A New Age, New Thinking

This article is a really good example of how Hollywood thinks. It’s filled with all sorts of completely ridiculous guesses about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to online video. Every person quoted in the article as an ‘authority’ is currently the head of their own uniquely incredible failure, from SuperDeluxe to Prom Queen to 60 Frames. And yet they’ve all got advice on ‘the way it has to be done.’

Hollywood is searching for the magic ratio that will allow them to transfer their old infrastructure right on over to the new – like Ford shifting from making cars to tanks during WWII. Because really that would be the ideal situation for the entrenched – they’re totally fine with cutting off some fat, but they can’t get rid of everything, that would destroy what they worked so hard to build.

It’s really difficult to explain how people in Hollywood think, but if I could cut open the insides and show them to you, it probably wouldn’t get much better than this piece. They have, as Umair says, a massive DNA problem. Deeply infused in the model is a sense of superiority, of obligation and an insistence on structure. That’s why they want to know the “formula” for online video – is it 3 minutes, 9 minutes or twenty two? Pre-roll or post-roll ads? Who’s name should go above the title?

The reality is that there is no ‘way’ to do digital because there are no constraints. The model of Hollywood at its very core is of commoditizing the production of popular art – creating a replicable process to amortize costs. That’s why everything turns out exactly the same. But on the internet, a daily discussion of economics and a series about a kid who might be retarded are both equally viable forms of expression. It doesn’t matter whether the peg is square or round because there is no hole.

That is a very different way of thinking about things – it runs counter to almost all of human history. For some of us, that comes very natural and it’s why we never really fit in at places where it doesn’t. Now is our time. And fortunately, the opposite is what used to attract people to the big city lights of Los Angeles. As executives they could finally prove that artists don’t know anything about business and the first thing to do to prove it would be to shit all over them.

So today, in a world where there are no rules, where the middlemen have little control, where ‘quality’ and ‘do people like it or not’ are the main contributors to success, Hollywood’s way of thinking is utterly outdated. That’s why Quarterlife failed, and FunnyorDie is tanking, and record sales hit new lows every single week. The first step for people my age, I think, is to wipe that slate clean and to start thinking about what art is in a totally new way.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.