It was a small but active crowd at the Digital media Center for our Producer-Performer Roundtable. As promised, it was an interactive discussion between producers and performers coming from different areas of the media.
The crowd was pretty evenly split between management and talent and we even had a couple of cross-overs who make a living in both job categories. The Panel, made up of Anne Ganguzza, founder and president of VO Peeps; producer Art Kirsch, of SoCal Showbiz; and Brian Page a stage director/sound designer who also is an actor, contributed quiite a bit and kept everyone involved. The topics varied widely.
One of the first topics to arise was related mostly to VO artists—pay to play websites that purport to bring the artist work opportunities. These sites also exist for below the line production personnel as well. The general concensus was that they don't offer enough for the large number of subscribers (including many wanna-bees) and those sites that offer a 'premium membership" are ripping off all their other members. From the producers' point of view they also don't offer consistent quality or a way to vet a performer for experience. Instead, many producers keep a list of trusted go-to crew and cast they already know.
Advertising Budgets and Ad agencies were discussed including the impact of new digital media on those budgets. That led into a discussion of unions and protections including scale payments. It was observed that there is a trend for some large brands to move media production in-house especially for web and new media promotion and marketing videos. This increases the chance of dealing with inexperienced producers and lower, unrealistic budgets. Many new media platforms also dont require the top standards as once embodied by the term "Broadcast Quality." That lament extends to both technical and creative standards and experienced people.
While the increase in distribution to mobile is a boon, creating more work for everyone, it too suffers from lack of consistent standards and inexperienced people who have no concern for quality.
Although the discussion brought out the perils in our brave new digital world, everyone also offered hope and a professional outlook based on the great number of people in our industry who want to do good work they can be proud of—and make a living doing it! You Tube is now actually paying some of their top producers to create videos rather than just giving small payments based on viewership. Agents and networking are still important aspects of being a working professional—both for producers and performers.
Much advice was passed between the participants as well as perspective. One common agreed upon tool for everyone was networking. And LIVE, in-person professional networking was agreed to be most effective. Yes, the kind you get at our monthly MCA-i Meeting! So, the evening ended with many un-answered questions but a good feeling that none of us are in this alone. The biggest take-away was that you've gotta just get out there and go for it—what ever your profession.