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Fred Speaks to NTV (Squeaky Voice Not Included)

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We told you about the Fred web phenomenon last week. Now’s your chance to meet the man, err, boy behind the high-pitched YouTube domination.

“Fred” is actually 14-year old Lucas Cruikshank, and while age ain’t nuthin’ but a number, these other stats might impress you: According to Cruikshank’s rep, Cruikshank and his two cousins made a total of $14,000 on YouTube for 7 million video plays on non-Fred projects during the month of February. Cruikshank did 23 million video plays in May on his own with Fred, which at the previous rate would earn him $46,000. (What did your paper route earn you?)

UPDATE: Cruikshank’s rep contacted me to update some of his data. The $14K actually included some of the Zipit money. So the projections for May will be different, and also dependent on how many people click on the ads.

Yes, Fred pimped the wireless device Zipit, but the character isn’t just some shill created by an ad agency. This was a five-figure deal in which Fred was supposed to do three “viral” videos for the Zipit. Performance benchmarks were set with bonuses paid out for when these spots hit 500,000, 1 million, 1.5 million and 2 million plays. Fred hit all those with the first video in the first week.

Cruikshank agreed to answer a few questions via email about his Internet stardom and his future plans.

NewTeeVee: What has changed for you now that you’re famous? What’s it like going to school for you now?

Lucas Cruikshank: Going to school is still pretty much the same thing. I mean, I’ve known all of my classmates and friends before I started making the videos so they don’t treat me any differently. Whenever I’m outside my hometown now, I get noticed by lots of kids. It happened in LA at my very first audition back in February –- I was at Fox Studios for an audition and other kids waiting in the casting office started raving about my vids, which was weird because they all had these Hollywood resumes I was dying for, and mine was pretty much a blank piece of paper — and they’re asking me for my autograph! I was just in Iowa for a dance competition and went to an amusement park, and a gaggle of kids followed me around asking for my autograph and to take pictures with me. It’s kind of surreal; I keep wondering why’d they want my autograph?!

NewTeeVee: Where did the idea of Fred come from? What do you want to do with the character?

Cruikshank: Two years ago my mom bought me this new video editing software as a gift, and when I was playing with it I realized it had this effect to make a voice sound all squeaky. I thought it sounded hilarious, and came up with 6-year-old Fred and posted “Fred on Halloween,” which was kind of a tongue-in-cheek way of poking fun at people on YouTube who post video blogs showing and talking about everything they do. I actually hated “Fred” at first and at one point wanted to kill him off, so I sure understand why there are people who don’t like Fred and find him annoying. Fred IS the person you wouldn’t want to be around in real life because he’s annoying, but he’s also got heart and vulnerablility, which is part of what I think draws the fans to him too.

NewTeeVee: I heard that you release new episodes on Thursdays for a reason. Can you go into what your strategy is to get the biggest audience?

Cruikshank: With JKL we used to post videos on Sundays, but May 1st, the FRED launch date, fell on a Thursday, and NBC used to have their “Must See TV” Thursday night line-up that got all that Friday water-cooler buzz, so I liked the idea of posting FRED episodes as schools were getting out Thursday afternoons. My strategy isn’t just to get the biggest audience; it’s to get a loyal audience.

NewTeeVee: What do your parents think of the whole thing? I mean you refer to your dad as being in prison and your mom isn’t shown in quite the best light.

Cruikshank: They’re really supportive and think [the videos] are hilarious. That said, obviously Fred’s parents aren’t based off my real-life parents, haha.

NewTeeVee: Do your siblings get jealous of your fame and money? If so, what do they do?

Cruikshank: No, I have an extremely close and supportive family, and they think it’s really cool. Also, whenever I make a new video, they’re the first people to see it to make sure it’s funny enough.

NewTeeVee: Who are some online people, or what are some online series that you like?

Cruikshank: I love The Onion videos, those are amazing.

NewTeeVee: What do you wish YouTube offered or did differently?

Cruikshank: I think they’re doing everything pretty good. There’s nothing I’d really want to change. I think the social networking capabilities on the site could be improved, but it really wasn’t designed for that.

NewTeeVee: The editing is really quite good on your show. Do you do all of the work? How did you learn or what were your influences in putting your videos together? How long does each episode take for you to make?

Cruikshank: Thanks! I do everything myself –- writing, directing, editing, camera. It’s not because I’m a control freak, though, lol. I basically taught myself; I mean with the instructions manual and everything it wasn’t that hard to get the videos to look/feel the way I wanted them to. Editing usually takes about two to three hours, depending on the effects I have in the video, and filming is usually a 30-minute deal where I just kind of have the thread of the story beats in my head and improv everything from there.

NewTeeVee: Do the comments people leave impact you? They can get pretty mean. Do you pay attention to them?

Cruikshank: The mean comments don’t impact me. I focus on the people who like the videos because at the end of the day, those are the ones who I’m making these for anyways. I get 800 to 1,000 emails a day and they’re from people who write how their day was miserable so they watched my videos and were happy, and who write that I’ve inspired them to make videos, and, a lot of emails after Fred on Father’s Day from people who, like Fred, don’t have fathers in their lives and appreciated the video’s heart. I don’t worry about the negative posts because my fans are very protective of their FRED character and they pounce on the “haterz’”with a fury that boggles and impresses me at the same time!

NewTeeVee: What’s next for Fred? What’s next for you?

Cruikshank: When the first FRED season wraps next week I’m headed back out to LA for more meetings and auditions, etc. I’m an actor so I’ve been pursuing movies and I have some TV series ideas to pitch too.

NewTeeVee: How do you feel about advertising? What’s your position? Do you worry about getting kids to buy more stuff?

Cruikshank: The Onion has the best videos online imo and I certainly think they should be compensated for that. If their arrangement with sponsors or advertisers allows them to keep putting out content like that where the viewers don’t have to pay per view or to download it, I’m not sure how that’s a bad thing for anyone. As for kids buying more stuff, I am worried. It’s a tough ecomomy and I hope that doesn’t prevent kids from buying all the FRED merchandise they’ve been asking for!

87 Responses to “Fred Speaks to NTV (Squeaky Voice Not Included)”

  1. Fred is so cool !!! His videos are awsome! I think they are funny. Fred is cute!I don’t care if Freddie on icarly says “u are not funny”.I still think u are hot and the greatest person in the world.I really like ur website.U rock! You are so hilarious that one day,i was watching u and I acually pead my pants it was so funny ! Anyways,I have a big,huge crush on u.Well I have to go so,see ya.

  2. Hey Fred,
    I think your very cute, funny, hilarious, and really HOT. I love your episodes because after school I’ll usually feel gloomy, and when I watch your videos it makes me laugh that I want to pee in my pants. Well I hope you keep on making FUNNY videos and I don’t think your weird, like some kids say in emails, I think your a great guy that people would like to hang around!!!! well BYE see ya!!!

  3. lucas!you are the funniest thing ever! does the fred character annoy you at all?? in your videos i notice alot of farmland , do you live in the country? any way i have the biggest crush on you!you crack me up!

  4. Alexandra

    Oh my gosh, the FRED videos are hilarious! It always makes me laugh to watch them. The real Lucas also sounds like a really good person and it’d be cool to meet him one day!

  5. M eand my friend have been making some shows as well on youtube and the first person to show me Lucas’s videos was my best friend Nicole (Toni). Since then I’ve been influenced by the stardom that Lucas has gained and I also live in LA so I pass by the Nickolodeon Studios like every day on my way to school and I start to wonder if Lucas could meet us some time when he comes here to LA. I’ve also always had thaoughts of what it would probably be like if I was in a show like Lucas is doing in ICarly. And I’m the same age as Lucas so it really makes me eager and curious what its like to be a Youtube phenom like he is!
    I also think he’s pretty HOT!
    Lucas really makes me want to strive to stardom!
    He’s 1 in 1,000,000 to do this and I want to be 1 of those million too!
    I play Athena in our videos!
    our channel is Tiedyeandskully!

  6. Hi! I am one of Fred’ s # 1 fan! I saw the 94 videos of JKL PRODUCTIONS and the 19 videos of Fred I thinkhe is a very good actor, seriously! I have never watched all the videos of a creator except for him, I find it dull that I live in Canada! =D I would like to meet him! I do get my video inspirations from him and his videos do make me smile! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK Lucas Cruikshank, I BELIEVE YOU WILL BECOME A STAR! =D KEEP HOPING AND WORKING HARD, IT WILL HAPPEN SOON OR SOMEDAY, FOR ME, THAT’ S FOR SURE! =D

  7. wow, lucas is really in a busy life. i live in pender, nebraska, which is only about 45 miles from were he lives. my friend, caleb, his cousin told him, and he told me, so now i’m wondering if i’ll ever see him at the columbus waterpark!

  8. hey! fred i love you! seriously i do! please mail me at… im not telling you! LOl but please visit my youtube its called webshows101! ITS HILARIOUS! anyway bye bye fred! love you!

  9. Lucas is the type of reason we made fanflows. You can’t monetize on YouTube, but assetbar lets you send twitter-style messages to your subscribing fans for a monthly fee. Win. win. Now I have to see if it works with that Zipit thing.

  10. Omg thankz so much for posting this article! Im like a Lucas finatic!! (not only Fred) i think he is amazin! I cnt believe tho in one of his broadcasting vids he said he didnt feel famous, and he saiud he wasnt famous. He is definately making his way up the fame-ladder, and is doing great at it!!! I wish the best for him!!!! (and by the way lucas is only 1 yr older than me, so thats a plus!) All my <3,

    • shut up i love him more like this ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

  11. Nice scoop. First Fred interview I’ve seen since his ascendance.

    I believe a 14-year old would say “imo” but not “Friday water-cooler buzz.”

    40 may be the new 30, and 60 the new 50, but 11 is the new 18, and i feel old.