GADZOOK FILMS Producing independent film in Seattle, Los Angeles and beyond.

8May/13Off

Monetization of New Media – a panel recap

Hi there! I was lucky enough to attend a panel discussion at USC this past weekend featuring the likes of Freddie Wong (FreddieW YouTube channel), Mike Tringe (co-founder, CreatorUp), Matt Arnold (RocketJump), Jeremy Azevedo (Sr. Director of Original Programming at Machinima), Seth Jaret (CEO of ContentEngine), and Tarika Khan (Maker Studios). The subject of the panel was Monetizing Content for New Media Platforms. As this was a pretty common subject during my webseries meetups I thought it was prudent to attend. Here's what I picked up:

Note, if you're a frequent visitor to my blog you'll not see a lot of new info here.

Let me start out by saying the theater was packed for this. And why not? This is some juicy shit right here. We all want to know how to make that Google money. The general consensus across the panel was to diversify your revenue streams as much as possible - organic brand integration and Google ads being the top money-earners for YouTube channels. Other streams include getting paid to tweet, crowdfunding, merchandise sales, and licensing deals (work for hire). Of course none of these are really possible until you have an audience.

So we come back to content and developing your content along with your audience. Freddie, Matt, and Seth were very clear that your content is who you are - this is quite simply your business. Don't skimp out on content just to get shit up. Make something you're passionate in and research who might also like that. Target that audience - blogs, forums, Facebook groups, etc. Find wherever this audience may be hiding and direct them to your channel. Then work with them to improve and provide more of what they're looking for. But bottom line if you're not passionate about your work your audience is going to lose interest as well.

To be truly successful it entails a lot of work. You need to have a new video at LEAST once a week. Your audience is content hungry. The channel reps - Jeremy and Tarika - emphasized this point. Their channels aggregate millions of views and content is continually being uploaded and spread across their network. There's always something new. If you're releasing once a month or less (like I am!) you'd better be backing that up with content elsewhere like a blog, website, Twitter, or better yet all of the above.

I'm not sure who on the panel said it but you want to "establish your eyeballs" first. That is, grow your audience using your content. Once you've got a sizable enough viewership then you can start to make a dent in monetizing. I can tell you first hand that even 10,000 views on a video amounts to a pittance in Google ads. Something like $0.24 or so. But if you're posting multiple 10,000+ view videos a week, that can slowly add up and your content then becomes more valuable to brands looking to expand their own viewership.

Freddie had a good point in encouraging new producers to not rely on view count alone. Audience engagement can be worth a lot more in the long run than strictly views. If users watch the first second or so of your video and then turn it off or switch to something else you'll never keep them long enough to watch that mid-video embedded ad. An engaged audience member is many more times likely to follow an advertiser you link to, share your video, and donate to your Kickstarter campaign.

If you want to get yourself involved with a network like Machinima or Maker you need to establish yourself first. Both entities work with "personalities" and deal less with producers trying to pitch shows to them than they are incorporating producers who already have shows running with modest success. The benefit of joining a network like that is an increased viewership and a revenue stream that's spread over many similar channels.

The main thing to remember is that you are your brand. Owning your IP (as Felicia Day has done with The Guild) is of utmost importance. But, as Jeremy at Machinima stated, it should not kill you to keep your IP. Be prepared to negotiate in order to get what you want.

Lastly YouTube is not, as many people believe, a "meritocracy." No matter how good your show is it could linger at the bottom of YouTube searches for a myriad of reasons. Think "virality" when you create content in addition to production value. Work on tags and metadata. These will help bring in that audience to help you monetize your videos.

What do you think? Agree or disagree with the panelists? Were you there and think I missed anything important? Let me know in the comments!

14Jan/13Off

Blue Wizards

Hey folks! Howdy! I'd say things are picking up here but in reality things are simply piling up. So my resolution this year is to try and clear out old projects to make room for new. Shoot ideas that have been languishing in a notebook for far too long. And, primarily, just start making things again. House of Yhargoth, the Lovecraftian webseries I've been pushing for almost two years now, is still on the edge of funding. But with that on a precipice what else have I to keep me busy?

The Blue Wizards Journeying East by Ted Nasmith

The Blue Wizards Journeying East artwork by Ted Nasmith

One of the concepts I thought I'd try and tackle concerns one of my favorite Tolkien mysteries: The Blue Wizards! I've always wanted to know what happened to these two. For those unfamiliar 5 wizards were sent to Middle Earth to help curtail the rise of Sauron: Saruman, Gandalf, Radagast, and the two Blues, Pallando and Alatar. In fact, Alatar was the second wizard chosen for the task after Saruman. Tolkien explains that they went into the East along with Saruman and essentially leaves it at that. They "likely" failed, he writes, similar to how Saruman failed although perhaps not as epically. But a few years before his death Tolkien gave the wizards a reprieve and rebranded them as heroes without explaining how they became so. I've got a good idea for a storyline that can tackle some of the other mysteries of Middle Earth. To whit: the Dwarf Lords and their rings of power. There are four Gandalf mentions as having been destroyed by dragon fire. But where, when, and how is never explained. And more! This is a fun one.

I've also been working on a project that's a little more personal. More details on that as I can wrap my brain around it.

I plan on releasing the first of some old projects in the next few days. This one has been sitting on the shelf for FOUR years.

What have YOU been working on? Any exciting projects in the future?

5Oct/12Off

Where Does Money Come From?

Piggybacking perhaps on my recent post about selling out, just where do you hope to find your financial backing? In the web-series world I think a lot of faith is placed on the nebulous world of online advertising. Still others are hoping some mysterious force - be it fans or sponsors - will see the work they do and offer to help out. But all of these methods insist you actually make your show FIRST.

This method has like a 20% success rate. That's a completely made-up and biased number based on little more than my impression of the industry. But go with me here. How many of you have started projects offering folks deferred pay with the promise of creating a stellar project which would - now here's the key - lead to financing for a 2nd season. Raise your hand. Now how many of you have successfully financed a second season. Like, raised everything you needed to fully pay everyone industry rates AND pay them the deferred fees agreed upon for the first season? Is your hand still raised? If so we definitely need to talk. If not, read on!

Truth be told most projects, including many Hollywood endeavors, start off as passion projects. At least one person commits the time and energy and (often) money out of pocket to get their project to a level where people with money will actually look at it. This could be a script to pitch, a Kickstarter campaign video, or an entire first season of a web-series. You can't really get away from it, you can just strive to limit the time-suck by getting your shit together before you ask other people to come on board.

OK, so let's say you've gathered your team and they have all agreed to work on this project for nada. Remember you've promised them that with excellent work and the kind of production value you expect from a million-dollar per episode television series, you'll be able to pay them because... ?

Sorry, how will you?

If your business plan is simply to make an exceptional project and hope for the best then you're not finished with that plan. I would hesitate to even mention it to anyone - be they potential crew or potential investors. With film business plans it's imperative to present to your investors (including potential deferred cast/crew members... yes they're investors too!) not just the sort of business you expect to do (comparables) but also how you hope to acquire that business (revenue streams). This info can easily be extrapolated to web-series as well, and I strongly recommend you go through and make a business plan now (or update it).

Think about it. No one expects you to make a shitty web-series. Everyone is gonna hope for the best of course! So promising to make the best one you can is a foregone conclusion. But once production is over how hard are you looking for your audience, aka your financiers? You MUST start before you hire your first crew member or cast your first role.

Trust me I'm a gold-winning overly-excited-filmmaker. When I have a project idea I want to MAKE IT. And that works if you don't care about making money. But if you are promising people that, yes, eventually, you want to be making money then you need to think about it.

OK. But where, pray tell, is that money? It could be via a distributor (XBOX Live), via a sponsor (Sprint), via audience support (Kickstarter). I will most definitely go into this in a future post but I want to hear from you. Where are YOU looking for money? You don't have to give specifics but what is your business plan looking like? Have you advanced beyond the "hope for the best" mentality? Have you approached backers somehow before you started shooting?

19Jul/12Off

When to “Sell Out”

This is the first of what will be an ongoing series documenting my attempts to get "House of Yhargoth," my Lovecraftian webseries, made. Some key details may be omitted as I'm actively in talks and I don't want to hurt my chances. But I'll fill you in as soon as I can.

Now, I hate the term "sell out" not because it's a derogatory term for anyone who appears to hold money above art but because it appears to be applied indiscriminately to anyone who accepts a paycheck rather than simply "doing it for the love." What many people fail to recognize is that art costs money, and love alone cannot pay the bills.

This post sprung to mind as I saw many of my fellow filmmakers successfully raising some funding via crowdsource websites like these guys for instance. And they're not alone. If you're one of the many hundreds of creators who have been able to fund your projects yourself, or with the support of friends and family through crowdfunding initiatives, congratulations! If I may be so bold, I'll assume your projects are restrained in scope to a degree you know you can fund and produce well. Or you just have a lot of fans and a good product. Or... you're terrible at budgeting and take a lot of the work on yourself and possibly burden your crew and overstretch your resources. Bottom line is you're making something and for that you should be congratulated!

Now back to me... I've debated using something like Kickstarter to launch my webseries for a long time now. In fact, I have extensive spreadsheets noting best times for starting campaigns, best practices once they're launched, ideas for pledge tiers, sample tweets, interested parties, and more. Lots more. Suffice to say if I were to start a campaign tonight I could probably whip up a pretty good one.

Would It Be Enough?

Here's where things get tricky. I've shot dozens of short films. I've budgeted & scheduled everything I knew would cost me more than $100 and take more than a day to shoot. I know how much things cost and I know how long things take. After going through the script for my Lovecraftian webseries and consulting with line producers galore, I came up with a budget and schedule. I had a number now... and that number did not scream "CROWDFUND!" to me. It was too large in comparison to my meager (but loyal and awesome) fanbase. And even if I was able to excite the audience the show was intended for, I wasn't positive I could get enough of them on board the crowdfunding train.

What Other Options Are There?

Here's where "selling out" comes into play. If you don't have the funds and don't have the network to get those funds, you need to go outside that network. To that end I've been seeking potential distributors to sell the idea to (with the intent of staying on board as producer with Faye as head writer). Shock! Gasp! I can hear you choke.

After you choke I can hear you guffaw: "But Dom," you manage through stifled laughter, "Just make something cheaper!" To which I retort, "Why?" I've played in those trenches and I'll definitely be back but I can't make this show in that field. I recognize that the level-headed amongst you will shake those level-heads and wonder why I don't simply prep a smaller, more intimate and affordable show to start out with. Frankly I find those types of shows are not my cup of tea. I got in this business to make shows like House of Yhargoth.

"Why don't you just shoot a piece of it, and see what happens?" I'm terrible at analogies but let me try to explain this one: Imagine having a piece of a pie. It tastes good. So good you want to tell everyone you know about it. You run out, send emails, and notify everyone you've ever met that you just had the best piece of pie in the world. When everyone comes back to try some you find the pie has been decimated by time, eaten away by flies and rats and is no longer edible. You can make a new pie but by the time you're done everyone has moved on to cake.

See, the internet is fickle - that pilot may hit like a hot poker and wow everyone. But if you have nothing to release the following week you're destined to lose any support garnered from the pilot. Crowdfunding for a single pilot is possible, but as I said it's how one can follow that up. There are ways to make this work, of course, but they revolve around having money... I'll reveal in another post.

Why sell off the idea you are so passionate about?

Well to be honest I'm SO passionate about this idea I'm not going to do two things:
1) Make it for anything less than it's worth.
2) Not make it.

That means I need to raise money somehow. Next!

Does That Make Me A Sell Out?

Depends on who you talk to, I guess. There are people who take great pride in eschewing the Hollywood system. It's a tricky tightrope to walk - retaining independence or paying people. And I don't say that blithely. Salaries are the single largest component of film budgets - and the reason why so many modern indie filmmakers become a jack of all trades doing the editing, shooting, writing, directing, etc. themselves. While I enjoy that component and it's certainly made me a better overall filmmaker, I prefer to use pros when possible. Wouldn't you?

Why Is It So Important?

My dream is to take this back to Seattle. At the budget level I'm proposing it would be a not insignificant project for the local community. Money would be fed back to local businesses and people - people who helped me out when I was just starting by donating their time, equipment, and a whole lot more. This is a sustaining project as well, being episodic and all. Not to mention Seattle has all the built-in locations a story like ours needs. It just works.

So that's what I'm doing right now and why I've been fairly incommunicado since my last major post about the show. Not much to report when at this stage it's all unreturned phone-calls or passive-aggressive e-mails. But that's gonna change...

18May/12Off

Peer Review

I put it out there, and I mean it: if you'd like some peer review or advice I'm more than happy to help. But I stress that if your project sucks I'm not gonna sugar coat my response to placate your fragile feelings. So yeah, I put it out there but rarely does anyone take me up on it. Until now.

The Monday Knights is a new webseries created by Prescott Harvey and shot in Portland, OR. I was messaged via their Twitter (@MondayKnights) and invited to give some feedback on their show. So I did.

I watched the first three episodes to get a feel for the show and see if my initial reaction to episode 1 was gonna hold up. There were issues to be sure, but there was also some great stuff. I won't get too deep into the nitty-gritty of each issue but suffice to say there were problems (of varying degrees) in each major department: script, acting, camera, sound, editing.

I hemmed and hawed before sending my response. To be honest I don't like pointing out flaws, but I do think it's invaluable. With my own stuff I'm usually painfully aware of what's wrong before anyone else. I usually can't fix it, but once it's finished it's nice to hear who notices what I did and who didn't - or who picked up something entirely new from it. When I finally hit send on my email I had watched each episode at least three times. I consulted my books and other blogs to make sure I wasn't talking out of my ass. I did my due diligence.

I fretted about the response. But Prescott couldn't have been more receptive. Like many filmmakers he's passionate about his work, but he clearly wasn't wearing rose-colored glasses. He agreed with my points and sought clarification and advice for how to fix things in the future. In the end, it was painless. I'm really looking forward to his show growing because it has a good deal of potential. Plus Prescott allowed me to, if I so chose, go into that nitty-gritty in order to help other webseries producers in the future. Maybe I'll take him up on that. Set up a master class of some sort.

It's important to grow as filmmakers - especially in this emerging new media market. Even so it's not always great to hear what's wrong with the show you've spent months working on. You want it to be a homerun. But with a simple e-mail to a source you trust, it's easy to get feedback in a constructive, unintimidating way.

For added pleasure, ask me (or whomever you want to give you feedback) before you post to the world, if possible. You may not have enough time or resources to make the fixes, but it may better prepare you for the audience response. Audiences, in general, are pretty forgiving for most things - if the story is good enough.

Now if I ask you for a critique of my show, I hope you'll oblige.

9Dec/11Off

Producing is Creating

Inspired by an old post I found over at SOLO: The Series I decided I'd give you an update on our own webseries and just why it's taken almost a year to get to this point from the initial conception of the idea to a finished script.

So just what the hell have we been doing? When last I wrote about the show I had the über-idealistic goal to have a webseries screening on your computer by... uh... now. Whoops! The time has not been wasted, however, as we've been hard at work making these characters live and breathe.

Tasked with taking my initial concept and making sense of it all has been my good friend and frequent GadZook Films collaborator Faye Hoerauf. Let me just go a little more into this enigmatic dynamo behind a lot of what we do here. If you're a GadZook fan you know Faye's work as the award-winning co-writer/co-director of Snow Day, Bloody Snow Day and as an award-winning co-writer of Hook Her as well as the sole writer of Old Tricks among quite a few others.

I turn to Faye so often because she's not simply a good writer, she's a good storyteller. She asks questions and is able go well beyond the scope to make sure the story is holistic and not self-serving. Over the last year she's woodshedded a lot of the story I had initially come up with and turned it from a wispy scotch pine to a full blown working canoe. Terrible analogy. Bottom line: Faye's great and the series is in excellent hands with her writing.

Conceptualizing. Reading. Writing. Brainstorming. Designing. The world of this show has taken shape. All the little things we do as we (the producers) prepare a project to release into the wilds. Reading Lovecraft is not like reading, well, there's almost no comparison appropriate. You read one story (say, "The Dunwich Horror")  and that effectively eff's you up for a few weeks. It's a strength and a curse of his writing. So good. Anyway, I've been going through his stories for inspiration (of which there is plenty). So for the last year we've been trading back and forth: I'll come up with an idea, Faye will write; Faye will come up with an idea, I'll give feedback and she'll write some more. Around February this year we sent the first draft to some friends we trusted. The feedback was invaluable. And we went back and started cropping, re-arranging and tightening.

Last Tuesday I put together a small read-through with some friends of mine to see how the whole thing sounded. Using the most recent version of the script finished literally hours before the readthrough. Frequent readers of this blog may notice that this is - OMG - precisely what I think ALL creators should do. Get it read and get feedback. As this was the 2nd round of feedback we were anxious to see if all the work had been for naught.

I'm happy to say the readthrough was a big boost of confidence! Everyone seemed to really dig the premise and the characters, the pacing and length. Is it perfect? No, of course not. But it's grown from this crazy idea I had over a year ago (another OMG moment!) to a living, breathing show.

I just wanted to share my excitement with you, dear reader. And I hope to share more as we inch our way closer to pre-production! Stay tuned!

8Nov/11Off

Why Do (Most) Webseries Suck? part 3

Welcome back to this ongoing pontification about webseries. In Part 1 the topic was focusing on originality to set your show apart. Part 2 discussed the need for a compelling story over all else as your main audience development tool.

Let me be very clear, these are basic concepts familiar to many filmmakers regardless of what the destination format may be. But webseries production introduces new limitations for writers that make it very different from your typical traditional media production.

Most narrative webseries (those with a story arc, as opposed to informational/reality series) are harder to write than your traditional media projects because of several inherent issues:

Time Limit - optimal web videos destined for virality are between 1-3 minutes long. If they can impart their message faster than that they have an even greater chance of being passed around. By contrast most short films bound for festival runs are between 12-20 minutes in length. And TV shows are somewhere in the 22-48 minutes range.

With shorts and TV shows and movies there are very clear broadcasting standards as well as programming considerations. With webseries there isn't such a clear guideline.

You have to take the brevity of the viral video along with the production considerations of the short film plus the episodic nature of a TV show. But there's no magical logarithm to find your ideal time limit.

You have maybe 6-10 minutes to tell your story in each episode. Trust me when I say even just 5 minutes can have the emotional impact of a half-hour TV show if you pace it right. 5 minutes can also feel like a half-hour and have NO impact whatsoever.

I've seen many filmmakers with episodes that are way too long. This is often seen with comedic series where episodes are written around a single lame joke for about 5 minutes... long after the audience got the joke and finished chuckling. Aim for the 2-3 minute mark when editing, but if your story is good people will watch more. Just don't bank on it.

Once you have your audience hooked on your character's story, they'll want more. The webspace is fairly unique in that your audience can easily access past episodes, recaps, character bios, etc. through your website and get caught up. In my opinion you don't need to spend 10-20 seconds recapping your previous episode, or have a minute long credit sequence. There's some dissenting opinion on this regard, of course, but for my money I believe if the audience is interested in your content they'll do the research to catch themselves up - naturally disregard this if you crowdfunded your show and offered a credits listing on the show as a perk.

Accessibility - This may sound contradictory to my previous posts about uniqueness and niche, but I assure you they're very separate.

You do not have the time to develop one character for 15 minutes before you introduce another. Or drop in your first major plot point three episodes down the road. The more shows I watch the more I see the good ones like Solo or GOLD or JourneyQuest introduce the characters, the basic plot and the construct of the world in the first episode. Further episodes expand at a more gentle pace once you've established who everyone is and what they're after.

So you can see when writing a webseries you need to make it both accessible and thrifty with time. Keep that first episode under 10 minutes if you can with the knowledge that you want it to be only as long as it needs to be. All of this should help you develop your story. Hand off your script to friends who maybe aren't familiar with your concept. Ask them if, after the first episode, they know who the main people are and what they're after. If they don't have a clear idea after just one episode... you're in trouble.

What are your thoughts? What obstacles have you seen that set webseries production apart from more traditional media? Stay tuned for the final installment in this series next week! Please share with your friends and comment below!

1Nov/11Off

Why Do (Most) Webseries Suck? part 2

Hey, welcome back! This is Part 2 of this multi-part series where I'll go into some of the roadblocks facing webseries producers and how they can improve their idea to get an audience and have a successful show.

2) Producers don't know what's wrong with their own shows.

There's a favorite argument amongst web-producers over the word "webseries". Many believe the word itself is the factor preventing audiences from finding or watching their work.

In last week's post I went on and on about the standard, blah, unimaginative "traditional" webseries. Some producers believe now that the term "webseries" connotes bad quality because it is overwhelmingly associated with this content. This isn't an entirely false assumption, but it's scapegoating the very thing that sets us apart.

We need the word webseries because we produce shows for the web. If we produced shows for TV then they'd be TV series. It's very simple and silly to want to change the term for what we do. But I'm getting off the topic at hand...

Still other producers choose to blame their own AUDIENCE as the reason their show isn't more popular. For some reason they call out their audience for not sharing the show with their friends, or for not "getting the premise" when they lambast the show on YouTube. Protip: If the people watching your show don't get it or in anyway don't like it - you're doing something wrong. Not cool, dude, not cool.

It's not what we call what we do, and it's not who watches our show - clearly it's the content that's king. A great idea does not a great show make. Beyond simple technical issues like bad sound or a shaky camera there's still the story and the performances - the things that audiences truly, passionately care about.

If you're not getting an audience to watch your show it's likely not what camera you shoot on or what editing system you use to cut it. It's what your show is about and how you tell your story. Filmmakers are often trying to shift the blame - I've certainly been guilty of this. "Oh," they say (I've said), "we'd have more fans if we shot in HD and bought a better mic." While technical skill is impressive, it cannot hide a shoddy or, more appropriately, uninteresting story.

Sure, not all people will get your show. That's not the point. The point is that you're squandering what small reach you have by alienating the people who are seeking your show out. In marketing, well, I'm sure there's a term for it in marketing... let's just call it "word of mouth." What? That's the term? Nice. Anyway, webseries need word of mouth advertising. We don't have the vast ad dollars of movies studios to plaster banner ads all over Facebook. If you think word of mouth didn't help nobody, I invite you to check out The Guild.

As a 7 year veteran of the 48-Hour Film Project I've seen my share of winners and losers. The winners tend to have a healthy mix of story and technical savvy. Fancy camerawork is impressive, and special effects (done well) can bring an audience to its knees - once. But if there's no story to back it up the audience doesn't have anything to latch on to.

When writing/producing your webseries think to the story - what makes it better? What makes it stirring? Funnier? Who you cast, how you shoot and what music you use. Every decision you make for your show should be for the betterment the story. That's what's wrong with your show... fix it.

Next week I'll berate those of you who think none of this applies to you. Naw, don't worry... it'll be fun!

25Oct/11Off

Why Do (Most) Webseries Suck? part 1

Woah there, cowboy! Let me clarify. Not ALL webseries suck, silly. Just most of them. But why? And why would anybody want to jump into this game if the odds are so heavily stacked against them? In this multi-part series I'll go into some of the roadblocks facing webseries producers and how they can improve their idea to get an audience and have a successful show.

1) Most webseries suck because they lack originality.

It may surprise you to learn that a lot of people think webseries are all about out-of-work actors/filmmakers and their hilarious dating lives. If I had a nickel for every filmmaker/actor who believed their personal life would be ambitious or hilarious fodder for a show I would probably have upwards of $6.35. Yep.

While there are some good shows out there based on this premise and I certainly don't mean to lump them all together, it's a pretty tired concept. So many TV shows, movies and yes, webseries, have done this better and way before you set your pen to paper.

But this isn't the only tired concept out there. There are dozens of mockumentaries done in the style of "The Office," hundreds of series about a bunch of 20-somethings living life and dating each other a la "The Real World," or "Friends," or whatever. Again, I don't mean to cast aspersions on ALL such shows. I would gladly point you to a decent one of these... had I the time to go through the dozens of shows in this milieu.

As my friend Tom Becker of Ogre Mage puts it, these shows "poison the market." By popping up in Google searches for webseries and flooding review sites these shows form a sort of wall. They prevent the casual audience member from learning about the vast variety of web content out there by virtue of overcrowding the system.

How do these shows generally come about? My guess: The basic motto for beginning writers to "write what you know." Along with "write for what you can get" and you have the combo for a lot of terrible shows about uninteresting people in less than glamorous places. With a dearth of hastily written shows about nothing in particular it's no wonder audiences are shying away from webseries as a whole.

So what CAN you do? Taking all this into account you simply need to ask yourself "Is my story worth telling." Is it something that you need to tell, or is it just something to put your face on the map? Who would benefit, i.e. enjoy watching this? You're going to have to narrow it down from "all people ages 18-45," friend-o.

Think niche, baby. High concept. There's such a vast audience available to you via the internet why focus on an audience that is split so much already? Find a story that ignites your passion and tweak it to fit your available resources. Sure, you might not be able to do that zombie western you've always wanted, but maybe you could do that stepping stone project. The point is if audiences are rejecting your show your show probably didn't have a cohesive audience targeted in the first place. I guarantee if someone told you to watch a show about their lives you'd groan too. Unless maybe they were a time-traveling astronaut werewolf. That's something I'd watch.

You may only have access to one other friend and your only location may be an apartment (although I'd argue with you here). That's fine... it's all in what you do with what you have at your disposal.

Next week I'll go into more depth about why webseries producers fail to see the problem inherent in their shows and instead blame the medium or worse, the audience! Let me know what you think in the comments!

30Mar/11Off

Making a Cthulhu-based web-series is not all shoggoths and rainbows

DespairI've been working on this web-series since November 2010. What is it? Who's in it? Where can I watch it? What's it... uh... called? All excellent questions. Hold your horses...

Let me tell you how this whole thing came about. I wanted to make something based in the Cthulhu mythos ever since I played my first round of the Call of Cthulhu RPG about 20 years ago. Thoroughly creeped out after each adventure, I'd track down any Lovecraft story I could find to remind myself that they were just stories. Amorphous blobs of floating jelly with dozens of eyes and a haunting wail didn't really exist! Right? Didn't help. I loved it.

I sort of lost track of Cthulhu and those wacky Elder Gods once I left college. It made for nice icebreakers with friends but I hadn't read any of the stories since high school. Then late last year I started working on an idea for a web-series about a down on his luck guy who hunted monsters. Rolling the idea around in my head - and yeah, that does sound like a fun premise - I couldn't figure out how to make it work. I remembered Lovecraft and his twisted imaginary abominations and suddenly things started to gel.

The bulk of the writing on the series is being handled by the esteemed Faye Hoerauf. Many of you (6?) blog followers know Faye as part of the writing/directing team of our short zombie-comedy "Snow Day, Bloody Snow Day" which is STILL playing in festivals around the world. She's taken my initial idea and expanded and informed the world allowing it to become something personal and convincing. To be sure, our Cthulhu series is a distinct departure from the comedy bits we've produced in the past (and will continue to produce in the future). This is also a project that I'm already extremely proud of and can't wait to share with you!

Over the next few weeks I'll be dropping tidbits about the production, ways you can help and when it'll be available for all to see. We're aiming for September, keep your fingers crossed! There's a lot going on here and I just wanna say thanks for your continued support and I think you're gonna love this show.