Spectrum | Kyle Cowling On New Video Series
Spectrum is a unique, in-depth documentary series highlighting today’s professional Supercross and motocross athletes in a fashion never before seen within the sport. Featuring athletes such as Andrew Short, who is on his 15th year as a professional, to newcomers trying to make a name for themselves such as Luke Renzland; Spectrum dives deep into the psyche of the these athletes, all of whom are at different intersections of their careers. Showing viewers the different layers of such a demanding and, sometimes life-threatening sport.
The series made its debut last week with an episode titled, “This Is Home,” focusing on Andrew Short. This, and all other episodes will stream on Vimeo’s VOD platform. Simply put, you will be able to download and stream every video after paying $9.99. The concept of paying for high-quality, short form videos is a new trend in action sports, and if it keeps productions like Spectrum coming, we back it.
But why produce content with a price tag in a time where fans expect to see things for free? We asked Cowling to address the issue, and his reasoning is solid…
The idea for Spectrum came up about two years ago. At the time I didn't have a name for this, all I knew was that I wanted to figure out a way to sell my content via some sort of Video OnDemand platform. Honestly, I believe it was when Vimeo launched their VOD platform that really sparked my interest. I'd looked into the iTunes route, spoke to a few people about it and, while iTunes is far bigger then Vimeo OnDemand, the cut that Apple/iTunes takes from the creator was a joke. The only people making a profit would be Apple, and I felt the creator would be putting their heart and soul into something with a pretty limited cut of the pie. To me, it just never made any sense.
In May of 2013, Todd Gutierrez, Dylan Pfohl, and myself drove to Smithville, Texas, to shoot a video entitled, A Test Of Time. While on that drive, we had a long discussion about selling the project via Vimeo OnDemand. We all agreed that positioning our content in such a fashion would be the only way we could see a potential future with our jobs. No disrespect to the Web sites, or industry brands, but hell, there is no money to be made. No website or brand wants to spend money to create the type of work myself and my crew is truly passionate about. I've tried, and they simply don't want it. While it is frustrating, I do understand their perspective.
Our idea was, “Screw it. We are going to fund it ourselves, create the content we feel the industry/fans want, and distribute it how we want.” We were gambling on ourselves, but the risk that needs to be taken. After shooting A Test of Time with Andrew, we decided to launch the work on a website and then work with this VOD idea. The feedback we received from that video was so good and I vividly remember people saying that would've paid for it! Thus, we ended up heading back to Smithville about four months later to shoot what is the first episode of our series, Spectrum. "This Is Home" is an in-depth examination of Andrew's career, both professional and personal. I feel like we've shed a light onto his career and frame of mind that maybe the industry and public never knew about. I'm really, truly proud of what we came up with, and I sincerely hope the fans appreciate what we did, too!
Overall, the goal with this entire project is to remove our work from the websites and present it to viewers as something worth spending a few bucks on. It's high quality, unique content that I hope is engaging to the viewer and something they cannot find anywhere else in our small industry. And for a $1.99 per episode, I think it's worth it. For a small crew like us, this direction is the only way we can stay afloat and continue to produce high-quality content that nobody else is doing. These young kids shooting Instagram edits and mediocre videos for the websites, they do it for practically free, like for a t-shirt or credit on social media. How does that pay the bills? It doesn't.
The industry is okay with giving away free product for mediocre video work and they have no need to cut a paycheck. So, in turn, it is costing me jobs. When a potential client comes to me for a quote and then finds out I desire a paycheck versus someone asking for a free product, who do you think they pick? Unfortunately, products don't cover the bills for me. I have bills to pay and people that count on me financially.
This is my career, and it being a career means I need to make money. Don't get me wrong; I absolutely love what I do. I have so much passion and desire to be better and I want to give my absolute best to each piece of work I release, but with that comes some sort of financial compensation. "Bro deals" do not support my family. Like I said, this is all a gamble, and something that has been in the works for a couple years. If it fails and nobody is into it, that's fine. I will have peace of mind knowing that I did exactly what I set out to do, and that's what matters. I will never have any "what ifs." However, I truly hope people appreciate what we are trying to do and get behind it. The more people that get behind it, the more content we can create. I want this series to reach not only our industry, but also the non-endemic audience that has never heard of Andrew Short or this sport. Let's grow this together and show viewers what it's about. If we can get even one viewer that is completely unaware of what this sport is, to sit down for 20-minutes, watch one of these episodes and say, "Wow. I never knew how intense and amazing this sport is," then I will be happy. It's about growth and expansion. Not closing it off to people and making it feel like it is some sort of cool kids only club.
At the end of the day, I can't do this without the viewers supporting our work, and my entire crew behind me. Nick Thiel, Todd Gutierrez, Sheldon Devantier, Gabe Gutierrez, my insanely talented composer, Oliver, Bryan Friday… These people are taking a gamble with me on this kooky idea, and none of this is possible without them.