Following Kevin Spacey’s MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Thursday evening (check out a clip below), the House Of Cards star sat down for a Q&A this morning. Spacey said he viewed his speech the previous evening as “a good opportunity to look at where the industry is now… and an opportunity to talk about some of the warning signs that Hollywood and the industry aren’t hearing.” He expanded on some of those Thursday talking points, notably the problems with pilots and the industry’s responsibility to support new talent.
This morning he said, “People are too lazy” to seek talent in unconventional places. “I’ll hear people are doing a show in a pub or a basement and it’s incredible and they can’t get anyone to come see it. No agent or manager or exec will go. You have to get off your ass and go look,” he said. He then warned, “If executives and people in the talent business don’t participate… they’re going to miss it.” More people, he suggested, will self-produce and distribute via the likes of YouTube “and the networks are going to miss it.”
He praised Netflix, and also HBO, which “has been pretty terrific in commissioning without a pilot, but in many cases a pilot is a failsafe for a lot of networks.” Spacey added, “When you look at the amount of money spent in pilot season, everybody says it’s crazy. But they keep doing it because it’s all they know how to do.” The solution is about “convincing the execs and networks that it’s worth it.” Spacey allowed that the fact that he and House Of Cards director/exec producer David Fincher “had a track record helped a lot” in getting Netflix to order two seasons upfront. “There’s no doubt it’s a tougher road for people without a track record.”
Of new distribution methods, Spacey referenced the release strategy employed by J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call which opened on-demand and theatrically at the same time, and in which he starred. “I believe in the notion to convince theater owners you can open a movie online, on DVD and in theaters on the same day. I believe it will be a huge bite out of piracy. It’s not going to affect the movie business.”
Referring to Netflix’s model of releasing all 13 episodes of shows like House Of Cards at once, Spacey went a step further. “I can imagine there is going to come a time when someone will do 13 episodes of a story with no breaks… and the audience decides when the pause is.” Asked if House Of Cards was making Netflix its money back, Spacey called up some subscriber figures and noted that in the UK, where Netflix is relatively new, the service has just passed the 1.5M member mark. “I’d say they’re making money.” Here’s a video excerpt of Spacey’s speech Thursday: