Thursday, February 06, 2014

Self-produced Projects

I first wrote on the topic of self-production here, because I'd heard (and keep hearing) industry professionals and fellow actors say that's one way to do the kind of work you want to do, get it out there and get noticed. The number of self-produced projects, from web series to comedy shorts to films, has exploded since then. We keep hearing that this or that video has gone viral, leading to this or that deal or appearances on talk shows, but how many languish in obscurity?

More and more colleagues post on social media about projects they've created. Some they'd like shared. Others issue requests for crowd funding. I've had roles in a couple of web series, with another coming up later this month and a small role in a music video next month.

Many questions come to mind.  Are these projects generating results worthy of the time and effort put in by the production team, cast and crew?  Is the result even good?  Are producers seeking material for their reels, or to grow an audience?  Do they hope someone will see their work and offer more?  Are views going up or down as each episode is added?  Are friends, family and colleagues still willing to share each new video, or are they getting burned out by the frequency of requests?  Many articles have been written about what makes something go viral. Will any of these projects?

The first episode of one web series I worked on has over 7,000 views in around a year. The second, which I had a small role in, has just over 3,000. This series has won assorted awards...yet that success hasn't seemed to increase viewership. For another, the first episode scored over 18,000 views in four months. The episode I'm in has almost 6,000 views to date.

Another friend has had several videos that have done well on Funny or Die, a well-regarded site. There's also a web series channel. I have enough of a challenge keeping up with TV series I'd like to watch.  How can viewers keep up?

With a musician colleague, a music producer and a fellow actor friend who's also done some videography, I'm working on my first self-produced piece. I collected info on hiring people to do an actual music video shoot with a budget and a small crew, but we decided to give it a shot (pun intended) on a shoestring first. And had a wonderful, fun recording and video session yesterday. After adding more musicians, a lot of editing and post-production, will it all sync up and come together the way we hope, or will this turn into a dry run for a larger production? Once we put it online, will our friends share, will people watch?  If they do, will they like it?  Can lottery dreams of going viral come true?  Stay tuned.

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