As many of you will already know the TW studio, along with other businesses in the building, was burgled in the early hours of Thursday morning. The thieves made off with equipment worth around £8k. It’s looking unlikely that the insurance will cover this (Nobody involved with TW is to blame here, nor anyone we work with, it’s just a horrible set of circumstances) which means TW as we know it is essentially broken thanks to two people who probably didn’t know the value of what they stole nor care about the impact it would have.
Naturally I’ve been asked quite a bit what we’re going to do, when we’ll be back, and the like. It’s actually quite wonderful to see so many messages of support, thank you for that. If you don’t mind I’d like to tell you a little story about the studio and how it came about so you can see where I’m at right now. It’ll only take a few minutes but feel free to skip to the last paragraph if you’re pushed for time. I won’t hold it against you.
The studio came about because I had a bit of a dream, not for a business so much as for a project I believed would be a positive force of sorts. I knew I enjoyed making The LiveLeak Show and I figured a place where other people could produce online shows without editorial interference would be something cool, something I could enjoy, and something I could be proud of. With a company called Accounts Direct we put together the first studio. Commercial work would help meet some of the costs and away we’d go.
The first studio was pretty damn cool. We had a three camera set up (two Canon XF350’s and one XF150) and all the software we’d need along with full chroma capability in a nice sized room. It was cool and I was like a kid at Christmas. From there we produced The LiveLeak Show (obviously) but also The Richie Allen TV Show, GameFace Show, Force Talk, and These Charming Fans. Sadly, as happens, it didn’t all really pan out and I realised that people really did want to produce shows but there was too much riding on one person, namely me. The workload meant I was losing out financially too greatly. Thing is though, it was awesome.
Then we were burgled and the thieves made away with around £14k’s worth of gear. Although gutted I didn’t flap, it was just a matter of rebuilding and we did. We changed the set up to a two camera one (Panasonic AG DVX200 cameras, oh I loved those cameras) and three PC’s (one for ingest, one for streaming, one for Skype and mail) along with everything else we’d accrued. Yes, it was cobbled together and occasional went south for no reason we could fathom but we put it together, and Graeme came on board at that time too. This made it even more fun and he works like crazy so everything seemed more manageable.
This year we’d planned to do so much. It’s no secret that the last 12 months pushed me to the brink of being so broke there was a risk I’d lose the family home but even in this position I felt positive. Work was slowly starting to come through and I was facing the task of completely rebuilding my professional life at 47 but fuck it, everything is possible. We were talking to Richie Allen about bringing back the Richie Allen TV show along with a couple of other folks interested in broadcasting. It was going to be a cool year for TW and then this. They came and stole our stuff.
I’m not going to lie, the idea of trying to rebuild the studio again but this time while I’m fighting for my personal life and without funds I can just dip into is not appetising. For the first time in a very, very long time I feel beaten. Even Graeme and myself have only discussed around the edges of the problem because I’m genuinely heartsick about all of this.
TW wasn’t a business, it wasn’t a venture aiming to do anything other than what it did. It was a voice against the authoritarian arseholes who constantly police our speech and thoughts. It was a platform where you could say damn near anything providing you had the testicular fortitude to say it. It was also massively fun. I love doing it, I love the interaction, hell I love being a shouty gammon. But is it worth it? Is it worth the pain all over again?
So, here are the cold hard facts of the matter. To rebuild to do everything we want to do – even in a scaled back fashion – would cost between £4-5k. This is a LOT of money. Crowdfunding has been suggested but it’s still a LOT of money and people already donate generously each month. We aren’t a massive show with massive reach and I don’t know if we can achieve this. Add to that the fact that without any commercial activity there’s every chance we’ll lose the studio space. It costs quite a bit of money to keep TW rolling. I just don’t know how we’re going to manage that.
I’ve been asked if this all means I’m throwing in the towel. I’ll be honest, if you’d asked me up until last night I’d have said “Probably”. It’s all a little overwhelming right now. But, it’s a new day and I’m full of coffee and nicotine and I’m notorious for making poor choices so the answer right now, right at this minute, “I don’t think so”.
If we can raise the funds, we’ll crack on. If we can’t (and I believe this is most probable) then TW will have to change quite a lot. Will it work out? I don’t know. But once more I think Graeme and myself will probably strap in and see if we can fire this monster up again and drive it until the wheels fall off. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Let’s see what happens.