You Can Greenlight Yourself in 2021

In ancient times, an artist would produce something (book, film, TV show, radio program) and then show it to a <man> in a suit, behind a desk.

Your demo would be judged, sometimes on the spot. You’d be issued a verdict. For the purposes of this conversation, let’s assume you got the green light.

The company would mobilize its resources and production would begin. Lots of people would get involved with production, marketing, casting, etc.

Then your piece of work would be released. You may have received an advance, now you’ll earn against that until the project turns a profit.

This would be about the same process if a record label signed you.

Many books are franchises. Major publishers are far less interested in one book, one that ends on the final page. They want more of the same in the subsequent releases.

I don’t know how many characters Marvel Comics has in their stables, but Hollywood has certainly made a movie about almost all of them. One major improvement worth noting; Black characters with superpowers are on the rise.

Our popular movies are often derivative of something before it. They need guaranteed bets. The risks to their shareholders of a blockbuster dud prevent gambles.  People still go watch these films, so there’s no reason to innovate much. Studios wants the audience to be “pre-sold,” already knowing what they’ll watch, before they do.

I used to talk with my college students about this. They want to create product (words, videos, audio, etc). They want to work.

This is what is so great about the past 15 years. One doesn’t have to wait for a green light from a <woman> behind a desk. Of course, you have to pitch to Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, just like the big movie companies. But if you want to do or make something, you still can. You can start your own podcast station this afternoon. You can shoot your own movie, you can publish your own book. Eight years ago I wrote a book.  I marketed it myself, raised some funds on Kickstarter to publish hardcovers, and sold a few thousand pieces. It was gratifying and fun. It was the genesis of the reinvention themes I write about today.

The goal was not to make the New York Times bestseller list. The goal was to write a book. So I did.

Because you can turn hobbies into side hustles or even new careers, It wouldn’t hurt to try. People are killing it on Etsy, Shopify, Twitch, et al. Some people shut down creatively during the heat of Covid. Others had an explosion of output. I was the former. I couldn’t do much because I didn’t feel it. That’s over now.

You can make anything. What can you imagine yourself doing?


Talk with John about finding your green light here.

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