5 Questions With…Actor/Producer Stephanie Thorpe

For this week’s Five Questions With…, we’ve got someone comfortable on both sides of the camera. Actor/producer Stephanie Thorpe‘s future projects include the David Nett-directed Night of the Zombie King: A GOLD Adventure and the Scott Brown-directed Asylum; her activities in the web series world have ranged from acting in the Streamy-nominated series After Judgement to organizing the second Celebrate the Web event. Oh, and she and co-producer Paula Rhodes got Elfquest creators Richard and Wendy Pini to support their efforts to make a fan film. Below, Thorpe discusses the lack of outreach about quality online content, as well as the value of a good cat video.

1. What’s the one big issue/law/attitude/restriction that you think is holding back the industry?

A lack of education and outreach from the community to change the widely held belief that there isn’t anything good on the web. I hope that we take up the challenge here and focus on changing the way people think about online content. I think that as an organization like the IAWTV continues to evolve, we’ll be in a great position to lead the charge in getting out the word that there’s more and more exciting and worthwhile content being produced all the time.

2. What industry buzzword do you never want to hear again?

Tweeps. In fact, most of the Twitter-based words are like nails on a chalkboard to me, and as we know, they’ve exploded in the past year or so. It’s probably my background in linguistics rearing its head, but I pity the historian who has to sift through our culture centuries from now.

Having said that, I do have a soft spot for “twoosh,” thanks to @ZacharyLevi.

3. If someone gave you $50 million to invest in a company in this space, which one would it be? (Mentioning your own doesn’t count.)

This is a tough question. There are a bunch of companies making strides into the future regarding how we consume entertainment and engage with it. I’ve always gravitated towards fantasy/science fiction genres, and we are really on the cusp of a new frontier here in new media: There are several companies I would immediately hand that money to, but I can’t mention them yet.

In lieu of that, Hulu is a forward-looking company that recognizes it must constantly evolve to remain relevant to users. I’m also intrigued by the newly launched Path, operating on the principle of Dunbar’s Number, which strives to provide users with an exclusive “quality network” via the fifty friend restriction. And for now, since you can only capture and send visual images, you are literally seeing the world through your friends’ eyes.

Finally, as an actress and new media producer, social networks have fundamentally changed the way I interact with my fans and friends, so I would still invest in Facebook and Twitter. Specifically, I have to credit Twitter for making our Elfquest fan fiction project possible.

4. What was the last video (that you weren’t personally involved with) that you liked enough to spread to others?

I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but it’s the truth: Secret Kitten. Nothing soothes the stress of a hard day like a pile of kittens.


I’ve also been sharing a lot of links for the series Riese, currently on Syfy.com. The creators have really impressed me with their world-building skills and fierce attention to details, and the show, with some nifty new editing and a V.O. by Amanda Tapping, has only become stronger since it initially debuted. The series finale is this Tuesday, so I hope everybody checks it out.

5. WILD-CARD: You recently successfully used crowd-sourcing to fund your Elfquest project — how was the experience of seeking out fan donations, and do you think it’s a sustainable model for creating web content?

Crowd-sourcing with IndieGogo was a wonderful experience. We set up our page and within two days we were halfway to our goal, ultimately reaching it in one week. By the end of our campaign, we finished 40 percent over our initial goal. We were a unique case since not only could Paula and I draw on our own followings as actresses and producers, but there was also a thirty-year buildup of fans all over the world who were thrilled to donate to a series we all love. Thanks to crowd-sourcing, we got a tremendous amount of press and excitement for the project, which we will shoot in early 2011.

I do think that crowd-sourcing is a viable means of raising money, and IndieGogo now emphasizes that the projects can be anything, not just entertainment-focused. My only concern is that it could burn out if creators are always tapping the same pool for donations. For example, I know five series currently raising money via this method, and as much as I’d love to, I can’t donate to all of them.

But if your project is unique and you are targeting a specific audience with your campaign, I think it can be very successful. I’d also like to stress that using a crowd-sourcing site, while making many aspects much easier, isn’t a magic money tree: As with all endeavors, you still have to hustle and promote your project.

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