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Finding a Comedy Audience in a Crowded Web Series Market February 19, 2010

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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Originally posted at Ronebreak.

[Note: I had a very insightful interview with MyDamnChannel’s CEO and a representative from FTVS’ 15 Gigs, both of which are really thinking about how to scale the web series market. I’ll be posting more of that interview in the coming week.]

Online comedy hasn’t been kind to television studios looking to break in. Remember Turner’s SuperDeluxe or NBC’s DotComedy? FunnyOrDie and CollegeHumor still run the game, but competition’s always bubbling up.

Fox Television Studios and its digital arm 15 Gigs’ have decided they need a more targeted push for their series Iceman Chronicles, so they’ve partnered up with comedy upstart MyDamnChannel, who’s looking to expand its library including such hits as You Suck At Photoshop and IKEA’s Easy to Assemble.

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Lost About “Lost,” YouTube Tries to Help January 30, 2010

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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Fine Brothers - Lost Video
Original at Ronebreak

I don’t follow Lost. I don’t mean I can’t follow it, as in I watch it but don’t understand. I mean I’ve completely given up trying to watch the show. Around season three I tried once again to get into it. No go. Too complex. Too many peculiar things happening. What is up with this show?!

Let’s say you’re better than I and you’ve managed to keep up. Maybe you played the Lost ARG years ago (the Lost Experience) and stopped watching for a bit. Or perhaps you’ve watched passively and largely forgotten about the plot over the show’s hiatus.

Good news! (more…)

Super-Indie Web Series “Semi-Dead” Advances Horror-Comedy Trend December 10, 2009

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Web series are great spaces for narrative experimentation and genre-bending. Many of the most popular shows are genre hybrids, especially with comedy (sci-fi comedy, fantasy comedy, etc.). This fall, we’ve seen several series blending horror and comedy including Electric Farm Entertainment and Jon Heder’s Woke Up Dead on Crackle, where it’s doing well; Babelgum’s The Occulterers; I Kissed a Vampire; not to mention rumors of a potential Buffy web series from Joss Whedon.

Chris Wiltz, a young filmmaker, decided to go the zombie route and spent his own money filming Semi-Dead, a buddy comedy about two roommates in living in Los Angeles after its been overrun with zombies. Each guy has a very different reaction to the event: one, Joe, “goes into survival mode,” while the other Chris, goes about his life as if nothing has happened.

“The show is really about the personality clash and how these two cope with living together – all while the truth of what’s happening to the city slowly begins to reveal itself,” Wiltz said.

I spoke with Wiltz about Semi-Dead and producing and distributing an independent (black) web series, the challenges and advantages. The third episode airs next week Wednesday, with the rest airing monthly until the season finale — with a twist! — in March.

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Fine Brothers: Making and Marketing Hit Videos, Today and Tomorrow December 1, 2009

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I’ve already posted some comments from the Fine Brothers before, but I thought I’d post the whole interview, which we did via email a couple months ago (Sorry folks! Scholars are slow). The Fine Brothers — Benny and Rafi Fine — are two standout comedians in an online world awash in aspirants. They’ve created numerous viral videos and web shows, not to mention collabing with some of YouTube‘s heavy hitters to create very successful parodies and comedic shorts.

They also happen to be pretty shrewd about how they market themselves and conduct their business, so I thought this interview — unedited, below — could help out people starting to make their own videos or interested in learning more about the space. Their response to my last question was particularly interesting: “At the end of the day online video is not a place to go to ‘make it,’ and we feel many come into the space feeling they will.” But they go on to say that the web still shows promise, if certain things happen. Very interesting, and perhaps true given current conditions.

Below Benny and Rafi talk to me about how they got started, how they make and market their videos and why success online may not be their ultimate goal: (more…)

Fine Brothers, Shane Dawson Collab To Viral Vid Success December 1, 2009

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Originally published on the Wall Street Journal culture blog, Speakeasy.

Cult fandom and teen taste can be potent combination. (Two words: “New Moon.”)

Taking a cue from the trend, Internet personalities the  Fine Brothers and Shane Dawson posted an 11-minute parody of the Canadian teen drama “Degrassi: The Next Generation” — filmed in just one day — on YouTube Nov. 21. In less than a week, the video has amassed over two million views.

The  parody, titled “Hot Teens Gone Wild on Degrassi!,” spoofs the long-running show, which is infamous for its grown-up storylines, ranging from date rape, oral sex, school violence and just about anything else taboo. The video plays up the show’s litany of parental nightmares, using camp to highlight the scandalous reasons young people love the show. (more…)

For Wanda Sykes, George Lopez, Success Not Guaranteed October 28, 2009

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wanda

UPDATE: George Lopez’s show Lopez Tonight also started strong on TBS (and TNT, TruTV), so it looks like we have hit a temporary POC (people of color) late-night trifecta.

UPDATE: The ratings for Wanda Sykes were good; not, SNL good, though.

UPDATE: Fox has the site up, with promos and such.

With the (apparent) success of The Mo’Nique Show, will Wanda Sykes and George Lopez similarly excel in late night, or will they go the way of other recent shows by comedians of color, like David Alan Grier’s short-lived Chocolate News and CNN’s dull DL Hughley Breaks the News? They’ll have to be edgy and interesting: the problem with Grier and Hughley was they were too soft for a post-Chappelle age.

Posted at Ronebreak:

Today networks are reaching back to the days of Arsenio Hall and giving comedians and comediennes of color late night talk shows. While CNN’s D.L. Hughley Breaks the News lived a short life, mostly because it wasn’t very interesting, BET’s The Mo’Nique Show, premiered strongly two weeks ago.

That success is good news for Fox, which is looking to Wanda Sykes to revive their lackluster Saturday nights, giving the popular comic her own talk show premiering November 7 at 11pm, two nights before George Lopez’s new talk show airs on TBS. Ever since coming out a year ago, Wanda Sykes’ star has been on the rise. Sykes has been a mainstay on television for the last few years, ever since her short-lived sitcom in 2003. She has a big presence now, with recurring roles on The New Adventures of Old Christine and Curb Your Enthusiasm. HBO is now broadcasting her newest standup program, I’ma Be Me.

Full post, with embedded video, at Ronebreak.

ONLINE VIDEO: Where and How to Publish Your Videos, Web Series September 29, 2009

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finebrothers

UPDATE: For the full interview, click here.

I had an email interview with Benny and Rafi Fine recently, the pair that makes up the Fine Brothers, the duo of producers making some of the most popular viral videos on the net, along with a couple of web series. They’re razor-smart, and I hope to quote extensively from our interview in future articles, but I wanted to pull out an interesting statement from Rafi that I think is useful for producers starting out in the space. It’s about where to publish your videos and knowing which websites are good for specific kinds of videos. The Fine brothers publish everywhere: YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Atom, iTunes, FunnyorDie, Break. This is in part because they do all kinds of videos; so take the advice with a grain of salt: they’re more versatile than your average producer, so they publish more places.

Rafi: YouTube is of course the bread and butter of everything online. No other site gives any ad money to independent producers on that scale, and no other site gets us steady views like YouTube (thanks to their subscriber system which over time has stood out as the best). That said, the other sites have their specific merits… whether it’s the million views you can get in a day or 2 if Break puts you on the homepage, to the more traditional media cred Funny Or Die gives you.

It all depends on what ones goals are online really, and changes month to month on which websites can help you achieve those goals. That said, YouTube should be the base of operations since it has stood out as the only place other than iTunes that can generate a reliable fanbase that will always come back for more.

Not all producers have found success on YouTube, of course. I got an email the other from a web series creator whose YouTube videos have not taken off in the same way. The Fine Brothers probably do well on the ‘Tube because they’re really funny. Their videos go viral, because people like to share them. They’ve used the visibility from YouTube to build a fanbase and support their other activities — like their Atom project MyProfileStory, which, despite being of one the more creative web series ideas, did not go past the pilot, though Benny tells me it’s not over quite yet: “It was a huge success though and we have several companies interested in the series.” So there’s still hope!

Although they are still invested in the future of web video, the Fine brothers told me they are taking meetings with traditional TV companies; it’d be great to see the aesthetics of web humor make it onto the TV screen (aside from the activity already happening in web video, like YouTube on AppleTV and the Koldcast/TiVO deal, noteworthy developments on their own from the past few years).

If you haven’t seen them yet, here’s one of their latest viral vids, part of their “spoilers” series, which apparently they shoot in one take (looks like it to me)! I can’t imagine how hard it is to memorize all these lines, and then say them so fast — though I guess Michael Buckley knows something about that.

spoilers-fine-brothers

For more of the interview you’ll have to stay tuned and watch for them in other publications!

ONLINE VIDEO: A New Kid Delivers Mad Men Parody “Ma Men” September 16, 2009

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funnyordie-joey-mcintyre-MA-Men(Click the photo above for video!)

The level of humor here is pretty base: the Boston accent is funny. But, hey, it is funny!

Bloggers are already raving about New Kids on the Block’s Joey McIntyre’s spoof Ma Men — although it really has little to do with the original. The 36-year old McIntyre is a Massachusetts native, hailing from Needham and Jamaica Plain, both outside Boston.

It looks pretty clear Budweiser sponsored this and that’s okay. Perhaps if it becomes sufficiently popular (70,000 views on FunnyOrDie in 24 hours isn’t half bad), it’ll become a web series. There are enough Mad Men fans to pull in an initial audience, and the fact that it’s hilarious will keep them coming! Could this be one of the next hit web series? Will it go viral? Time will tell!

FILM: Dr. Ken Jeong: Brilliant or Lucky? September 8, 2009

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Original at Ronebreak.

ken_jeong_role_models

Not many people know the name Ken Jeong, but they definitely know his face. Ever since his big-screen debut in Knocked Up two years ago, North Carolina-raised Jeong – also known as Dr. Ken – has been a hot commodity, booking nearly two dozen current and upcoming parts in TV and film. I didn’t realize how important he was to American comedy until I went to see Funny People recently (of course, he makes a cameo) and noticed he was in three of the five previews — The Goods, All About Steve, and Couples Retreat. You’ll be seeing him as Senor Chang in the upcoming NBC show Community and it won’t stop there. Even Seth Rogen is less exposed!

How did a 40-ish average-looking Korean-American doctor-turned-comedian manage to book more gigs than the younger, hotter John Cho?

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