Thoughts & Ideas

Funding Independent Media…Independently

Dr. Normal and Cami Kaos produce a weekly video podcast called “Strange Love Life” and were keynote presenters at WordCamp PDX on September 19, 2009.  During the Q&A portion of their presentation, the inevitable question was asked, “How do you make money doing Strange Love Live?”  The answer surprised me and it sent my mind into overload as I thought about what it meant not just for the open source community, which by certain definitions equates to free, but also for the world of independent media production where accessibility of content and scope of vision may not equal the available budget.

So, what was the answer?  Consulting.  Yes, you read that right.  Not commercials, not ad space, but consulting.   Merriam-Webster defines consulting as “providing professional or expert advice.”  In essence, you are “providing professional or expert advice” in your chosen field in order to provide free and exceptional content.  In the case of Dr. Normal, he has many years of experience in A/V production and podcasting, and he is able to consult others that want to get their podcast off the ground.  That is a great illustration of the power of consulting, but how could it be applied to other areas of independent media production?

Several of my friends are filmmakers.  A couple of them are attempting to break into Hollywood by playing the game, and climbing up the ladder.  As they move up the ladder, they hope to be rewarded with larger budgets, crews, locations, and success.  But what about the independent filmmaker that wants to avoid Hollywood like the bubonic plague?  There are options.  Loans, credit cards, selling your body to medicine (like Robert Rodriguez did in order to make El Mariachi), recruiting financial backers, having a day job, a night job, blood plasma, etc.  The list is long and extensive.  Instead, what if the independent filmmaker went the road of consulting?  Offering their knowledge and technical abilities in exchange for the money to finance their vision?  What do independent filmmakers have to offer the business world?  Technical skills…check.  A unique perspective of life…check.  A passion to accomplish a deep, underlying vision for their lives…check.  There are many positive aspects to this way of funding.

Are there any negatives to consulting in the mindset of an independent filmmaker?  Yes, there are some negatives.  You could be perceived as “selling out” by giving your knowledge to the man in exchange for his money.  You could forget your vision.  You could have your vision clouded by the acquisition of money.  You could be labeled “not an expert” which in turn could make you question everything about yourself.  But,should these negatives stop you from pursuing a unique way of funding your vision?   I think not.

Consulting could perhaps be the best funding system that fits inline with an independent and open source community.  The willingness to openly share your knowledge with others, placing a price on the knowledge, enabling others to pursue their dreams, and to offer the fruit of your life and mind to others.

I will definitely be taking a closer look at how to fit consulting into my available services, and hope to continue sharing thoughts about the successes and failures relating to that journey.  Until then, get out there and write.  Produce.  Create.

The world needs the independent voice.