Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lazy Sunday # 209: Wolfpack Of Reseda

It's heartening to see how quickly independent production, unfettered by the gatekeepers of traditional media, is propagating in the online world.

Netflix has a hit on its hands with "Lilyhammer", a thoroughly enjoyable Norwegian co-pro, that in the past would have struggled to find an audience in a bad time slot on a niche specialty channel given its multilingual format and laid back presentation.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan has announced he's following in Louis CK's footsteps soon, releasing his own comedy special packaged as an economical download.

And now, Fox Digital Entertainment, an arm of the far-flung Murdoch Empire, has released "Wolfpack of Reseda", a polished series billed as "The Office" meets "True Blood" available on the Fox owned MySpace and co-financed by South Korean car maker KIA.

Bit by bit, these ventures are revealing the business model for digital success. 

Network television production value achieved through the economy of scale provided by new technologies combined with a sponsor who can finance an entire series for the the cost of a single national TV spot while reaching an immediate world-wide audience.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with two producers prepping Canadian digital series funded in part by the Canadian Media Fund.  

They were trading ideas on finding the sponsorship they needed to top up their budgets since government funding didn't begin to cover their actual cost of production, let alone the bells and whistles that make a web series attractive to an audience with a vast array of quality material available to it.

And I have no doubt either series could deliver their specific demographic to a sponsor. It's just that Canadian companies still seem reticent to tie their brands to one particular title in the digital realm.

To be honest, there's no real connection between the content of "Wolf Pack of Reseda" and KIA automobiles that I can see. In fact, you're 12 minutes into the first 14 minute episode before you're even aware of a product placement. So the appeal for the company must be the fact that the series targets young people in need of a vehicle in the KIA price range.

Don't we have Canadian companies in need of reaching their potential customers? 

You can't tell me that Blackberry wouldn't think an online audience might be quite prone to sampling the benefits of all those tablets the company can't seem to sell.

Enbridge must be looking for a way to reach all those younger hearts and minds less receptive to their various pipeline plans.

From BC Ferries on the West Coast to Hydro companies in Ontario, there are a ton of corporate entities in need of sprucing up their public image and maybe making some online friends by sponsoring a few minutes of digital entertainment.

And we, as the creators of content, need to be reaching out to them as well. 

Whatever you felt about the web series produced with CMF support last year, you had to admit that by the time they all got to creating their online presence, they were clearly down to the last of the spare change and were making do with the bare bones necessary to be found in cyberspace.

On the other hand, the "Wolfpack of Reseda" website is as slick as anything that comes out of the Fox non-digital studios, featuring an impressive design (for a MySpace page) as well as such add-ons as a 12 pack playlist by well-known artists culled from the series soundtrack.

It's a potent reminder that unless we get away from government being the primary funder of Canadian web content, we'll never compete with the rest of the world.

Time to release the Corporate Wolves. And Enjoy Your Sunday.

Wolfpack of Reseda - First Bite - Ep. 1

Wolfpack Of Reseda | Myspace Video

1 comment:

DMc said...

Okay here's where I take my cynic tv writer hat off and put on my dusty journo hat.

I spent four years working on a show called media television during the early years of the FIRST internet bubble. Because the show was about media, I spent an awful lot of time talking to creatives and business people in ad agencies, media buying firms, networks, sales people, etc, etc, etc. Client boardrooms too. And the overwhelming sense of things I got was that just as the networks here were "captured" by the ease of making money of simsub, the people on the other side were the same way. Completely risk averse creative that was always looking over its shoulder to the USA. A reluctance to recognize local talent. A tendency to talk about "the market" but dive for any managed safe port of Canadian market protection possible.

We still live in a world where Canadian series that are doing over a million, and besting many of the U.S. offerings on other channels in certain timeslots still make a fraction of the ad rates. The "Canadian discount" is a reality.

In the end, we as creatives can put on our huckster hat as much as we want and reach out as far as we want to these companies...

...but the truth is, they don't have the balls to play.

Different industry. Different model. Same old shit.

Doesn't mean we shouldn't try, but eyes need to be wide open going in, not covered with the rose colored specs of naivete...