Please read NATE AND KELLY

NATE and KELLY 100th Anniversary Edition

NATE and KELLY 100th Anniversary Edition

If anything I’ve written has informed or inspired you, please consider reading my novel NATE AND KELLY.

2015 is the 100th anniversary of the PANAMA-PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION of 1915 in San Francisco, California, the setting for the novel.

It’s dramatic historical fiction about the most fascinating year of the 20th century: 1915.

“Here’s the deal, father. The three of us and mom and Pamela are going to New York City. We are going to start a new advertising business there; the city is good for that. We are all getting a brand new start. It’s time for us to believe that the future will bring prosperity and wonder again.”

Read the reviews. Get the eBook for only $1.00 for Barnes & Noble NOOK, for Amazon Kindle, and for various eBook versions via Smashwords.


I pulled together a list of contacts for various acting schools and teachers in “Hollywood”. It’s a list of about 80 contacts, and none have been vetted. I do not vouch for or know the quality of any of these.

The list is for YOU to start looking into, to discover who might be valuable for you as you move your career forward. All actors have different needs for training, so this is for you to figure out which opportunities might be valuable for your career.

3-2-1 Acting Studios 3131 Foothill Blvd, Ste H La Crescenta, CA 91214 (818) 248-5602
Aaron Speiser Acting Studio 1644 S. La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90035 (310) 399-4567
Act Now 14140 Ventura Blvd Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 (818) 285-8522
Acting Classes with Debra De Liso 300 S Los Robles Pasadena, CA 91101 (323) 769-5842
Acting Corps 5508 Cahuenga Boulevard North Hollywood, CA 91601 (818) 753-2800
Actors Circle Acting School 4475 Sepulveda Blvd Culver City, CA 90230 (310) 837-4536
Actors Comedy Studio 7461 Beverly Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90036 (323) 302-9152
Actors Company 916A N Formosa Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046 (323) 463-4639
Actors Workout Studio 4735 Lankershim Blvd North Hollywood, CA 91602 (818) 766-2171
Adam Barnhardt’s School of Comedy 334 West Pico Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90015 (310) 493-6126
Alhanti Janet Studios 6430 W Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 465-7511
ALW Acting Studios 6476 Santa Monica Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90038 (323) 633-2766
Amy Jo Berman 5737 Kanan Rd #105 Agoura Hills, CA 91301 (310) 997-0939
Andrew Wood Acting Studio 1122 N Gower St Los Angeles, CA 90038 (323) 836-2176
Annie Grindlay Studio 7461 Beverly Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90036 (323) 954-1200
Anthony Gilardi Acting Studio 6472 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90038 (323) 467-7123
Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop 7801 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046 (323) 852-6963
Archibald Acting Studio 431 N Sycamore Ave Los Angeles, CA 90036 (646) 567-7210
Atwater Playhouse and Acting School 3191 Casitas Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90039 (323) 556-1636
Berg Studios 3245 Casitas Ave Los Angeles, CA 90039 (323) 666-3382
Berubians Theatre Company 1523 N La Brea Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046 (323) 850-7827
Beverly Hills Playhouse 254 S Robertson Blvd Beverly Hills, CA 90211 (310) 855-1556
Bruce Glover Los Angeles, CA (310) 398-2539
Candace Silvers Studios 13500 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 (818) 781-8345
Carolyne Barry Creative Entertainment Hollywood Hills West Los Angeles, CA 90046 (323) 654-2212
Caryn West’s Space for Actors 7504 Lexington Ave West Hollywood, CA 90046 (818) 693-4625
Clay Banks Studio International 2210 W Olive Ave Burbank, CA 91506 (818) 518-9128
Comedy Playground Gardner St Los Angeles, CA 90048 (323) 397-2709
Craig Anton’s Comedy Academy 4773 Hollywood Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90027 (310) 413-6633
Diane Christiansen Coaching 11650 Riverside Dr Studio City, CA 91602 (818) 523-8283
Doug Warhit Cold Reading & Scene Study 8899 Beverly Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90048 (310) 479-5647
East West Players 120 Judge John Aiso St Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 625-7000
Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio 11423 Moorpark St North Hollywood, CA 91604 (323) 528-6280
GoGo Acting Workshops 3211 Cahuenga Blvd W Los Angeles, CA 90068 (818) 669-2948
Graham Shiels Studios 816 S La Brea Ave Los Angeles, CA 90036 (323) 252-6808
Groundlings 7307 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046 (323) 934-4747
Hal Masonberg’s Commercial Acting Workshops 13425 Ventura Blvd Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 (323) 401-1972
Heller Approach Acting Studio 11335 Magnolia Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 91601 (323) 962-8077
Hey I Saw Your Commercial 1017 S La Brea Ave Los Angeles, CA 90019 (323) 939-4612
Hollywood Acting Workshop 8899 W. Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90048 (310) 717-2181
Howard Fine Acting Studio 317 N La Brea Ave Los Angeles, CA 90036 (323) 965-1488
Impro Theatre 1727 N Vermont Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 401-6162
Improv For the People 5429 W Washington Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90016 (424) 371-9654
Improv L.A. 1607 N Vermont Ave Los Angeles, CA 90038 (323) 472-4065
Integrative Arts Studio 7023 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 90038 (818) 395-2462
iO West Theater 6366 Hollywood Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 962-7560
Ivana Chubbuck Studio 7201 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046 (323) 935-2100
Jeffrey Marcus Acting Class 1415 Carmona Ave Los Angeles, CA 90019 (323) 965-9392
Judy Kerr (805) 628-9038
Katt Shea Audition Workshop 13273 Ventura Blvd Los Angeles, CA 91604 (818) 515-6606
Keep It Real Acting 4444 Lankershim Blvd North Hollywood, CA 91602 (818) 901-8606
Kimberly Jentzen (818) 779-7770
LaValle Actors Workshop 10834 Burbank Blvd Los Angeles, CA 91601 (818) 788-2183
Lesly Kahn & Company 1720 N La Brea Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046 (323) 969-9900
Lifebook Acting Academy 665 N Heliotrope Dr Los Angeles, CA 90004 (323) 244-4620
Los Angeles Theatre Academy 929 Academy Rd Los Angeles, CA 90012 (323) 333-3787
Lynette Mcneill Acting Studio 419 N Larchmont Los Angeles, CA 90004 (310) 274-1085
Manhattan Actor Studio 2309 N Sepulveda Blvd Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 (323) 854-1107
Marcia Tillman Actor Studio 6476 Santa Monica Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90038 (310) 717-4815
Margie Haber Studio 971 N La Cienega Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90069 (310) 854-0870
Meisner L.A. 14366 Ventura Blvd Los Angeles, CA 91423 (323) 828-9090
Melinda Hill 6366 Hollywood Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90028 (213) 925-9065
Melissa Skoff (818) 760-2058
Michelle Danner Los Angeles Acting School 2437 Main St Santa Monica, CA 90405 (310) 392-0815
Playhouse West Acting School and Repertory Theater 4250 Lankershim Blvd North Hollywood, CA 91602 (818) 881-6520
Renegade Theatre and Film Group 1514 N Gardner St Los Angeles, CA 90046 (323) 874-1733
School of Entertainment 7023 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 90036 (213) 221-4047
Scott Sedita Acting Studios 526 N Larchmont Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90004 (323) 465-6152
Second City 6560 Hollywood Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 464-8542
Speiser/Sturges Acting Studio 1728 S La Cienega Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90035 (310) 399-4567
Stage Time Los Angeles 2106 Hyerion Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027 (800) 530-9524
Standup Comedy Class 1822 Hyperion Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 251-1286
Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre 6773 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 465-4446
Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre 5636 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 90038 (323) 463-7378
Stuart K Robinson Creative 8950 Ellis Ave Los Angeles, CA 90034 (310) 558-4961
Studio C Artists 6448 Santa Monica Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90038 (323) 988-1175
Terry Berland Casting and Workshops 8899 Beverly Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90048 (310) 275-0601
Third Street Theatre @ YADA 8115 W 3rd St Los Angeles, CA 90048 (323) 655-9232
Tim Phillips Studio 2124 S Redondo Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90016 (310) 772-8262
Tony Barr’s Film Actors Workshop 2050 S Bundy Dr Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 442-9488
Upright Citizens Brigade – Franklin 5919 Franklin Ave Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 908-8702
Warner Loughlin Studios 1956 N Cahuenga Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90068 (310) 360-0077
Wayne Dvorak Acting Studio 1949 Hillhurst Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 462-5328
WCI Studios 7542 Collett Ave Van Nuys, CA 91406 (310) 230-5358
Will Wallace Acting Company 6472 Santa Monica Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90038 (323) 364-2911

KICKSTARTER steps up for corporate responsibility, becomes new Benefit Corporation

If you follow business issues, particularly corporate entity structure and how the existing incorporation laws require companies to ignore the common good in favor of shareholder profits, then you may have applauded the recent creation of a new corporate entity form: the Benefit Corporation (also referred to as a “B-Corporation”). The popular current corporate structure (referred to as a “C-Corporation”) often comes under fire from all sides of the political spectrum because of the damage done to the economy, environment, and citizens as a result of its traditional focus on short-term profits. See, for example, “Clinton outlines steps to curb U.S. companies’ focus on short-term profits“.

Social funding site KICKSTARTER has just now converted to a Benefit Corporation.



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I said to myself, for quite some time now, “I gotta do SOMETHING.” Tired of projects failing, hating the junior high cliquishness of crowdfunding, realizing it’s been too many years. I sought the Holy Grail of indie filmmaking: two people, one room, one day.

So, at Thanksgiving time 2014, I took an inventory of what I had:
-A living room where I’m housesitting.
-An old car.
-A creepy old man.
-A couple storylines that had been ‘backstory’ for my failed passion project EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE–The Story of a Father and Son.
-Zero dollars.
-Some connections in the acting community in Fresno.
-A pathetic old computer that almost runs Adobe Creative Suite (I’ve used Adobe since 2001).

The result: HOT CAR. I finished it yesterday (damn pathetic computer!) and am bringing it with me for the fun of it when I head to SUNDANCE tomorrow.

“The worlds of an old man and a young man collide as each faces the end of his own life.”

It’s MATURE (language, nudity, sexual situations) and NSFW.

I hope you find it interesting and involving.


The Present Threat to the Internet

TIGER Photo by Paula Borowska

Photo by Paula Borowska


Millions of American citizens have flooded the FCC website with comments to let the agency know our demand for Net Neutrality. Many citizens are intimidated by this wonky and technical issue, knowing they do not fully understand the complex issues or its importance and urgency.

The threats to the Internet are real, and now newly-empowered scurrilous politicians, demagogues, and greedy mega-corporations are mounting huge campaigns to scuttle Net Neutrality so that the corporations can use their power over the Internet for political purposes, for demagoguery, and for profiteering.

Continue reading

How to Start Writing a Screenplay

TYPEWRITER Photo by Florian Klauer

Photo by Florian Klauer

There are a lot of screenwriting gurus. That’s because there are so many people who want to write screenplays and are scared to death about doing it wrong. It seems that, for every 100 people who are afraid of the number of brads that must be in a script (two), the typeface that must be used (Courier 11), the right software (FINAL DRAFT for $$, CELTX for free), and every other element that they think is the key to the magic kingdom of screenwriting success, there are at least a couple gurus who have all the answers.

That’s all good, but it seems to me, from the comments I always hear from people who want to start writing screenplays, the ‘take-away’ is always wrong. The wrong “rules” are assumed to be the most important.
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BOOK Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

Barnard’s Law No. 1
The greatest need of man is not food, shelter, or even sex. It’s the need to re-write what another has written.

Barnard’s Law No. 2
It’s not the idea. It’s the execution.

Barnard’s Law No. 3
Dinosaurs never see it coming.

Barnard’s Law No. 4
The responsibility to communicate is upon the communicator, not the listener.

Barnard’s Law No. 5
The job of children is to play. The job of teens is to deceive their parents. The job of adults is to slay their demons.

Barnard’s Law No. 6
Clarity is the soul of communication.

Barnard’s Law No. 7
Life is full of grand plans that suddenly need to be fixed with duct tape, and that’s okay.

Barnard’s Law No. 8
Be succinct. A short PowerPoint slide with just ten bullet points was good enough for God.

Barnard’s Law No. 9
In any group, the majority will misunderstand much of what you’re sure they understand.

Barnard’s Law No. 10
Hysteria breeds where context is ignored. Looking at results of history without knowledge of history leads to poor judgment and prejudice.

Barnard’s Law No. 11
The Internet demands of everyone that they be outraged by everything. It then amplifies it.

Barnard’s Law No. 12
Everyone else’s mess is far worse than our own mess. Roommates, especially.

Barnard’s Law No. 13
Heroes run in the opposite direction than the rest of us.

My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — A Venom in the Blood



Two decades ago, I bought a book.

In producer-speak, that means I acquired the rights via option to make a movie from a book. I knew a TV news reporter, and she had made contact with a reclusive author who wrote a book she thought I might be interested in. Actually, “reclusive” is too weak of a term; we both had determined that the author was in hiding. Contact was difficult and cryptic. Nonetheless, he and I got on the phone, and he figured that I would be someone he’d like to work with to get his book made into a movie, and I liked the deal, too. We sealed the deal without ever meeting.
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My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — Consumed by a Passion Project



Michael R Barnard photo 500 px


How Is a Filmmaker Consumed by a Passion Project?

The following is a guest post from Michael R. Barnard, who is in the final days of an Indiegogo campaign for his film, Everybody Says Goodbye: The Story of a Father and Son.

For many years, I have been chasing a motion picture project that has completely consumed me. It’s called Everybody Says Goodbye: The Story of a Father and Son, and I first began writing the screenplay in 1998. Having come so close to making the movie a few times, I keep referring to this project as “a fish-hook in the eye” because it’s impossible for me to ignore and walk away from.

[read more…]



My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — The Mean Streets

CITY STREET Photo by Israel Sundseth

Photo by Israel Sundseth

I spent a lot of time on the mean streets of Hollywood. I lived there, worked there, had friends there, I walked them a lot. My screenplay for the feature film EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son is set there, in 1998.

The sketchy stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard between La Brea Avenue and Vine Street is a little nicer now, but not by much. There has always been a veneer of potential violence.

It’s a little different style-wise, too. Back in the 1990s, if you saw a couple walking hand-in-hand along this stretch, and that couple was of opposite genders, and if each of them were their original gender, then you knew they were scared tourists separated from their tour group. Continue reading

My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — There Was a Recession in 1991

BEAR Photo by Thomas Lefebvre

BEAR Photo by Thomas Lefebvre

(originally published April 22, 2010)

There was a recession in 1991. Not as big as this Great Recession, but big nonetheless. A hallmark of the 1991 recession was that, for the first time ever, a recession had a negative impact on “Hollywood” [Entertainment Weekly, 2/22/91: “How will the recession affect Hollywood?”], [Den of Geek, 8/18/14: “How 1991 nearly broke Hollywood”]. Home video, cable TV, and video games had broadened the “biz” and brought commodity vagaries to the tightly-controlled movie biz. It was also the time of the burgeoning new indie film biz, which blossomed in the late 1980s. And I, of course, was trying to get a movie made. Continue reading

My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — When Prince was king



A friend just now found and sent to me this post from, the Prince fan site that described how I pulled off the production of Prince’s ALPHABET STREET video on impossible notice! It is from the book, Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince by Alex Hahn. Funny that I’ve never seen this before.

I remember Prince stopping me in the hall outside his apartment at Paisley Park Studios with a big grin on his face, saying “All the people in Hollywood are freaking out. They say, ‘Prince went and made a garage video!'” He enjoyed that, especially since it was a full three-camera shoot with a complete crew inside his brand-spanking-new mammoth sound stage at Paisley Park Studios.

The video of ALPHABET STREET, which premiered on MTV way back when, seems to be lost online; it’s apparently forbidden from YouTube.

Here’s the story, from Prince’s manager at the time, Alan Leeds:

On the ‘the New P♥wer of L♥vesexy’ thread from March 30, 2012: Continue reading

The Internet needs to be free. [UPDATED APRIL 23 2014]

FLOCK OF BIRDS Photo by Fré Sonneveld

FLOCK OF BIRDS Photo by Fré Sonneveld


Yes, free.

That’s not a statement about pricing, it’s a statement about democracy.

This is what is commonly referred to as “Net Neutrality.”

The following blog post keeps evolving since its original posting in 2010, because the concept of “Net Neutrality” (or the attempt at a more popular term, “The Open Internet“) is vibrant.


Breaking news:

I guess it’s time to say goodbye to the many independent online film distribution companies who offer streaming and downloading of independent movies. The F.C.C., in a complete turn-around on the principles of Net Neutrality, just announced that they are abandoning the principle that Internet users should have equal ability to see any content they choose. The F.C.C. plans to allow Comcast, Verizon FiOS, etc., to negotiate separately with each content company – the BIG, WEALTHY, EXCLUSIVE companies like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Google – to have them pay for good video delivery.

Aside from the democracy of the Internet, that does not look good for the competition of small distributors, nor for indie filmmakers themselves, whose voice will not be allowed on those company’s libraries of titles.

See “F.C.C., in ‘Net Neutrality’ Turnaround, Plans to Allow Fast Lane

This subject is currently getting louder. By the end of March, 2014, it heated up in a war of words.
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Equity Crowdfunding is dead for us. What’s next?

DEAD CAR Photo by Kristian Karlsson

DEAD CAR Photo by Kristian Karlsson

If you remember that there once was a glimmer of hope for more sustainable financing for innovative small business (and, for my concern, an indie film industry) through “Equity Crowdfunding” as demanded by the JOBS Act of 2012, the fact is that it’s not going to happen. It’s already far past the Act’s imposed deadlines because the concept is anathema to the entrenched and self-interested bureaucracy.
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How to Survive on Set Without Looking Like an Asshole

Nice compilation of things sometimes overlooked.

CALLAM RODYA actor, etc.

Callam Rodya as Roddy with 3rd AD Alex Pitzel slating the shot on the set of "Stalking by Numbers". Callam Rodya as Roddy with 3rd AD Alex Pitzel slating the shot on the set of “Stalking by Numbers”.

When it comes to film work, actors have it the easiest. Don’t argue. You know it’s true.

In case you need a bit more convincing, consider this:

  • We’re the last ones called and the first ones wrapped.
  • There is a team on set whose sole job is to make us look beautiful.
  • They tell us where to stand, where to walk, and what to say, and they even put down little pieces of tape for us and print out our lines on little pocket-sized sheets to make it extra easy.
  • We get to stay warm in the trailer while they’re out there in a snow storm setting up the shot.
  • We usually get paid better.
  • We get all the credit.

Don’t get me wrong, acting is extremely difficult (especially when you…

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Corporate Conglomerates Battle to Regain Gatekeeper Status

CITY Photo by Oleg Chursin

CITY Photo by Oleg Chursin

The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is a powerful situation that has broad negative implications for society and for filmmakers specifically. It’s not simply a business issue, it’s a democracy issue.

The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is another deliberate attack on Net Neutrality.

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List of Filmmaking People and Resources

LEAP Photo by Joshua Earle

LEAP Photo by Joshua Earle

I have begun to build a list of filmmakers and filmmaking resources with a social media presence on Twitter. You are welcome, please, to help build this list. Let’s make it into a resource that can help build the indie feature film industry.




Crippling Digital Distribution for Indie Filmmakers: the Death of Net Neutrality

BLANK COMPUTER Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

BLANK COMPUTER Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

On my way to Sundance Film Festival 2014, news broke (see “Federal appeals court strikes down rules protecting net neutrality” at,0,2138188.story#ixzz2qlsuWDSC) that made two problems painfully clear, and they will have a huge impact on filmmakers:
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The independent filmmaking industry needs a new relationship with investors [UPDATED]

LONELY INVESTOR Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

LONELY INVESTOR Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

Prolific indie film producer Ted Hope, who spent the past year as Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society (as of June 2015, a Production Executive at AMAZON STUDIOS), recently posted “Towards A Sustainable Investor Class: Accessing Quality Projects” as a call to build a healthy independent filmmaking industry. As always, he makes an astute and excellent comment about the big picture of indie filmmaking. We engaged in a conversation, and here’s my comment about the industry and investors: Continue reading

My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — CROWDFUNDING SUCKS.


In the past two days, I’ve had some conversations that remind me that there is no “fun” in crowdfund. It is a necessary evil, borne of the collapse of the economy, possibly the only chance for the art of filmmaking to continue. That’s versus the marketing channel that is the current Hollywood studio approach, where a “movie” is whatever can be marketed.
A crowdfund campaign is all work, a harsh referendum on the person, spiritually debilitating and, of course, a death knell for a movie project more often than enabling. (Literally.) There is no fun in crowdfunding. It overtakes one’s life for a month or two.


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From the Ivey Business Review: “Arrested Economics — Assessing Netflix’s Original Content Business”

Story-makers, the shift in the independent film industry includes new opportunities in what is commonly called “television.” The new creative opportunities are exciting. Here’s the second of two discussions about these new opportunities.

Arrested Development and House of Cards aren’t designed to deliver the metrics Wall Street expects, and this means a lot about how Netflix views its future.

Reposted by permission from Ivey Business Review

(Originally posted June 9, 2013)


May 26th was a uniquely exciting (and perhaps exhausting) day for TV lovers. At midnight, Netflix released a brand new season of Arrested Development – more than seven years after the show was cancelled by Fox. The show’s return represents a key component of Netflix’s emerging original content strategy and is the fourth show released by the over-the-top streaming service this year (at a total cost of more than $150M). As such, I thought it would be a good opportunity to pause and evaluate the economics of this strategy and hypothesize what success might look like. In doing so, we can also better understand the role of original content (is it intended to drive net adds, reduce churn, stabilize content costs etc.) and the impact of their controversial decision to release entire seasons at once. This will also tell us about Netflix’s future and management’s POV on this future.

The Value of Netflix to the Consumer

Though inexpensive on the whole, Netflix’s service does not offer materially cheaper entertainment than that of traditional cable TV, costing approximately $0.0024/minute versus cable’s $0.0035/minute. alt="NFLX3"

This is interesting for two reasons

1. Despite being commercial-free and infinitely more flexible than live linear TV (in terms of time, content and screen), Netflix is unable to command a price premium for its entertainment service

2. Average time spent watching Netflix per user is up more than 10% year-over-year. However, with prices still $7.99 a month, Netflix has not benefited from this increase in customer value (directly, at least, as it would improve word-of-mouth and perceived value). Increases in both the quality and size of its content library content quality is no doubt a major driver for increased usage, but this has contributed to a 16% increase in quarterly licensing costs ($1.355B in Q1 2013).

This matters because it means Netflix may have limited means to raise prices – and when it does, they will still lag customer value growth. As the instant decapitation of Qwickster demonstrated (among many other lessons), Netflix’s customers really do control the relationship.

MORE … click here to continue reading.

From the Ivey Business Review: “Original TV Series — The Illusory ‘Silver Bullet'”

Story-makers, the shift in the independent film industry includes new opportunities in what is commonly called “television.” The new creative opportunities are exciting. Here’s the first of two discussions about these new opportunities.

Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon see original TV series as the path to success. It’s not. But consumers win.

Reposted by permission from Ivey Business Review

(Originally posted April 30, 2013)

A Netflix Original Series: HOUSE of CARDS

It is a great time to be a lover of television. Content, for one, has never been better. Not only have many declared today the “New Golden Age of Television”, some such as Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott, have gone as far to ask questions such as if “anyone thinks The Artist (which had recently won the Academy Award for Best Picture) is better than Mad Men?”. The rise of digital distribution and portable, media-focused devices has also fundamentally increased potential “demand” for this content. The ability to watch content whenever (and wherever) we want means that we can watch more shows than was realistically possible when we were tethered to 2-3 hours of “appointment TV” per night (and we could watch only one show per primetime slot). Not only does this save older shows, such as The Sopranos, from irrelevancy after airing, it opens up the creative medium. Hyper-serialized shows such as LOST and Game of Thrones would not be possible without the ability for viewers to easily catch-up on a missed episode (or “marathon” past seasons). Digital-only distribution (such as Netflix’s House of Cards) has further freed creatives to pick scene lengths or runtimes based on the needs of the story, rather than the need to cut to a commercial break every 4-7 minutes or fill out an hour-long timeslot.

Market behavior clearly illustrates the New Golden Age hypothesis. Movie stars are increasingly moving to the TV screen (from Ewan McGregor or Zooey Deschanel) and many TV stars are bigger celebrities than most movie actors (such as Kim Kardashian, regrettably). TV budgets have also exploded. Game of Thrones costs upwards of $60 million for a 10-episode season and many hour-long dramas at the Big Four broadcasters can cost $40-75 million per season ($2-4M/episode). Content has also become an increasingly important differentiator for cable networks such as HBO and AMC, which traditionally focused on films and one-off specials, but are now defined by and dependent on hits such as Girls and The Walking Dead.

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There’s a fine line between exploitation and opportunity in the film industry. [UPDATED AGAIN!]

There has been a battle going on in Hollywood for a while now that threatens to upset one of the premises of the entire film industry. You might think it must be about digital disruption, but it’s not. Is it about 3D? No. Maybe it’s about lack of creativity in an industry swollen with sequels, prequels, and comic book heroes. Nope. Is it about Steven Spielberg’s prediction that a few mega-flops will likely destroy Hollywood? Nope.

It’s all about who will get coffee for the producers. The unpaid intern.

If you have a driving passion to break into the industry (and who doesn’t? You wouldn’t be reading my blog if you didn’t.), there are few ways to do it. The Number One best, most reliable, undeniably greatest way to break into Hollywood? Become an unpaid intern.

(It used to be “work in the mailroom at an agency,” but that’s no longer true. Who sends MAIL anymore??) Continue reading