Here’s what’s new in the world of web series since my last edition of Web Series Salon.
Deadbeat arrives on Hulu
Hulu announced a new original series, Deadbeat, starring Tyler Labine as a medium who helps ghosts take care of unfinished business. The series also features Cat Deeley as a rival medium. All episodes of this comedy series are now available.
#CandidlyNicole Jumps Screens
Nicole Richie’s reality web series #CandidlyNicole, previously exclusive to AOLon, will be headed to VH1 as a regular half-hour series starting this July.
New Company Hopes to Bring Interactive Soaps to the Net
Net Soaps / Net Novelas is a new company from Ken Corday, who is a producer of Days of Our Lives, and All Screens Media. Unlike Prospect Park (another company which attempted to bring existing soap operas One Life to Live and All My Children to the internet, but has filed for bankruptcy), Net Soaps / Net Novelas will produce interactive, localized content exclusive to the web.
Big Frame Acquired
Big Frame, a multi-channnel YouTube network that pairs YouTubers with advertisers, was purchased for $15 million by AwesomenessTV (which was itself purchased by DreamWorks Animation for $33+ million last year). Vloggers Tyler Oakley, Chris Thompson, and actor/singer Drew Seeley are among Big Frame’s member channels. This deal comes on the heels of Disney purchasing another YouTube-based company, Maker Studios (http://www.dtvusaforum.com/blogs/tmcmeekin/1066-web-series-salon-maker-studios-rupauls-drag-race-more.html), showing that big media is getting serious about short form web content like YouTube that has previously been dominated by smaller companies and individuals.
Amazon Greenlights Six Exclusives
Amazon announced that is ordering several new exclusive series. The pilot episode for these shows, and others, have previously appeared on the service. The After, a dystopian series from X-Files maven Chris Carter, and Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor as a character beginning gender transition, are among the six new series. The other shows include: Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street, Wishenpoof!, Bosch and Mozart in the Jungle. Amazon has also renewed their political-themed show Alpha House for a second season.
GAME_JAM Crashes, Indie Developers Walk Off Set
GAME_JAM, a planned web series about indie game development by the YouTube channel Polaris (part of Maker Studios) halted production after just one day. An overzealous representative for the sponsor (Mountain Dew), contract disputes, technical issues, and sexist questions were some of the alleged problems. Several of the developers who were to participate walked off set. Some of these developers, as well as a journalist invited to the set, wrote about their experience online.
“At some point, GAME_JAM outgrew itself, attracting the attention of major sponsors, as well as a couple of our “high creative” production executives from the adjacent office down the street, and over the next four or five months, the show began phasing into something less documentary and more docu-tainment,” wrote Jared Rosen, who said the project started out not as the drama-filled reality competition show it became, but as an opportunity to show actual indie game development and its “closely-knit spirit of togetherness.”
Between Two Ferns Boots Healthcare.gov Enrollment
Zach Galifinakis and his comedy series Between Two Ferns, shown on Funny or Die, proved an unlikely political ally to The Affordable Care Act (also known colloquially as Obamacare). After President Barack Obama appeared on the web series, traffic to the healthcare.gov, where people can enroll in the program, increased.
“As a mother of two 30-something sons, I know they’re more likely to get their information on ‘Funny or Die’ than they are on network TV,” U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told the Huffington Post.
There are literally more than a thousand projects that come up under a search for “web series” on the Kickstarter website. This occasional “Crowdfunding Spotlight” will highlight a few of what I think are the best and most notable video projects that are currently seeking funding, via Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, GoFundMe, and any other crowdfunding sites. (This is not investment advice. Please invest in any projects at your own risk.)
HelLA is comedy series about “only in LA” moments, created by Rory Uphold. Season 1 has 1.7 million views on YouTube and Funny or Die, and they are currently raising money for season 2. $50 will get you downloads of both seasons, plus some other goodies. They have about $10k of their $15k goal, and funding ends May 8.
AFK is about a group of gamers who get stuck in the video game they play. They must deal with all the dangers the game world has, without the benefits of additional lives, and must also get used to their new bodies (including gender and age differences from their former selves). The producers describe it as “Lord of the Rings meets Battle Royale.” $65* (plus $10 for shipping outside NZ) will get you a DVD of season 1. It currently has only $3k of the $40k goal, and needs to raise the money by May 11.
* All amounts for this project are in NZ dollars.
Format is a web series pilot being filmed by students at Emerson College. It needs about $500 more of its $3k goal, but has only 4 days left. Just $15 will get you a digital download of the film. This visual effects-heavy show is set in the near future and follows a person who breaks his memory-aiding device, and can no longer do his job.
(Note: this column originally appeared on the DTV-USA Forum website on 03-31-2014)