“In the experiences I have had with Netflix, the budgets have been appreciably higher than on network shows, and the overall level of notes tends to be lower,” he says. “It’s not that they don’t give notes, it’s that they tend to be less willing to make radical changes once they have bought your series, which is much more common in the broadcast space.”
On Netflix’s side, the company’s director of studio technology Amie Tornincasa says a key difference is in the tech, with the setup on most Hollywood film sets still stuck in the 1980s.
She recalls being shocked the first time she went to a production office and watched a producer physically fax a printed script to an actor, scan the receipt and put it on his laptop, with each device housed in a different room.
“And I’m listening to this and I’m like, you want me to help you solve this, right? But he actually wasn’t looking for a solution, this is just what he does,” she says. “When we’re building solutions, we have to make sure that we’re thinking about this environment and this reality. And when it comes to content creation, we don’t want to come in and actually disrupt any of the creation.”
Tornincasa took what she learned in that office and built a suite of apps called Prodigle.
Prodigle, or Production Chronicle, is made up of seven apps which handle scheduling, distribution, scripts, contacts, calendars and locations, which productions can use, or not, at their discretion.
To most tech savvy people, a hands-on with these apps reveal that they’re pretty simple; one handles call sheets and says where people need to be and when, for example. But anyone who’s worked on a set will know the hassle of physical call sheets and the monumental effort usually required to change scenes or call times around, thanks to the distribution of physical sheets.
According to Tornincasa, these apps are part of an effort to retain talent.
“At the end of the day, our jobs collectively are to make sure that when a production wraps, they walk away and they say, wow, it was really great working for Netflix because the experience with working with them, the tools and the technology were so seamless and so fantastic.”
With more streaming services coming to screens this year, it’ll be interesting to see if powerhouses like Disney and Apple go with the same creative process as Netflix.
The author travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Netflix.
Alice is a freelance journalist, producer and presenter.