For today’s Five Questions With…, we get some insight from Zadi Diaz, the co-creator and host of Epic Fu, one of web video’s longest-running series. She discusses the importance of net neutrality to online video creators and how HTML5 is helping move things forward.
Online distribution site Blip.tv is aiming to engage with the local web series scene by opening an office in Los Angeles and hiring Epic Fu co-creator Steve Woolf to work directly with creators interested in using the Blip platform.
[show=epic-fu size=large]The Internet is a place for reinvention, and there are few who understand that quite so well as Steve Woolf and Zadi Diaz, who last night relaunched their groundbreaking web series Epic Fu — making this the fourth iteration of the show since its launch in June 2006, when it was known as The Jetset Show and targeted towards 8-to-10 year olds. Since then, Fu has had deals with both Next New Networks and Revision 3, nearly made a TV show and continued to push the possibilities of interactivity inherent to
As opposed to earlier incarnations, which celebrated the Internet’s wacky breadth, Fu‘s new format features greater focus on specific areas, with two new episodes every week focusing on music on Mondays and film on Thursdays. However, in the first episode, the definition of film in this case has been broadened to include discussion of Conan O’Brien’s online possibilities and other more memeish projects, such as Tumblr-famous fiance Justin Johnson’s Film Fights project.
Diaz’s signature high-octane editing style remains constant, however, as well as Woolf’s sharply-worded, self-deprecating scripting — the episode is soaked with frank acknowledgment of the fact that producing content for the web isn’t exactly a path to fame and fortune, with jokes focusing on the joys of the unemployment line and YouTube commenters.
The irony is that Woolf and Diaz stand out as some of the community’s most successful creators, which shone out clearly at last night’s Tubefilter-organized event in Los Angeles. There, Woolf and Diaz discussed the ups and downs of the show’s history, including why they left Next New to join Revision 3 — a decision due in part to the fact that NNN “wasn’t on the same page” with them in regards to factors like a potential television deal, while Rev3 “didn’t care.”
Fu‘s secrets to success, according to the pair, are two-fold: One, they worked hard early on to champion interesting bands and videos, and as a result developed a reputation for being tastemakers that made brands excited to be associated with them (HP and Intel are currently sponsoring the new season). Two, they created and nurtured a community around the show, and the Ning-based Mix forum not only gives the Fu audience a chance to interact directly with Woolf and Diaz, but enables them to influence the direction of the show. The plan in future weeks is to build this out even further with a new blogging project, created in partnership with the British Council, which will help give Fu a truly international flavor while also bringing new voices onto the site.
They also spoke publicly on why their TV deal with a “cable news network” didn’t end up happening — the factors being that the money wasn’t quite enough to justify the amount of work that would have been involved, and that the contract was far too restrictive, keeping Diaz from being involved with any other projects beyond the web show for a period of two years. They admitted that in the early years of their career, their neighbors — after seeing the camera setups in their apartment and hearing that they “made a video show for the internet” — thought they did porn. “If we did porn, we’d be driving a better car,” Woolf joked.
Streamy and Webby award-winning Epic Fu, which built up a passionate community around its fast-paced geek culture show, has been off the air since May, and its fans haven’t known what to think. “I didnt want to admit it, but ive given up too :-(,” wrote one fan, Tanner, a couple weeks ago.
Creators Steve Woolf and Zadi Diaz say that times in the web video biz have been tough, but they’re going to come back better than ever. “The new mission for Epic Fu will be to create a participatory network that shows people that their ideas matter and that they have a way to get their message out to the world; an entertainment and information network made of blogs, videos, discussions, and media about how technology affects entertainment, music, art, politics, style, and relationships,” Woolf posted to the community forum. Woolf expanded via email that the plans include a blog network and a shorter show format with less post-production.
Read More about Whither Epic Fu? Next Steps for the Seminal Web Show
Zadi Diaz and Steve Woolf, who ditched web studio Next New Networks for competitor Revision3 last year but then got dropped by Revision3 amid cost cuts, are back with Next New Networks. Not for their flagship show, Epic Fu, but for a new geeky Best Week Ever-style series called Hacking Hollywood.
Produced by Diaz and Woolf’s company Smashface Productions, and with commentary from the web video makers at Tiki Bar TV, Galacticast, and Invisible Engine, Hacking Hollywood lays at the intersection of technology, entertainment, and snark. The show is on Next New Networks’ WePCtv channel, and is sponsored by ASUS and Intel (s INTC).
The first episode pokes fun at various examples of computing aboard the Starship Enterprise:
Layoffs have become the dominant story as we near the end of 2008. After writing about the cold economic realities for companies that have had to cut staff, we wanted to find out what it was like for the people who are now unemployed. Just how bad is it out there for new media folks looking for work? We talked with three people at different stages of their job search to see what, exactly, they’re up against.
Sarah Lane was with Revision3 for a year and a half before being laid off at the end of October. While she did a lot at the company, she was best known as the host of popSiren. I spoke with her just a couple weeks after she had been let go.
“It’s great to be unemployed sit in my pajamas for like five minutes,” Lane said. The problem she encountered is that even though there are companies interested in her, there’s just a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the market right now. “Some people have said ‘If I could guarantee that you had a job in a year I’d hire you,'” said Lane. Problem is, those companies can’t guarantee anything right now.
Get a bunch of video creators into a room, with beer, and the conversation won’t ever stop. That fact was well-demonstrated at this Monday’s Vlogger Reunion fest at Annie’s Courtyard Cafe in Santa Monica, hosted by Next New Networks.
I asked those attending the shindig what they thought the best thing that might come of the ongoing economic crisis. Their answers reveal a surprisingly positive outlook for the future of new media (and, possibly, pornography).
NextNewNetworks says that the loss of three high-profile shows was just a coincidence, and that it is actually ramping up development of new programming.
We used to comment that Revision3 was just an excuse to get the old TechTV gang back together. But now that they’ve got all the geek cable stars tied up, the online video startup is looking outwards, bringing in web video stars who’ve already established followings of their own — first Veronica Belmont, and now Zadi Diaz and Steve Woolf of EPIC-FU.
Diaz and Woolf had only just announced that they’d let their relationship with Revision3 competitor Next New Networks lapse. To be clear, the two write, shoot, produce, star in, edit their geeky pop culture news show themselves, and they’ve even created a robust fan community site. That isn’t changing. What NNN offered and Rev3 will now offer is ad sales, distribution, and cross-promotion. And though Woolf and Diaz are showing with their feet that they think Rev3 offers a better package.