Jane said, Have you seen my wig around?

OK, fine, she didn't--but how awesome would that have been?

The panel with Jane Espenson was about her Web sitcom Husbands (they gave us an early showing of the first episode of the second season, and it was really funny), and a lot of the discussion centered around the digitization of television and how much it has changed things.

In fact, the show wouldn't have existed were it not for YouTube. One of the characters in the show is this young, kind of vapid, kind of ditzy man named Cheeks, who is played by Brad Bell. I didn't know this, but Bell created Cheeks a long time ago and has had a YouTube channel for quite some time. Espenson discovered one of his videos, and that led her to contact him and develop the series. Bell also writes and produces the show, and he is not the least bit vapid or ditzy--it was one of those cases where of course I knew that the character and the person were different, but it was a little surprising to see how very different they are.

Anyway, Espenson paid for the first season out of her own pocket (Battlestar Galactica money--Bell made fun of her, saying, "Here is a hole I can pour all my money into! I could burn it, but this is a faster way!"), and the second season they funded mostly through Kickstarter (although Espenson kicked in some of her own dosh as well). I asked if it was smaller than a normal television production, and the answer is, kind of, but it was still 40 people (many of whom were doing Espenson favors) and two Steadicams. So the barriers to producing a professional-quality Web show are lower than they used to be, but I wouldn't really describe them as low.

What Espenson really liked about going indie was (say it with me) the control (THE CONTROL!!!) and the timeliness of it--she was able to get a show done in a fraction of the time it would have taken a network, which was important to her because the show is about gay marriage, and that's a hot topic right now. "We're not being told what we can and cannot do," she said. "We're figuring out for ourselves what the audience wants, instead of being told what the audience wants." Earlier, she asked who in the audience had contributed to the Kickstarter campaign. Several people raised their hands, and she told them, "You're the network that renewed us."

Once again, the analogy to novels was made, this time specifically regarding digitization--they all think that people love scripted television because it's novelistic, and that they will follow novelistic writing wherever it goes. Espenson pointed out, "Newspapers are dead, novels are not," and Bell agreed, "They just change platforms." (Clearly, these people ignore Scott Turow and don't realize that literature! is! dying! Good for them.)

Espenson also described "a growing hunger for content" with video. Which is interesting, because the podcast people said pretty much the same thing about audio, and it's also true about books--you will never be able to produce content as quickly as the audience can consume it.