This Is The New Business Model For All Creators - Houston Howard
Houston Howard, Transmedia Author/Speaker: So I think the new business model for creators is a business model to attack the market with IP attack the market with IP. Film Courage: What is the business model for filmmakers today? Houston: The business model for filmmakers today is it's a complicated question because the question could be what should be the the business model for filmmakers today but but what is the the the model for filmmakers today I think still sits wholly in that traditional model of I got to go to the studio and I got to you know option my option my script and go through the development process and and go through that whole thing there's the whole traditional side of the business that's still moving along but now on the outside of the studio system then you're you're looking at a different business model that is is more IP [intellectual property] focused and I think if you if you really study the market and understand the way the market works it's about how do you launch and grow IP and and and this is this is not a new concept because we've known for decades that everything that we see on tv is always based on a book and even the the stuff that we know is the most original we think is the most original stuff we've ever we've ever uh considered and we we love the originality of this limited series or this interesting film 98 of the time you trace it back and it's based on a book and the reason it's based on a book isn't because hollywood's in love with books it's because they love the pre-awareness that the books bring they love the community that's already built for the book and it skews the risk analysis into the favor of the filmmaker when they say hey let's let's take this book and let's make it a movie it's just a lower risk investment and so so so IP creation and establishing IP in the market is has has always been a thing and but now in the with the proliferation of other platforms and the the the democratization of other platforms where normal people can have access to these other platforms such as podcast and Webtoon and what short stories on Wattpad comic books things like that now the business model for creators is how to take their IP and attack the market in whatever platform they can so that they could establish a market presence grow the community of that around that IP actually get fans and then once they have fans then maybe down the road they go and shop this thing for for film and television because when you do that you can actually have a conversation because you you have something established in the market and you have fans and you've established pre-awareness and I think pre-awareness is is is vital in in today's market because of the high risk economics of of filmmaking because the p a budgets because the budge the the production budgets are are just increasing so much I mean you look at you look at the lord of the rings series on amazon they spent 250 million dollars just for the rights and then they spent 450 million dollars in production for one season of tv and so you're spending three quarters of a billion dollars on a season of television and so they're not going to do that with something that hasn't been established in the market the only reason they're comfortable with with spending three quarters of a billion dollars is because lord of the rings is an established IP in the market and that and there's a legion of tolkien fans and and they've tested the the previous the hobbit movies and lord of the rings movies and and it's been around for a zillion years and all of a sudden it skews the risk analysis into the favor of the studio they said I think we can do it I mean you look at the foundation series that's coming out on on apple that apple's releasing and that that that was a series of books that's been around forever and and a lot of people maybe won't know that and think oh this is just original filmmaking no it's established i.p in the market but but used to you could the only way you could do that is through a book but now like I said you can you can do that in a variety of different ways and so one of the most option things in Hollywood right now are podcasts podcasts are wildly popular as far as being optioned and you look at what amazon did with homecoming not Beyonce homecoming but the other homecoming with Julia Roberts the the the drama series and that was a podcast you look at something like night fail there was a podcast you look at what HBO max they they greenlit the Calm app tv show I don't know if anybody you're familiar with the com app the comm app's been a top 10 app in the app store for the last 10 years the meditation app it's just a meditation app for that promotes the proposed mental health and keeps makes you calm and helps you meditate and HBO max just green lit a tv show based on the app which makes no sense other than there's a brand there and there's a community there and there's pre-awareness in the market they'll hire a writer and they'll hire producers and they'll hire talent that'll make it work but what they were looking for is is there the pre-awareness in the market and you see something with angry birds angry birds launched into the market not as the animated films launched in the market as a mobile game and so I think that is the new business model for creators is how do I how do I not wait for Netflix or amazon or universal pictures or Disney to to give me permission to make my dreams come true I don't I don't want to wait for Netflix to give me permission to tell the story that's in my heart it it it you'll be waiting forever right and and and you'll be deceived by the fact that there are some people that Netflix does come and make their dreams come true and they give them the big giant check but but for every one person that's waiting for that that it actually works for there's there's a hundred thousand people hundred thousand filmmakers that that never get that break and it's not because they're less talented it's just because it's a it's a hard industry and it's competitive and there's a lot of super talented people out there and it's tough to be able and and the line around Netflix is 10 blocks long figuratively speaking with people that want to get in Netflix right so so it's it people are waiting for these studios to give them permission to to follow their heart and tell their story when I say that's that's cool but don't wait or at least while you're waiting attack the market while you're waiting launch your IP in the 10 or 15 or 20 ways that we have at your fingertips at all time that you can do for very little or zero money like a podcast you can you can take you can take your iPhone and you can download anchor an anchor is is a free app on the app store that will allow you to hold up the phone to your ear and it records your podcast in just into the phone and then it distr and you put bumper music and you can edit it and then it distributes it into the the apple podcast store and it puts it on Spotify all completely for free and then you can use the the distribution platforms and social media and things like that to to get it in front of people start building your audience and you can actually tell the story that you intel while you're waiting on Netflix but the trick is then if you actually grow the community of people that that love your podcast love your story and and are engaging with your brand you've increased your chances from hearing from Netflix because you've actually created pre-awareness the market right and you you accelerate I mean I there was there was a there was an IP that I had uh we we we sold we sold to fox it languished in development when the turnaround we got it back and we had played that game for seven years trying to shop it finally got it shopped wanted to turn around got it back seven years and I thought what would have happened if I would we would have been running a podcast the entire time what would have been what would have happened if I would we would have had comic books in the market and release self-published novels into the market we wouldn't when it goes in the turnaround we wouldn't be at zero again we would have had fans and we would have had a brand and we would have had IP the film and television wouldn't have worked the way we wanted it to work and then we'd have to kind of reorganize that but at least we would have done some other things and attack the market in a way and and not just wait for a giant studio to give me a giant Ed McMahon check and say I give you permission to tell the story that you've always wanted to tell and it's so so I'm very very bullish on encouraging filmmakers don't wait launch launch launch use all the stuff that we have all the tools in the toolbox to launch the IP if if people that can produce music work with them to maybe tell a story through a song and launch that if how to write a short story launch launch that if how to do a podcast do it that way do a web tune do do do something and one it it helps you not be frustrated as you wait to hear back from an agent and send it out query letters and the whole game that we all know which is I'm not saying that's bad I'm saying okay let's do that but while we do that let's do some other things so you're not just sitting around waiting to hear back from people you're actually doing something right which keeps you it just keeps you happy as a storyteller to be able to tell your stories I mean I personally I found myself years ago as a writer the thing the things that I wrote most were pitch decks I found myself writing more pitch decks than I were that I did scripts and that was disconcerting to me right because that's sort of what you kind of fall into in Hollywood is this crazy game of just trying to like hustle something and and and you're doing a lot less creating and just a lot more pitching right and so so there's there's a I think there's an artistic and a soulful benefit to launching IP in the market just satisfies you as you wait for the the big guys to come and make your dreams come true but then there's also a legal benefit to it and so I consider myself a recovering lawyer I started my career as a lawyer and almost completely recovered as a lawyer but from a legal perspective if if you can establish an IP in the market there's a lot greater chance of you getting a better deal on the back end if and when the studio comes and wants to participate in into a feature film if you just write a spec script and you go and like like like filmmakers do and like writers do and you go sell that spec script and it's not based on any pre-existing IP it's it's just an original idea and you sell you settle inspect say you get on the black list and and they snatch it off the black list and they they they give you a deal that's awesome it's it's it's by and large a wholesale acquisition it's we're taking the whole bucket of rights and we'll give you a check that's a high five handoff that you you go off and we'll take this and we'll go and make this movie but they have all the rights to every platform ever created and here forever two will be created until the end of time there's all those big lawyerly clauses in there they own everything right they take the whole deal theoretically they give you a check to make you feel better about that right which sometimes that makes you feel better other times it doesn't but if you say publish a book self-publish a book and and and that book sells and you're able to then get that to be turned into a movie the deal that is then done is a different deal it's then you have what's called a split rights deal where they come and license the right to adapt the book into a movie right so they take the film and television rights right but it's a license deal for the film and television rights and you maintain your other IP rights video game comic books merchant things like other things that you want to create right and which is much better in success of the movie right or the tv show or whatever they do then all these other rights become more valuable and you've retained them simply because you were able to establish the IP in the market and you didn't you didn't go to the studios first right so so even if you don't want to talk about the the sort of the creative benefits of attacking the market and being aggressive with the IP and not waiting right and being passive as as your fake lawyer as for that that I would give you this this legal advice never just sell a spectrum to a studio it's crazy just publish it self-publish it as a book first now ten years ago before you could really self-publish or there wasn't really podcast and there weren't really these other things then what are you supposed to do the only thing you could do is is just sell it directly to a studio because not not a lot of other other options right now there are so many options it's it makes it just doesn't make a lot of sense to be able to go to them first you just you're just you're misappropriated and losing sight of the broader opportunity of your IP so so I think the new business model for creators is a business model to attack the market with IP attack the market with IP and when you when you generate the pre-awareness of the community it's going to create residual benefits that is that are not only going to make you more attractive to the studios but it's actually going to help you retain more and control more of the IP moving forward and from what I understand about this new Netflix series made yeah with Margaret Qualley it it started as an article [on Vox] a woman [Stephanie Land] who was in a homeless shelter with her child she was cleaning houses and she kind of wrote this thing about hey what people don't know about what I know about you from cleaning your house and that took off and then she did this book yeah and then and now and now we have this this show coming up sure I'm looking forward to seeing it and again that was someone that was always wanted to be a writer had a lot of tragic things happen and decided to hunker down and sort of make the best of it and look at now it's sure that's a rags to riches story right there and if she would have just written that as a spec script and then just started shopping that around I think we we would well we wouldn't be having this conversation today because because it would have gotten it would be languishing in the crazy game that is the spec world of Hollywood right she she was able to take this and then launch it in a different way let's write the article let's let's do it let's launch it in a different form let's then publish the book let's let's do it as a blog let's do something else right and and then we we grow awareness we grow the pre-awareness we we've we've actually established the IP in the market and then guess what especially when it becomes popular then then then the studios want to get involved and that deal and I'm not privy to the the specifics of the deal but but I would guarantee that that deal that was made for that particular that particular IP is a better deal than she would have got if she would have written the spec script and tried to sell that spectre at first I don't think she would have sold the spec grip to begin with but in the event that she would have it would have been a worse deal than what she got now simply because she was able to establish it in the market right but see see this is the interesting thing it's a paradigm shift with with filmmakers typically filmmakers and and and screenwriters and listen I include myself in this umbrella so it we we we want to focus on filmmaking and screenwriting and and and we feel like if I just write my five pages a day everything's gonna work and I don't wanna learn how to do a podcast like that's not me I don't wanna learn how to make a website I don't wanna I don't wanna uh write short stories I'm a screenwriter right and and I wish I wish that person would have been born in 1978 and then was able to be able to operate in late 80s 90s Hollywood because because it was just as a different market and you could kind of specialize like that but but but it's just it's a different market and and there's this this there's this hesitancy for lack of a better word if if I say that euphemistically there's this hesitancy to broaden your scope of creative to be able to launch an IP in the market you feel like you're you're doing something that's less than screenwriting you're lowering yourself to do a short story you're lowering yourself to do a podcast there's this this this this artistic judgment and you feel like you you and maybe you just judge yourself of like man that this means that I'm if I was good enough i'd be able to sell this thing right and and you judge yourself for it and and you shouldn't judge yourself for that you it's it's there's too much stuff out there and it's way too competitive and I think if if if creators and filmmakers and screenwriters if they have the mind of a of an entrepreneur who's who's launching a consumer brand you're gonna you're gonna you're gonna approach this whole thing differently because you talk to any entrepreneur that that says I'm gonna start a pizza shop right and I'm gonna I'm gonna I'm gonna open the pizza shop and and it's gonna be great because I have this family recipe of pizza i've been working on like they are forced to learn a hundred new skills in order to launch that pizza shop right you never hear somebody say I want to launch my pizza shop with my family recipe of pizza and I'm only going to focus on making the pizza I'm not going to learn how to do payroll I'm not going to learn how to hire front of house back house I'm not going to learn how to order I'm not going to learn about management I'm not going to learn how to do the register I'm not going to learn about anything else other than pizza and that's it I'm just going to focus on my pizza and as long as I make good pizza everything will fall into place odds are that pizza shop will never open right because of course entrepreneurs know I want to do a pizza shop I know how to make a good pizza okay I still have to learn how to run the register and I still have to learn how to market the right way and I still have to learn how to how how to manage my staff and I still have to learn how to order all the food from the wholesalers and things like that you it you're forced into figuring out five or six new things that you've never figured out before and that's just part of being an entrepreneur and every entrepreneur will tell you that like you have to you're forced to learn 100 new things what are those 10 new things that we need to learn as screenwriters and filmmakers what are the 20 new things that that that we can learn as creators that can help us launch the IP and and here's the good part here's the here's the punch line that I think is the greatest punch line of all time it's all there on the internet for free youtube is the greatest educational platform in the history of mankind if I want to figure out how to change a 1987 Volvo station wagons carburetor there's probably a Youtube video that's going to walk me through it we can go to go to Youtube go to Google and say how do I how do I create a podcast and there's 17 articles instantly or 17 videos that pop up you can go to Linkedin learning and and or or you can go to whatever like resource that you want to use and you can take the 7 to 10 to 27 hours to figure it out and not that you can connect with people that know how to do it I had a buddy who he won the Nicholl Fellowship as a screenwriter right which is a big deal Nicholl Fellowship is a very competitive screenwriting competition he won the Nicholl Fellowship he he pitched a movie to Paramount Pictures as a result of winning the Nicholl Fellowship he pitched the script to Paramount. Paramount said it was too risky because it wasn't established in the marketplace and they said we want you to go and create a comic book and launch it as a comic book and if you sell 10 000 copies of that comic book come back to us and we'll make your movie so he walked out of that meeting super bummed not just because they didn't make the movie but they said make a comic book and guess what he was a screenwriter he didn't know how to make a comic book right which if this was 1992 that would have been a big bummer but because it was 2017 he was able to go home open up the laptop google how do I make a comic book and you started reading and he started finding out where the artist hung out online and the artist communities and Art Station and Deviantart and things like that he he learned the production workflow the cost of making a comic book how they were distributed he just started researching and he connected with an artist in a like Estonia or some Eastern European country that that that he they decided to collaborate on something they they scraped and put one issue of a comic book together took them months they put an issue of one issue of a comic together and they they distributed it digitally on amazon and made enough money from it to make an issue too and then they made enough money on it to make an issue three and then they made enough money on it to make it issue four and then after issue four guess what happened they got picked up by a small independent publisher that said we'll pay for the publishing of it right so they did issue five and then after issue five they're putting it all together as a trade paperback all five issues together and now four years later he's right on the verge of his 10 000 unit cell right and he says Houston guess what I'm gonna do I'm gonna go back to paramount pictures and tell them to make my movie because I have to hit the ten 10 000 or the 10 000 sale mark right but guess what I'm not going to stop selling my comic book why because it's an extra source of revenue for me and I have a community of fans that love this stuff right so why would I stop and so now he self-identifies as not just a screenwriter but he's a screenwriter slash comic book creator right he's there's there's this there's this this term called polymath right people that are good at multiple things and we typically lawed people in entertainment that can do more right Beyonce can sing and she can dance and J Lo can act and sing and dance and and we always say all these people are amazing they're entrepreneurs and actors and singers and creators and and we love that about people we need to start looking at ourselves as that because we have the ability to do that and because all the tools are in front of us so I think that's the model that we have to hit is is being willing to have that mindset shift of I need to learn some more I need to broaden my own skill set right and but when I do it's going to open up a no new world for me because I'm able to establish my IP in the market.
Do you agree with Houston? What are you doing to attack the market?