that’s even more impressive than a shoddy production using the best equipment and a team of professionally trained writers, editors, directors and photographers.