by Cathy Hubbell
Johnny sits sipping a frothy latte at his usual corner table in Julia’s Coffee House. The aroma of fresh coffee is invigorating. He wonders why the place isn’t bustling with customers on this lazy Saturday morning. The ambience is unique, cozy and it is the perfect place to hold production meetings.
“Hey, Johnny! What’s shaking?” Bill pulls up a chair and grins at his pal.
“Hi ya, Bill – good to see you”, Johnny says wiping foam from his chin. “Hey, I have great news! I just found out that the Alberta Foundation for the Arts is giving me a grant for my project. The Alberta government spends approximately $85 million dollars annually on Arts and Culture. It’s not much but they have agreed to give me some of it!”
“Congratulations, that’s fantastic. What’s the project?”
“It’s a video production – high definition, great music, great storyline. But now I need to get a crew together. I thought I had a writer but he got called out of town at the last minute. Say, what are you up to these days?”
“As it turns out I’m in between gigs. I could be persuaded. Who else do you need?”
Johnny thinks a moment, “A director for sure, oh and at least two actors.”
Bill nods towards a table nearby. “You might be in luck. Over there are Maddy and Shawn a couple of actor friends of mine. Should I call them over?”
“Yes, please do.”
Bill goes over to invite the two to join them.
After Johnny explains the terms of the project Maddy says, “It sounds great! I’m in.”
“Me, too”, Shawn chimes in.
Johnny clasps his hands together. “Great! Now all we need is a director.” As luck would have it just at that moment he glances up to see his good director friend Sandy walk into the coffee shop. Johnny quickly jumps up to greet him and brings him back to introduce the group.
“Hey guys, we lucked out. Sandy is looking for a project to work on so he’s in, too. This is working out perfectly. Let’s get started. We have several months of work ahead of us – we’ll meet here regularly.”
SIX MONTHS LATER – JULIA’S COFFEE HOUSE
Johnny looking glum arrives after the others. He is preoccupied with his thoughts and doesn’t notice a new person in the group. They look at him expectedly.
Holding up a DVD he says, “Well, we have a fantastic production here. The reception was encouraging. But now we have to figure out how to make money from it. Any suggestions?”
Sandy says, “We can make copies and sell them.”
“Yeah right”, says Shawn. “Where? Door to door? Walmart? My aunt and uncle will probably buy a copy or two.”
“Or we can approach the major broadcasters except I hear you really need to know someone…,” Peter trails off.
Bill jumps in, “I have a great idea for the next script. And we work so well together as a team we have everyone we need for it right here.”
“Hang on”, Johnny holds up his hand. “We don’t have any more money to make another production. We have to make money from this baby”, he waves the DVD, “before we can start another project. I’ve been in this position before. It’s so frustrating. This is my home and I want to be in the film industry here in Alberta. We have a long and rich production history. A filmmaking destination since the early 1900’s, Alberta has starred as many locations worldwide, and hosted many of the best studios and networks. I want to be a part of that. But how is that possible when I have no way to sell my productions?”
The group drifts into a gloomy silence.
The newcomer amongst them pipes up.
“Actually, that’s not really true.”
Johnny notices the young man for the first time. “Who are you?”
Bill intervenes. “Johnny, this is Drake. He is also a writer. I invited him along because he and I have been working on a terrific script it will be perfect for our next project.”
Johnny sighs, “As I said we have no more money. It’s a vicious cycle. We were lucky to get some funding from the government to help us produce our video but now we have no way of earning money from that to create another project. It seems like we’re doomed to participate in the Arts as a hobby and not a career. That really sucks. It’s the only thing I want to do. This is my life ambition.”
Drake pushes plates away and brushes some crumbs from the table. “I recently came across the perfect solution.”
The group raises their eyebrows.
“What’s not TV?”
“It’s a brand new Internet based system that will allow us as artists to delve into our craft and develop it as a career as we want to.”
Sandy says, “I’ll bite. How does it work?”
Drake picks up a sugar container and puts it in front of him. “This represents the artists: writers, directors, musicians, actors, producers. We will call this entire group “Producers”. They create content like so.” Drake picks up their DVD. “Johnny, Maddy, Shawn, Bill and Sandy all create their own accounts on NotTV. Since Johnny is the producer of this video project he assigns the payout scheme by logging into his account and logging an agreed upon percentage for each artist.”
Drake picks up a creamer jug and places it across from the sugar container. The creamer represents the “Viewers”. Each time a viewer signs into NotTV and views this video revenues flow into the NotTV system and are distributed into several different accounts – some goes into each of the artist’s accounts according to the payout scheme and some goes to pay for NotTV expenses like bandwidth and hosting costs and some goes into a special production fund so that when you have an idea for another project you can apply to use some of that money. As more and more productions are uploaded that production fund grows in size.”
The group is quiet, thoughtful.
Julie, owner of the coffee shop, stops at their table to refill coffee cups.
Johnny frowns, “But where does the money come from?”
Drake says, “Excellent question.” He looks around and picks up a wallet from the table. Shawn instinctively grabs for it. “It’s okay”, Drake whispers, “I promise to give it back. The wallet represents the “Advertisers”.” And he places it across from the creamer and sugar now forming a triangle.
“Advertisers, like Julie here, sign up to insert ads into the productions. Each time their ad plays, money goes into that production.”
Julie laughs. “I can’t afford to pay for advertising”, Julie says.
“With this system you can afford it”, Drake tells her. “It is especially affordable for the small business owner. And through a unique system of inserting tags and using viewer preferences set by the viewer your ad is targeted to your audience – those who will actually be interested in your products and services, thereby increasing the value of your advertising dollar. You buy advertising, much like Google ad words, and only when your ad plays does your account balance diminish.”
Sandy nods enthused, “It sounds like a closed system, I mean, like a self sustaining system.”
“Exactly!” Drake says, “It is. It’s a Win-Win-Win and allows everyone to succeed doing what they enjoy doing. So, now run, don’t walk, to your nearest computer, create an account on NotTV and upload this video. Tell your friends and families to go watch it online and watch the revenues grow in your online NotTV bank account.”