Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Can I haz ur karacter pleez?

Something that only struck me recently about putting videos online is this: to breadhead media corporations, it makes you look like a schmuck.

I've had a couple of requests from Big Corporations in recent months. Emails like "Hey! We at Big Corporation love Some Grey Bloke!!!! In fact, we think he would be perfect for our TV programme/corporate video! Would you be interested in producing some of your wonderful work for use in this way?"

And so I write back saying "Maybe. What kind of budget do you have for this project?", and that's the last I hear from them. I picture an executive reading the mail with a look of confusion on his/her face, thinking "He wants to be paid??!??"

Maybe when corporate types see you putting out free video content on a regular basis they jump to the conclusion that you put absolutely no value on your time and talent. And maybe that's a natural conclusion to jump to. After all, if I did value my time and talent surely I'd be selling them to somebody, rather than just giving stuff away to the anonymous masses.

Or they figure (correctly) that "LOLs" and the occasional "U r a comedy geniouus" from impressed fans are reward enough for all the hard work - and then assume that praise from a For-Profit Media Enterprise is of equal value. Or rather, greater value - because they're not asking simply to watch, but for editorial control as well.

Why are they wrong about that? (Answers in the comments section, please.)


LesFleurs said...

Dear Mike, why do you ask about the money in the early stage of negotiation? You might scare them that you'd ask too much.

Mike said...

At what stage of the negotiation should money be mentioned?

When you approach somebody to do a job for you, surely it's natural to expect that there will be costs involved. Unless you're a charity, in which case you may be able to persuade someone to provide their services for free.

But in normal circumstances it makes sense to deal with the money issue as early as possible, so that nobody's time has been wasted if the price is unacceptable.

What worries me is that big companies now assume that they can get "content" for nothing because of the sheer number of amateur video producers who have been empowered by the web.

In fact, what really worries me is that they may be right.

organicprankster said...

I think the short answer is: they're cheeky buggers.

I used to know a man whose idea of chatting up women involved obscenely propositioning as many as he possibly could in one drunken evening. I won't tell you his exact phrase of choice, but the term "cheeky bugger" is very appropriate indeed. He just played the percentages. For every hundred slaps, drinks hurled over him, and angry boyfriends chasing him out of nightclubs with broken bottles he'd stumble across a target with a suitable level of naiveté or low self-esteem and... kerching!

I'm sure these people aren't taking anything like the same scatter-gun approach to land their quarry, but they probably figure naiveté and low self-esteem are a given in the online video world, and it's still a case of don't ask, don't get.

Slaps are an occupational hazard in cheeky bugger world.

LesFleurs said...

Yes but when they put you on television they give you a mark that helps you earn the money later on even if the first time is for free.

Sophie said...

I think the answer is the most obvious, buisness is about getting as much as you can for as little as possible, and anything more than free is too much in their minds, they will go off and con some young flash artist who knows no better :)

Jorn W. Janneck said...

To answer your question: Because being a corporation they, unlike us (your fans), engage you with the express intent to make money off of you and your work, which they seem to be unwilling to share with you.