On one side, there are the effortless, homemade, happenstance, and slightly staged moments of ephemera that capture the attention of millions – dog riding skateboard, cat playing piano, Miss South Carolina. On the other, the arduous, meticulously planned work of amateurs and professionals that fail to gain such a sizeable audience – Break a Leg, Something to Be Desired, Dutchwest. Such is the dichotomy of entertainment.
But what if those Zapruderian, point-and-shoot clips are just as produced as sketches and shows shot by seasoned, online auteurs? Or maybe they’re even the work of movie moguls and multi-million dollar studios, all part of a warped Hollywood machine engineering viral videos for an industry that awards stardom on view counts instead of ticket sales.
Welcome to Viralcom.
If the production quality looks better than your average web series, that’s because it’s financed by Waner Bros. Studio 2.0 (who’s also behind the Jeannie Tate Show). And if the show looks more entertaining than your average web series, that’s because Joey and David created it.
High school friends repping Munster, Indiana, Joey Mandarino and David Young received their undergrad degrees and then reconnected in New York City to make a website full of videos, just like the ones they created when they were kids.
In a few short months – after adopting an African baby, spending 14 days in a Civic, and getting hit on by hot chicks in laundry rooms – the comedy pair was courted by CAA and moved out to Hollywood, hired on by Warner Bro.’s new media division to produce digital content.
Debuting this Wednesday, the 10-part, weekly web series, Viralcom is their first major effort since the move out West, but J&D tell me it’s been a while in the making:
“The idea for the series originated almost two years ago now, when we were first starting to post videos on YouTube. We’d be glued to the computer, constantly refreshing the page to count the dozens of hits and smattering of comments on our latest videos, which took us days to carefully write, produce and edit. Meanwhile, one click away was “Baby Farts”, which was sitting pretty with over 3 million hits and a feature on The Today Show. What were we doing wrong? It got us thinking about the online entertainment craze as a whole and the idea that this kind of thing was even being called “an industry.”
“And after a failed attempt at “David Farts” (there was just something less adorable about our version), we hatched this idea that combined the high pressure world of Hollywood with the no pressure world of homemade YouTube vids — a digital Hollywood where the A-listers are celebs like Chris Crocker and that Chocolate Rain guy, where 10-second videos are professionally produced and where success hinges entirely on your number of ‘hits.'”
The premise is clever, but not altogether novel. Brooklyn-based Black20’s series net_work debuted in early 2007, depicting the company’s insides as a mismanaged business of wacky inefficiencies, odd-couple antics, and the occasional production of a successful viral vid. But instead of a sometimes surreal office space, J&D take Viralcom to the heart of showbiz: “It exists in a ficticious world where the web is the new Hollywood. We take you behind the scenes at a big ‘Waner Bros.-style’ studio through a cast of characters trying to navigate through this supposed ‘user-generated’ video industry.”
With a lineup including Michael Showalter, Tay Zonday, and Dax Flame, and lines like, “If you wanna see vagina, call Lisa Nova,” I won’t be surprised if the show eclipses some of the videos it’s set out to spoof.
Watch and see every Wednesday starting this week at www.ViralcomSeries.com.