Best known as the first editor of Valleywag, though maybe better known for getting demoted, Nick Douglas has, until recently, been posting ‘DiggBait‘ on Valleywag and at the Huffington Post’s Eat the Press from his usual seat at at San Francisco’s Cafe du Soleil. Lately he’s focusing on getting starting a new daily web show, Look! Shiny!. Here’s his ‘Secret Preview:’
I remember when Nick Douglas had just arrived in town from the flyover states, a rube who’d made a snarky name at Blogebrity. With Ze Frank scheduled to self-cancel his popular daily web show this spring, Nick will join all the other hopeful void-fillers. “I’m tired of working for other people,” he tells me. Earlier this week, Nick was nice enough to sit down and chat about the show and the site before it goes live.
NTV: So I was reading your interview with RU Sirius, and specifically the bit about what you’d do with a web video news show. Are those some of the ideas you’re bringing to Look Shiny?
Nick: Yep. In fact, I’d do a news show now, but I realized that I’m not exactly Mr. Authoritative Voice. So I decided to just stick with the fun news. So as part of Look Shiny, I’ll be doing something closer to Tina Fey than Anderson Cooper. Of course at first I’ll be lucky if I’m funnier than the news on Studio 60.
NTV: Well, in my opinion, that wouldn’t be too hard, but I know you’re a fan of the show.
Nick: Because I want so hard for the show-within-the-show to be funny. It’s like rooting for the humans on Battlestar Galactica. But enough about real shows, back to mine.
NTV: You’ve got a knack for knowing what will appeal to Diggnation, and a real love for the Internet. Are you focusing on the web audience, or are you trying to do something broader and more mainstream?
Nick: I’m shooting for the regular web audience — YouTube watchers — but I’ll probably skew geek for a while. I’m also using the people and locations of San Francisco. My pilot, for example, features my favorite SF celebrity, Frank Chu. The cure to a thousand shows about tech is one show about San Francisco, tall Chinese men saving dolphins, and whether I can do the Mexican wave with my eyebrows. Spoiler: I can’t, but if I raise enough money I’ll hire a personal forehead trainer.
NTV: Speaking of money, let’s get into what it takes to produce your show. Namely, what kind of equipment, budget, and pre-production goes into an episode?
Nick: I’m shooting with a Canon camcorder in my bedroom or wherever I take my camera around the city. Equipment is sunlight and two lamps, and pre-production means me putting on a proper shirt. My starting budget is pretty much nil, but that will soon change thanks to show sponsors. I’ll also be asking for viewer video. I could call it “discovering hidden talents” or such, but I’ll be presenting it to viewers with something like, “Help me make money off of you!” Some people have offered the use of their equipment and studios, and I’ll take them up on that when I have some more staid, scripted pieces to film.
NTV: So here’s where “old media” rears it’s ugly head: you are getting all your subjects to sign releases, right?
Nick: Releases? If anyone who says a digit of pi into my camera later sues, I’ll deal with it then. Let’s just say that the profits from Look Shiny aren’t an attractive litigation target. For most of the show, I’m the subject. Most others are friends who know exactly what I’m doing.
NTV: So how often do you plan on posting new episodes?
Nick: Once a day. If I’m sick one day, we’re doing the How Many Times Can I Sneeze Before I Find A Tissue Show.
NTV: What kind of ‘interactive’ features will you integrate into the show. Have any plans to start your own social network, a la NBC and Ze Frank?
Nick: Well, since most of my viewers are funnier than I am, I’d like to give other people spots on the show. And for those that become show-stealers, I’d like to turn them into paid contributors to Look Shiny, or even help them launch their own shows. Erik Gavriluk, creator of Ze’s Org, built my site, so if I think of a clever social toy I’ll see what he thinks.
NTV: If you were to indulge a delusion of grandeur or two, how do you see the show making money? Integrated advertising, product placement, merchandising, audience sponsorship?
Nick: I’m selling sponsorships for $400/week. I should also soon have a contribution system much like Ze Frank’s “Gimme some candy” system — with breakfast instead of duckies. Product placement will be happily considered, especially if I can eat the product. Oh, and if a person or location in San Francisco wants to join in the making of the show — for instance, I’d love to film from a diner — they can e-mail me at nick at lookshiny dot com.
NTV: What kind of audience numbers do you think it will take to get advertisers interested, or are you banking on your niche appeal and authenticity to convince them that their message will make an impact?
Nick: I’m relying on the show being clever. My dream numbers are 20 thousand viewers per day; if I hit that I’d consider my show a success. That’s plenty of traffic to sustain one guy with a camcorder.
NTV: Well, thanks for sitting down with NewTeeVee to chat, and good luck on the show. Anything else you think readers should know before we sign off?
Nick: Yes: If you get bored watching Look Shiny, pretend I look like Amanda Congdon.