Most producers are focused on producing content for feature films or TV series, which creates a glut of producers (supply) versus potential distributors of that content (demand). This imbalance leads to inevitable results under the law of supply and demand, putting producers at a distinct disadvantage. Given the rise of distribution means in the digital age, producers would do well to focus on creating content for alternative platforms. I regularly hear from budding producers with big plans for the next “Star Wars” franchise before they get their feet wet with smaller projects, which just won’t happen. If they gained popularity and credibility by proving their craft by producing content for alternative platforms, they would have more clout in the subsequent creation of film and television content if they so desire.
One way to gain traction is to create short films that can be posted on social media platforms, such as YouTube or TikTok. Indeed, many people make a decent living by focusing on these platforms, so the producers could prove their skill by creating compelling short contents for these platforms. The goal should be to reach one million views, in which case the producer is a competitor. If the producer needs funding to create the content, a good source of funding is advertisers, who are always keen to get their products into widely viewed content and will pay up to $50,000 to be mentioned in content that reached one million views. There are some remarkably amazing and popular videos on social media that are basically advertisements. Take a look at anything under Ken Block on YouTube and you’ll see car ads averaging over 60 million views.
Another market for content is the massive 2D gaming industry (dwarfing the film industry), including single-player games and multiplayer games such as Fortnite, Halo, and Call of Duty.
Producers could also focus on creating content for 3D virtual reality. In this area, the law of supply and demand is reversed, since there is a need for poorly served content and a shortage of producers. There are limitless prospects for producing content here, including location-based visitor entertainment (check out Dreamscape and The Void) and interactive multiplayer games using headsets (check out Arizona Sunshine).
There will also be a huge demand for content creation for the metaverse, as it is a growing new medium. Think of Metaverse as a home multiplayer game, but using a headset for a 3D experience. I have producer clients who have been offered millions of dollars in production fees to create content for the metaverse, which shows the power of the law of supply and demand when the dynamics are reversed. Demand for this content will be insatiable, so it behooves producers to get in on the ground floor.
Any content created for multiplayer media (whether 2D or 3D) runs the risk of users finding a way to use the content to abuse other users (for example by sexually harassing the avatar of the other person, what happened), and this misuse may give rise to claims by users against the creator of the content or against each other.
Another potential medium for creating content is non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”), which are unique digital links on the blockchain to content (usually static images or short clips) located on a computer server somewhere. NFTs give the owner the bragging rights of owning an “authorized” token, although the buyer usually does not own the copyright to the content, and anyone else can view the same content online, so owning an NFT is similar to owning one of a limited print of lithographs.
If producers really want to get ahead of the game, they need to learn how to harness the power of artificial intelligence (“AI”), because AI is already creating compelling content in text, music and video, and it won’t be long before the AI combines all three to create entire movies. Indeed, a Google engineer
Additionally, the AI may create content that infringes the publicity rights of third parties. For example, the AI could create a character that is a mix of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, in which case both could have a viable claim. Another issue that will need to be addressed is how guilds will deal with content that does not employ any of their members but incorporates combined clips from their previous films.
For all the content discussed above, there are three main infringement issues to watch out for. The first, and most important, is to avoid copyright claims, which can be avoided by not incorporating pre-existing content. The second is to avoid publicity right claims, which can be avoided by not incorporating the name, voice or likeness of existing people. The third is to avoid trademark claims, which can be avoided by not using trademarks in a way that suggests the trademark owner has sponsored or endorsed the content. These three claims have already been made based on the content of all the media mentioned above. And in any case, AI can inadvertently infringe all of these rights, which raises the question discussed above of who is responsible.
I urge producers to step up and create content in these alternative media, so that the law of supply and demand works in their favor.