John Hopson is the creator and all around guru for the series All About Lizzie. What I have seen of the show I totally dig and I wanna see more. I had interviewed him a while back. Had to interview him again for the site. This what he had to say about it all in the world of getting TV shows up and running.
1. Do you think the internet and services like Netflix and Roku have helped people like yourself get shows made and seen?
Absolutely! Keep in mind that there was a time there were only four networks ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. Those particular networks are very exclusive they only work with a set group of proven writers and agents and if you are not a part of that exclusive club you have a better chance of hitting the lottery than getting a show on one of those networks. Outlets like Netflixs and Roku have open many doors for filmmakers that need an outlet for production. Also note that producing a show on a Netfixs or Roku can be far cheaper than producing a show on the for major networks.
2. Do you think their is just too much being made and it makes it harder to stand out?
No. Please keep in mind that this is the generation of instant gratification. You can stream most series which gives you the freedom to watch shows on a schedule that’s convenient for you. Example a person can watch all thirteen episodes of the walking dead in a single weekend. My wife and I streamed the series Six Feet Under in like three days, so I speak from first hand experience.
3. Is it the case that the networks want safe material or is it a case of them wanting something truly original?
I think networks want both safe material and something truly original. I was watching Gotham and I saw things on that show that I never envisioned seeing on a regular network show as far the violence and sexually of some of the scenes. The networks still have a obligation to follow a moral code. I honestly believe that this censorship handicaps the networks and also cheats their audience.
4. What did you learn from making All About Lizzie?
LOL! What didn’t I learn? Good quality filmmaking is one of the hardest things that can be done. I was a medical student prior to being a filmmaker and let me tell you making a film can be far more difficult. When you decide to make films you have taken on the form of the creator. You are imitating life. The closer you get to that imitation the better the film. I have learned you need a very committed team, good financing, and actors that honestly believe in your vision.
5. What have you taken away from that, that you have used in what you are working on now?
I try to search for individuals that are truly into their crafts and are not only seeking a paycheck. If you pick a person to be your director of photography, sound man, or to edit it is usually better have a person that loves that aspect of their job. What I am saying you really wouldn’t want a person that’s an editor that is doing this only because it pays the bills. The best editors in the business love what they do and that’s where their focus lies.
I also mention that finding a good team is key to success, but you also need to understand that you are the general of this group and you must be knowledgeable, confident, and respectful to those around you. The team you select feeds off your energy. The more prepared you are the better those around you will function.
6. How important is getting the right distribution deal to ensure the show is seen and marketed well?
It’s important, but not as critical as one may think. The most important thing I believe is to get your product out there. There is this thing called proof of concept. Future distributors and investors need to see that you can complete a project and landing distribution can show that you have the ability to complete a project and see it through to the end. If your project is good and has some sort of platform to be seen they will find you.
7. Is having a sales agent and getting overseas sales important before more episode are made?
As of now there is enough money to carry a project only in America, but I do believe the future of television and streaming will depend on strong foreign markets.
Now having said that there are many films that have not done so well in the American market, but were saved by the foreign markets. An excellent example being Terminator Genesis. The movie totally bombed in America, but had a strong showing in the overseas market. The showing was so strong that I believe we have not seen the last of the Terminator movies.
8. When getting financing for the show and getting a producer on board, how important to you is getting the final cut?
I think it’s important if you are famous director with experience that understands that balance between your artistic integrity and what it takes for the film to make a profit . If you are a beginner I think you should defer to the people that understand how the industry works and what the audiences are looking for. It comes down to metrics and the producers have information that the creator often does have or quite understand. The bottom line will always be dollars. What usually turns out to be huge profits in Hollywood are what the other people behind the scenes understand about cutting that a filmmaker does not. A filmmaker wants to make a film that he or she feels his honest to the vision. A true producer wants to make a profit. I think a smart producer would want the input of the creator and director when editing the final cut.
10. What do you hope will happen for both projects you have been working on for will happen in 2016?
Ideally, I would hope that and HBO or any major cable network would want to work with me in developing these projects further. But back to the real world, a realistic goal would be hoping I could get these projects streamed through a HULU, or Netflix.