I’ve interviewed JibJabber Gregg Spiridellis a couple of times, last time at their studios in Venice, California. Wish I’d had this clip to post as an extra at the time to show a little slice of their workplace and give a little company history – it’s an interview with CNN. But it’s never too late to share the JibJab love, especially when they’ve got a bunch of new Halloween videos and ecards.
Here’s my latest Banff fest article on Blogcritics:
- Online Fans Represent TV’s Vocal Minority
“Does Eric Millegan’s fate in the Bones finale still have you fuming? Can’t stop talking about Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard, and Anne Dudek’s powerful performances in the House season ender? Pondering Swingtown, looking forward to Sanctuary, and can’t wait for the boys of Entourage to return? Like many fans, maybe you’re expressing those thoughts online … and maybe the people behind those shows are reading. During various sessions at the Banff World Television Festival, TV writers, producers, and directors commented on their reaction to that instant, online audience reaction.” Read more.
All my Blogcritics Banff articles so far are gathered here. I’ve still got several I want to write, and am working on a mammoth one on a couple of The Craft sessions that I’m trying to make less mammoth, but now that I’m back at work the flow of articles will slow.
And the Banff hits keep on coming … my interview with Sanctuary executive producer/director Martin Wood is now up on Blogcritics. The TV version of that formerly web-based series will premiere on Sci Fi in the US, TMN/Movie Central in Canada, and ITV in the UK in early October.
- Sanctuary Leaps From Net To Network
“When you’re that far in front of the wave, you’re sitting on the foaming edge of it. Everybody looks at you and says ‘ok, how are you doing this?’ And you have to turn to them and say ‘not very well, but we have an idea.'” Read more.
A quote that didn’t make it in the article but that kind of sums it up is when I asked him what the challenges are in the transition from web to television and he said: “The challenge is in staying on the web.” Quarterlife, for example, may have been seen as a failure as a TV show, but Wood’s opinion is that no one’s found true success (as in, financial success) as a high quality web-based series.
Some of what Wood says reminds me of part of my interview with Gregg Spiridellis, the JibJab guy, that didn’t make it into that article:
I think most people appreciate the fact that if you want to produce high quality original programming there’s a cost associated with it and advertising doesn’t support original programming online.
That Spiridellis interview occurred soon after the writers’ strike was resolved, so I asked him if he’d been watching those events, since it brought out stories of writers as entrepreneurs, wanting to take away control from the studios:
I think they were great stories. I mean you heard about writers gathering together to go raise VC (venture capital) money. If that happened it would have been a good indication that we were approaching a bubble, you know, the end of the bubble is about to pop. So I was kind of glad to see all that calm down, because it’s really complex. We find television’s a different medium. It’s a different kind of storytelling on the web, it’s a whole different perspective, and while someone may be an awesome sitcom writer, they may not know how to tell a story in 30 seconds, they don’t have the experience doing it. I think there’s a lot of opportunity to bring talent from TV to the web but we’re looking more for new talent, people who grew up on the medium. That’s a better place to mine for content that’s appropriate for the medium.
I interviewed Jill Golick about her Story2Oh! project a while ago for a Blogcritics article called Story2Oh! Spreads Its Narrative Across the Internet. (Jill, House fans will remember, is the Canadian TV writer who had House writer Pamela Davis in to speak to a class and shared some tasty tidbits with me that didn’t fit into her own blog.)
Well, the novel storytelling approach involving blogs, videos, Flickr, and other web 2.0 sites doesn’t include Facebook anymore now that some– or at least one — outraged citizens realized they’d been Friended by fictional characters and complained. Fictional profiles are technically against Facebook policy, but they are everywhere, and in this case, they were not only harmless, they were a lot of fun for many people who have critical thinking skills, a sense of personal responsibility, and a sense of humour.
Jill tells the story of her characters’ tragic Facebook demise here, though I’m with those who wish she didn’t feel apologetic. As I recounted in that Blogcritics article, I chose not to Friend the character who first contacted me because I didn’t know who he was. I dug deeper after the second character’s request and a simple check of her profile told me she was fictional. A quick Google search would have done the same. Who blindly Friends a completely unvetted stranger and then gets outraged when it turns out they didn’t know the first thing about them?
Story2Oh! will live on, and storytelling on the Internet will continue to mature. I just hope the audience will mature along with it.
I finally wrote up my fairly glowing report of JibJab after getting a tour of their place in California. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m a big fan of what these guys do. Founder/CEO Gregg Spiridellis is a gregarious, eloquent guy prone to throwing out the kind of terminology you might expect from a former investment banker with an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. So maybe that explains why this is my favourite soundbite from our hour-long talk: “Puppets are awesome.” I thought it was big of me to clarify that he was making a business point instead of expressing child-like enthusiasm for his job. Though who could blame him for that, either.
There was more to the interview so depending on inspiration, I’ll either do another Blogcritics post with a different focus, or I’ll throw up some more deleted blog scenes here of more quotes.
This is so wrong. So, so wrong. I apologize in advance.
I will have more on JibJab soon – I got to sit down with co-founder Gregg Spiridellis and get a tour of their studios when I was in LA – but today they’ve launched a new Starring You video: you can put yourself into a Snoop Dogg video.
At first, I tried to do the lazy thing and use my own already uploaded head for all 3 roles. I will be in therapy for years, now, trying to get the vision of me seducing myself out of my head. Then I tried to put Hugh Laurie and John Cusack in the supporting roles – hey, I didn’t want to give up the starring role – but now I have to do penance for years, trying to atone for putting them in sexy women’s garb. Finally, I decided to ignore the fact that I’m pandering to the male fantasy. Let’s just say if I were to bat for the other team, I’d want Michelle Pfeiffer and Keira Knightley on my side.
Want to make your own? Visit JibJab – but it’ll cost you $3 to share the video like this. I’ll have a bit more on that in my upcoming article, too.