"We are uniquely positioned to take our case and new business model directly to consumers," said a leader of that effort, the primary writer on a TV show that was a blockbuster a decade ago. "This will be the officially sanctioned Hollywood union portal."
Dagres said he had met with one group focused on developing material for potential theatrical distribution and another concentrating on Web series.
At least two additional groups plan to create companies that would distribute material on Facebook or other online gathering places where they might quickly become popular.
Facebook director Jim Breyer, a partner at Silicon Valley venture firm Accel Partners, said he was weighing deals that would rely on Facebook's platform. "It is likely we will make investments in Los Angeles screenwriter/content-oriented companies in 2008," he said.
Accel and Dagres' Spark Capital are among four venture firms that have been meeting with writers since the strike began. Hedge funds are also interested in investing, writers who have met with them said.
The screenwriters have been consulting with writer-entrepreneurs who say they earn their living from their work online by running low-cost operations.
"I basically give them a 'Come on in, the water's grand,' " said news website owner Andrew Breitbart, the coauthor of a 2004 book on celebrity culture who worked on the Drudge Report and Huffington Post websites.
"There is no one answer about what works," Breitbart said. "The great thing about online is you can adapt to the changes."
Another common stop on the educational tour is Kent Nichols, co-creator of the profitable "Ask a Ninja" franchise, a two-man Web operation.
His advice is, "You have to think like Jerry Bruckheimer," the television and movie producer who keeps ownership of everything he makes and tries to wring profit from every revenue stream, including merchandise, advertising and licensing.
Even before the strike, changes were afoot that made the recent ventures possible.
The spread of broadband access has allowed more Americans to watch video online. That has prompted the big entertainment companies and a host of others to put more clips on the Web, which in turn has brought in more viewers.
Among broadband users, the proportion who watch videos at least weekly has risen to 61% from 45% a year ago, market research firm Horowitz Associates Inc. reported this month.
"I think it's a great opportunity," said Silicon Valley investor Gus Tai of Trinity Ventures. "This trend started prior to the strike and is only accelerating."
Some of the writers who are drafting business plans said that if the strike had lasted only a week, they would have just gone back to work. But now they've had time to plot strategy -- and to realize that a prolonged strike with reruns and reality shows filling the airwaves might allow them to grab a wandering audience.
"The companies are pushing us into the embrace of people that are going to cut them out of the loop," marveled one show runner who is tracking the start-up trend but not participating.
"We are one Connecticut hedge-fund checkbook, one Silicon Valley server farm and two creators away from having channels on YouTube, where the studios don't own anything."