In a New York Times Magazine article from way back in November, 2006, author Matthew Klam discussed how super-cool it was that traversing the rigmarole of Hollywood was no longer necessary to gain stardom. With YouTube and the falling price of professional-grade production equipment, the talented and motivated could make a name for themselves on the web. He shouted out to a number of independent, “online auteurs” whose videos were worth a watch. In addition to Ask a Ninja and Ze Frank, Handsome Donkey was one of them.
Klam saw New Jersey brothers Adam and Brendan Countee and their college buddies Marc Gilbar and Aaron Greenberg’s Le Montage “375 times.” You think he’s exaggerating, but give the 9-minute marathon of movie-montage clichés a watch. Before you know it, you might find your own view-count escalating to triple digits:
So after Klum discover Handsome Donkey, studio exec and Academy Award-winning short-form producer, Barry Jossen discovered Klum’s article and gave the comedy troupe a call. He needed talent for Stage 9 Digital Media – Disney-ABC Television Group’s new media studio and foray into the ever-growing, online, original programming scene. A year-and-a-half later, after some slight delays, we have Squeegees.
It’s a less than squeaky clean, PG-13 comedy about a budding entrepreneur trying to run a successful window-washing business despite his employees’/friends’ inability to wash windows. The ridiculous premise mixes well with a production quality you’d expect from Disney/ABC and a sophomoric, Malcom in the Middle-ish wackiness. The Squeegees crew drinks on the job, works their quads while dangling 60 stories high, makes terribly creative Usual Suspects references, and bloodies their mouths with snow cones. Quality entertainment. Seriously, it’s good.
And true to their earlier title of “auteurs,” Aaron Greenberg told the LA times that the group was given a great deal of autonomy in creating the series: “In terms of the day-to-day, we were left on our own to sink or swim…We may have dipped below the surface once or twice, but we’ve come out on top.”
Squeegees is the first of 20 series currently in some stage of development for Stage 9. Dropping this Spring is the sci-fi action thriller Trenches (check out the trailer – looks friggin’ sweet), and in April the studio will launch the second season of ABC’s first original series, Voicemail (based around a co-creator Michael Wilde’s 10-year old collection of actual voice mail messages).
Check out Squeegees on ABC.com, but if you want to bypass half-minute pre-roll ads for the Toyota Corolla (that car seem to be sponsoring a helluva lot of online video), YouTube is the place to be. Of course, embeds for the show are currently disabled, so you’ll HAVE to go to one of those spots to watch. Just when you thought big corporations were all web savvy with their own online original series, they pull these tired, old media shenanigans.