The second season of Anyone But Me racked up over 4.5 million views since its premiere in December. But the Streamy-winning lesbian teen drama’s third season may now depend on its fanbase, as its creators initiate a donations program with a twist.
[show=downsizedshow size=large]Serving more as meditations on a theme than an episodic adventure, Downsized is a sometimes moving portrait of humanity dealing with the consequences of tough economic times. It’s tempting to classify the series as a production of the recession, but there’s a timeless quality to Downsized, thanks in part to the emphasis on the characters in each vignette.
Created by New York-based actress Daryn Strauss, who also acts in the first episode, Downsized premiered last summer on YouTube (though distribution via Strike.TV and DailyMotion has begun over the last two months).
Each episode focuses around an new set of characters trapped by financial circumstances with broader implications, whose lives are often touched by the occasional burst of absurdity to liven things up. The heavily handheld filming and editing style by Chris Shimojima invokes a documentary feel without pushing the narrative into a fauxumentary place; instead, it just adds to the intimacy of the episodes.
According to a director’s statement on the site, the bulk of Strauss’s cast come from an on-camera master acting class, and while the quality of the acting is occasionally a bit uneven (Chris Henry Coffey as the uptight businessman from episode 2, for example, lacks a third dimension), there are moments which truly sing. Read More about Downsized Represents an Upgrade in Episodic Drama
Attending the Strike.TV screening at the American Cinematheque last Friday was like going on a trip in a time machine. I say this not because the hour-and-a-half screening — broken up by lengthy Q&As with a wide range of cast and crew from the approximately 15-20 web series featured — was held at the historic Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles, but because the entire evening was mired in the year 2008.
This attitude came from comments made by the execs present, such as CEO Peter Hyoguchi, who admitted that the reason Strike survived the economic downturn was because it’d never managed to become a full-scale operation. “It’s good we never got funded, because you have to be in business to go out of business,” he said. But while during both the introductory videos and the Q&As, creators waxed romantic about the joys of producing their content for the web, free of studio notes and other restrictions (exactly the same points that were made in 2008), some of those same creators did engage in some real talk about just how far, financially, they were willing to take their labors of love. Read More about Strike.TV: Still Stuck in the Year 2008?
Netflix Prepping Another Prize Contest; company said it will provide more details around a second recommendation improvement contest in late September. (USA Today) Meanwhile, the first Netflix Prize contest is still going on, and more than 30 competitors joined forces to overtake the initial — though unofficial — winner. (Epicenter)
Kaleidascape Loses Appeal; DVD copying suffers another setback as its initial court victory is overturned. (CNET)
Review: Eight TV Tuners for Your Mac; turn your computer into a television with these gadgets. (TheAppleBlog)
Strike.TV Signs Coma, Period; the dark comedy is about a man who mentally wanders around a white void and is tormented (playfully) by his own subconscious. (Coma, Period)
ESPN Taps Kyte for Elite 11; Kyte player being used for online series surrounding prep quarterback competition. (Kyte Blog)
Good-bye Tarantino, Hello Anvil; new technology and self-funded promotional tactics are now the norm for independent film. (The New York Times)
Viddler Adds HD; video-sharing site finally joins the high-definition party. (Viddler Blog)
[show=bumpsinthenight size=large]It’s a sad fact that those who devote themselves to the world of paranormal investigation are oftentimes rational society’s punching bags, rarely taken seriously by those with more pedestrian outlooks on the natural world. True believers find themselves routinely mocked and ridiculed — even Fox Mulder of The X-Files couldn’t catch a break (and he looked like David Duchovny).
Nonetheless, shows like the Sci Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters score impressive ratings and inspire countless spin-offs and rip-offs. Is it because Americans, no matter how much they might protest otherwise, are fascinated by the possibility that there’s something more on this earth than what’s plain before us? Or is it because the people on these shows are crazy, and that’s never short on entertainment value?
The latter is probably what the creators of Bumps in the Night are banking on. A fake reality series following a pair of bumbling paranormal nuts, whose day job as pool-cleaners might be turn out to be the break they need, the second episode debuted today on Strike.TV, chronicling Emmett (Emmett Furey) and Greg (Greg Benevent)’s attempts to save a girl from the ghost haunting her pool. Hopefully, there’ll be some information of use on the Internet and their supervisor at the pool-cleaning company (John Reha) won’t get in the way.
Bumps is short on serious narrative but surprisingly quick-witted and fast paced — especially given that episodes run a little long for web series, coming in at around 6 minutes on average. Read More about Bumps In the Night Hunts Ghosts, Finds Jokes
In the new Strike.TV pilot Fusion, a forensic psychologist and a well-meaning cop join forces to catch a killer — who is also a cop, albeit more of the prostitute-murdering, rogue variety. Lest this be too easily mistaken for Law & Order: Special Internet Unit, this otherwise routine formula is spiked with a little supernatural spice: None of the players involved are of the Human 1.0 variety.[show=fusion]
Fusion, which premiered on Jan. 26, is the brainchild of Richard Manning, a man who boasts serious sci-fi cred with projects like Farscape and Star Trek: The Next Generation under his belt, and his winning way with speculative fiction does much to breathe otherworldly life into the typical crime procedural format. The lady psychologist has a whole touch-based, second sight thing going on. And both good cop and bad cop, when provoked, transform into lizard-eyed, growling menfolk with superhuman strength. Despite Manning’s highly visible forays into deep space with his previous work, these characters are planted squarely on terra firma and duking it out in a monster-of-mysterious-origins grudge match. Read More about Fusion’s Good Cop/Bad Cop Paradigm Gets Paranormal
Oh, admit it. Some of you are here solely because the phrase “young lesbian love” caught your eye. But this isn’t about that sort of Internet clip.
Anyone But Me is a coming-of-age lesbian drama in which teen protagonists in NYC dare to live out their post-pubescent love story far away from the shiny 90210 zip code and its municipally mandated boob jobs. Ahhhhh, but just because we’ve jumped coasts doesn’t make this the coke-sniffing, orgy-hosting Manhattan of Blair, Serena and Chuck, either. It’s a quieter, more poignant, post-9/11 version of the city, complete with long-distance relationships, blossoming sexuality and out-of-touch parents.[show=anyonebutme]
Anyone But Me follows Vivian, a teen who finds herself forced to move out of the city, and away from her girlfriend Aster, due to her father’s health complications. As if changing high schools during the tumultuous teen years isn’t agony enough, she now must navigate the less culturally diverse waters of suburbia, at a point in her life when her confidence in both her relationship — and perhaps her sexuality overall — has not yet withstood any true test. Heck, even her dad and well-meaning aunt aren’t totally clued in to the heartbreaking upheaval of it all. Welcome to My So-Called Lesbian Life, minus Claire Danes. Read More about Young Lesbian Love Is Luminous in Anyone But Me
Former lonelygirl15 writer Mary Feuer’s With the Angels, a series exploring the diverse community of Venice, Calif., has been quietly building an audience with its offbeat subject matter, strong acting and audience-engaging interactivity. We talked with Feuer about the challenges of creating a drama for the YouTube set, learning from mistakes made on lonelygirl15, and the potential for a second season. An edited transcript follows.
NewTeeVee: So, after working on lonelygirl15, which definitely has more of a sci-fi genre bent, what’s it been like working on With the Angels, which is much more of a drama?
Feuer: I like being able to go a little deeper into characters, without having to worry so much about big plot events. A lot of the feature rewrites I get hired to do are about bringing a layer of character to the story, so I’m getting to really play to my strengths right now.
NewTeeVee: Drama is pretty underrepresented in online video, though — do you feel like there’s a reason for that?
Feuer: I guess it’s because it’s harder to write, harder to gain an audience for. It requires more investment from viewers, and it’s definitely not going to go viral.
NewTeeVee: Is there a way to do a drama that you can engage with immediately, though? Or does the essential nature of drama mean that you have to make that greater investment? Read More about Q&A With With the Angels Creator Mary Feuer
Everyone else is linking to it (including Chris this morning, but that’s because it’s kind of the funniest thing on the Internet today. Funny or Die brings us Prop 8: The Musical, making the case for repealing the California anti-gay-marriage proposition in musical form. Everyone famous in the world is in it. Enjoy.
And we also look at Speedie Date, which mines the institution of speed-dating for dramedy purposes. Find out more about the new Strike.TV series, including its plans for Season 2, at NewTeeVee Station!
Mindy Kaling or Michael Buckley? Jessica Alba or Jessica Rose? Of course it helps to have well-known faces attached to your web series, but from what world should you draw them: the mainstream media, or the online video community? (Because the 6th thing we learned at NewTeeVee Live is that there’s definitely still a divide.)
If you’re not looking to be a flash in the pan viral hit, but rather a long-term success, you might reconsider the involvement of the truly famous. While having a known name like Amy Poehler behind your show is of course a huge benefit at launch time, for any sort of longevity you still have to build an audience for that actor within the online video community. And that actor has to be invested enough to stick around.
Felicia Williams of Next New Networks said on a recent panel at OMMA that “when a traditional celebrity embraces online video, such as when Jessica Alba challenged the Internet to a staring contest, it does huge numbers, but if that’s not the case it’s anyone’s guess.” Co-panelist Jake Zim of Safran Digital Group (whose projects include PG Porn), on the other hand, believes that it depends on your company’s business model. Safran focuses on the possibility of selling its projects “upstream” (ie: to TV networks and other opportunities), which is easier with mainstream personalities known offline. “But Gary Vaynerchuk,” whose phenomenally successful Wine Library TV made him one of our breakout video stars, “will work his ass off,” Safran said.
As mainstream celebrity’s increasing expansion into online video is a pretty new phenomenon, the success of shows like Poehler’s Smart Girls At the Party is hard to measure. But because mainstream celebrities are often busy doing, you know, whatever made them celebrities in the first place, hinging a project’s success on their availability is a dangerous game. Read More about Online Celebrities or Mainstream Celebrities: Who Should You Cast?