After quickly identifying what I had to do 20+ years ago – as well as the basic process for the past 100 years – I will explore how ANYONE can take control of their destiny by creating content, marketing their content and potentially make money or get discovered form their content.
IN THE PAST…
In our business we have thousands of us running around trying to define ourselves. Every actor eventually says “What I really want to do is direct!”. Writers want to perform. Actors want to write. Producers like to make money.
The best scripts need rewrite – sometimes a dozen. A great script needs a director to take fresh look at the script to help communicate intent to creative team and performers. A great artist will take what is on the page and add their element of interpretation. A producer raises millions for dollars so the team can be assembled and create a masterpiece.
Many projects have been ruined by the starring director / writer / producer. Without a team a vanity project lacks thorough fleshing out process laid out above. A Broadway Show, Major TV program and Motion Picture needs a team of hundreds – sometimes thousands – to realize that initial vision.
THE OLD OPTIONS
So as a young person – teenager, college or fresh off the bus NYC / LA artist looking for work- looking to forage a career in this business, WHAT DO YOU DO?
In the past you went to class and private lessons for your discipline. Most likely you went to college. You moved to NYC or LA and took more class, spent $1000 on the best headshots. You got in line at open-call auditions to sing your 8-16 bars or present a monologue only to hear “NEXT!” or “These $1000 headshots do not look like you!”
For a lucky few, at some point in that time line someone said I’M GOING TO MAKE YOU A STAR. This almost NEVER happens, but some get the fairy tale ending. And then you either make it or don’t based on how you deal with stardom.
A few other hardworking artists keep up the grind, you get booked more and more until you are actually paying the bills using your talents. You probably teach part time or even keep s day job for stability but can honestly say I am a working artist. But you figure out how to maintain shelter and buy food with your talents.
For many, you got unfocused and stopped putting your heart and soul into this and live in limbo carrying a tray, working retail or answering phones between bar stools. You stayed in NYC destined to always be a roommate for other wannabes. OR you created a career for yourself and became one of the parasites of our talents – making false promises of stardom – YOU KNOW – the thing you despised as a young actor trying to make it.
For most people, you moved back to your hometown and your parents basement where you become a big fish in a small pond teaching classes and doing community theater, go back to college for something else, become a career waiter (eventually going into real estate) or you sit in depression wondering why you never made it.
IN THE PAST your destiny was in the hands of gatekeepers – AKA Agents, Casting Directors, Reviewers, Producers and all of their interns that threw out your headshots before even gettign seen… for every success story there were thousands of non-fairy tale endings and even tragedy.
TODAY – There are still very few success stories for thousands of wannabees BUT you have the tools on your own phone to start taking YOUR destiny into your own hands.
WHAT IS CONTENT CREATION?
Seems like a simple question, right? But most do not consider the depth of this. So here is my simple answer…
EVERYTHING & ANYTHING created to entertain, inform, market or otherwise be experienced by an audience!
Anytime you get on stage you are creating content. Whether scripted or Improvised, you and / or a team of creators set out to make folks, laugh, cry or just think. We are talking everything form Broadway to Vegas Showcases to Concerts to Comedy Clubs to Street Performers. Whether FREE or High priced ticket you and/or a team are creating theater, music, magic, comedy, or art. You and / or a team created something to be seen and / or heard with their own 5 senses. Paintings, sketches, and sculpture is all content to be enjoyed live in a gallery. You could even include food by this definition. You could include candles or air sprays in some ways. ANYTHING!!! At this stage – and anytime we are brainstorming – THE SKY IS THE LIMIT.
TV / FILM / VIDEO / PHOTOS
At some point someone takes a device – camera or video, records and image (still or moving) and shares via TV, movie screen, radio, photo album, art exhibit,online platform (Itunes, Youtube, Vimeo Instagram, Vine, Facebook, Twitter etc) or personal device (mobile, ipod, mp3 players, laptop etc). I include video games here as well.
This blog is a form of content creation. From a published book to a blog or even the tweet you thought was hilarious last night, you and/or a team created something to be read.
Whether fact or fiction your intention is to entertain by way comedy, drama, magic, music etc.
CREATING EDUCATIONAL CONTENT
Text books, How to Blogs, Documentaries, Science and History TV Shows and study guides are just a small list of educational content creation.
The best educational content is also entertaining. The best entertainment is often educational or at lest thought provoking filled with message.
ADVERTISING AND MARKETING
Here is a way to make some real money as content creators. You create logos, ad campaigns, surveys, commercials, print ads, art design, slogans, emails etc. to develop a sale directly form that content. Every time I post of Facebook “COME SEE ME PERFORM” I am creating content designed to be seen and read – sometimes with a video or audio file – that sells my live shows, take a class or hire me and/or my troupe.
INTERACTIVE v PASSIVE CONTENT
Some content is designed to be simply watched or heard. The audience is a passive participant regardless of their reaction. Other content requires an audience response. To me ALL live content is interactive on some level – perhaps the main reason I prefer live content creation. I LOVE that constant feed back of hearings laughs, cries and even uncomfortable fidgeting. Others prefer to create behind the scenes and let audience experience away from their process.
Audiences will vary in their enjoyment of passive or interactive content. I am surprised we do not have more 4-D type movie experiences. The number of those that like to YELL at TVs and Movie Screens is growing. Perhaps this is why more and more we are watching content on personal devices – leaving comments on Youtube and reviews on Netflix. We want that interactive experience the older deliver methods cannot provide.
My signature Improv show is VERY interactive. But many prefer so sit back and watch. These days there is no shortage of options for audiences. Beyond 1000 TV channels filled with new and old and rehashed programming, we have 1000s of live, projected and digital platforms for content.
ALWAYS BE CREATING
So I challenge YOU to become a CONTENT CREATOR. I do not guarantee anything except that the sooner you start your ABCs (ALWAYS BE CREATING) the sooner you learn ON THE JOB.
CONTENT CREATION is like life. You learn by creating. You can take classes on techniques behind the camera, acting, singing, dancing, painting, directing etc. But with all disciplines you eventually have to start CREATING. For most this process starts WAY too late.
CONTENT CREATION can be your UNDECLARED MAJOR. How many go to college because that is the thing to do. But we don’t know what we want to do. Many discover themselves and later focus. Many never focus.
So I challenge you – no matter your current age (5-100+) – to start creating today. START A JOURNAL TODAY. It has an audience of ONE… YOU. If you wish to share this experience START A BLOG. Keep it on PRIVATE if not ready to test the public waters yet. When I was an student actor, my mentor said “I don’t care if you have nothing to say, write EVERYDAY in that journal.” Even if what you write is “I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY!”
As content creators we observe life and than share it with the world – or smaller audience. Take photos and share online. TWEET. Selfies, Short Videos on Vine or Instagram. Start to share your content – no matter how small or insignificant. Don’t limit yourself to being ONE kind of content creator. If tone def, maybe singing is wrong – unless for comedic purposes – but music, comedy, photo, video, tweet, blog, educational, etc
Brainstorm – via your journal just simply list things you may want to talk about – create content about.
What interests you?
What are you curious about?
What makes you laugh?
What makes you cry?
What scares you?
What empowers you?
What did you experience (hear, see, taste,smell, feel) today that made you….? (Fill in the blank with anything that inspired ANY emotion or thought)
Simply list. NEVER edit or judge while brainstorming.
Develop ideas. Once you start creating, you will want to grow and improve. So now we start to put more thought into an idea. BRAINSTORM FIRST!!!
NOW and ONLY NOW do we start to edit our content. Too many start here and drive them selves – and others – CRAZY! Now we can go reread and rewrite. We can start to pay more attention to lighting and sound for our video and audio projects. We now know enough about cameras to not just set on auto and we can do some cool film making and photography tricks a HD camera on auto focus cannot.
TAKE MORE CLASSES. Now too many agents and casting directors will tell you “YOUR NOT READY. TAKE MORE CLASSES!” Let me call BS Card. Maybe you are not ready to sing at the MET, do Shakespeare at RSC, or even win American Idol, but you – as you are today – are capable of creating something that someone will want to watch.
BUT as an artist we never stop being students. We always want to learn our craft.
This does NOT mean go simply TAKE MORE CLASSES. Maybe search internet for HOW TO videos and blogs. Engage other artists in conversation. Maybe be more objective when you watch other content and explore that creators techniques vie your own journal.
I have taken a formal class in over 10 years but every audition, rehearsal, and performance is and educational experience for the true artist. Every conversation with director, cast mate and even my own students is my life’s classroom. I thirst knowledge that will better my performance and other content I create.
TO BE CONTINUED…