Blip.tv is going Hollywood — or West Coast, at least. The online video distribution network is aiming to engage with the local web series scene by opening an office in Los Angeles and hiring Epic Fu co-creator Steve Woolf as its West Coast Director of Content Development.
Woolf, whose experience with long-running Epic Fu has established him as a prominent veteran of web video, will not only manage West Coast operations for the company but work directly with creators interested in using the Blip platform for distribution.
I met with Blip co-founder Dina Kaplan and Woolf last week to discuss the move, and one of the goals mentioned was a desire to make scripted web series more sustainable for their creators. “The reason I took this job was for the chance to change this community,” Woolf said. “I’m worried about [its] sustainability, because the deals being made around scripted content right now are not the healthiest for the industry as a whole. So we want to be for web series creators what Sundance and IFC were for filmmakers in the 80s and 90s.”
The key, according to Woolf, is approaching shows as startup businesses, with producers controlling all elements of the production as opposed to simply making deals with studios. “If you asked the average content creator here what they think of Blip,” he said, “They’d probably say that it’s a great place to distribute your videos, but that they’re hoping to get a deal with Sony’s Crackle (s SNE) or something like that.
“What I want to do is demonstrate that there’s another way to do things, and that’s to think of yourself entirely as an independent content creator and then working with partners like Blip [which does not demand exclusivity]. We want to encourage people to think like entrepreneurs,” he said.
“That’s how we think about creators — CEOs of their own startups,” Kaplan added.
Along those lines, there are plans to engage with creators in Los Angeles through events and workshops and “Steve’s very active phone line,” according to Kaplan. The Los Angeles office will also give Woolf and recently named West Coast Sales Director Rafi Mamalian a base of operations, as well as open up opportunities for intern hiring.
The move comes as Blip’s growth over 2009 continues into 2010. Beyond this month’s partnership with 7-Eleven for the branded series 7-Eleven Road Trip Rally, independent web series are also seeing great success.
Kaplan cited teen drama Anyone But Me as one example; the show’s profits from Blip distribution doubled from Q4 2009 to Q1 2010. Part of Woolf’s role, according to him, will be to help “the content keep pace with the ad sales.”
With Woolf working at Blip, his partner Zadi Diaz will take over the day-to-day operations of Smashface Productions and Epic Fu‘s current hiatus will continue. “We’ve been doing Epic Fu a long time and need to rethink it to be excited about it,” he said, and mentioned that plans continue for an Epic Fu blog network. He still plans to keep involved with production work, but Blip will be his priority.
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