In front of an exultant packed house in the Arclight Cinerama dome, with fans gleefully singing along during the opening screening before Tuesday night’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog panel at PaleyFest, Felicia Day, the queen of Internet comedy, called Joss Whedon’s three-act musical is a “turning point” for web-based series.
“When we look back at Dr. Horrible, I think that Dr. Horrible will be the groundbreaking turning point for people doing media on the web,” Day (The Guild) said at Night 4 of the 26th annual PaleyFest, where Dr. Horrible became the first web series honored by the Paley Center.
Creator Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) said that he would like to create a system that makes producing web series easier for those who aren’t in the industry and who don’t have access to the means with which to produce something along the lines of Dr. Horrible.
“I’d love to be the guy who can create a system where people can meet in the middle in the area between where people have access to real production values and people who have ideas and only a living room so that (creating web series) can become more realistic,” he said. “That’s something that I’ve been looking at trying to accomplish.”
Whedon, who put Dr. Horrible together on waivers and favors along with fellow panelists Maurissa Tancharoen, Nathan Fillion and Whedon brothers Zack and Jed, said the musical was an “anomaly” and that all the favors that were called in during production were “paid off once we made a profit” and that “we could never do it the same way we could do it on the small. … we’d approach it differently.”
Day, who won the Streamy Award for best actress in a comedy series for The Guild, said Whedon proved to the television industry with Dr. Horrible that the web is a viable business model.
“When someone like Joss comes in and makes something outside the box and not with a studio, and released it and essentially had the fans be the marketing and the PR people and getting the word out without having to go through the machine, it showed the traditional media that this can be a success,” she said. “I think that it’s really a seminal work.”
Day — who writes, produces and stars in The Guild (which itself won the Streamy for best comedy web series and best ensemble cast in a web series) — said she created that series as a way to keep busy acting and that she enjoys the creative freedom that web series offer.
Day added, “On the commentary track (of the Dr. Horrible DVD), Joss made fun of me for selling The Guild, but I really got attached to it because I really had control over something at the end of the day. And I think that Dr. Horrible really had that same beautiful, ‘We are making this thing,’ feeling. I think that Dr. Horrible is the turning point for web content and really tearing down barriers. Hopefully it will happen again.”
Whedon, meanwhile, said The Guild was the first web series he’d watched and relied heavily on Day’s expertise. “Before we even talked about Felicia being in it (Dr. Horrible), I asked her for advice,” he said.
“I think that some credit has to be given to Felicia for how it spread because when we finished it we were like, ‘Now what?’ and she really knew how to spread the word … Twitter,” said Jed Whedon, who served as a writer on Dr. Horrible.
Brother Joss agreed. “I asked her for advice before the thing, then after we made it we brought it to my agency and had 20 people watch in a room who were talking about what we can do and Felicia just schooled them,” he said. “We had no idea what to do with this; it was completely new. … We were all sitting there going, ‘I guess we could partner,’ and Felicia said, ‘I thought we were going to stream it for free,’ and she kind of set us back on track. It was a great thing to watch Felicia, who had been very quiet and then started to speak, and then everybody else got very quiet.”
“In the landscape, it’s yet to be invented; there are no rules,” Day added. “I remember when this was about to be released and people were saying that nobody would watch something that’s 15 minutes. … There’s so many rules you had to work with within the system and now it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and what ever you want to do you can invent it.”
“The people who applied to the Evil League of Evil (and made their web video submissions) shows that there’s talent out there,” Joss Whedon said.