Online TV Station For Independent Actors And Directors: PitbullTV
Online television stations are visibly growing in number and directions.
This time I am giving my ears to Frank Principe, actor-entrepreneur who tired and disillusioned with trying to make it to the Hollywood dream or being caged in a looping race to survive by doing less than satisfying work, has decided to open up his own online television network (as he likes to refer to it).
Photo credit: Vladimir Jesic
Individuals like Frank are realizing that the Internet does indeed offer an opportunity for exposure, visibility and low-cost marketing and distribution that wasn't just available before.
Whether you like it or not, Internet Television is already rapidly eroding mainstream "on-air" television audiences at a constant, growing and, for what I can see, unstoppable rate. But unlike in the television history we know of, the new competitors aren't big stations catering to the largest audience possible, but a million small niche video stations, video blogs and video libraries focusing on very specific content and with a unique editorial cut.
All of this revolutionizes completely our existing concepts of what television is and how it should be like. Access is for anyone. No need anymore for super-expensive equipment and large staff. An independent station today can survive and even turn a profit with audiences that are microscopic compared to the ones of traditional television networks. The magic is done by the slashing of production, marketing and delivery costs, the inclusion of independent, grassroots content produced with broadcast-quality prosumer equipment, and the emergence of tools and services to find and search for specific content in ways inamiginable ten years ago.
Today, I have on the line an actor with enough vision and guts to decide to go out and build his own TV network online while creating a clearinghouse for other actors and directors tired of the Hollywood paradigm. Frank bridges the need for more distribution and access to dedicated audiences with an hybrid approach that leverages both the new opportunities offered by the web with some of the more traditional and well established business ones.
The name of this new channel is PitbullTV and here is the recording and the text transcript of the short but interesting conversation I had with the man behind it.
Frank Principe (Pitbull TV) : Hello, can you hear me?
Audio recording - interview with Frank Principe of PitbullTV
Robin Good: Hello, Frank? Yeah I can hear you just fine, now. Thank you for your patience!
FP: You're welcome.
RG: All right, where are you calling from, Frank?
FP: I'm calling from Tampa, Florida.
RG: All right. And today I'm talking to Frank Principe or "Prin-si-pe" ..., how do you pronounce it?
FP: That's correct, "Prin-si-pe."
RG: ...about a new project called "PitbullTV" Frank, let me give you the mike, and let me give you the opportunity to get a little bit of introduction about what the project is focused on.
FP: PitbullTV is designed, formed by actors designed bring unknown talent to international audiences via the internet.
I've been an actor my whole life and I know how difficult it is to get yourself promoted and to get out there. So we have formed a television network kind of to bypass Hollywood if you will.
RG: So when you say television network what do you mean, exactly?
FP: It's an online television network. Basically we will have a full lineup of TV shows, pilots, miniseries, independent films, concerts, the whole nine yards.
RG: So there are many different genres of movies and videos that you will accept. Are there any specific criteria that you are imposing on this stuff?
FP: Yes. Yes, if you go to the website, which is pitbulltv.com, and you click under submissions, it will give you exactly what we need, they need videos need to be in a certain format which is very easily done, and we have some terms and conditions that we will look at your submission and possibly license it to the network.
RG: Yes, I did go to the site and downloaded the Word document which is the basic legal contract but I wasn't able to notice the information about the video formats and the rest. I will look closer then if the information is there. So, who can participate in this?
FP: Anybody can. Right now we're getting a lot of interest from film students who've worked on independent films, who have done some short films, but, basically anybody. Your amateur television producer, somebody who wants to get into the business who basically has a video camera. Anybody can do it. We're accepting all sorts of different genres and obviously we don't want any rude content, but anything from home movies to full-blown television pilots.
RG: And this can also be a series as I understand it.
FP: Absolutely. Yes, if we license it to the network we... that's what we plan on doing is making television series from the submissions.
RG: When you say "the television network" you mean a serious site that will be showcasing these videos and movies or you mean an actual set of stations that will broadcast on the air?
FP: Actually, I'm talking about television series like what you see on TV now are going to be able to be viewed on our website. The website will serve as a network and we will have different television series ongoing. We currently have several under contract already, with our first pilot episode airing this coming Sunday.
RG: Do people have to pay anything to make this possible?
FP: They do not. No, they do not. It is completely free. It's free to watch, it's free to submit. There are a couple of areas of the website; one in particular is a featured talent.
For a small fee people can be listed with their resume and headshot on the website under featured talent for directors and producers to be able to contact them directly for auditions and possible employment.
RG: So, the results are no financial payment or compensation to the shows that have been selected but an opportunity to be showcased and to get more business possibly after that?
FP: Well, actually no that's a little bit incorrect. We do have once a show is accepted and licensed to the network we then form a contract with the Production Company or person who submitted it, and there is an income potential for that person or production company as far as revenue sharing from advertising that we will sell for the particular show.
RG: Outside of the legal criteria which I've read and are pretty reasonable in of these items like pornographic material or other stuff that would not normally be accepted, do you have any specific criteria by which the content will be selected? That is, is there any advice we can give to these budding new producers and video makers that may want to send in some material?
FP: Yes, actually unique, cutting edge material is what we're looking for. Part of the reason that we've formed this network is that television is getting pretty boring with the same reality-type shows, so we're looking for complete new, unique content, umm, basically across the board anywhere. And, I would just advise being on the internet we're able to be a little more liberal with what we're able to put out there. Some of our shows may contain some language, but we're not going to be racy or anything like that. Umm, some of our shows will be adult-oriented with some language and then we're also looking for shows for all ages. We're looking for animated shows, cartoons for kids, the whole nine yards.
RG: Great, and when are you going to start to broadcast some of this material?
The site is going to officially launch this coming Sunday, which is September 4th, and from that point on, every Sunday we're going to air our first pilot on what we call an All-Day Ticket. You can go to the website anytime on that day and watch the video. We have...
RG: What about the rest of the week?
FP: The rest of the week we have a second show which is called "Which Way Do I Go" that is currently in production, ending its first full season of thirteen episodes. That episode is going to air on Saturdays, starting around the fourteenth of September, and then we have a third TV series behind that one, which is a comedy called "The Pile Files," which will be airing October 1st on Fridays, and then that's what we have under contract now, we are looking for new content to fill up the rest of the week and the lineup.
RG: Very good, and, let me understand, who is behind PitbullTV.com?
FP: I created PitbullTV.com myself. I've got a team behind me. I've got some really good actors and producers that I've worked with that are working with me and we basically did this because of the entertainment business and how tough it is. And, being an actor I've had some success but it's a very very difficult business, and we would like to, to promote new, fresh talent and ideas that otherwise may not be seen.
RG: Fantastic, I appreciate your time to explain to our listeners all of about PitbullTV and I really wish the best to you and as many good contributions as possible from our talented skilled junior video makers and producers out there. So, all the best, Frank, and I leave you the mike for the last cheerios. Thank you from Robin Good, in the Azores, still in the middle of the Atlantic, that's all for today.
FP: Well, thank you very much, I appreciate you giving me time on here and we look forward to hopefully working with some of you guys.
Thank you so much.
RG: All right, all the best!
Audio recording - interview with Frank Principe of PitbullTV
PitbullTV accepts video, short movies, serials and any other type of online television programming that may have an audience:
Strangely enough for an online television "network", as PitbullTV likes to position itself, content submissions need to be made on disc (!), in one of the following formats:
The site also leaves still much to be desired in terms of looks and information available, but I guess what we should notice is the emerging pattern and not the individual weaknesses.
I am ready to look at PitbullTV first set of shows and to give Frank and his crew a few months still, before judging whether this one is a market killer or not. But, mind you, do you still need to be one?
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