Archive for December, 2009:

Quick Clicks: Voltaggio Bros., 'Bannen', Scream Queens, 'Guild' DVD

Web series and web video bits from around the internets worth clicking today:

The Guild Season 3 DVDThe Bannen Way continues to drum up anticipation with their latest promo video (above) out today. This time it’s all about co-creator Mark Gantt who stars as protag Neal Bannen, aka “The Man.” We are still wondering just what kind of “research” went into this role… [Crackle]

The Guild: Season Three DVD is now available for pre-orders on Amazon, and is 10% off through January 4th. It didn’t quite make it in time for Holiday wish lists, but it still will be loaded with Goodies for Guildies, like a making-of featurette of the “Do You Want to Date My Avatar” music video and Guild Applicant Rejects, How to Build Vork’s Sword and interviews with the Axis of Anarchy. [Amazon]

Top Chef reality chefs The Voltaggio Brothers may be out of Bravo’s TV limelight, but they are now taking the family kitchen antics online with the launch of their new web series in January. EQAL is producing the series and their Umbrella-based web site that recently launched. Is the EQAL team a bunch of foodies? This marks the second cooking-themed series from them after having launched Paula Deen’s Get Cookin’ earlier this year. [Eater]

The Halloween 2010 lineup is already taking shape it looks like with news that Jonathan Moody will be launching his new Scream Queen Campfire web series next October. No video available yet, but a Facebook group is live along with their plug: “5 beautiful scream queens will tell 2 stories each giving us 10 terrifying and entertaining stories in the series during a campfire.”   [Dread Central]

Take 180 put out a new sneak peek at season 2 of I Heart Vampires (I <3 Vampires) (below) where head writer Julie Restivo Murphy walks through what to expect this season—like “a bigger badder vampire” on the scene and news that episodes will now come out weekly instead of bi-weekly. Season 2 will premiere in January.  [YouTube]

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'Singledom' Finds Charm As 15 Gigs Tries to Find Legs

Twenty-five year old Jarrett Larson moved to Los Angeles to make it as a superhero-monkey cartoonist. For the moment, things are not going well. His Halo-intolerant girlfriend / sugar momma just dumped him, and he’s moved into an ominous, illegal commercial rental in a sketchy part of town with just a few boxes and his pug, Cheese. He still has his friends, of course (particularly his fellow Halo-playing teammates), and his sunny and bounding disposition is essentially intact.

But Jarrett’s voice-over tell us he has dreams of putting his cartoon character, Space Monkey, on the pajama pants of every kid in America by the age of 27. So, for the time being, he’s facing a mountain of feces (which may have been fired from his Space Monkey’s ‘feces canon’).

And so begins Singledom, an online series from the ‘stealth’ web TV outlet of Fox Television Studios, 15 Gigs. Singledom embraces a few flourishes of the experimental that you’d expect from a relatively new player in the digital content game. Unfortunately, it starts to feel ordinary once you realize it’s the confused twentysomething progeny of Sex and the City and Superbad.

It’s not just that Jarrett and his core group of friends (two guys and a girl) banter at a table for four (albeit at a ‘rotisserie chicken-n-donuts’ joint vs. a SOHO brasserie), or that he and his buddies frequently engage in sex-related talk, or that the action plays out on top of a soundtrack all too reminiscent of Friends. It’s more that the creators have opted to take the well-worn path of introspective, post-collegiate man/woman/child making his/her way in a metropolis steaming with possibilities and disappointments.

Plus, it’s all accompanied by a fluffy voice-over. Don’t get me wrong, voice-overs can make a lot of sense for web video. They provide an opportunity to bring viewers up to speed within a limited time frame. But in Singledom, the added explanations dilutes the edgier elements of the series. The show loses some of its bite.

Singledom is created by Jonathan London, an accomplished young film and commercial director and host of Geekscape. I suspect Fox TV must have had some say in the web series’ production, but for the sake of argument, let’s just say that London had total creative control. Who then, is the target audience? Gamers? No onscreen (game) play to speak of and the storyline doesn’t center around what happens when online addicts navigate real world relationships. Tweens? It’s a little too sexual. Folks in their twenties? Eh. It’s a little too immature. The more one tries to parse the question, the more it seems to be about portfolio-building for 15 Gigs and the director, and not much else.

The final episode does proffer a couple shining moments. The best of which is when, after an exotically sexy young woman falls through the floor of Jarrett’s new place, Jarrett’s stocky friend commences a romantic daydream. In the fantasy, he dons a curlicued mustache and old-fashioned nightie while she wears a teddy. Its timing is so out of left-field, particularly because of the straight material immediately before it, that it makes for a high-scoring moment.

The bantering amongst the friends and one of Jarrett’s now-former co-workers is cute and sometimes mildly amusing, but it all feels something we’ve already seen. At only three episodes, there is of course room for growth. For now, though, Singledom fills an old mold instead of breaking one.

Quick Clicks: 'LG15', 'Sportz Nutz', 'Safety Geeks'

Web series and web video bits from around the internets worth clicking today:

sportz nutzLG15: This Show is Yours is coming back next month as EQAL announced the winner of its fan contest to continue the original lonelygirl15 storyline in a blog post by EQAL’s Miles Beckett and Greg Goodfried naming LG15: Outbreak the season 2 premiering January 11. The trailer for the “8-week interactive thrill ride” is above. But it looks like the fun may have already started as a reversed clip of the same trailer has some hidden messages in it. []

Sports and cute girls have mixed well for ages, so why stop now? Sportz Nutz returned for its second season this week starring two attractive and knowledgeable post-college sports buffs Susannah Collins and Sam Raddock breaking down the college football bowl matchups from the Army-Navy tailgate. Who knew nitrous oxide was still popular?  [YouTube]

The Website is Down continued its somewhat-semi-bi-annual release schedule, dropping their fourth original episode, “Sales Demolition” (NSFW) this week from creator Josh Weinberg. The first in the series, “Sales Guy vs. Web Dude” was a viral breakout. This time it’s a Plastroltech sales demo that goes completely haywire. [Spiked Humor]

Safety Geeks SVI wrapped up their first season releasing their 13-minute finale Ep. 11 “A Strange Sucking Sound” on KoldCast (below) and YouTube last week. The bumbling (and sexy) P.O.S.H. team, including calendar queen Brittney Powell and creators Tom Konkle and Dave Beeler seem to have nabbed their safety violator and tied up loose ends, for now. []

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'The Bannen Way' Sneaks Out First 3 Episodes Early

The Bannen WayWe had heard rumors that they might do it, including some at the last Tubefilter Meetup, and sure enough they have. Sony has released three episodes of their sexy action romp The Bannen Way today just in time to qualify for this year’s Streamy Awards. While the series doesn’t officially bow until January 6th, it’s a move reminiscent of film studios doing a quiet “awards run” New York and Los Angeles to get it on the books for the year.

Clocking in at a brisk 7 minutes each, the first three eps (above and below) introduce us to the nooky drenched life of Neal Bannen (Mark Gantt), a gambling con man with a penchant for letting his love for the ladies spill into his work. We learn that his grandfather Bannen’s dated wisdom guides his criminal life through a set of ‘rules’ that give the show its name, The Bannen Way. Through some fast cut rewinds, we catch a glimpse of what’s to come, setting up Bannen’s 150k debt to a mobster name Sonny Carr as a main plot point.

And it didn’t take long, just a few minutes really, for the show (and Neal) to get its shag count up to one with a bout with the steaming storage room manager (Briana Lane). Somehow it managed to avoid steering into late night Cinemax territory despite the rather brief pre-shag setup. We also meet street thief Madison (Vanessa Marcil), who looks to be Bannen’s main squeeze. Without spoiling the rest, I’ll just say that Michael Ironside as police chief knows Bannen all too well, as does Neal’s mob boss uncle Mr B. (Robert Forster).

Whether it will be enough to woo voters for the Streamys remains to be seen.  But with the more extensive release next week, there’s no question it will be getting plenty of attention—from us included. Judge for yourself…

Episodes 2 & 3:

'The Phantom Menace Review' Explains Why Star Wars Prequels Suck

Everyone knows The Phantom Menace is a terrible movie. You know it. Little kids with Anakin backpacks know it. George Lucas knows it (as he swims through his pool of Star Wars licensed gold). Even prequel apologists like me know it.

So, does anyone really need a 70-minute video review to tell us why we hate such a mind-numbing piece of woefully disappointing cinema? Yes, at least when that review is produced by mad genius Mike Stoklasa of Red Letter Media.

Stoklasa’s review doesn’t simply trash The Phantom Menace, it explores the reasons the two Star Wars trilogies are so different, and examines the broader question of why some movies make people’s eyes glaze over in awe and other movies make them want to slit their wrists.

The Phantom Menace Review is conducted in the same style as other Red Letter Media reviews. It’s exhaustively illustrated with wall-to-wall footage from the film, features critiques from the perspective of an almost frightningly informed viewer, and narrated by a guy who kind of sounds like Brad Neeley if Brad Neeley was a backwoods codger who abducts and slaughters disoriented hikers. To clarify that last point, the narrator of RLM reviews is a character whose role is to sometimes stray from film critique and get into pitch black humor involving basement death chambers and eerily specific advice on how to kill prostitutes.

jar-jar-binksFun as serial killer humor may be, the main reason to watch this review is for the review. Stoklasa points out tons of plotholes and poor dialogue, but the real insight comes from his examination of what connects a viewer to a movie. The first 10-mintute segment contains the sharpest piece of criticism in the whole 70-minute expose. Four average viewers are asked to describe the personality of certain Star Wars characters, and the ease with which they paint colorful adjective portraits of original trilogy characters like C-3PO (“prissy”, “anal-retenandtive”, “high-strung”) is contrasted with the near-impossible task of describing a main character from the prequels (Padme is best remembered as “monotone”).

Towards the end of the review, Stoklasa uses behind-the-scenes production footage of The Phantom Menace to examine the film’s problems at their source. Stoklasa concedes he can only speculate on what went wrong during filming, but his implications are clear when he asks us to see the fear in the eyes of Lucas’ production team, unable to question or critique their master.

The Phantom Menance Review has it share of cheap shots, nitpicks and tangents, but it ultimately gets closer than any other review or article to answering the question burning inside every Star Wars fan: How could one of the greatest movie franchises of all time get #$%@ed up so badly?

'The Suffersons' Premieres As Rocketboom's First Comedy

The SuffersonsOn one level, the news here is rather straightforward—a new comedy web series, The Suffersons, debuted online today from creator Blair Singer. The New York based playwright and staff writer on TV hits Weeds and Monk, has crafted a minimalist comedy about an out-of-work accountant arduously trying to pen his first novel under the chastising eye of his acerbic wife.

Michael Chernus (Bored to Death, Mercy) stars as the budding novelist Josh Sufferson alongside Susan Pourfar as his mocking wife Dana. As it unfolds, Dana’s mocking turns competitive as she learns he’s writing about their marriage, prompting her to start crafting her own account of the state of their affairs.

The production is low-fi web series to its core, shot on a handheld consumer camera using just a bare bones two-person crew and freely available locations like the couple’s tight Brooklyn apartment. Singer who himself had written season three of web drama lonelygirl15, has his share of experience in the blessings of writing within the boundaries of web budgets.

But on another level, we’re seeing what could be the start of one of the big trends in web series for 2010. Well known, established web brands like Rocketboom acting as umbrellas under which whole networks of original web shows are birthed. And in this case it is indeed Rcoketboom that is brining The Suffersons to market.

Rocketboom’s flagship is still its Daily News series, itself still the standard in minimalist production with the same staple world map backdrop it has been using since its debut in 2004. New host Molly Windam (mememolly) now runs the anchor desk made famous by past hosts Amanda Cogndon and Joanne Colan. The popular internet culture series even spawned a possibly more popular spin-off, Know Your Meme, that dissects internet memes with near scientific rigor.

For Rocketboom creator Andrew Baron, this marks the brand’s “first foray into fictional series content.” And the move to try incubating new series under a known and respected web series brand is something we’ll probably be seeing a lot more of in the next year. Even tech-host-heavy network Revision3 rolled out its first original comedy series Web Zeroes earlier this fall.

“We are focused on informational content for the most part, so this is pretty unique,” Baron told us. “As with all of our programming, we like to test the waters on Rocketboom and see how it goes before making any commitments. While I personally love it, it’s hard to know how our particular audience will like it, because it is so different. I assume some people will be confused and many won’t like it, just because it’s different.”

Two episodes of the 11 episode season of The Suffersons debuted today, with new ones running through Sunday January 3rd on

Quick Clicks: 'The Battery's' Streamy, 'Greg & Donny', #Streamathon, 'Alma'

Web series and web video bits from around the internet worth clicking today:

The Battery's StreamyFor Your Consideration – The Battery’s Down, the musical theater loving web series from New York-based creator Jake Wilson put out today what appears to be the first ever musical For Your Consideration video for The Streamy Awards (above). The riff on “All I Want For Christmas” stars former Wicked star Shoshana Bean and doubles as the show’s holiday release. Wilson and co. have officially raised the bar for FYI campaigns this year. [YouTube] raised over $7300 in 24hrs for a charity—The Pablove Foundation—that helps kids with cancer this past weekend during their live on-air #streamathon. Now that’s making good use of live web shows! []

Dinosaur Diorama made a holiday video of their own, a “special extra-funny” episode of their Greg & Donny series—”Gregeneezer and the Three Monsters” (below). Will Gregeneezer avoid the fate of his old partner, Jacob Donny? [Dinosaur Diorama]

Rodrigo Blaas, a Pixar Studios animator, released his first ever independent short film, Alma, online this week for a limited time. [almasortfilm]

The Bannen Way hasn’t officially launched online yet, but that didn’t stop them from getting it up on Amazon as a pre-order. The action web series will premiere on Crackle on January 6th, and it’s making its Amazon debut January 8th. [Amazon]

Green Screens are everywhere. This ChromaKey video out of Russia mashes up the hundreds of TV shows that use green screen to beef up their environments. [YouTube]

Go Crazy, Save The Planet With 'mentalists

Turmeric (Olivia Poulet) and Deborah (Sarah Solemani) are two hippy Brit idealist environmentalists living together in a meager shed in Turmeric’s parent’s backyard. They believe that every action they make has genocidal consequences. Maybe you’ve heard of the butterfly effect. Well that’s just in movies. In the web series ‘mentalists, the concept is much more straightforward.

Here in the world that Turmeric and Deborah live in, the real world, it is more like the superginormous, skyscraper huge, gorilla with batwings spewing carbon emissions effect. That’s right. These two know that when we, the industrialized nation giant gorilla with batwings people, flush our refuse down our swimming pool sized toilets at least 300 baby white tigers die. That is the type of impact we are talking about here, people. It is severe.

So what are these two bashful birds doing about this? They have decided to start a regular podcast documenting their efforts to save the planet hoping to enlighten the rest of us. Their heroic efforts include bathing and brushing their teeth and taking with a single cup of cold water, living as freegans, and SWAT team style street clean ups.

Poulet and Solemani have a well developed chemistry together and their comedic interactions seem natural and not at all stiff. The jokes are original and their timing is excellent. The self-inflicted situations these two bring themselves into are funny enough, but the real payoff is watching their painful reactions. The scene in episode two where Deborah strips down to her bra and panties in the freezing cold to take a bath with a small cup of water shows she’s committed to saving the world, but perhaps hasn’t quite thought the whole thing through. She squirms and shivers, unsure of what to do or where to clean next. The whole while Turmeric, the clear task master of the two, prods Deborah on telling her where to bathe and how to feel about it.

These two church of the subgeniuses are now making such a profound impact on the rest of the world that they, personally and by my calculations, save at least 900 baby orphans a day (and that’s going on the assumption that they’re just straight vegetarian hippies and not pure vegan). See! You can make a difference. Tumeric and Deborah can show you how.

Take Over YouTube's Homepage, It's Only $400,000

According to Interpublic Group’s Magna forecasts, online video ad revenues in 2009 were supposed to jump 32% to total $699 million. At that rate the industry will hit over $1 billion in advertising revenue by 2011. A recent eMarketer report claims online video ad revenues hit the $1 billion mark this year, and will continue to grow to $5.2 billion by 2014.

Regardless of which numbers are more accurate, that’s a lot of cash. In an in intriguing article over at Advertising AgeMichael Learmonth shows where online video advertisers are spending big chunks of that cash and reveals how much they’re paying. Here are some particularly interesting finds:

  • YouTube Homepage costs $400,000 a day – With over 81 million monthly unique visitors, YouTube is selling its traffic as much as it sells video. Homepage takeovers are a mix of both, incorporating more traditional display ads with interactive banners and promotional videos.
  • Hulu sells a $35+ CPM – As Learmonth notes, “The key here is great content combined with limited inventory. Hulu caps the ads at four per hour despite grumbling from network partners that want to see TV generationg more revenue on the web.”

Learmonth admits his methods of data collection weren’t exactly scientific (the numbers were “culled from agency buyers and media sellers”), but they offer an interesting insight into what well-known online video properties are charging for premium content and exposure. Just like on television, advertisers are willing to write big checks in exchange for huge audiences and brand placement in front of high-quality programming.

What does this mean for online content creators that don’t produce WSJ or network television shows? I think it’s encouraging. Advertisers are obviously growing more comfortable spending bigger budgets online, and not every penny of those budgets will be spent on Super Bowl-like buys. As mentioned above, online video ad revenues are expected to reach $1 billion by 2011 (or $5.2 billion by 2014). If only a percentage of that pot goes to programming created outside of television studios, that’s still a big money pool in which lots of independent content creators can play.

Win a Roku HD-XR! (Our Holiday Gift To You)

roku xdOk just in time for the holidays, we have a special gift for you guys. It’s no secret that we’re fans of Roku set-top boxes, which bring many of the web series we love and write about every day to our living rooms and onto the big screens in beautiful HD action. Thousands of web series from networks like Revision3 and are available on Roku with more channels coming in the new year.

So, just for you fine friends of Tubefilter, we’re giving away a top-of-the-line Roku HD-XR (retail: $129.99) compliments of Roku. (They didn’t pay us for this, we just convinced them that you guys are awesome and really deserved one!)

Want to win? Here’s what you need to do:

1. Become a fan of Tubefilter on Facebook

2. Leave a comment on this article on our Facebook fan page – before 12 AM ET on Dec. 29, 2009.

That’s it. We’ll then put all valid entries into a random drawing hosted by on December 29th and announce the winner here and on Twitter. One entry per person.

For more last minute gift ideas check out our Web Series Junkie’s Holiday Gift Guide.

'Sex Ed' Shows Us Sex Comedy Isn't Beaten Up Yet

sex-edThe Sex Comedy genre does not inspire a lot of confidence in me. Probably because those two words don’t sound right together, like “pump nuggets” or “bad sex.” Of course there are exceptions. Some people would argue Revenge of the Nerds belongs to that genre, like the way the Golden Globes nominated It’s Complicated as a comedy even though, from the trailer, it looks like they trapped three great actors inside a horror movie.

Web series Sex Ed is the latest online iteration of the Sex Comedy since Blue Movies. An ensemble cast play eight students all in the same college sex education class. I had no idea colleges offered sex education as part of their curriculum, but then again I got treated for hysterical blindness as a result of excessive masturbation my freshman year at Oral Roberts. (By the way, I understand those jokes now that I heard around the office whenever I wear my alma mater’s sweatshirt, and they are not appreciated.)

Sex Ed hammers home the main grab of the show in a 2 minute 45 second long credits sequence in Episode 1. We meet each cast member during their morning ritual: Milo (Casey Graf) times himself masturbating in the toilet stall; Kate (Andrea Lui) locks herself in the bathroom and spreads out an assortment of dildos on a towel like Ginsu knives; Sarah Ann (Laura Clery) reaches an orgasm while bouncing on an exercise ball during morning aerobics; Dean (Matt Barr) pounds away inside his partner, seemingly bent on revenge; Stormy (Caroline Aaron) pretends to bounce on top of a man’s genitals alone in bed; and Billy (George Finn) behaves like a good Protestant and masturbates to a nudie magazine. It’s almost as emotionally and physicall exhausting a sequence of events to watch as actually having sex.

Later the students convene in a classroom taught by an emotionally distressed, but more importantly tenured, Professor Trevase. Prof. Trevase takes immediate control of her classroom with a long monologue about what sex is and what it isn’t. The performance is a star turn delivered by seasoned actress Joanna Cassidy, best known perhaps as Zhora the off-world Replicant in the movie Blade Runner – turns out Zhora isn’t retired.

Sex Ed is produced and directed by Tamela D’Amico and written by Ernie Vecchione. It’s shot and paced quite professionally, and the young actors are freshly scrubbed and interesting to watch. I was most intrigued by Stormy, a shy yet mysterious sex-starved pupil whose mother (the wonderful Caroline Aaron) smokes a Hookah on her couch and watches a Turkish version of $100,000 Pyramid.

It would be nice to see the show evolve into something closer to those scenes. Hammering away at horny teenage sexual appetite can begin to get one-note. Generally speaking, my main problem with Sex Comedies is that the jokes are always way too easy, but to Sex Ed’s credit, it’s not dumb. It shows more awareness in a handfull of short episodes than all the garden-variety straight-to-video Lampoon comedies combined, but that is the faintest of praises. If the writing allows itself to open up more as the storylines progress Sex Ed might start to resemble less the DVD of Van Wilder: Freshman Year and more the NBC comedy Community.

Quick Clicks: 'DiGiTS', Shorewood Lip Dub, Virgin, 'The Crew'

Web series and web video bits from around the internets worth clicking today:

Shorewood Lip DubShorewood vs. Shorecrest High School (Shoreline, WA) Glee-inspired but YouTube-perfect lip-synced battle unfolding on YouTube. It stated with Shorecrest HS’s Trent Mitchell’s video production class doing a spot-on rendition of Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya!” (above) that has already hit 100k views. This week rival high school Shorewood one upped their neighbors with a reverse lip sync (also above).  [Seattle PI]

Virgin America just added an original “Best of the Web” section to it RED in-flight systems, featuring popular web series shown on those glamorous seat-back touchscreens on all its domestic flights. Also known as: Revision3 and TED Talks join the mile-high club! [Virgin]

The U.S. Coast Guard needs a little help picking the winner of their “Best Coast Guard Video of 2009,” and put out a call for action to pick one of the 11 finalists. The final 11 are a tribute to the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions, and worth a look on their YouTube channel. [US Coast Guard]

Drama Queenz returned for its second season today. The popular New York-set LGBT comedy web series stars Broadway regulars Dane Joseph (Aida), Kristen-Alexzander Griffith (Rent), and Troy Valjean Rucker (Jesus Christ Superstar) as three actors on the less than perfect path to Broadway stardom. []

The DiGiTS Show has been on a tear on YouTube this past month, cranking out over 4.6 million views, which is more than even Fred racked up this month. The sleazy euro-gigolo has taken a brief hiatus until January promising “a crap ton more episodes.” In the meantime, they put out their “Holiday Card” today (below). [YouTube]

The Crew is on hiatus too, but that didn’t stop creator Brett Register from putting out a special “musical montage” Christmas episode of their own today (below). [Babelgum]