Feeding The Content Monster

Once upon a time, there were a very limited number of outlets to share video and film content.

It was either the movies, which required Hollywood studio backing, or network TV. Jobs in the industry were limited and difficult to get. The idea of starting your own production and distribution company was very complex and entrepreneurial. It wasn’t impossible, but there were high hurdles to jump.

Today the opposite is true. There are more outlets than anyone can count. Cable channels, YouTube, streaming, digital signage (there is a huge demand for fresh video here), feature film, e-commerce product demos, and new outlets popping up everyday. The demand for new and fresh content is a monster…hence the name “The Content Monster”.

The Content Monster consumes video content at an alarming rate. That appetite has created demand for qualified production professionals. At the same time, schools are teaching video production at a younger age, and at a more sophisticated level. Today, most students graduating elementary school are able to create a simple video, and upload it to YouTube. The demand for qualified teachers to guide these new filmmakers is an industry unto itself.

Which leads me to a question. Why are your students learning video production? Is it their hobby? Do they want to get a job in the field? If they do indeed want to get a job in the field, what are we, as instructors doing to help guide them in that direction? I would venture to say that every young film student wants to become the next Steven Speilberg. They want to produce that epic film that the world embraces. They have dreams of walking the red carpet at the premier of their film, with all of the biggest stars of the day. Cameras chirping like a hundred million crickets in the night, and lights flashing like the stars on a clear summer night.

We know that the reality for most will be quite different. We shouldn’t discourage them from that dream. But, at the same time, we need to help them prepare for other things. In today’s world, the need for content to fill those outlets is unrelenting. And with all of the outlets for video, there are more production jobs than ever. There is an ecosystem surrounding video production that requires skilled talent of all kinds, from lighting experts, to writers, to line production. Are we training our students to fill those positions?

First, think of the types of videos that are being produced today. Let’s start with the most popularly watched, the YouTube tutorial. People are making a lot of money, and performing a public service creating “How To…” videos. The term “How to” is the most used search term on YouTube.

How about the short (about :90 sec) product sales video for e-commerce? Just go to any e-commerce site and look at all of the videos there. Think about those short, eight second silent digital signage videos you see while standing in line at the fast food restaurant, or on the rotating LED billboard on the freeway.

Someone wrote and produced those videos. And was paid to do it. And are making a good living at it. They may not be living in a Beverly Hills mansion, with a bungalow in the south of France. But they are gainfully employed in a field they love, and studied for. Their work is being viewed by millions of people.

There are an endless number of applications for their work. Whether it’s the 30 minute program for one of the gazillion cable channels, or short films as filler on any one of the new streaming services.

The question is, are we as instructors exposing them to all forms of video? Or are we directing them to one form only, assuming that everyone is going to be a feature film producer.

I suggest, as part of their education, you teach a class on the business of video production. Talk about the different kinds of videos, and how each one can lead to a paid position. I know we all want to create video for the sake of the art. But the reality of life is that our students will need to make a living at some point. We are already teaching them a valuable trade. But take it one step further by exposing them to all of the kinds of video production happening today, and the business model surrounding it.

The constant need for new and fresh content is creating a need for skilled producers. What can they do to help quench the appetite of “The Content Monster”?


 PerryHeadshot-175Perry Goldstein is a veteran of the electronics industry, with both consumer and Pro A/V electronics experience. He is also a professional speaker, and writer for the electronics industry. He has won numerous awards for product design. Perry is currently the Director of New Digital Technologies for Marshall Electronics and MXL pro audio division, as well as an instructor of digital marketing at the higher education level.