From Prix Jeunesse to the Licensing Show to the Emmy Awards to the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield I hear the exact same thing: The indies are suffering. The big ones and the small ones. Some call it “restructuring.” Some call it “downsizing.” Some call it going out of business.
If I had a wand that I could wave to save my friends, I would wave it. But I can’t change the economic forces that have impacted every single kids TV production company and animation studio that I know. None of us can. But there is something I can say to those of you who still have some fight left in you: The most dangerous thing that can happen to you is not having a broadcaster pass on your show. The most dangerous thing is not even going out of business. The most dangerous thing that can happen to you is giving up on the small voice inside of yourself that first made you pitch a show or start a company. In my view, the absolute worst thing about the current state of our industry is that it is causing the best minds of my generation to doubt themselves and their creativity.
This isn’t the time to chase the whims of a broadcaster. Believe me, the broadcasters are as scared as anyone else these days. Their entire business model is under siege from a new generation that couldn’t care less where they watch shows. And don’t put too much faith in the handful of large indies that are left on the planet. They may be flying in business class, but that doesn’t matter if the plane goes down. In my view, the only constant amid all of this change is that people still love content. And, if you are an indie worth your salt, then you are the source of content. Unlike the larger entertainment companies, you create something out of nothing. That is your strength.
As bad as things are out there, I believe these times favor any indie who is creative, agile and fearless. It is only the small indie who has the ability to body surf the waves of change that are pulling down so many larger vessels. This isn’t the time for trembling or capitulation. This is the time to dig deep for your next creative gesture – a show, a website, a game, a song, an app, a webisode, a YouTube channel – and let your voice be heard. This is the time to play with content, to try every experiment you and your team can think of, and see which one of them sticks.
Personally, I do not believe that the current changes in the industry will kill you or me or any indie determined to survive. But resisting change, well, that will kill you.