Posts Tagged ‘Brian Graden’

On November 16th I attended a media conference. The conference was hosted by one of the cellphone companies in Israel, maybe the big one, and it’s the 4th one they have made. It’s the first one I attended. Actually, I wasn’t sure that I would get accepted, as I just quit my job (I still had the name of the last company I worked for on the name tag) and I am just starting my walk on the media-path. Never-the-less, I went there. The reason I applied is because of the list of lectures, and even more – the list of lecturers.  I thought to myself that if at least I got the chance to be there (among 1,499 other media people) I might as well write some notes and upload to the blog. Let me just say that all of the lectures were 30 min’ long, some felt like they went too fast, some felt like it went forever. Some were interesting, some were people only talking about themselves/their companies.I bring to you part I:

 The first lecture was by Gunther Sonnenfeld, a Digital brand strategist, ‘ThinkState’. His lecture was about ‘The next thing in the content world’.

In a nutshell, what Gunther said is that these days culture defines business, and more importantly, that if not so long ago content was king (and maybe afterwards – consumer), now the king is dead. Hail the new king – context. Content is still relevant, but context is what makes it relevant to the individual.

The way the studios used to make films or TV shows was first making the pilot/film, then get a focus group, and the studio representatives would sit behind a two-way-mirror and write the marks and decide how to proceed. That’s not the case today. These days the studios get the vibe before even shooting.

The next lecture was by Brian Graden, who is the former President of Programming at MTVVH1 and few others channels. But what strike the audience the most about him is that he was the guy who brought Southpark to our lives (you can debate if it was good thing or not, I say it is good, but none of us can ignore that this step changed the way animation is made today). He was a producer in Fox at the time, and he saw a short video Trey Parker and Matt Stone made. Back then they were film students. He asked them why they don’t make another one, and the reason was funding. So come Christmas he contacted them, gave them $20,000 and asked them to make a short Christmas-card animation. And they came up with The Spirit of Christmas which became Southpark as we know it.

What was interesting about this was that Comedy Central, a niche channel back then, which barely had 500,000 views, was airing that show, and on the first episode they had more than 6 million viewers. The buzz was so big. Apparently the Spirit of Christmas video was virally spreading on the universities network, that it created the buzz for the first episode.

Actually, Brian said another interesting thing. When they showed the show to the focus group, they hated it. If the production company had gone with their opinion, Southpark would have never been created.

Two more things he said about creating content are:

  • Invent before they demand it.
  • Play with people’s head.

I think those two topics, among the change SP have brought to the animation world, is something I need to address separately on one of my other posts, shall there be a demand.

So that was part I. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe post a comment, start a discussion, and of course – share.

Brian Graden telling how Soutpark started