Immediately following our announcement of The Streamy Awards Category Finalists, an interesting and important conversation erupted on Tubefilter. The Academy selections were accused of being “incestuous,” “rigged” and a “popularity contest,” that is “suckling at [Hollywood’s] teat.”
Ouch! Many of the comments were excessively harsh, if myopic, but they do raise important questions that we as a community should begin to address.
We intentionally designed the inaugural membership of The International Academy of Web Television to be small enough to effectively build a governance structure for an organization that serves its community; one that will properly recognize outstanding achievement in digital entertainment for years to come…even from shows without big audiences. And I see this organization eventually providing value to the community of creators beyond just honoring artistic excellence, possibly by establishing best practices and labor standards, providing guidelines and resources for emerging talent, and in other ways that we have not yet even considered.
We acknowledge that our process for nominee selection was imperfect, but it’s a great start that includes a well-balanced mix of independent content creators, executives, agents, and other creatives invested in the industry and its future. The fact that many of the IAWTV members have shows in the running for Streamy Awards makes sense. This is a group of talented invididuals whose entertainment producs have helped to shape, define, and bring attention to the medium. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and are confident that the Sreamy Awards Finalists are representative of the outstanding entertainment available on the web.
We at Tilzy.TV never suggested or supported the notion that the community involved in internet distribution of television should “take on” Hollywood nor that it should be a separate industry.
Instead, we see a new way forward, the emergence of a new, unprecedented entertainment value chain. We’re happy that the powers of Hollywood have begun to recognize the importance of this emerging distribution mechanism and, in so doing, have brought legitimacy and attention. Finally, we see the emergence of more inclusive processes where independent producers and established Hollywood talent face a playing field more level than ever before. That does not disparage or dispute the value of Hollywood studios; the development and creative infrastructures that have been honed over the past 80 years have the capacity to produce some amazing work.
The power of media distributed over IP is that it is inherently inclusive; that, I think, is the core principle of this emerging organization. As technology quickly bridges the gap between the computer screen and the living room, the line between TV and web TV will quickly blur. The Emmy Awards already recognize television distributed on the internet, and so does Time Magazine! We remain relevant by representing a devotion to the underlying principle of open, democratized television in which players big and small can thrive.
Our commitment should be to an open process where all strong voices – from brilliant guys talking to cameras in their bedrooms like ZeFrank to well-funded Hollywood moguls like Michael Eisner – get the attention they deserve. Unlike other awards shows, we accept public nominations and do not charge nominees to participate; we aim to elevate anyone that is deserving.
Exceptional content requires buy-in from exceptional talent. The fact of the matter is, the Hollywood system has had a monopoly on great talent, and because IP distribution has only just begun to take hold, Hollywood remains a strong cluster of talent. As long as that remains the case, we will continue to see quality content associated with Hollywood, regardless of its distribution mechanism.
But today, enterprising web producers, like Jesse Petrick of Heathens or Mary Feuer of With the Angels can now contend with the likes of Sony, Warner Brothers, Viacom, Microsoft, etc. That’s unprecedented, and its only the beginning.
A broad-ranging conversation including voices from across the new and old entertainment industries should help craft the International Academy of Web Television. Now is as good a time as any to start!