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 @ 7:17pm

    Re: Re: The Lottery Fallacy

    What you're doing is akin to pointing to a convention of lottery winners and saying that proves how unions aren't needed

    No, Seth. That's not what I did at all. Do you really think that Silicon Valley is a "convention of lottery winners"? Please. There are tons of people in Silicon Valley who never win the "lottery," and yet startups, big businesses and individuals thrive here without unions.

    I'm not pointing to the few success stories. I'm pointing to Silicon Valley as a whole where most of us are quite content and happy not having won the lottery and not feeling the need to unionize. We know that there are a ton of options out there from startups to big companies and so we don't need to unionize because our options are plentiful.

    That's all that's being argued here. As long as your options are plentiful, then the market is more competitive and it's more likely to accurately reflect the market price.

    The facts remain, large studios will employ many people, start-ups cannot be a solution for more than a tiny minority, therefore unions are needed

    Seth, you don't seem to understand either facts or logic -- which is fairly stunning. Silicon Valley has a number of large companies that employ people and many more startups that employ plenty of people as well. It's not a tiny minority at all. And there is no need for unions because there's so much competition.

    All Tim was pointing out was that more competition (a la Silicon Valley) would probably do similarly good things for Hollywood, giving writers more options so that unionization isn't necessary.

    I cannot see who it is possible to get from your statement that Hollywood studios employ lots of people to "unions are necessary." Let's take an analogous situation: Apple, Google, Oracle, eBay, Yahoo (let's call them "studios") employ lots of folks in Silicon Valley. Yet, they're all fighting like mad for employees, because folks want to go to hot startups like Facebook.

    So, rather than your entirely made up theoretical world of lottery winners, we have a very very real world right here proving that you are wrong.

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