This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cable, Original Programming and the Rising Ranks of Independent Content Providers

With the overwhelming nature of entertainment these days, it's hard to keep track.  What's hot?  What's not?  What's worthwhile?  More than half of all TV shows on the air right now, I've never heard of.  Others I'm marginally aware of, but I've never watched.  I'm skeptical of anything that's currently popular (mostly because I don't trust the taste nor the intelligence of my fellow human beings.) 

At any rate, it's hard for any show to stand out-- even if it's got potential.  The sheer number of entertainment choices makes it impossible for even the most die hard fan to keep up with much of anything.  Cable stations have discovered that creating original programming on their own dime is the wave of the future of TV.   Cable (along with internet media giants like Netflix) are forcing networks to (gulp) take risks.  Uh-oh.  What's the world coming to?

Ratings will never reach the numbers we saw in the past; those days are long gone.  That said, the entertainment industry is finding itself not so much driven by executives creating shows as it is by the audiences who are watching them (or not.)  We're in the midst of a "choose your own adventure" entertainment revolution.  No matter what you're into, no matter how obscure, there's probably a show about it.

Web content providers are also rising up the ranks-- driven by their followers and the proliferation of social media.  One look at Youtube and it's shocking to see how many videos people are creating every minute of every hour, every day.  Where do you even begin?  In some ways, it's easy.  Most of these videos aren't worth a second look. However, the savvy do-it-yourself (D.I.Y.) internet producers are creating content they want to watch.  In other words, they're participating as both audience and creator.

One such example is that of Kurt Bonzell, whose web series Lost Angels is slowly but steadily gaining a following on Youtube.  It follows a down-on-his-luck everyman named Jimmy who takes a job as an FBI operative to earn money to help dig himself out of financial and marital difficulties.  Great plan, right?  Yet Jimmy isn't exactly the best man for the job.  He's like a fish out of water and at certain points in the pilot episode, "Prom Night", it feels like he's a hostage in his new profession.  It's intriguing to watch a character like Jimmy in this situation.

Much like Walt in the beginnings of Breaking Bad, Jimmy is clearly questioning whether of not he's cut out for this.  By the end of Episode 1, he's decided to take the risk, make the sacrifices to his family, and give it a go.  Whether or not this is a good idea, is a great motivator to keep watching. Though dramatic, Lost Angels also offers occasional humor-- which is often necessary to relieve pressure in key moments.

Like any show, it's not for everyone-- nor should it be.  However, Lost Angels has the potential to connect with audiences looking for adventure, intrigue, and a dramatic peak inside the dark underbelly of Jimmy's new world.  The show is well-shot, especially for an independently produced web series and Bonzell has also made music a central element.  (The original music in each episode appropriately fits the dramatic and gritty tone of the show.)

See all current Lost Angels episodes on Youtube / Kurt Bonzell's Media Collection Youtube channel.

And I'm going to try to check out a few of the shows I've never heard of and discover other D-I-Y filmmakers producing quality content.  Better get cracking... there's alot out there! 

©2013 by KLiedle

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