Larry Schwarz is the CEO of Larry Schwarz and His Band, currently producing Alien Dawn for Nicktoons Network and Team Toon (photo) for Cartoon Network. Both series, produced in partnership with Fremantle Media Kids and Family Entertainment, were created by Schwarz. As he explains here, all his company’s work is created indifferent of the platform where it may end up, be it online or on broadcast TV.
MIPBlog: What motivates you to produce videos, and post them online?
Larry Schwarz: We create characters and tell stories. We’re in the content creation business, but a great deal of our time is spent finding platforms for our content. For the past few years, our primary platforms were television channels around the world.
When I started out in this business, we operated our own website, which we scheduled like a television channel adding new animated and live action programming every day. In television production, it we first have to go through the broadcaster buyers and then their schedulers. (As we try and monetise our properties and reach larger audiences, we have to go through a different set of gatekeepers, but more on that later.)
Now posting videos online allows us to instantly get stuff out to viewers. It’s a great feeling not to have to wait months for something to air. It’s so rewarding and we get a much better understanding of what appeals to whom.
Also, in my business, I get to collaborate with an amazing group of people that produce our content, but I also like to create things on my own and it’s really fun for me to have a platform, aside from what I’m doing on the business side, to share what I make.
> How are you/your productions financed? By brands, for example?
We fund our television productions through pre-sales to broadcasters and advances from distributors and co-financers. We make the initial investment in developing the content ourselves.
Right now, we are also self- financing all of our online content. We hope though to be able to bring partners on to finance and grow these properties with us. We’re also looking to brands because we have more freedom to work with them than we do in television.
> What makes the way you work different from the “traditional” TV industry? Do you think they understand those differences?
Even in the “traditional” TV work that we do, we try and not be traditional.
We use scrappy, guerrilla tactics to maximise what we are able to put onscreen, while also delivering the highest-quality product. In our storytelling, we are also acutely aware of the need to keep the viewer constantly engaged.
We applied tricks we learned from our start in web-based content to our TV business. Now that we are returning to online content creation as another platform, we are refining our process by adding what we learned in traditional TV production to our process.
> What would your ideal relationship with the TV industry be?
Creating characters that our viewers care about and putting them in stories that they’ll want to experience again and again is what we strive to do on any platform.
In this way what we are doing on the web is very similar to what we are doing on television and what the traditional TV business strives for too.
We’re fortunate that we’ve been able to take several of our properties to television viewers all over the world and we want that to continue. As we grow our web-based business, we want to continue to also be able to make shows for television.
Ideally, we’d want our broadcast license fees to be able to also cover the budgets of making additional web based content for the shows as well as to have broadcasters allow us to do this under the terms of their broadcast licenses.
> What do you make of ‘new’ channels, like Machinima or Maker Studios on YouTube?
Prior to founding Larry Schwarz and His Band, Schwarz previously founded Animation Collective, where he created and produced Kappa Mikey, Thumb Wrestling Federation, Three Delivery, and more Animation Collective was also the leading multi-platform content provider for kids and teens to AOL. Prior to Animation Collective, Schwarz founded Rumpus, the multimedia children’s toy and entertainment company.
Schwarz is one of MIPTV’s online producer ambassadors, more of whom will be posting here on MIPBlog and elsewhere, in the run-up to MIPTV 2013. Watch this space!