Chances are, if you’ve heard of Roommating you either watch a lot of web series, or you’re involved in the S&M community. Seriously – I’m not kidding. Check it out:
I met co-creator Erin Gibson at the Independent TV Festival last week, where she explained that the series is something she and co-creator Joel Church-Cooper are hoping to either see picked up for television, find a sponsorship online, or in the worst case scenario just make as a side project for a while before moving on. “The show’s cheap to make,” she explained. “We have the cameras… we only spend money on tapes every once in a while, and get people to help with the filming.”
Tubefilter News got a chance to sit down with Joel, and talk to him about the show, the future of new media, and the untapped online power of the S&M community.
Tubefilter: Your episodes cover topics ranging from sex slaves and porn aficionados to Army life and fanship of The Wire. I’m almost afraid to ask this, but how do you write this stuff?
Joel Church-Cooper: All of our ideas come from real places, whether it be my love for the Obama campaign and amateur porn or Erin’s infrequent menstrual cycle. We will just start joking about these things as friends do, and then sometimes the jokes start to take on the, “Wouldn’t it be funny if…” that lets us know we have a potential episode. The slave episode is funny because it might be the most true. Years ago Erin inherited a [sex] slave when she moved to Chicago from a friend who was leaving town. She would just make him do demeaning things and lock him in rooms without touching him. The only issue was her roommates were not at all cool with it. Which is where we thought, what if I was cool with it and tried to steal him from her like a new bag of chips?
TF: Who is your main audience?
Church-Cooper: The odd thing about our audience is that it is heavily tilted towards the S and M community as ‘Slave’ is by far the most popular video we’ve put out. The response has been uniformly positive from that community because we don’t really make the slave the butt of the joke. He just exists; Erin and I are the crazy ones, and in the end he wins and gets exactly what he wants. The response from that community has been really positive and there have been a lot of comments about people loving Erin’s feet. Otherwise our audience is your standard young lover of alternative comedy which is definitely the group that we feel we belong to. We pretty much just sent our baby out into the world and hoped it would find an audience. We’ve relied on word of mouth up until this point. And while the show has spread, both of us feel it’s time to be more proactive in our approach to getting viewers.
TF: What has development for the show been like?
Church-Cooper: The strength of the show is how close it stays to our actual relationship. There wasn’t really any thought to the show at first beyond slightly exaggerated versions of ourselves living together and getting into wacky hijinks. But as we’ve gone along the tone sort of developed and our “characters” became more defined. The show is organic and as the world is fleshed out we get a better idea of what direction to head in. We are about to shoot our tenth episode this weekend; nine have been released so far, and we have a huge backlog of ideas that our schedules and the reality of a two man production crew (Erin and I) haven’t allowed us to get to.
TF: What are the advantages to releasing a show online, especially from a creative standpoint?
Church-Cooper: My favorite moment in Roommating is one in the very beginning, the second episode, when I’m mad at Erin for giving my secretly hot girlfriend a makeover thereby making her actually hot. I get to say the line, “Do you know how awesome sex is with a girl with no self esteem? It is all blow jobs and doggy style… and you took it away from me.” [That line] would have never made it onto network TV or maybe even basic cable. The freedom to have complete control of your own creative content is by far the best thing about the web.