Sunday, November 02, 2008

Web Promos and the faultlines of TV Commissioning

Double click to play Flash Promo
size 224k
dur 110'

Coming away from failing to secure a commission for Lewis Hamilton, [see last post] the young teen go-kart racer destined for great things, I was introduced to another would be champ.

In this case, one who already had a pedigree and a few world titles underneath his belt, Lennox Lewis.

Meanwhile, I'd begun to meet a few new TV Commissioning Editors interested in the potential of future work. I also had an agent Jacque Evans who was carting off my portfolio of what I did.

To no avail.

TV Commissioning is the black art of the media industry. It's the interstice of common sense and bloody mindedness, where everyone fights for the attention of a few powerful people whom control what goes on TV.

They are the gatekeepers, whose apparent broad tastes and peripetetic lifestyle enables them to see through programmes on race to scientific discoveries.

Sometimes commissioners, like fashion trend setters make up the rules about what they're looking for.

"This year is about identity and the conflict about the self. We're looking for bold ideas that challenge our notion of being"... and so on would be their pronouncements.

Trouble is when you decrypted the commission wins, there was always a familiarity to the names, former TV employers, big name TV production companies, and then the odd flurry of new talent.

Frustration then. And it wasn't just me. You won't meet a single independent producer satisfied with the status quo. My good friend, Claudio Von Planta, a major TV producer talent would sit with me and lament.

So whilst I sought and failed to sell a sports idea, only to be met with the feedback, "sports doesn't sell", Team Lennox was a different proposition.

Owning your media
Lennox owned his media including rights to his own fights, and it wasn't TV he had his eyes set on but DVD and other routes beyond TV e.g. Cinema.

So working for Lennox took any pressures of me. I shot and Vjed what I needed and made my own video diaries.

And it was an incredible journey, to the Pocono mountains and then Memphis blagging to get into Tyson's camp.

But some of the best times involved working across different media, from vjing to writing for his site and then producing a set of net promos.

Lennox team understood the new media economy. His archive alone of best of best fights will serve on day, when nostalgia bites of a show that can be delivered nth ways.

For commissioners, they're still needed; there's no other system to determine broad taste.

Yet, crowd sourcing, wisdom of crowds and social networking is yielding ideas, that may come to shape how programmes, or a doc on the young daring Lewis Hamilton could, and should have been made.

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