'House of Cards' Creator Beau Willimon: "I Have No Idea How Many People Have Watched the Show on Netflix."
"We are investing in people's creativity. If we do that, that will lead to a good product."
House of Cards creator Beau Willimon discussed the unfortunate "myopia of the critical culture," during The Hollywood Reporter's Drama Showrunner Roundtable. "Episode, by episode, even season by season, and more and more these stories are parts of a whole."
He understands it is hard for reviewers and fans to see the content of House of Cards as something different than a stand-alone book or film. "We have a different thing, too, in the sense that the whole thing comes out in one day," referring to Netflix's distribution strategy that releases entire seasons of original content all at once.
But working with Netflix has also brought a comfort and security to Willimon's development process. "To this day, I have no idea how many people have watched the show on Netflix. They have never given me any data whatsoever. All they say is, 'Well, we're doing well and we'd like another season.' And that's really all I need to know."
A successful television program has become more than just ratings and shares, the writer argues. "I think there are a lot of different metrics on which to gauge success now, and all that really matters is that the people paying the bills want another season."
Upon first sitting down with Netflix, "what was immediately clear was they were getting into the original content game in a big way, they were willing to make a big commitment, and they placed a huge amount of faith in us. They said from the get-go, 'We want you to make the show that you want to make, and we will support you 100 percent, financially and creatively."
Netflix told him, "We are investing in people's creativity. If we do that, that will lead to a good product."
The show creator joined Sarah Treem (The Affair), Michelle King (The Good Wife), Alex Gansa (Homeland), Lee Daniels (Empire), and Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers) for the Roundtable, where the biggest drama TV influencers discussed writing, creative collaborations, and taking risks.
The full Drama Showrunner Roundtable aired on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter on Aug. 30, at 11 a.m. ET/PT on Sundance TV and HollywoodReporter.com. Tune in this Sunday for the next episode.
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