Cafe Witness

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Must the Show Go On?

Now that I'm moving to Baltimore, I'm faced with a very tough decision: what to do about Something to Be Desired, the web series I've been producing here in Pittsburgh since 2003.

If you've never seen STBD, you're not alone -- although we're the web's longest-running sitcom, we're also one of the smallest, due mostly to my own inability to properly promote the show WHILE producing it (WHILE also making a living). Because our extensive (and talented) cast all work for free, our only actual expenses for the show are equipment, hosting and time; otherwise -- and if we didn't enjoy it -- we never would have lasted 6+ years.

Now, since the cast can't relocate to Baltimore with me, continued production of STBD becomes nearly impossible without major restructuring. As I see it, I really only have three options:

* Keep producing the show in SOME format, which would require lots of advance planning, remote scheduling and copious amounts of driving (or flying) time -- which obviously inflates the cost of production.

* Let the cast (and whomever else would like to volunteer their camera services) continue to produce the show themselves, and I could advise / assist (within reason) from a distance.

* Cancel the show.

Still Ready for Their Close-Ups?

So far, most of the cast members I've heard from have fallen into 2 categories:

* The veteran cast members would like to see the show continue, but they don't particularly mind if it shuts down either. After 5 or 6 years, they can accept that this particular creative outlet may have reached its end. They would just prefer to see the show end on a high note, rather than as a mass of jumbled loose ends.

* The newer cast members are more vocal about wanting the show to continue, since they've only begun exploring the experience (and their characters). Then again, they also tend to be the cast members who are most actively pursuing stage and film work in Pittsburgh, so they admit this makes them even harder to schedule -- especially from a distance.


... this question of the show's future comes at a time when things have been going quite well for us.

* The fashionistas at Pittsburgh-based ModCloth have offered to outfit some of our cast members for next season's episodes.

* Last year, we were nominated as one of the Top Web Series on Yahoo's annual web video awards. (We lost to The Guild, but that's okay -- so did everyone else.)

* YouTube had begun promoting last season's episodes on the front page of their Entertainment section, resulting in thousands of new views we wouldn't have enjoyed otherwise.

* Web video press like TubeFilter and TilzyTV gave us some ink (or pixels, if you're a purist).

We'd even begun filming some scenes for Season 7 in HD, which would be a big format change for us (and would hopefully help highlight those new ModCloth outfits).

And Yet, in the End...

... it all comes down to me. Over the years, I've struggled annually with the decision of whether or not to keep the show going. Some days (or years) have been harder than others, but the fact that I was collaborating with a talented cast of actors to create something WE controlled was always enough to power me through the down times.

And now, just when it seems like the show may be finding its footing, all signs point toward how logical it would be to shut it down and start anew with something fresh in Baltimore. (Which I'm sure I'll explore regardless of the future of STBD -- there's something to be said for a local creative outlet.)

I know that as long as I have at least one actor and at least one viewer, I have at least one reason to keep producing STBD. And as long as I'm still interested in telling the ongoing story of this cast of characters -- and I am -- I also have a personal reason to continue.

The question I have to ask myself now is: Is it worth it?

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,