Web Series Panel for our Subscribathon!

Uploaded by geekandsundry on Apr 30, 2012


FELICIA: We have our panel of Kim, Tina,
Tony, and Wilson Cleveland.
TINA: I'm Tina Cesa Ward.
I'm the executive producer, writer, and director for
Anyone But Me.
TONY: Oh, cool.
TINA: It's gone three seasons.
Thank you, Tony.
TONY: I like that show.
TINA: And we just wrapped with our series finale that we just
launched on March 20th.
And I'm currently gearing up for a new show
called Guards of Dagmar.
KIM: Which I want to pitch as--
what was my pitch for it?
It's as though Alexander Payne wrote The Sixth Sense.
TINA: Yes.
KIM: It is a--
TINA: I love it.
KIM: --really creepy, weird, like something supernaturally
odd is going on.
But all the characters are incredibly
quirky and odd and engaging.
KIM: Thank you.
Yes, it's awesome.
Thank you, Kim.
KIM: All right, Tony.
Tell everybody about yourself.
TONY: My name is Tony Valenzuela.
I am a web creator and director.
And I'm on my eighth series.
TONY: Who is that?
Because earlier, when Felicia was on, I kept hearing
something go, [PANTING].
And I was like, I hope she doesn't think that's me.
It was really odd.
KIM: I can't hear it.
TONY: And I shall continue.
All right.
So I'm on my eighth web series right now.
It's this show called BlackBoxTV And that looks
right now like [SPEAKING BACKWARDS].
Melissa, [STATIC]
backwards for you guys like it was for me.
Can you guys hear me?
Am I good?
This is like--
TINA: You're good.
TONY: Oh, good.
Well, thank you very much.
WILSON: And I love your show.
I love your show.
TONY: And yeah.
So I've been creating web series online for five years.
And I love to do it.
And it's what I do.
And I'm now currently drinking pomegranate lemonade.
Just in case you all are incredibly curious.
KIM: Are they paying you?
No, no, no, no.
But that's a good idea.
I like this.
OK, random.
KIM: This talk sponsored by--
Wilson Cleveland.
Tell us about yourself.
WILSON: Can you hear me, first of all?
TONY: Yes.
TINA: Yes.
KIM: Yes.
WILSON: Awesome.
So I am Wilson Cleveland.
I am the creator of a show called Leap
Year, among other shows.
Leap Year and The Temp Life, and Suite 7 and The
Webventures of Justin and Alden,
which I did with Felicia.
So I've been in this world for quite a while.
KIM: OK, so let's talk about--
Tony, you just said you love working in this world.
And I think all of us-- we all get really similar questions.
So let's start with the question, why do we do this as
opposed to another form of media?
And is this where we want to stay?
Or is this like the stepping stone to some sort of brass
ring elsewhere?
TONY: Oh my god.
It's such a big question.
I was up all night editing.

I think it's--
we do it because we don't have a choice.
Because anybody who is sane wouldn't do what we do.
We do it because we're not afraid of the wild west.
We're not afraid of creating our own
identities and our own content.
And I think that that's something that you have to be
kind of a fool to do.
And I am a big fool.
And luckily, it's sort of paying off for all of us in
different ways.
Because we were willing to have our full time jobs and do
this full time.
And so I think what's this sort of stepping stone?
As you probably know, I'm working with Anthony Zuiker
now, the creator of CSI, on the new BlackBoxTV iteration.
And it's so cool to be able to do that.
But it's really a mind share for both of us.
Because he's teaching me a bunch of stuff that I've never
thought about.
But online is a completely different platform.
The way editing's done, music's done, cuts are done,
the way stories are established, the way narrative
goes through.
It moves at a completely different pace.
And so it's been this really--
it's just like movies are different than television.
Television is different than web.
And so when I think about, what am I going to do next?
I'm going to go on and do something else.
I actually really just want to get this right.
Because I have so much to learn in this space still.
KIM: And what about you, Wilson?
Because you have come into this space, sort of.
Now, you started through an advertising agency.
Is that correct?
WILSON: A PR firm, actually.
KIM: A PR firm.
Excuse me.
WILSON: I've worked for the same PR firm for 11 years now.
And we created the first web show specifically for a brand
back in 2006, The Temp Life that I was
talking about before.
So for me, it's less about working on the web as a
stepping stone for something else.
I mean, and obviously, one day I would love to create TV
shows for folks.
But we sort of approach it from a digital
marketing kind of thing.
So we make shows for companies to tell their stories.
So it's really more about focusing on web, making things
for the web specifically, as opposed to
looking beyond that.
At least at this moment.
KIM: And Tina, as a creator and a writer, why do you stick
with the web?
Your next project is a web project, not a TV series.
TINA: Well, I came from independent film.
And I love it.
And I'll still always want to direct film.
But I also love the web because it's--
I feel like you have the opportunity, first of all to
tell fun, episodic stories.
But you also get that chance to take certain risks and
chances that you won't get anywhere.
And plus, you have a huge audience.
I mean, I had always talked about it with regards to film.
Like, you go to a festival.
And your film goes to 20 festivals or whatever, you're
still not going to get the views that you would get, even
probably in a 24-hour span on the web.
And really, ultimately it's you want
people to see your work.
And the web kind of allows us to get our work
out there to everybody.
And you can kind of keep your vision.
If you can find the money to do your projects, you can have
projects that you look at and go, all right.
Well, that was still just my voice.
It wasn't everybody else jumping in because they're
giving me money and all that stuff.
I can just tell stories that I believe in.
And there's an audience for it.
And I kind of love having that in control in your hands.
You can push it out to everybody.
It's totally up to you what you do with it.
WILSON: I think it's a great way-- like what you were just
saying before.
I think it's a great way not just to-- when you're talking
about film, obviously, you rely on people coming to you.
But I think that the web is perfect for--
talk about being able to take it directly to them.
Like you take it.
You can actually make shows for very specific audiences.
And you can find out where they are.
And you can take it directly to them.
Which you can't do on television or film or any
other medium.
TINA: Right, absolutely.
KIM: I'm looking in the chat room, and I
want to get you guys--
people want to know what your site info is so that they can
check you out and subscribe to you.
So before we go on, why don't you give your Twitter handles
and anything else that's pertinent for
them to find you.
TINA: So my Twitter handle is tcwnyc.

Probably the best thing to go to is my personal website,
And C-E-S-A is my middle name.
So I would just go there.
And then you can find links to get to Anyone But Me as well
as get more info on Guards of Dagmar and my other short
miniseries, Good People in Love.
WILSON: And my Twitter handle is @wilsoncleveland.
And sort of like Tina's, if you want all the general
information on the shows and links and all that, just go to

TONY: And you can find me at youtube.com/blackboxtv or on
Twitter at @blackboxtv.
I have to fix this light right here.
It's really bugging the shit out of me.
WILSON: You have the best lighting of all of us.
KIM: --never saw Tony again.
Now, people in the Hangout, are you able to understand
what we're saying?
I'm just double-checking.
TONY: And yes, I'm wearing my pajamas.
KIM: Yay.
That's the other reason.
WILSON: I'm not wearing pants.
TONY: Tina?
TINA: I'm fully dressed because it's three
hours later for me.
And I've been out and about today.
KIM: Great.
So rednecks42 says, monetization is the elephant
in the room.
It kind of always is, isn't it?
So let's talk about it.
Because Tina, you said, if you can get people to give you
money, then you have great creative freedom.
But I think that the question for anybody starting out in
web series is, will I ever make money?
And if so, how?
TINA: That's always the big question, isn't it?

You can do the ad revenue.
And shares with if you go with Blip or YouTube or, you know,
Anyone But Me is on Hulu, which is a much
better option for us.
It's a tough question because it's still ongoing on how to
really figure out how to make the money to
continue your show.
And I think you just kind of have to do it creatively.
And you also have maybe hope for you can find some, besides
crowd funding, which we did for Anyone But Me.
We found the cash through crowd funding.
We also got a page from the arts [INAUDIBLE]
private funds that kind of helped the rest of it.
But yeah, I mean, monetization is always the big question.
And I don't think any of us really have the
answer to it yet.
But I do think that getting in the space now is a
great thing to do.
Because I think that the money is going to start coming in.
And people are starting to take
this a lot more seriously.
So when they start to take it seriously, they're going to
start to give money.
So that's kind of my answer.
I'm sure Wilson has a better answer than me, [LAUGHING].
WILSON: I think it really depends.
Obviously, I wouldn't [INAUDIBLE] monetization.
But we've always--
I've always kind of gone the way of people
pay me to make stuff.
So I typically don't--
and god bless everyone who has their own show and funds it
and finds the way, like Anyone But Me, and The Guild,
especially, and everyone here.
But I think, either get paid to make something, work with
someone who has the money, whether that's a brand,
whether that's a studio, whether that's someone that
has an interest in making something.
There's that.
So there's that route.
And then in terms of if it's something that you've created,
and you're looking to make money on it, that sort of goes
with what Tina was saying before.
There are ways.
There's certainly Blip and YouTube, if you can get in the
partner program.
And there's the ad revenue share.
I think another thing that's happening right now is
YouTube's spending money.
I think one of the things that is really encouraging for me
is seeing that a lot of the portals and the distributors
and the Hulus, Netflix, whatever, they're actually
paying licensing money.
Or they're paying to create shows.
I mean, Hulu had $500 million that
they're spending on originals.
So there's always--
creating something great for a portal or a distributor is
another way to go too.
So get paid to make the stuff.
Once it's made, it's ad revenue.
Or you can go with something like a Dynamo
and charge per view.
A player in view.
So there are a few ways.
In my opinion, you're not going to get super rich.
Unless you're Tony Valenzuela.
KIM: What's your secret, Tony?
TONY: It's so funny.
This is on my desk right now.
And it reminds me of what's capable in the web, sort of
WILSON: I have like 10 of those.
TONY: And I think there's a couple different things here.
First off, whenever I-- like, I was a recording
artist in the '90s.
And I was signed to BMG.
And I was a songwriter and all this kind of stuff.
And when I jumped into becoming a creative director
working in key art, designing stuff, I really had to take a
huge pay cut from that to that.
And when I jumped in from being a creative director to
this, I took a massive pay cut-- like, really scary
massive pay cut.
But I always feel like the difference between what I
earned before and then what I'm earning in my new love or
new passion, that difference I'm paying myself.
I pay myself to learn about that platform, to spend time
perfecting it.
So I always feel like it just kind of balances out.
It's also, I think, that the shift in eyeballs away from
traditional media to YouTube and to online video, the
numbers are huge.
And when you look at the views like an Annoying Orange gets
or a Philip Defranco gets or a Shane Dawson gets or a Guild
gets, compared to cost, it's insane.
Like you think, Shane Dawson's going to get 1.5
million views per video.
That's like 15% of what American Idol gets sometimes
at 1/1000 of the cost.
The numbers don't lie.
Like if you just want to get to the brutal why do I do this
and what do I think about monetization.
So I feel like it's this kind of thing.
If you come into web, you can't go in going, OK, I'm
going to be an Annoying Orange, or I'm going to be a
Shane Dawson, or I'm going to be a Felicia Day.
You don't go into it doing it.
You go in saying, I have a story that I need to tell, and
I have no choice but to tell it.
And hopefully, the monetization catches up.
It was really interesting for me after I did my first web
series, which I paid for myself.
It was like $15,000, which seems like a lot of money.
And I didn't have the money.
I did it all on credit cards.
I finished paying it off about two years ago.
And I did it about 4 and 1/2 years ago.
So just do the math.
WILSON: What was it?
Before BlackBox?
TONY: It was 2009: A True Story was my first web series.
It was in 2008.
And it was like, I just wanted to tell these
short stories online.
But it was interesting.
After going from there and then working right away with a
television network and doing a web series with them, and then
after that working with one of the biggest brands in the
world and doing a web series with them.
The only thing those two experiences showed me is that
when it comes to online video or web entertainment, we're
all sort of on an even playing field.
And it made me want to go independent again and try to
find my way.
And that's where BlackBoxTV was born.
And also working with Philip Defranco before that.
Because I felt like they had something that was so special
and so unique that the more traditional partners didn't
have a handle on.
And wouldn't be able to-- it's almost like the ship is so big
in traditional media, just them turning just a little bit
takes years.
And I didn't want to wait.

KIM: Wilson, what is it like?
Because you create for brands.
But at the same time, the reason that you are successful
is that the stories that you tell are very compelling.
Your content is still there.
Because I always tell people, don't do it backwards.
Because when I'm on a panel, people go like, well, I want
to make money.
So should I go to a brand and make a series about Band-Aids.
Please, do not do that.
WILSON: God, please don't.
For all of our sakes.
TONY: For the world.
KIM: Yeah.
But you have to do that on a certain level.
So how do you bring those two worlds together?
WILSON: I am very lucky to be able to do things the
way that I do it.
Sorry, my dog's flipping out a bit.
Because we make things for brands.
But we go through the PR route.
So PR is essentially about telling stories.
So that's why we're able to tell great stories through
shows, as opposed to working with an ad agency or going the
advertising route, where the product has to be the show.
We've never really done that.
And we've crested close to it once or twice.
But it's--
so what?
We sort of approach brands--
or brands approach us because they're clients of the agency.
But the brand is the investor in the show.
So if you think of the brand as like the Weinsteins or a
studio or someone that, they're actually putting money
into something that is good.
And the only thing is that whatever the story we tell has
to be tangentially relevant to whatever story the
brand wants to tell.
So for example, Leap Year is a show that's made for an
insurance company that
specializes in insuring startups.
So we made a show about five friends, or coworkers, who are
founding their first startup.
So it's relevant to what they do as a business.
But the brand is not in the show ever.
Because I don't think that the brand has to be in show
And I think that if it is, it can turn people off.
Another thing is that when brands will fund these shows
that are just way overdone, they're part of media buys.
And so they're not necessarily shows that people are choosing
to go watch, like Anyone But Me or BlackBoxTV or The Guild
or any of those shows.
They're part of an ad buy.
They get millions and millions of views.
But you sort of wonder, well, how are those real people?
So the budgets are different.
So we make shows for a brand's audience.
The brand's not in it.
But we're more concerned about real people watching it and
liking it and sort of building that base
around the content itself.
As opposed to just sort of using it as an advertising
play, where it doesn't really matter if real
people watch it or not.
TONY: Yeah, I think that's a really good point too.

It's so interesting to watch when a web series comes out
from a brand, and they get, like, half a million on the
first episode and 10,000 views on the second episode.
And by the way, I've done those shows too.

I'm actually using a specific example.
But it's like, I don't think we dropped that low.
But you definitely see that it's like--
That's what's cool about online.
I think that's why we can't give it up, right?
We're all continuously sucked into it.
And we can't run away from it.
Because it is this constantly evolving thing.
It's never boring.
I think to a fault when you're doing a web series or you're
doing any of the series that anybody on this panel has
done, or you're trying something new, there's nobody
we can rip off and follow.
It's always new territory.
And sometimes, especially with a show like BlackBoxTV, I wish
somebody else had done it, and I could perfect it.
If I was like the second person, then I could be like,
so this is how you do a genre web series on YouTube.
As opposed to, like, I'll try that.
They didn't like that.
I'll try--
They loved that.
Let's stick with that.
Oh they hated that one.
Just learning from your audience, your audience
constantly teaching you what they're interested in and what
they're excited about.
I think that's the thing, for me at least, that keeps me
disciplined enough that I don't sort of go off into my
blue Van Gogh period, you know what I mean?
They're asking for something specific.
KIM: Well, Tina, you did that with Anyone But Me.
Because you guys funded the way that we did with The Guild
is like, you would shoot some.
And then you would get audience response.
And then you even had a Kickstarter campaign.
So how did that work in terms of developing?
Did you take input from your audience in terms of
storylines and things like that?
TINA: Oh, no.
TINA: No, no, no.
Actually, I was down at this Writers Guild thing earlier,
and they had that same question.
And it's like, it's just not how we went about it.
Plus, I just think, if they watched it initially, and they
really dug it, then obviously what we're doing works.
And we don't need that kind of input.
I'm very adamant about us having a clear
vision of the story.
No matter if people like it or they don't, it's still very
clear that there's a voice to that story.
And so we didn't really do that.
And in our first season, we just kept
basically shooting two.
And then as we'd get the money and go shoot two more.
And we'd get the money and go shoot two more.
And it just kind of kept going that way.
And then the second season we knew we had full funding for
that season.
So we went off and shot it.
And doing the multiple seasons has been huge.
Because our numbers grew every season.
I was just saying how I remember our first episode in
our first season had, like, 500 views the first 24 hours.
And we were like, whoo.
We were psyched.
We were like, 500 views.
And then our second season, our first episode had over
25,000 in the first 24 hours.
And the third season was even bigger.
So doing multiple seasons really helped us to grow
And it just kind of kept going.
I mean, we were lucky.
We had someone that really believed in the show and that
was willing to put the money in.
We did kind of get creative and did a whole big webathon
to raise money for the third season.
Which, silly us, we made, like, 90 minutes of content
for people to watch.
And [INAUDIBLE] raise money.
Which was fun.
It was kind of a cool--
What's that?
WILSON: How much did you raise again at the webathon?
TINA: The webathon we raised about $33,000, I think.
WILSON: That's crazy talk.
That's amazing.
TINA: Yeah, I was fun to do.
We realized, wow, we shot an awful lot of footage just to
do this webathon.
But it was fun.
And then one thing about the web that I love--
WILSON: --clear that people loved it.
TINA: What's that?
WILSON: It's clear that people love the show.
If people are going to give you money,
they love your show.
TINA: Yeah.
That's very true.
And the great thing about the web is what Tony is talking
about too, is also it's fun to creatively think how to market
your show, and how to get eyeballs to it.
I love being in control of my show and just sitting and
thinking, what can I do to get people to watch it?
What else is there?
What creative thing can we think of to have
them give us money?
It's constantly like that.
And it's--
KIM: Yeah, that's a really good point.
TINA: --so fun to be able to do.
KIM: Because Felicia's always saying to audiences that when
the show is in the can, you're about a quarter done.
TONY: Exactly.
It's not like we--
I think that people don't understand that we have $0 for
advertising budget.
And most mainstream shows and movies will spend almost-- oh,
I already have--
we are fancy.
We are so good right now.
We have lavs.
I mean, it's like the first hour didn't happen.
KIM: Out of control.

FELICIA: But the advertising budgets for TV shows and
movies are almost sometimes equal to what it
costs to make something.
At least a third of the budget.
And that's where billboards come from.
That's where audience awareness comes from.
And we don't have-- we have $0.
We have never bought ads.
The most expensive thing we've ever done for the show is buy
a Comic-Con booth.
And that was just because I thought, we'll get foot
traffic, and we'll also be able to meet the fans who
already support us.
So it's very hard to grow an audience online because we
don't have the resources to pay for it in
the traditional means.
But to me, I think, you create better audience, in a way, if
they understand where you're coming from, and they're
invested in your show like you are, in a sense.
KIM: We're looking at some questions online, which are
pretty interesting.
FELICIA: Oh, ask them.
KIM: Keep them coming, you guys.
So one thing that we get asked all the time.
What do you guys think?
Do you think that web series are the new media?
Where is the meeting of web and TV?
Is it tomorrow?
Is it 10 years from now?
Are they ever going to be the same?
Or are we working in a medium that's always going
to be its own thing?

TONY: I definitely think that we're working in a medium that
is its own thing.
And you see that through viewer habits.
You see it by the 24/7 social cycle that we all live in.
This is a brand new thing.
So I think it's so hard to even define what our
deliverables are yet, or what the
expectations of us are yet.
But I think we're still really early on.
Even in answering that question.
I'm super curious what you guys think about that.
WILSON: I actually that it will always be its own thing.
The web and TV and film are definitely different mediums.
But I think what's going to bring it together is that
they'll just be available together.
So you'll have TV shows and web shows, and
it'll all be together.
I don't think it's necessarily going to be so uniform that
it's going to be, I don't know the difference between this TV
show and this web show.
I think a lot of people say that.
And it's really super wishful thinking.
But I know the difference.
I know the difference between a web show and a TV show.
Probably a lot of it's because of the marketing.
But I don't think it's going to be about trying to make one
look more like the other.
I just think that the technology of the devices and
everything coming out is that you'll be able to watch TV
shows and web shows together.
And so that can only help us in terms of discovery.
So for example, Leap Year is on Hulu.
And they put Leap Year up there with some of
the other TV shows.
And that's really great for us.
But we say, we're very clear to say, it's a show that's
made for the web.
So it's more about improving the discoverability for our
medium, what we're all doing.
I don't think it's going to be a matter of, it's all going to
be content anyway, one day.
That's another one of those things that drives me crazy.
Like, well, I won't know the difference.
FELICIA: Is there a reason, Wilson?
Because I know that Leap Year this season is a longer
format, right?
How long are your episodes?
And we're making Tabletop, which is a 30-minute show.
And my vlogging show is up to 10 minutes.
The first one is 10 minutes because it's
a little bit longer.
But we're making longer form stuff.
I know, Tony, BlackBox is making
longer form for YouTube.
Tina, I don't know about the length of your part.
But do you feel like there's a pressure to put more minutes
on the screen for the same amount of money?
Do you feel like there's pressure to be--
WILSON: We don't do it for the same amount of money.
I mean, it is.
It's true.
But is there a pressure to make longer
content for the web?
Or is there a push back where we need to just concentrate on
being short form?
Or what is the future of that?
WILSON: The appetite, at least for Leap Year, what I'm seeing
a lot, also, and we're all probably seeing a lot.
I think the appetite has changed a little bit.
I think people are more willing to spend more time
watching stuff online or Hulu or Hulu Plus.
People go to Hulu to watch half-hour or
hour-long TV shows.
So you would assume that if they're on Hulu,
they're more willing.
So we made 10 22-minute episodes of
Leap Year this season.
And we actually have--
we just wrapped a month in San Francisco.
We have six more days to go.
So we're going longer.
And on a site like Hulu, that makes a lot of sense.
On YouTube, we'll see.
We'll probably split each episode in half.
But I think a lot of people are getting used to
watching more time.
And if you're a total data geek like I am, look at the
ComScore numbers.
People are actually spending more time watching this stuff.
So I think the whole, it has to be shorter.
It has to be a minute, two minutes is not necessarily the
case anymore.
TINA: Yeah.
I mean, I would answer that too that it's very
specific to your show.
I don't feel like you can say, well, it has to be this many
minutes-- six minutes, one minute, whenever.
It depends on what your show is too.
And I think your audience really helps dictate to you
how long your episodes should be or need to be.
With Anyone But Me, for the first couple of seasons, we
just kept hearing, we want longer episodes.
We want longer episodes.
And finally, we just kept telling them, we
don't have the money.
FELICIA: Yeah, because I don't think people realize--
FELICIA: --why TV series cost $2 million an episode.
If you look at a TV series, and you're comparing our shows
to your TV series, even the cheap TV series are made for
probably two, three, four, or five times the budget of any
web series.
And there is a reason for that.
Because TV has to make so many minutes in such a
short amount of time.
It requires that many exponential more crew to make
that happen.
But as a viewer, people don't really care.
And it's almost more of a challenge if we're on the same
setting as a TV show in the streaming environment.
Because you can compare us much closer.
But we're always going to not have the fancy crane shots or
big name actors.
It's just never going to happen.
And what do you do about that?
TONY: I think you bring up a really frustrating thing for
us, but it's a reality of what we do-- especially since this
is about web creators--
is that the distance from a BlackBoxTV episode to an
episode of Game of Thrones is a couple clicks.
And so it's a little-- you know what I mean?
So people are like--
I don't get to--
you know what it's like?
You go see a movie.
Oh wow, it's Transformers, right?
Then you go home and you watch something that's just as
ambitious, but not as good on TV.
And you're like oh, but it's on TV.
Oh, it's on TV.
No one does that for us.
Because we're all on the same screen.
Nobody goes, oh, well, they probably only have $1,100 to
do this whole thing.
As opposed to the $100,00-plus that a TV show
would have to do.
But it keeps us on our toes.
Especially me, because it's so insane to do BlackBoxTV.
That is the stupidest--
whenever I speak to people on panels, they're like, how do
you become successful on YouTube?
I'm like, do everything opposite of what I've done.
Don't do something that's really ambitious.
Don't do something that's a brand new idea.

Do something that's SEO-based.
Do Lady Gaga covers.
This is the secret to success on YouTube.
But it's just not the path I can follow because my heart's
not in that.
It's in what I'm doing here.
But it is definitely true.
Their expectations, the expectations of the audience,
are so high throughout.
They don't give us a break.
Even though I'm starting to get an idea.
Maybe I put a dollar amount, like a [INAUDIBLE] dollar
amount on top of a video and say, this cost $500.
And then they would give us a little bit of break.
They're like, hey, he did that for $500?
That's good.
FELICIA: Do we have a couple questions, Kim?
Do we have any more questions from the audience?
KIM: Yes we do.
But let me see.
FELICIA: There was a question that somebody asked about
unions, which I thought was kind of interesting.
Now that we have SAG and AFTRA.
And I know people who are not web series producers are going
to be like, what?
This is a relevant question to anybody who is in web series.
So there's an actors' union.
And there's a directors union and a writers union.
And there's unions for the crew.
So in mainstream TV and film, there's a lot of contracts and
minimum expectation of budget you have to meet.
Web series have exceptions to that because we're so
But it's interesting to think about the unions working with
people and making it more easy for actors to work on a
low-budget thing.
But do you guys have any perspective about where that's
going as web video--
like we're saying.
It's on the same footing now almost as far as clickability.
But we're nowhere near the budget.
So where do you see that going?
WILSON: We've always had--
we've always been a union show.
So whether it's SAG, whether it's--
We've done a few things that are DGA.
SAG has, as everyone here knows, they
have a new media contract.
We'll see what happens now that the
SAG-AFTRA merger has been.
But I have always really felt strongly about if I have the
money to pay people above and beyond what they would expect
from a web project, I always want to do that.
I always want to pay what's union minimum.
I always want people to feel comfortable
about working in web.
And I want them to realize that creativity is the same.
Good writing is the same no matter what the medium.
So if you're a SAG actor, if you're a DGA director, I want
to be able to let you know that the web takes things very
seriously too, just as TV and film
takes unions very seriously.
We've always approached that--
Writers Guild, doesn't matter.
We always want people to feel like it's just as a
professional, take-it-seriously endeavor as
anything else they'd be doing.
TINA: Yeah.
I've always--
Anyone But Me has been SAG since, I believe,
their second season.
Because we started it pretty early, before there were any
contracts for SAG.
And then once that contract came into being, we got a lot
of knocking on our door.
And we just couldn't ignore it.
So we've been SAG ever since.
And on my other shows, Good People in Love was SAG.
And Guards of Dagmar will be SAG.
And we also were Writers Guild on Anyone But Me and I was--
FELICIA: You won an award, the Writers Guild Award, didn't
you, for that year?
TINA: Yes, we did.
See, there's a reason to be part of the union.

So right now, their contracts are in our favor.
I don't know what's--
I just can't imagine that they can keep
them that way forever.
because there are some TV shows who are doing--
there are some problems, like, long term.
People try to cut corners.
And they're really making a TV pilot, but they're doing it
under a web agreement.
So I understand why people have to be alert.
It's hard to on the same footing when now big players
are kind of jumping into the web.
And home grown people like us who don't have offices or
fancy production deals are on the same
footing making web series.
So it's obvious--
I think it's just going to be something that just sort of--
KIM: But it's something where you definitely--
what we're doing is something that is interesting to people
who are in unions because of the freedom
that they're afforded.
And so we're doing a show right now, this Written by a
Kid show, where I'm getting union people to take part.
Because they're just like, oh my God.
You're just going to give me a smaller budget, but I get to
do whatever I want?
And if that goes away, that's going to be really sad.
Because there's actors also that are doing it.
And they're just like, you know, if I'm not on a series,
I am bored.
FELICIA: We're all artists at the end of the day.
That's what we--
it's a business.
But at the same time, we're all artists.
And we just want to make cool things and
have people like them.

KIM: But I think it's also true that when you get to be a
professional, and you've been working in the unions for
years, you start to-- you remember fondly that feeling
of being sort of a scrappy startup.
And let's all just get together and make our thing.
And to take that away from people just because they are
in a union, and to remove that component from the internet, I
think would be kind of tragic, actually.

TONY: Yeah.
That's a super interesting question.
We've always been SAG.
I've always been SAG, WGA, DGA, just because of the
talent that it affords you.
And I totally support unions.
I just think the economics, like when you have a union
that handles a television show, and then our budget's
down here, there's too much of a gap right now.
And I really think that the unions need to figure out a
way to fix that in the way that the DGA, WGA, and SAG
have done, in a way that's really meaningful.
That they're saying, we care about creators, and we want to
be in production with you.

FELICIA: We have a question from Sean Parks, who asks, why
are low-budget screen productions less accepted by
the public than low-budget stage productions?
I think that goes back to the idea that we're on the same
click with something that's millions of dollars.
If you're in a stage production, you're kind of
like, oh, that's cool that they're pretending that they
have a drink.
FELICIA: Yeah, we can't really have space props.
KIM: Although we should.
Let's do that.
FELICIA: Yeah, let's just do it.
KIM: Talk about low overhead.
TINA: I don't see any other people going from Broadway
shows that are going to go off to the Lower East Side and see
their little black box production.
So I don't know how true that may be.
FELICIA: We have one from airgreed.
KIM: And Andrew Gleason.
They essentially ask the same question.
And I think a lot of people want to know this.
If you have a good script or a decent script, but you don't
have the means to produce it, what is your next step?
Like, what do you do?
WILSON: Figure it out.
WILSON: You did.
KIM: What was the first thing that you guys did when you
wanted to do your first project?
Do you remember?
TONY: Yeah, of course.
It's stayed the same even as funding has grown or budgets
have changed.
It's like, let your budget be your aesthetic.
If you have a story, work within your budget so that you
can create a piece that works right with your budget.
For me, the first thing I did was found footage because I
could afford to do a crappy little video camera.
So I made my two characters have crappy
little video cameras.
And I was still able to tell my story in a way that was
I wasn't trying to do, like, a crane shot and a helicopter
shot on my first web series.
FELICIA: Well, I think the irony is that we know the guys
who do Chad Vader.
And I feel like--
I mean, we did The Guild on nothing.
Like, we just borrowed a camera.
KIM: We shot it in houses.
FELICIA: And we used Freecycle for props.
We just tried to use good taste and light and sound
well, which is completely affordable.
So if you want to make a show--
the thing about Chad Vader is that they live in Minnesota.
So they shot--
KIM: Wisconsin.
FELICIA: Oh, Wisconsin.
It's one of those-- the cheesy states.
No, I'm just kidding.
But basically, they were able to shoot in a grocery store.
And the irony is that if you're in LA or New York or a
big city, the likelihood that anybody would ever allow you,
on your budget, to shoot in a grocery store is zero.
But they were like, yeah.
The guys just said, come on in.
So when you're outside the bigger cities, it's almost
like you have an advantage.
Because the location fees are so prohibitive.
Like to pay--
that's why we used Cheesy Beards so much.
It was the only place our friend would loan us.
WILSON: That's why?
Oh, that's great.
KIM: I mean, everything we use is--
FELICIA: -is friends.
KIM: --loaners.
Or people from Twitter.
When we were like, hey, we need an apartment for
Codex to live in.
Andrew Gleason.
Oh, well my family owns this apartment.
FELICIA: It's the only way we shot.
So literally, as long as you scale it properly.
Like of course, if you're writing where you're
rappelling down a building, like it's probably not
[INAUDIBLE], guys.
WILSON: Lay off on writing the opus for now.

Honestly, it really comes down to, you find a way.
You just find a way.
If you want to, you do it small first.
And maybe then you can do it bigger later, or whatever.
But I will say on that note, however you want to do it,
make sure you own it.
So that you can make different versions of
it and all of that.
And that you are able to enjoy the spoils of all
of your hard work.
FELICIA: Pay attention to copyright law.
Don't put Lady Gaga in the background and expect that
never to get taken down.
WILSON: And register everything with the Writers
Guild, with everything.
Just make sure that you own your show.
KIM: Yeah.
Get all your social networking addresses.
Yes, it's really important.
FELICIA: Let's see.
We have a couple other questions.
Let's see.
Can people pitch you guys shows?

TONY: I love pitches.
They're so fun.

FELICIA: We had a lot of requests for that because
we're kind of launching this network, which is interesting.
We need to figure out a policy.
Obviously, there's a lot of copyright problems.
Because we don't want people sending us scripts, and we
can't accept them and stuff.

How do you do it?
You guys answer.
WILSON: I get pitched--
and I don't want to discourage people from doing it.
It's just, most people come to me like they go to their dad
looking for money.

Sort of like, oh, I hear that you make shows for brands.
Well, I have this wonderful show about bikini car washer.
And it's like, I can't do anything with that.
I think the misperception about what I do is that I can
just magically pair brands with your dream project.
And oh yes, like Ricardo Montalban That's not it.
I'm always--
TONY: I love that show.
WILSON: Right?
You can always pitch me.
And whether or not I can actually do something with it,
I am always very happy to give people thoughts if
they ask for it.
But I also am always happy to connect people with others who
I think might be interested in what they're doing.
And I tend to know lots of folks.
I'll always try to help.
I may not be able to write you a check, but I'll
always try and help.
That's Annoying Orange.
TONY: I have an idea about a talking orange.

It's really difficult because you really want to work with
your audience in a way that they're a part of the
storytelling, and they're a part of the bigger narrative.
I try to give my audience lots of interactive events and live
events and things like that.
Things like this, where they can be-- by the way, hello,
icepack92, Tito, and hipsterturtle and Tina Undead.
Thank you for watching.
So I just want put that out there real quick.
I was just like, I have to say this so I
don't forget you guys.
I love you guys.
So I think that one thing is you want to reach out and talk
to your audience and engage them in any way.
But you get into some sort of difficulty when people are
sending you 45-page scripts for a five-minute episode or a
15-minute episode.
FELICIA: You kind of have to set up a procedure that
protects us legally.
Because there's always going to be one crazy circumstance
where it's just not legal.
So I guess when our empires are big
enough to take pitches.
KIM: But right now, we can't.
I mean, it's like anybody.
You can't take pitches because you might be working on
something that is that same thing.
FELICIA: And then they're gonna be like,
you stole my idea.
But as far as getting involved.
Every Guild extra who's ever been onscreen screen who
hasn't been a friend of ours has been in the show because
of Twitter.
So I don't know if you guys have involved any of your
audience directly on the screen.
But we definitely involve everybody on every level.
WILSON: That's amazingly fun to do.
Like when you--
there's a character on Leap Year this season that's named
after one of the show's biggest fans.
I love doing stuff like that.
We've had people come on and just sort of be there.
I love that.
That's a lot of fun.
KIM: That goes back to owning your IP.
Because these decisions we make--
I was like, let's do a subscription drive And
Felicia's like, OK.
And it took like two seconds to decide that.
We didn't have to go ask anybody else, and it didn't
have to go up the chain of command.
But if you own your IP, then you can decide how you want to
[INAUDIBLE] later.
FELICIA: We don't have a boss who's like, let's
do a test on that.
TONY: You know what, I want to ask you guys a question, Kim
and Felicia, because I'm super excited about the motion
comics section.
I'm excited about everything, obviously.
But I saw that, and I was like, finally.
Because I love motion comics, and I buy them off
iTunes all the time.
And so for you as channel creators, what was that
process like?
And what made you excited about bringing in other
people's stories and bringing them to life and all that?
Because I'm super excited about that.
FELICIA: Oh, thank you.
We actually are having the creator, Eric, on at, I
believe, let me look at my list, 6 o'clock.
He's going to talk about it.
And he has a huge background in big-budget movies.
He does special effects for them.
So the fact that he basically made a motion comic on spec
and submitted it to Dark Horse.
And they hired him to make their motion comics for him.
And they couldn't make motion comics until I came with him
with the slate.
It's kind of a crazy, roundabout thing that now he's
doing the whole show on YouTube.
I think it's a cool story, definitely.
And he's going to talk a little bit more about his
background then.
But as far as adding it to there, I wanted to--
we were making the slate.
We know that other people on the web do things better than
we could do them.
And we don't want to repeat their work.
So there were plenty of coverage stories on comics and
real comic aficionados talking about comics in depth.
So we were like, well we don't want to do that.
But we want to include comics in our slate, just as we did
with gaming and books and storytelling and
everything like that.
So Dark Horse had talked to us.
And I was like, hey, do you want to make
some videos for us?
Because motion comics, I feel like the technology is iffy.
It's just kind of one of those things that's in flux.
And they mentioned that they had this amazing technology to
make it a little bit more audience-friendly.
So we're super psyched.
And we're going to have an episode every day this week up
because we're doing a 30-minute part thing that
we're cutting up.
So Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, there'll be a
four-part motion comic going up.
TINA: I love that.
KIM: It's the same thought that it's us being able to
give back what happened with us when we
were funded by Microsoft.
Where they said, hey, we don't do what you do.
We do this other thing.
So do what you do.
Clearly, you're doing OK.
Because we can see from your YouTube views
that people like you.
So let's work together.
And so we were able to do that again with Dark Horse and then
with Sword and Laser, these properties that already exist,
that are doing well.
FELICIA: We want to help them out.
KIM: Yeah.
And we like the people.
And we just get to say, do what you do well.
And do it with us.
We're really lucky because--
I don't know if you guys-- because we're working either
on our own or with tech companies.
And I feel like across the board, everybody we've worked
with have been very creatively hands-off in a way that
allowed us to really bust our butts making it as good as we
could on our resources.
Because we are able to invest ourselves in it, versus being
kind of managed in a way.
And I don't know--
especially if you're making it for brands, do you feel like
you still have that creative freedom, Wilson, to really
make what you need?
Because it seems like it does.
WILSON: Luckily--
we've just been very lucky that the brands that we work
with give us a lot of creative freedom.
Because, like you said, they trust us to be the
storytellers of--
kind of their story.
But they really just kind of--
I think for Leap Year season two, all the scripts--
and it's like 2,200-some pages for the whole season.
I think they maybe had like three notes.
And that was it.
And they were like, OK.
Go with it.
And it was like, you can't say "shit" or whatever.
And yeah, he can't do profanity.
TONY: Shit!
WILSON: But that was really it.
Because if a brand tries to hover over the storytelling,
it's not going to work.
They need to trust you.
They need to feel good about having hired you
in the first place.
FELICIA: So just to wrap up, because we're about to give
away another one of our fan prizes.
We're going to bring some fans in a second.
But just really quickly, if you guys could just give top
two tips to somebody making a web series from your
The things that you wish you knew when you
first started out.
Just top two.
Why two?
I don't know.
Because I said it.
WILSON: All right.
Mine are always know who you're making your show for
and where they spend their time online.
And make it for someone and know where to get to them.
TINA: Wilson took mine.
So I'll go with those.
But I'll also go on the creative side.
Just really make a story that you're passionate about and
that you really want to tell.
And not go and look at what everybody else is making and
make something derivative of that.
Go and make what you want to make.
And yeah, it's not always easy to be the
first out of the gate.
But I think in the end, you're better off.
And you're telling a story that people are going to
connect to because you feel passionate about it.
TONY: You guys-- see?
I shouldn't have gone third.
They're both really good responses.
I'll repeat again, let your budget be your aesthetic.
Do it within your means so it is produceable.
And then also I would say you definitely want to do
something that you love and you feel really strong about.
Don't follow trends.
Web gives you an opportunity to tell your story and tell
the story you want to tell in your own way.
So take full advantage of that because that will also give
you a competitive edge against other people.
Because your own experience and your story is, a lot of
times, unique to you.
WILSON: One more thing I want to say.
Don't make a show in a vacuum.
Make sure you watch--
it will help you if you watch other people's stuff.
Watch other web series.
That's true.
WILSON: Know what's going on.
FELICIA: And my one tip is always know that it's only a
quarter of your work after you make your video, the best
video you can make, it's really a quarter of your work.
KIM: Yeah.
And know that you can engage a community that is--
you can start small.
You can engage three people.
But if those three people really like it, then they're
going tell three people, and so on, and so on.
Just like when [INAUDIBLE]
people are going to be telling everybody about the
subscribathon and making them subscribe to Geek and Sundry
to give money to Best Friends Society.
KIM: Yes.
TONY: Yay!
KIM: You guys, plug yourselves one more time.
FELICIA: Yeah, plug yourselves.
KIM: Tell people where to go to subscribe to your channels
and et cetera.
I would say, go to now that I know, I'm going to do YouTube,
That's the new show, Leap Year.
TONY: Oh, ladies first.
God, ladies first, [INAUDIBLE].
WILSON: [INAUDIBLE] make me look like an asshole.
FELICIA: Tina, where can somebody find your show?
TINA: You can also just go to tinacesaward.com.
Or you can go to wardpicturecompany on YouTube.
That has my playlist of all my shows on there.
KIM: Sweet.
TONY: You can find me at youtube.com/blackboxtv for
sci-fi, thriller, and horror.
And also on Twitter at @blackboxTV.
I'm so excited for you guys.
And I think this is really going to
be an awesome channel.
I love watching the playlists and all the stuff
you guys are doing.
So I really--
FELICIA: Oh, thank you.
FELICIA: We're looking forward to your show as well.
KIM: Yeah.
FELICIA: It's going to be awesome.
Let's all support each other.