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The Stakes Have Changed

Remember Blockbuster? Yeah, so does Netflix.

When Covid came on the scene, for a moment or two I thought it might all be over. I thought it was possible that 15 years of work we’ve done to build this thing was being fly-swatted away. But now, I’ve come to believe that this time is the impetus for the beginning of a historic shift forward for the better.

From a practical standpoint , the film and tv industry is simply a bunch of driven, creative people solving high stakes problems creatively. There are constant variables surfacing: locations changing, losing light, missing the shot, re-writing, dealing with regulations, weather, acts of ‘god’. You name it. Day in and day out, creative people show up and solve problems to get the show made.

As those problems get solved, innovation emerges. Creative people define and refine procedures, invent technology, redefine deals. We get things done. We grow and get better.

We create.

What we have happening now is a pretty big variable change – probably the biggest one in history. But… surprise! We’re doing what we do: we’re solving problems. Here’s the thing, once a problem is solved, we tend to go forward, not back. Why? When we adapt, we improve. When we improve, we proceed.

In the past 10 weeks, I’ve hosted 1,500 (yes that’s the number) Zoom auditions. I’m on the other side of a learning curve that I think many are resisting even starting. Until I had no choice, I never would have considered this as a choice for making great work happen.

But great work is happening. Actors are adapting. They have their home self-tape setups perfected, they are smooth, and ready to deliver for what the industry is about to need from them.

Creative people are adapting and advancing. The industry is going to use these solutions more, not less, as we go. Not because it ‘has to’, but because, all factors considered, in many cases it will be better. What if a casting director, because of time efficiency, could now see 20 actors as a candidate for a role when previously they could only see 10? What if a hard working actor was able to take 20 minutes out of their day for an audition instead of taking a whole day off work to do it? What about a single parent who can now make an audition and still pick their child up from school?

If work this great can happen with everyone working remotely, then personal and operational efficiencies are going to tip the scale and nudge people into adopting new ways for the BETTER.

I’ve come to accept that what I initially thought might be the death of my life’s work is actually the BIRTH of this work. Monumental change is afoot. Many things will never be the same again. We are changing and growing.

Within all change, the opportunity to claim a new stake emerges.

New solutions to ‘entertainment’ are going to be needed. The door is open for answers. Innovative content that works within the the changing rules will be required: new characters and stories that resonate with a world that has been through some serious shit together will be desired. Working creatively with new technologies to deal with physical distance limitations, the resilient problem-solving career-artist who learns to survive in this new world will be far ahead of the game.

Individually, and collectively, we the creatives, more so than ever before, have the opportunity to write our own ticket.

Everything is changing. Nothing has changed.

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