Five Questions With…time, y’all! Time for you to meet Chad, Matt and Rob. They aren’t just three guys named Chad (Villella), Matt (Bettinelli-Olpin) and Rob (Polonsky); they’re three guys who’ve been making web content (with Tyler Gillett and Justin Martinez) since 2007, and were some of the first to experiment with interactive YouTube narratives. Below, as a team, they discuss misconceptions about the web, their love of the Roku and their secret to interactivity.
1. What’s the one big issue/law/attitude/restriction that you think is holding back the industry?
The misconception that the Internet is for amateurs. The Internet is a wide-open frontier for creative people to be creative and places like that where people can really take a chance and try new things, where they can expand our notions of storytelling and create new and interesting ways to entertain. There’s so much information and entertainment on the Internet, 99 percent of which you probably have no interest in, so it can be overwhelming to sort through it all to find the gems. There is no gatekeeper. It is the wild west of entertainment, and because of that, people creating good, entertaining content are often lost in the shuffle.
2. What industry buzzword do you never want to hear again?
Web series. The industry has been flooded with “web series” over the past few years and since there is no gatekeeper panning for the golden nuggets in all the muck, the market is simply over-saturated. It’s easy to lose interest. Imagine if there were 500,000 TV shows that existed at once…would you still watch TV? No, you’d probably go watch a web series! Regardless of medium, most people just want to have some type of emotional response to their entertainment — to laugh or cry and be moved in some way. That can happen on the Internet, on TV, in a movie theater. Anywhere. Just tell us a good story.
3. If someone gave you $50 million to invest in a company in this space, which one would it be? (Mentioning your own doesn’t count.)
Roku! Their model is awesome. It’s clean, functional and has a platform open to developers and producers. Content is king. They definitely have the edge in the set-top box market place.
4. What was the last video (that you weren’t personally involved with) that you liked enough to spread to others?
Besides the Bed Intruder Song and Kanye West’s twitter account? White Collar Brawler is great — it’s a reality show about two best friends who quit their day jobs and train to become boxers. The final episode? They’re going to fight each other. We can’t wait.
5. WILD-CARD: What, in your experience, have you found to be key in creating interactive experiences? What’s the one pitfall for others to avoid?
For us, the key has been to keep the content fun and accessible and to touch base with the viewers and tear down the wall that usually exists between creators and their audience.
As for our Interactive Adventures, keeping it simple is key. When you go to a movie, you know it’s going to be between 90 and 120 minutes; you know TV shows are 30 or 60 minutes. You go in prepared for a story to unfold over the expect time frame. On the Internet, those constrictions [don’t] exist, so the audience never knows quite what to expect. That’s a good and bad thing. We don’t like to overwhelm our viewers with too many choices and story lines; we try to keep the story contained. Our favorite approach is having a single story line with several choices throughout. If the wrong path is chosen, the viewer is placed back to the prior choice-point and directed down the correct path of the story, leading to one, ultimate goal. For us, the major pitfall to avoid is two-pronged: keep the story from becoming convoluted and keep the goal clear.
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