Counting the costs

The last episode of Season 3 of Starting From … Now! goes live on Tuesday. This will not only mark the end of what’s been one hell of a year, it will also be the first time since we launched Season 1 Episode 1 that we’re not in pre or post production on the next season.

This isn’t to say that we’re not going to make Season 4. We’d love to and, in fact, the scripts are written and ready to go. What it does mean, however, is that we need to find a way of making it that allows us to pay people for their work.

The first three seasons were made for very little money. I know I’ve addressed this in earlier blogs so I won’t go into detail here. What I will say, however, is that a model such as this, where people donate time, talent, equipment etc. is not sustainable and is not how I want to continue. You can’t keep making high-quality screen content that utilises the skills of hard-working, experienced and talented people and not pay them. There are people working full-time on making this series who are not being paid. Key cast and select crew have been onboard since day 1 and haven’t seen a cent. This not only goes against what I believe in, but it also makes for a very fragile industry.

The question, therefore, is how to raise the money needed to continue to make Starting From … Now! It’s a difficult question and one people are interested in finding out the answer to.  More often than not, when I meet people and it comes up that I’m making a web series, they ask how I make money out of doing that. In the past I’ve answered by saying “I don’t”. What I need to start saying, however, is “I don’t, but I need to”.

I could talk about how we undervalue the arts in this country, how we expect a photographer to take photos for free or an artist to paint a picture and not be paid when there’s no way we’d ask a plumber to fix a tap and not receive payment. I could go into all this but, to be honest, it’s been a long year and I just don’t have that much fight left in me at the moment. So this is a discussion I’ll take up again in the New Year, after I’ve had time to think, reflect and sleep.

And this will be our challenge for 2015 – how do we make this sustainable? How do we convert our almost 5 million views in 9 months to enough revenue to continue to make content? It’s not impossible. There are answers to these questions, but given the relatively short period of time web series have been around, the answers are going to be somewhat harder to find.

By Julie Kalceff