To lay out TV financing in venture capital terms: Every TV show is a multi-million dollar startup, and, because the studio realistically has no other choice, the CEO of each of those startups is always going to be an artist who, despite being hired almost exclusively for their creative skills, is now being tasked with managing:
- a room full of other artists who have to churn out – on time – quality material week after week;
- a set full of even more difficult artists, aka actors, who create their own specific problems that can cost real-time dollars as well as suck the creativity out of the writing process;
- a crew and budget;
- often an “arranged marriage” with another showrunner or non-writing EP;
- pressure from the studio, from the network, perhaps from an 800-pound gorilla producer as well;
- pressure to make the show a hit;
- pressure to keep it a hit;
- ongoing management of big egos plus tens of millions of dollars in a high-stress environment with completely amorphous power dynamics, to hardly mention the personal pressure of one’s career hopes riding on the success of the show.
And supporting the showrunner, the CEO of that multi-milllion dollar high-risk startup, in all that management effort is…
Even worse, far from viewing the studio as a business partner that might be able to help with these management issues, the studio is instead often seen as a powerful obstacle which needs to be kept at bay generally by obfuscating any problems the show might be experiencing then either yessing the executives to death or fighting them tooth and nail on every tiny point. The end result is that the studio often doesn’t know that problems exist until it’s too late and, even if it discovers them in time, winds up having to fight an exhaustive battle just to get them resolved.
All this, of course, massively increases the risk of a show’s failure.
This is where SLI Advisors comes in. In a risky business, we are risk-minimizers, there on an ongoing basis to help the studio cope with the management issues that can sink an otherwise good show. As Social Intelligence Strategists, we:
- ease the sometimes difficult communication flow between the studio and production to ensure the studio’s needs are met in a way that also functions for the showrunner;
- provide showrunners with the tools they need to put out small fires before they become raging infernos;
- mediate the actor conflicts that often arise with success;
- smooth over the issues that can crop up when numerous high-powered voices are in disagreement and all speaking at once;
- help the showrunner behave less like a writer and more like a businessperson in dealing with the studio, the network, and with the problems that stem from the overall complexities of overseeing a TV show.
In essence, SLI Advisors helps the studio help the CEO they’ve placed in the center of all the pressure, messy power dynamics, and egos so he or she can deliver what the studio and the showrunner both want: a show that runs smoothly and predictably week after week for years to come.