Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Advice from AMC, Netflix, and Sony Execs (THID Exclusive)

This wine-and-dine Entertainment industry event seemed at first glance to be like any other, except for the total lack of wine and the sliders the waiters passed among the hungry college student at the Sony Executive Dining Room. Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, the first film school of its kind to create a Future of Television class, were the guests of honor at this exclusive event last night at Sony Studios. The panel consisted of three of the major executives in the emerging digital era: Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix, Steve Mosko, President of Sony Pictures Television, and Ed Carroll, COO, AMC Networks Inc. All prepared to answer, to the best of their ability, what really is the future of television.


They all agreed a change has already been made. Not only in that there are new ways to consume television, but that the content on Television has blossomed into showcasing new stories, diverse human emotions, and attracting A-level talent. Steve Mosko recounts how Television was once just an appliance in our homes and now is a place to showcase Filmmakers across 52-inch HD flat screens. He exclaims that TV is no longer a step down nor the “bastard child” of film. Ted Sarandos jumps in and comments on the breakdown of elitism in entertainment between film, TV, and even independent film. He says that TV is the new independent filmmaking, his company and others are breaking down the boundaries and shooting TV shows like 39 hour movies. For instance, Netflix’s very own fourth season of Arrested Development, where every episode had a separate runtime - the episodes crafted to the story. Ed Carroll jumps in and exclaims that every network now reaches a smaller more specific audience, which leads to less ‘safe choices.’


Later, Mosko the idea that TV and not the movie business is running the entertainment industry as there is just so much TV - and so much of it is good! Carroll follows this by speaking directly toward the college students in the audience, staring a couple straight in the eye and knowing he is speaking directly to those that will be one day taking his job. He says, to have a career in entertainment, you should be watching what you admire -  be that TV shows, Films, or Independents. You have to watch a lot and do what you're passionate about. If you want to write, write a million bad scripts. If you want to direct, direct some student films! You also have to stay in touch with those you met in film school and early on in your career. After all, Sarandos adds, Television is all about collaboration. Mosko train of advice starts with this: TV is a writers’ game, film is a directors’, and reality is a producers’ - always remember that as you work your way up the ranks in the industry.


He also urges the audience to read the trades (NY Times, Deadline, Hollywood Reporter, and Variety). The entertainment industry is constantly changing and moving fast. Just five years ago, Carroll reminded us, the premise of Breaking Bad (a drug selling high school teacher with cancer) was terrifying to advertisers. You have to keep up with the emerging trends if you want to be successful. You need to be up to date on ‘the future of television.’

Mosko finishes it off with a golden piece of advice: “Do something to differentiate yourself from other [applicants].” Internships, film school, they all help you get a leg up on your competition and closer to your dream. Every business has a connection to the entertainment industry (fashion - wardrobe, cooking - catering, law - entertainment law, engineering - drafting sets), you can do what you love and work in tv and movies! Just never give up.

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