Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Time It Takes



In this rather unassuming interview, Mad Men co-producer Maria Jacquemetton spills out the fact that it took seven years from the time Matthew Wiener had written the pilot as a SPEC until it was picked up and produced. Even after that, it took FOUR seasons for the show to gain its core fanbase, who in turn talked up the show to their friends on Facebook and Twitter, and now, we're all running to Goodwill stores searching out ironic 60's cabana shirts. (I picked up a NICE one!)

And then, at 5:02:
"..probably the most important thing i learned at film school was that the connections you make early on in your career are the ones that really can pay off later on in your career."
Somewhere early in her career she meets Matt W at a writer's group. He/they write a pilot on spec, and then its seven years before the thing gets picked up. First season is anyone's guess: "Will this thing even survive?"

Not knowing was their freedom.... to tell stories they wanted to tell. Stories drawn from sitting around a table and baring their souls to their associates.

Wow. No wonder it's a hit.

Let's ponder the implications of the timeframe and associated circumstances: seven years from concept to execution, and four more before it's a powerhouse...eleven years. If you've been in this business for 10-15 years, you already know the people who are going to be with you in the long run, because they're the only ones left. Remember, staying in the game IS the game! You've got to be in play long enough for you or someone you know to catch fire.

Then, you've got to be ready, too. What's the famous quip about luck: it's when opportunity AND preparedness meet? All those years you still need to be putting in the time so when the fire lights, so to speak, you're ready to deal with it.

Ok, maybe you need a clearer takeaway:
  1. Post all your stuff online, in high quality, for free (or 'spec'). YouTube is currently the best platform. If you must sell shiny CD's or mp3's, YouTube *should* auto-link your iTunes or Amazon sales links. I wouldn't count on it for income right away, but your conversion rate will tell you a lot about how people perceive the value of your work.
  2. Remember it can take years for something to catch on, so don't get discouraged if you've only got 200 views/plays in the first year. It will take years for you to get it right.
  3. Don't get distracted by train wrecks. They're not for you. Study them to learn how to prevent them, and you'll be ten times more valuable.
And don't stop.

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