Break a Leg is a web series about creating a television show called Groomates, which is a sitcom about three ex-grooms living with their two ex-wives. Wordplay! Brothers Yuri and Vlad Baranovsky released Break a Leg online in late 2007, and it’s bizarro Hollywood stylings, murder mystery hook, Arrested Development sensibility, and excellent use of a laugh machine quickly made it one of the web’s first breakout hits. Unfortunately, the Arrested Development comparision goes beyond the show’s sense of humor.
Despite widespread critical acclaim, Break a Leg was never able to garner big money sponsorships and its YouTube viewcounts equated to little cash. At least that’s what happened when the show aired in the US. Perhaps it’ll garner good reviews and fame and fortune in Italy.
Happy Little Guillotine Films, the production company behind Break a Leg, recently announced a deal with Fox Channels Italy that will bring the web series overseas. Fox Channels Italy is set to “broadcast the show on their linear mobile TV channels, over mobile digital terrestrial television and online (linear and on demand) on www.floptv.tv.”
It’s not everyday that a major television network buys, translates, and distributes an independent web series to an international audience, so I caught up with Yuri and asked him for more information on the deal.
Tubefilter: How’d the Break a Leg – Fox Channels Italy deal happen?
Yuri Baranovsky: We were contacted by FOX Italy. They were huge fans of the show and their digital department was just sort of starting up. FOX uses FOX Italy as a testing ground for a lot of their new programs and Floptv.tv was, at the time, their first foray into online video and even now is, as far as I know, FOX’s only actual online destination point for FOX-related materials.
Tubefilter: Do you have a large Italian fanbase?
YB: Huge. We’re much funnier in Italian. Italians see us as a smooth California wine — we’re not as good as Italian brands, but you can definitely drink us at any time of the day.
Tubefilter: Is the show going to be dubbed? Do you know the Italian actor who’ll be voicing your character?
YB: Sto bene, gratzie. There was no dubbing — they’ll be subtitling it.
Tubefilter: Won’t some of the subtleties of the show be lost in translation?
YB: Probably. But, honestly, we’ve always thought that Break a Leg had more of a European sense of humor anyway. A lot of our fans were either Arrested Development transplants or Europeans and we always marveled at the fact that people from Spain, Italy and even Africa got the jokes better than some Americans. Which is why our next show will be entirely in Cantonese.
Yuri also mentioned how HLG Films has been able to parlay the critical success of Break a Leg into creating content for a number of brands, including Chili’s, SAP, Holiday Inn Express, Camacho Cigars, and more. And there’s another web series in the works. HLG is teaming up with upscale matchmaking service Kelleher International for Lovemakers, a show about professional matchmakers who struggle with love as much as their clients.