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The Streamy Awards: A Producer’s Apology And Its Three Fails

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UPDATED: Web chatter panning last night’s Streamy Awards show was fast and furious even before the final award was handed out, thanks to a combination of three different fails: Tech Fail, Taste Fail and Attitude Fail. And via phone, executive producer and Tubefilter CEO Brady Brim-Deforest apologized for these things, saying that “Last night’s show really wasn’t in the spirit of how we wanted to recognize the nominees and winners.”

Acknowledging that the technical difficulties as well as a late change in venue “led to a production that was less than polished,” Brim-Deforest also acknowledged that “The show suffered from a lack of cohesiveness. There wasn’t enough focus on the awards, it was more focused on the comedy. Last night’s show was off that mark and we’re very sorry for that.”

When asked about the show’s heavy emphasis on self-deprecating material and scripted comedy bits, Brim-Deforest said that “As we tried to build the show into an entertainment platform, we tried to up the entertainment value. In the writing process, we were focused on individual bits and so we lost track of the show as a cohesive experience. If we had looked at the script as one whole instead of individual bits, I think we would have had a different outcome. Our focus was on building a show that was more entertaining than last year, and in doing so we lost focus on what the show is all about.”

Watching the show live from my seat inside the theater, with only occasional checks on Twitter, it was clear pretty quickly into the show that things were not going well. When considering the Streamys’ Three Fails, I’m willing to give the show a pass on technical fail, as sometimes — usually at the worst possible time — things will in fact fall apart. However, it didn’t help the perception of the show’s production value (in retrospect, host Paul Scheer’s joke about the lack of a tech rehearsal might have been a poor choice) and the technical failures seemed to help contribute to the show’s descent into crude anarchy.

For example, two butt-naked streakers only made their dash across the stage after the Fine Bros.’s parody short about how to get a Streamy nomination froze halfway through playing, the first of many technical mishaps. In a perhaps obvious twist, the streakers might have been representatives from a Streamy Award-nominated series, Streak to Win — which is yep, about streakers. From my seat close to the stage, I’m relatively confident I heard one of the pants-less gentlemen shout the show’s name, and am still waiting for comment from the show’s producers. UPDATE: A Streak to Win representative confirms that they were behind the streaking incident.

Instead of showing you naked men, though, I’m going to embed the full Fine Bros. video below for your enjoyment.

However, seeing two naked men run across stage wasn’t too shocking, given planned incidents like the masturbation jokes host Paul Scheer made in his opening monologue, a five-minute sketch about vaginal rejuvenation and an epic-length salute to the fictional founder of a porn site. Heck, David Faustino, who presented the best actress in a comedy award to Felicia Day, was only one pair of tightie-whities away from being on that level. (Screenshot below thanks to Web Series Today.)

While no details are available as yet on the record as to how sponsors reacted to the content of last night’s show, gossip is currently floating around online. Andrew Hampp of Ad Age Twittered last night the following: “The Streamys carmage piles up. One sponsor looked at me and said, ‘Don’t write about this!'”

And Jace Hall, creator/host of The Jace Hall Show, commented on his blog that “I heard discussion that one of the big sponsors of the event TRIDENT GUM was SUPER PISSED and basically wanted their money back ($100,000 – I’m told). If this is true then that is a very negative blow for the “Web Series” industry.” I’ve reached out to Trident’s parent company Cadbury for comment on this.

It’s the taste fail which may have hurt relationships with sponsors and which definitely has multiple creators apologizing to their fans (and in some cases, families). But the taste level also fed into the attitude problem, which had more than one person calling the show a roast, but not funny.

The big missed question here was this: Who did the producers imagine to be the audience for the show? Because the answer doesn’t seem to have been those inside the Orpheum Theater on Sunday night. Instead, the Streamys seemed to be making a big play for introducing web video to the mainstream audience, playing deliberately to those expectations — while simultaneously pointing out, especially in one particularly awkward video sketch featuring Scheer interviewing web series n00bs at the Hollywood and Highland mall, that the mainstream world doesn’t know anything about web video, that this is still a secondary industry to the TV and film world.

The reaction to the Streamys this year is strictly about the presentation, not about the winners. Look at the winner’s list and you see some of web video’s greatest talents recognized. While watching the show, every time someone accepted an award — whether it be established talents like David Wain and Illeana Douglas or the web-originated Bernie Su and Mark Gantt, all of whom seemed to truly value the recognition of their peers — the true potential of the Streamy Awards as a celebration of talent shone through.

When asked about next year, Brim-Deforest said that the Streamys would definitely be back, and while he and the other four principles of Tubefilter will definitely be involved, they are seeking out a line producer to manage the show as experienced awards show producer Gary Smith did in the ceremony’s first year. “We’re not sure who will do it, but we’re already looking for candidates,” Brim-Deforest said. Something else Brim-Deforest promises is a simpler execution and a real celebration of this community, which at its core is talented, proud and vocal.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Should You Super-Syndicate Your Web Series?

81 Responses to “The Streamy Awards: A Producer’s Apology And Its Three Fails”

  1. Also, treating the craft nominees like they are not part of the show. Not cool. No clips shown from our shows after asking for them. When 40 minutes of padding would have fit the entire craft show right in the “important show” instead of an unrelated “dance number or bit” Not cool.

    Not very nice. Not being in the retrospective of the year when the nominees were supposed to be the best of the year makes you wonder why you came to this. No carpet, no clip? Makes you feel like if you got craft you weren’t anything.

    We were told even as craft nominees we weren’t supposed to walk the Red Carpet. How does that make you feel when the only level higher than nominee is winner of the awards? Isn’t that the only “bone” we get thrown is the chance to talk about out show to press for once as nominees?

    Finally. being put up in the top of the balcony away from the nominees instead on ensuring nominated people got to sit together whether they were craft or “real” would go a long way to the shabby “general public” feeling you gave us as nominees. No after party tickets because after all we were just craft nominees was the final insult to a pointless appearance by our cast, friends and celebrity guests.

    They show made me ashamed. How could you go up after that abortion and say it meant anything to you or anyone when you were in a vulgar roast of what you do? We went into a business meeting before the Sunday show and said we are a Streamy nominated series and got a pitch meeting. We had a meeting Monday after and when we mentioned we were a Streamy nominee the conversation turned to “oh my god you are part of that??” which went on to a 30 minute dissection of errors and embarrassment and then no real meeting for us.

    Next time I guess it will be best if we omit the part about our show being Streamy nominated if we want to have a sponsors meeting for the next season. How upside down is that?

  2. Wilson Cleveland

    Great post Liz. Agreed on all fronts, as much as it pains me to do so. You touched on the sponsorship issue. The reality is, currently the main source of funding for this industry is advertising/sponsorship, whether a show itself is sponsored or not, the main source of income for sites like My Damn Channel, Atom and Crackle is typically advertising. Granted, many would argue (including myself) that sponsorship dollars aren’t always enough but still… It’s hard enough getting a brand to understand the benefits, nuances and ultimately the effectiveness of online video and the messages sent last night to future Web show sponsors was equally as damaging as those sent to big media and that message was: ‘Not worth the risk. Not worth the consideration. Not worth the money.”. So in addition to insulting the community, last night’s show took a shark-like bite off the hand that’s primarily feeding it at the moment. I’m always pro-creator and believe in artistic freedom but what was demonstrated last night to the show’s major brand sponsors who were actually IN the audience was profoundly disrespectful and uncompromising… and these are the brands who’ve already fought their internal naysayers and bought into what we’ve been selling with confidence for years. How can we hope to grow as a community and get paid what we’re worth if our primary industry organization chides us TO OUR FACES and allows us to be positioned as worthless at our own awards show?!?!

  3. Liz!!!!!!
    Great to see you for a hot second! I was roaming the streets looking for food after I wandered into the “after party” and was told there was not food.

    Rough night!

    More than the show which ended up being gross (LOL) or vulgar as people are calling it. I was most sad there was NO FOOD AFTER ALL THOSE HOURS :-)

    Have a nice week!
    Love, Buck

  4. When the video projection first failed and Paul Scheer ad-libbed, I was heartened. The bits felt unrehearsed and a bit too quick and flat. Unfortunately it kept going back and forth between trying to get the technical working, sporadically succeeding technicaly and ad-libbing toward distraction.

    I concur that the intent of honoring talent got overwhelmed by the crude jokes and low humor. I really respect people I know involved in the Streamys and I’m sure they’ll learn from this. I look forward to Streamys’ that keep their focus on awarding with simplicity and clarity of purpose.

  5. I painfully watched the whole Show and Took Screen Shots as the Unofficial Streamy Awards Photographer. It was Disgusting and Vulgar and BAD. And I think that is being nice. A Video Streaming show where Video Clips were played off a DVD Player? In the context of the event, it should have been REQUIRED for you to stream those clips off of a Computer and NOT a DVD player.

    I Think You have just separated the YouTubers from the WebSeries. There definitely needed to be more categories for YouTubers. I see Web Series now as the shows that Failed to get on TV (Network or Cable). I think True YouTubers should now have their own Awards. And without the Commercial Channels and those with other sites like “Funny or Die” or “College Humor”. There must be a reason why their content is doing better on YouTube. Better Exposure on YT than their own sites. The 1st requirement to be nominated is that the channel should be Exclusively YouTubers: Vloggers, Skits, Guru, etcs/ It will take a lot of Research to figure out the categories. But I see a HUGE Google sponsored Event. Who will be the “academy”? that’s just answer question.

    Hopefully someone with the resources can make a YouTube Exclusive Awards. and Stream it in Better HD! My goal is to be at those awards!

    Keep on YouTubin!

    • Aren”t there awards for YouTubers? Something called the YouTube awards?

      And the perception from the “YouTubers” seems to be predominantly that YouTubers are independents and web series creators are corporate shills or something.

      And I think that’s EXACTLY where the Streamys have let the web series community down. There are a lot of us out there struggling to make shows with minimal resources. Not everything on the web is a sketch show or a parody or Lisa Nova or Fred. And not all of us want to make that kind of thing. We’re not all washed-up celebrities or failed Hollywood types. We don’t all have corporate sponsorship. It’s not about ONE media outlet (like YouTube). It’s about a creative community. Not who’s the coolest kid in Google’s High School.

      The fact that you’re not the only one I’ve seen say this very thing, shows me that the IAWTV, the Streamys, and yes, the web TV MEDIA, has spent a lot of time creating an identity for web series’. And it’s been tragically narrow.

  6. Great post. So sad to have been there live to see this all happen. It was a surreal moment and one that I wish I never experienced. This is a huge learning experience for many people and hopefully it won’t happen again!

  7. TheFrosty

    Best write up of what I saw last night. Not seeing last years awards I was questioning how this years compared.
    I hope only the best for the final fallout (if there is one) and the return of a better event next year.

  8. Did anyone else notice that the Red Carpet looked a bit like a product placement for Ikea? Now I get the fact that everyone wants sponsors and money is important but how far are we as a community willing to go in “selling out” our Award Show to sponsors. Some might say it was clever, but there was something about it that just seemed to miss the mark of a true Red Carpet. Now, KB was awesome as always but overall something was lacking in the presentation. What do you think?

  9. ThePotatoPope

    Reading this article, made me realize what was wrong with last night’s Streamys and with other award shows. Stop trying to be entertaining! There isn’t a need to have staged acts for these events. A good clean humor host is probably the best way to go. A short monologue what the awards are about, and your pretty golden. You don’t need each presenter to do a crappy routine. Just show each category respect and let the winner speak.

    Show some class and act professional. That goes for producers and attendees.

  10. Barney Frank

    Obviously they (those who thought they should duplicate the quasi-royalty and Jack Nicholson chumminess of the Oscars) uncorked their organic cane juice too soon. They are taking themselves WAY too seriously. From what I have seen this was a bunch of alt.hollywood wannabees playing grownup. Ridiculous. The Streamys should be shelved and web TV can go back to innovating.

  11. One really needs to wonder who thought this would go over well?

    We have long called for more transparency in terms of how the @IAWTV is run and how it makes decisions. The IAWTV needs to engage in an active dialogue moving forward. The organization needs to open itself up to a frank discussion with the entire web series community.

    The @IAWTV cannot or should not continue to act as a closed “society” because in the end it is accountable to the entire web series community and we have just seen what happens if we just let those in power “run with the ball”. Like it? No? Then we need to see a total change in the way the @IAWTV is run.

    I think we can be pretty sure that the majority of the members and possibly even some on the Board of Directors of the IAWTV had little knowledge of what was going to happen. That does not make them any less accountable.

    Those who did not like what happened need to step forward and work with the community at large to foster the change that is needed. We can move forward and we can make things better but only if there are substantial changes in how the IAWTV is set up and operates.

    An apology is only as good as how well the person making it understands and articulates exactly what they did wrong. So far there has been little more than lip service. We need accountability and that begins with those responsible stepping forward and telling us how things went SO far wrong.

    Then there needs to be changes. BIG changes. The day of brushing things under the IAWTV carpet is over. We are a world wide community and we need to take our genre back and make sure that this organization aligns itself with the entire community… not just an insider faction.

  12. Liz,

    Great article. It was tough to watch online with the Twitter feed constantly running negative comments from other viewers.

    I was also disappointed with the production, but we have to keep things in perspective. We are still a young industry, we owe a ton to people like you and Brady for helping to foster our growth, and there’s no question I’m excited to attend the Streamys next year!

    We’ll look back and laugh about this in a couple years…


  13. At this point I feel like I’d just be piling on. If anyone is interested in what I think Liz was kind enough to link to two of my article, BTW thanks Liz. What happens next, by next I mean in the next few days, will determine a lot.

    They can blame a lack of ‘cohesive vision’ all they want, really, anyone buying that?, but at the end of the day the show they put on had one clear message, they think web TV is a joke.

  14. Brad there are some wonderful top of the notch webseries out there! The fact that you are downing a whole industry based on an award show is completely off-base. How about watching some web-series like The Bannen Way, Compulsions, or Anyone But Me before you judge? The caliber of these web-series surpass most of the stuff that’s on network television.
    And FYI most of these producers and directors have worked on televison before-it’s how they’re able to produce amazing web tv.
    Just a fan’s opinion.

    • Brad Nomey

      I’m not basing it on an Awards show – just that this awards show summed up everything I’ve been seeing.

      I didn’t say there weren’t good shows out there. There are a lot of good ones.

      Bannen is well done but it’s not going to change an entire paradigm unless it makes Sony some serious money, and that doesn’t mean it simply turns a profit and gets written up places.

      Best situation as far as the web community as a whole is if Bannen gets snagged by TNT or FX develops it as a TV series.

      I gave my opinion on Compulsions above. I find it derivative and generic, but that’s just my opinion and I’m probably wrong.

      Again, this isn’t about the talent, it’s about the attitude. The web series community talks like they’ve invented narrative storytelling or something.

  15. Honestly

    Honestly, it was sadly a really amateur, confused effort from the beginning. There were failures in the nomination process with a complicated ballot that did not work, and there were excuses given then. They ended up with a bunch of celebrity nominees and many nominees from the sponsors or agents themselves who are also members of this “academy”, which then set the tone for the type of show it was going to be. That is not even to mention the grey area surrounding what credentials even qualify you to be a member of an academy for a media that is only a few years old. But ok, let’s give that a bye, they’re still figuring that out, glitches happen. Then there was a big failure when nominees were then asked to shell out thousands of dollars to send academy members dvd screeners, an idea which negated the entire basic purpose of the web distribution model which was to avoid old distribution methods such as spending money on dvds. That idea was thankfully and quickly scrapped and more apologies were released and people gave it another bye. Then the show invested all this time and money in commercializing itself when the beauty of digital media is that it is non-commercial. Alright, fine, indie producers are at a loss, but maybe that tactic would’ve given webtv some overall commercial exposure, so webtv would benefit, so OK we give them a bye again. But then they spent so much energy hyping that they forgot to pay attention to producing an actual show.

    Honestly, at some point, we have to realize that the Streamys is just not the Oscars of webtv and just move on. Keep producing high quality content.

  16. William

    I agree with Brad on this one. I just don’t think this medium is ready to start patting themselves on the back with awards shows just yet. I’m not saying these folks don’t work hard or deserve to be recognized, but I honestly don’t think the level of talent here can be expected to pack venues or even prompt people to tune in.

    The problem is that these bloggers don’t know that. They don’t realize that web success isn’t exactly creating household names just yet. What is popular to the folks in the digital world is often times, not even known by the average media consumer. A lot of them remind me of the reality show “stars” who think they’ve made it simply because they were on television for a brief period of time. Once they get replaced by a new season, they are soon forgotten.

    Again, I’m not trying to knock the people who work hard to contribute to the digital space. By all means, there are talented individuals who deserve to be successful and they should be encouraged to work hard and continue. I just hope that this awards show brought some of these people back to Earth and allowed them to better see the amount of work that still needs to be done.

  17. Brad Nomey

    Also, doesn’t there need to be revenue to qualify as an industry?

    I know I sound like a jerk but you people need to get real – putting on heirs doesn’t make you endearing. You’re underdogs – embrace that and it’ll help quite a bit.

    • Web Series Fan

      @ Brad:

      All good points Brad.

      Liz, is it possible (it might not be appropriate?) to find out how much the Streamys cost and how much the Tubefilter writers paid themselves to produce it?

      Some transparency might help explain why an experienced awards show producer like Gary Smith was not hired.

  18. Thanks for posting this. I’m so glad that Brady Brim-Deforest made these comments because I had thought there was no official line. And it looks like next year will be better. I posted about what I hope they would be focussing on. I hope the sponsors are appeased because the Streamys is a worthy idea, one that deserves to be the best it can be.

  19. Brad Nomey

    The prob is a bunch of bloggers who started tubefilter and newteevee suddenly fancied themselves professional entertainers.

    The biggest problem with the web series world is stuff like the IAWTV – do you have any clue how ridiculously pretentious that sounds?

    A major point many web series people should consider – 100% of you wish you were working in film/tv. Stop pretending you don’t with this odd worship of the web series.

    The YouTube gang actually wants to be on the web.

    Im not saying there’s no talent here, but the Streamys as a whole makes everyone look liked amateur wannabees.


    • Brad, have you watched Pink? Have you watched Compulsions? Have you watched OzGirl?

      Yes some people want to be part of the film industry, but other are doing creative things on the interwebz that would not work in film or tv.

      Have you ever played an ARG? How about play Maddision Atkins? Possibly one of the best experiences ever done on the interwebz.

      I hear what you are saying about the Streamys and the IAWTV but please don’t throw the baby out with the bath water….. at least not before first participating and having some fun.

      • Brad Nomey

        I like Pink quite a bit and if it got picked up as a TV series, they’d take that deal in a second, praise the lord, and never look back at the web again if possible.

        Compulsions is well made from a production/performance standpoint, but it’s basically an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent with some Saw thrown in. C’mon, that is not revolutionary material.

        Again, I’m not saying there isn’t talent, but the “all hail the next evolution of entertainment” stuff is silly.

        Interactive games are a different matter and that’s stuff that’s made for the net and it’s great to see!

  20. Hopefully the only damage done last night was to the Streamys and not, as some have suggested, the web industry writ large. I think the nicest thing you can say about the Streamys is that they tried to run before they could walk. In their hopes to get big name talent to attend, give out awards and win awards (and the mainstream press that would bring), they forgot everything else; and that goes from how to produce a show to largely forgetting the independent creators who forged this entire industry from scratch over the last few years.

    Interesting too how both sponsors and nominees/winners alike were repped by ICM. What a stunning coincidence…

  21. I feel for the IAWTV, the Tubefilter folks, and all of the organizers. I really do. They’ve hurt their own brand more than they hurt web series in general.

    The problem is that the Streamys, and a lot of its cheerleaders, have had the attitude for a while now that the awards show was a GIFT. A service TO the web series community rather than something in service OF the web series community.

    The Streamys organizers shouldn’t try to be the coolest kids in the room.

    I think they should focus more on just being the room.

  22. An apology is warranted and appreciated but unfortunately no one is going to write articles about the apology. The damage is done. I don’t care where it was at, how much time they had to get it done, etc etc. Someone’s judgement is off. Someone approved the jokes and the tone of how the industry was to be portrayed. If a seasoned producer had brought the same show before the organizers it still would have gotten the green light. It’s the vision that is wrong and that comes from the top.

    I mean come on the unfunny presenter banter was an issue last year. Knowing that someone actually had to say this is more funny than last year.

    Have you ever heard the story of how the Monkees made one of the worst films in history? They sat in a room with Jack Nicholson, got stoned and tape recorded what they said and based a script on that. I’d actually have an easier time accepting it if someone would just admit that’s what happened here.

  23. Brian Rodda

    Great reporting Liz. This community needs to keep embracing how we are different, not how we are the same as traditional media. Looking forward to an awards ceremony next year that celebrates our spirit and spunk and embraces our different-ness.



  24. I can’t understand why an awards show ostensibly celebrating innovation and independence decided to ape the worst excesses of old media. From the opening musical number (nearly inaudible in the theater), I knew we were headed for disaster.

    I wish the producers had taken all the money wasted on that bloated, unfunny disaster and just given it as prize money to the non-studio and non-sponsor backed winners.