Thursday, December 29, 2011

So Why Do We Put Up With Gatekeepers?

Yesterday, I read Wil Wheaton's book "Just A Geek". In it, he talked about the life of an actor in Hollywood. You give up family vacations and spend hours or days prepping for an audition, only to show up to producers who don't like you, and don't care. It's like having to go to several job interviews a week in the hopes of getting work that might last a few months. If you get on a good series like Scrubs or Dexter, it could keep you working steadily for years, but the odds are against that.

We have a lot of industries that act as gatekeepers. We trust them to provide us with only the best, but the truth is, they're people with preferences and often are too busy or distracted to actually take risks. We often hear about how much trouble the writers of "The Shack" and the "Chicken Soup" books had finding a publisher. They were turned down up to or even more than 30 times, even though both ended up being a franchise that was practically a money tree. But the gatekeepers didn't see that. They wouldn't take the risk.

In many cases, the gatekeepers are in large, inefficient, bureaucratic oligopolies. This is how we end up with boy bands and "Sh*t My Dad Says" (which I have never watched, nor do I intend to). I almost fell off my chair when I found out about the new Adam Sandler movie, Jack and Jill. I immediately flashed back to the South Park Episode, Awesom-O, where Cartman is asked for movie advice by Hollywood executives. His response (this may not be exact) was "How about, Adam Sandler has a sister, who is also Adam Sandler". So is Hollywood looking for ideas by trolling old South Park episodes?


I'm sure the gatekeepers serve some purpose. But they're rapidly becoming obsolete. For writers, the Internet has opened up vast opportunities in self-publishing and self-distribution. Check out John T. Reed's "How to Write, Publish, And Sell Your Own How To Book". (Self-published and self-distributed). For music, no longer do you have to wait for some record company executive to discover your band. Just put your stuff out there and see what happens.

If you think you have a good movie idea, just go ahead and do it. You can do movies for low budget. You don't have to go for the format the gatekeepers follow, with a 90-180 minute story, or a season of 12-25 episodes. Often, you can tell a story in a shorter amount of time. I've seen some awesome ideas for short stories. Remember "Chad Vader"? It's about Vader (or his brother) working as a grocery store manager. It was unique and funny. And I doubt it took a lot of money to make it.

There used to be a web show called "Tiki Bar". I have no idea if it's still around. I think it probably jumped the shark. The premise was, a doctor, bartender, and woman hung around a bar, which occasionally featured guests and villains. They solved problems with mixed drinks. Each episode had a different drink. It was silly, but at about 5 minutes an episode, it was unique and amusing enough to keep up with.

If you think you have an idea for a movie or show, just go ahead and do it. Get a website or post it on one of the video sharing sites. Not all ideas are meant to last forever. If it stops being fun, or you come up with a better idea, just move on. It helps if you can bring it to a closure or indefinite cliffhanger.

Plenty of books like the one below can help you. I haven't read this book. I stumbled across it today. But if you think you have an idea for a movie, and can't get past or even in front of the gatekeepers, check it out. Let me know what you think of it.

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