Last week, Ted Sarandos, the Chief Content Officer of Netflix, ruffled a few feathers with NATO (um National Association of Theatre Owners, that is) when he gave a keynote address at the Film Independent Forum about how theater owners are strangling the lifeblood of the movies. On top of the pretty interesting points, he broke down just how filmmakers can join the Netflix revolution and make your own show into the next Orange is the New Black.
The main point Ted Sarandos makes in his keynote, and the basis on which Netflix operates, is this: give the audience what they want, and they will show up. Meaning? People want ways to watch what they like, when they want. Sarandos champions a break from old-fashioned release windows for both film and television, and explains how Netflix has been trying to change the model from the inside with their own content ever since they figured that out. Here is his entire keynote from Film Independent, question-and-answer included:
What's interesting about the controversy that Sarandos is pointing to in his address is that fact that TV and film (even indie film) models for distribution windows have been the same for over a decade. And, numerically speaking, they haven't been growing the same way as Netflix. (If anything, Sarandos believes this sort of rigid windowing has led to an increase in piracy.)
Netflix has forgone the strict windows -- where people can't see a movie for ages if they miss is in theaters or get a boxed set of their favorite TV show for a year plus. And to show for it, they have now grown to 40 million subscribers. That's something to think about.
Sarandos goes over a few of the new original Neflix shows that were started with the hope that control over their release would continue to allow them to change the model: House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, and Arrested Development to name a few of the heavy hitters. And he says that, while it's still seen as somewhat risky business to produce a pilot, for Netflix, where audiences are hungry for new character-driven content, there's only a few things you'll need to develop:
Get us a good spec script, tell us how it will play out in the next three to five years, and ideally, attach some talent to it.
That sounds pretty doable. I mean, you may not be able to get Kevin Spacey, but with more A-list actors getting involved with the Netflix original content, it's not a dismal prospect either.
What do you think about old notions of release windows? Do you think Netflix is an evolved television, and would you start your own show?