Monday, November 12, 2007

The Screen Writers Guild strike, technology, and the future of scripted television

Part V - Quarterlife: Will Scripted TV Mean Indy TV?

Basically, we seek out fiction books to share, to expand the narrative within our minds, and to enjoy the imagination of the novelist. We seek out fiction in movies to enjoy the vision of the writer's imagination as envisioned by the director, actors, cinematographer, special effects creators, etc. Which brings us to the future of scripted tv.

If you are a talented writer and have a friend that is a talented director, and you both have friends who are talented cinematographers, actors, etc., you have a fledgling tv production company. For a relatively modest investment in hardware and software you could start producing and delivering HD "webisodes" either for a fee or with advertising. In other words, the Indy Film industry could expand into an Indy TV industry that could easily distribute scripted programs to the home. And everyone in the business is watching quarterlife.

quarterlife is the new online series from the creative team behind "My So-Called Life," "thirtysomething," "Legends of the Fall," and "Blood Diamond." It is the first time a professional network-quality series has been produced directly for the Internet. And it's the first time an independent project of this distinction has been owned and controlled by its creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick. And you can watch it at www.quarterlife.com in high resolution wide screen. We watch it on our 42" plasma connected to a somewhat older computer which is also connected to our surround sound system. The quality is as good as any standard definition wide-screen programming. If we used an updated computer, it might reach HD quality.

The actors are professionals: Bitsie Tulloch as "Dylan" ("Lonelygirl15," "LOST," "West Wing"), Maite Schwartz as "Lisa" ("Medium," "Dexter," "House of Grimm"), Scott Michael Foster as "Jed" ("Greek," "The Horrible Flowers"), David Walton as "Danny" ("Heist," "Cracking Up"), Michelle Lombardo as "Debra" ("Click," "Entourage," "October Road") Kevin Christy as "Andy" ("Love Don't Cost a Thing") and Barrett Swatek as "Brittany" ("Seventh Heaven," "40-Year-Old Virgin").

The commercial success of the show will be the big question. The intent is to include advertising half way through each 8 minute webisode. The web site, quarterlife.com, has been set up as a ad supported social network for twenty-somethings, particularly the more creative types.

The show debuted on MyspaceTV.com on November 11, 2007, and on quarterlife.com on November 12th. Also, the series will be made available to other partners such as YouTube, Facebook, and Imeem, one week after each episode airs on MySpace. MySpaceTV will air the first 36 webisodes of quarterlife. Each webisode will be about eight minutes long, and two episodes will air every week, on Thursdays and Sundays.

Is the show good enough? The show was originally conceived as an ABC pilot three years ago. ABC/Touchstone gave the material back to the to Herksovitz and Zwick. Now that episodes have been produced and the writers strike is in full-swing, according to a November 9 story in The Hollywood Reporter NBC is in talks with Zwick and Herskovitz to buy acquire the show.

Continue to Part VI

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