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.