Maddd Science

I've been tracking social writing network Wattpad's push for coverage of their book, film, and TV deals over the past couple weeks. They're pioneering a new path for creatives that's really interesting to me: I love exploring how different forms of media function and how they're changing. Anyway, here are a few articles on why Wattpad's one of the most interesting companies out there when it comes to how fiction is evolving.

Startups are giving writers and filmmakers more ways to make it in Hollywood
Jonathan Shieber, TechCrunch

Hollywood has always borrowed (or stolen) from other media to entertain the masses, but it seems like the fields it’s foraging in for new stories have narrowed to a few serialized playgrounds (comic books, old television shows and movies and wildly successful young-adult genre fiction).

While there are thousands of flowers to be found there, new tech-enabled companies are suggesting there might be other patches where new talent can be discovered, harvested and leveraged for corporate gain and viewer delight.

It's a lot tougher to disrupt the publishing/TV/film industries than that excerpt makes it sound. Plenty of startup's are trying, but Wattpad's succeeding, largely due to their size. Here's my favorite article on it, coincidentally from my own boss at Forbes:

$400M Fiction Giant Wattpad Wants To Be Your Literary Agent
Hayley C. Cuccinello, Forbes

Wattpad has not only the bigger size but also the burning desire to avoid another of FanFiction.net’s errors: letting a craze like Fifty Shades happen without getting a piece. To that end, Wattpad has put together more than 100 book deals for its authors over the past four years (not including foreign rights deals), likely collecting the typical 15% commission of a literary agent.

And my own much less in-depth take on the topic:

How 'Light As A Feather' Traveled From A Wattpad Novel To A Hulu TV Show
Me, Forbes

So what's the structure behind the new world of content creation that Wattpad is throwing its weight behind? The book deals come first, I speculated to Aron Levitz, Head of Wattpad Studios, and the film or TV deals flow after them. His response? "Absolutely not." Instead, since Wattpad stories tend to be serialized, they often have a "great episodic flow" that makes a TV deal a natural first step, rather than a book publication. "That had never happened before Wattpad; it hadn't been possible," Aron says.

Want to inspire the next cool TV show or Netflix movie? Engineer a way to move the needle on your Wattpad story, and then wait for Wattpad's team to kick you up the ladder. In the meantime, here are a few unrelated links.

Best Hammer Horror List Benito Cereno, Tumblr

I love Hammer horror. It is so perfectly lurid and hammy and atmospheric, and the colors are just so perfect with their bright reds and milky whites and dark green forests. If you’ve never seen any of their films, but want to get into their uniquely mid-century British take on Gothic horror, here are some tips:

Wow, another Fortnite/prepper article... I should have dedicated a newsletter title to this concept, I guess.

‘Fortnite’ could only exist in a world that’s running out of resources
Trevor Strunk, The Outline

Once again, though, let’s take a step back and acknowledge that when your 13 year old nephew plays Fortnite all through Christmas Eve while muttering “thank you” at all the Amazon gift certificates he receives, he isn’t actively being a reactionary fascist or anything. No kid or streamer is thinking of Fortnite as some kind of political statement; they’re playing it because it’s fun and well made. And I would even go so far as to wager that Epic Games didn’t make Fortnite because they thought they could profit off of a pernicious logic that undergirds late capitalism. They made their battle royale hit because their fortress building game flopped and they wanted to save the IP. None of the actors here are performing some sort of deep skullduggery; this article won’t end with a revelation of Russian crisis actors or child Nazis or anything.

This next excerpt's in keeping with my earlier "optioning things for TV" theme, but the whole article is a great profile that any fans of 70s sci-fi art should read in its entirety.

The Weird Of Wendy Pini
Rob Beschizza, Boing Boing

For decades, near-constant efforts were made to develop an Elfquest TV show or movie. Studios "optioned" the rights for hefty sums, then slowly became baffled by what they had acquired.

To become a Saturday morning series on CBS in the 1980s, for example, much had to change. Leetah, a sophisticated dark-skinned woman, senior to her pale lifemate in emotional and spiritual maturity, would have to be made white. Mixed-race couples, the Pinis were told, would alienate viewers. Cutter and Leetah’s son, a gentle mystic, and their daughter, a firestorm of action, would have to have their genders swapped.

“Fuck all that,” Wendy says.

For better or for worse, Elfquest was never made into a Saturday-morning toon and never consigned to the uncertain retro glory of the Hot Topic t-shirt rack or the Twitter-exploding reboot.

Here's an article genetically engineered to appeal to me, right at the intersection of Instagram hustlers, scammers, and the publishing industry:

Instagram Poetry Is A Huckster’s Paradise
Claire Fallon, HuffPost

Overall, in these pieces and in the cheery round-ups of the best Instagram poets, the trend is presented as pretty much all upside: more poetry, more reading, more expression. But as with so many things on the Internet, anyone who pokes around the realm of Instapoetry quickly finds herself wrestling with shadows, with half-truths and pseudonyms and slippery motives. It’s peopled by scammers and opportunists and ironists faking sincerity ― or is it the other way around? The men who unmasked Atticus are hardly straightforward actors themselves. It turns out there is better art and artifice in the creation of the characters who make Instagram poetry than in any of the poetry itself.

A Meme Is Born: How Internet Jokes Turned ‘A Star Is Born’ Into a Hit
Alyssa Bereznak, The Ringer

Whether ASIB’s meme-dom can bolster it during awards season remains to be seen. Some evidence exists to suggest that even notoriously outdated awards shows may not be impervious to online influence. Last year, Shannon Purser received an Emmy nomination for her role as Barb in Stranger Things—a character that, despite minimal screen time, became an obsession among media outlets. According to one awards season publicist, standout movie trailer moments have been known to predict winners. “When the Fences trailer came out, people were talking about Viola Davis in the scene with the snot coming down from her nose,” the publicist, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “They were proclaiming that she was going to win the Oscar without context, which she then ended up winning.”

Next Week on Maddd Science: The Haunting of Hill House

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Header image: “Well, well, well. Look who came crawling back,” by Daniel Williams.

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