Hollywood Writers Eye Startup Life

from the risky-business dept

The LA Times reports on ongoing negotiations between writers and venture capitalists to create Hollywood startups. Apparently "dozens" of Hollywood writers are looking to launch companies that would allow them to produce video content that would be distributed directly to fans on the web. We've noted that there are already a number of companies pursuing this strategy, and with thousands of talented writers sitting idle, this is an ideal time to start more of them. In the long run, these kinds of startups will ensure writers get compensated fairly because it will give writers who feel they're under-compensated an exit option. On the other hand, the LA Times makes clear that writers jumping into alternative business models may find that the reality of Hollywood startups to be a culture shock. A lot of successful online content outfits tend to be shoestring operations, and it's likely to take a few more years before the bulk of viewers make the switch to Internet-based sources of information. Writers used to the relatively large budgets and large audiences of Hollywood studios may find it difficult to adjust to being at a web startup that no one has (yet) heard of. This may explain why in a town with ten thousand writers, only "dozens" are looking at the startup option. On the other hand, those writers with an appetite for risk or a thirst for creative control may thrive in an environment where they call the shots and reap a much larger share of the rewards if they succeed.
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Filed Under: hollywood, startups, writers, writers' strike

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 17 Dec 2007 @ 2:09pm

    Re: The Lottery Fallacy

    In brief, we can't all be small-business owners. Or entrepreneurs. Starts-ups are not for everyone. And it looks like big corporations are going to exist for the foreseeable future. Thus, unions are needed for labor to counteract the power of management.

    You seem confused. Tim wasn't arguing that big companies would not exist. Just that adding startups to the mix offers more options for the writers. Big companies and startups co-exist (and switch back and forth) throughout Silicon Valley and it makes the culture a lot more dynamic.

    However, the "need for unions" is something that Silicon Valley would clearly disprove as well -- and I'm well versed in this subject as my degree is actually in labor relations. Silicon Valley has shown that when there are a lot more options for employees, they don't need organized labor to fight for their rights -- competition takes care of that.

    So I'm not sure why you're so in favor of a system that gets rid of that competition and forces workers to form unions that can create even more troubles for the industry.

    An "exit option" which works for a tiny tiny percentage of the relevant population is at best inconsequential, and at worst starry-eyed huckersterism.

    You apparently have no sense of history. I'd do a little research before you make these kinds of claims. While it is true that not everyone gets the exit option, the fact that there are more such exit options helps create the competitive environment that makes this all work.

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