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

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. The Judge

    Not sure about members of the board winning every year….

    We definitely need to move on. I think the Streamy Awards has great potential. Even though web media has only been around for a few years, I believe that there is already some major talent out there that deserves to be recognized. Recruit Neil Patrick Harris to host the show next year– he might be able to lend some of his credibility and cast a veneer of classiness over the Streamy’s. He’s also insurance that it will be entertaining.

  2. Jake B.

    I have been bothered by Felicia Day winning awards while sitting on the IAWTV board, also she was shown with a huge picture with a streamy on the main streamy page almost everyday during audience voting. That’s not fair to the other shows that are competing against her show. Still think someone (Whoever was in charge of the awards either Brady, Drew, Jamison, Joshua or Marc) should step down from the Streamy awards and take responsibility for the 2010 disaster so we can move on.

  3. As we begin a postmortem of the Streamys and explore the many factors that lead to the serious flaws of the 2010 show, it’s also important for us to dispel baseless rumors.

    Our sponsors were rightfully disappointed with the tone of the show, but none has requested repayment. Many have expressed an ongoing commitment to the Streamys brand and, more important, I think, to the underlying principles of creative empowerment and open expression that the original concept was intended to elevate… and which we as a team will tirelessly pursue moving forward.

  4. @Tom It’s understandable you feel a bit slighted re: some missteps in handling of the “craft” folks. But let’s keep some perspective. This is merely the second year of this event. There WERE growing pains and their likely WILL continue to be growing pains for a few more years.

    This is a nascent medium without the history, experience or funding of something akin to the Oscars where craft folks are respectably honored with a completely separate awards show [a secondary event the film academy likely supports with a budget three times the size of the Streamys… Not to mention all of the ancillary guild award shows!] But should the lack of experience or funding preclude valiant attempts to pull off something that indeed honors peers in our nascent medium? Hell no. Isn’t it true to the spirit of web folks in general to throw caution to the wind, flip off established norms and forge ahead despite perceived obstacles.

    Don’t get me wrong, I was as pissed as a lot of people throughout certain moments of the experience… 1. The show was painfully long [god help us if they had truly integrated all the craft awards- they seriously need to scale back the awards that actually received a greenlight for inclusion] 2. I love blue humor, but this was definitely not the time and a place if truly seeking peer and sponsor respect. Please integrate much more class for 2011. You can be classy, yet still irreverent and funny. 3. Last, but not least- to paraphrase Buck above- “No Food??!!” I think the negative chatter the morning after would have been cut in half if the Streamys had fed folks. Note to next years’ organizers…Production 101, fed people are happy people.

    Nonetheless, when I look back on the adventurous evening, I am compelled to restate my own tweet, “…It is a shame schadenfreude hijacks these moments. There were more highlights people could have called out from the Streamys than low.” Props to Karen Nicoletti from the Hollywood Reporter for staying level headed and including some of these highlights in her coverage.

    And as for your meeting Tom, if the folks you were supposed to meet with judged you all based on your mere association with this seminal event, rather than the merits of your work, perhaps it wasn’t a meeting worth taking to begin with. Please continue dedicating yourself to the craft, we TRULY need folks like you and I bet if you find it in yourself to forgive and hang in there with all of us, there will be double the opportunity to celebrate at both the Craft awards shows and the main Streamys events bound to evolve over the course of the very near future.