Chris Chang and Matt Semel of New York City-based production company 10ton (and whose names you may recognize as the creators behind a kind of videofied version of someecards called Carded.TV) made an original web series for Nickelodeon’s TeenNick. It’s called Flip Flops and it’s about two besties named Kat and Molly, their group of friends that could double as an advertisement for United Colors of Benetton, their teenaged exuberance, and their young people problems.
Kat, Molly, and company go on wonderfully shot, candy-colored adventures comprised of run-ins with exes, granny panties, joy riding, and kissing boys. If I was in my tweens I’d totally get Kat and Molly Trapper Keeper with matching mechanical pencils. That is, if I ever saw the series, which I wouldn’t have because TeenNick never aired it.
It’s not because the series isn’t good. Give it a watch and you see how it would resonate with a younger demo, giving them something to look at in between Justin Bieber videos and Zac Efron montages. Plus, even it was terrible, it’s not like that’s ever stopped media executives from releasing content. It’s because sometimes quality content just never gets released. Bad things happen to good people. That’s the way the world goes.
By the time Chang and Semel wrapped and delivered Flip Flops, the executives at TeenNick in charge of the project’s production were no longer with TeenNick. So, like thousands of other properties in all forms of media before it, the series was orphaned and sent to live in Entertainment Limbo with the Ark of the Covenant as its neighbor.
And there Flip Flops stayed until Chang and Semel screened the series at a recent Big Screen Little Screen event at Digitas in NYC. I caught up with them after to ask them about why they’re showing the public the show now and why some great programs never gets distributed.
Tubefilter: Flip Flops has been stuck without an air date for a while. Why show it to the public now?
Chris Chang: When we made this it was an experiment. We made it as part of Nick Cannon’s pilot program called The Chairman’s Lab, which at the time was the in-house development studio at TeenNick designed to incubate new properties that could work across platforms. When we pitched this show almost 2 years ago, no one was doing deals like this.
As the space has moved forward, more things have become possible. Network, studios, and other traditional media outlets are thinking about content in different ways. And we thought it was time. And that this was an important example to share with the web and television communities.
Tubefilter: So, are you going to release the series?
CC: We’re not releasing it. We just want to share with our professional friends in the community as an example of a way of functionally funding a web show where there is involvement from a major network. This is the sort of project/relationship that we’re pursing going forward and we believe this is a great funding model whose time has come.
The thing that we loved about working with TeenNick is that they are an entertainment company. They make entertainment. Flip Flops’ ‘a web show.’ No one watches ‘web shows.’ People watch things that are entertaining that just happen to be in this format and just happen to be online. It’s a paradigm shift that we continue to see as a lot more real entertainment players get into things and streaming becomes a predominant player in the way that people are getting their entertainment content.
Tubefilter: How much did it cost to produce the series?
CC: It cost an amount of money that good people who are passionate about a project need to make something great. In terms of dollars, more than used car less than a Nike commercial.
Tubefilter: So what’s you end goal for the show?
CC: Again, this is an experiment. And we view it as a very successful experiment. This is a multi-platform web-first project developed through a major cable network. I think we’d like to see Flip Flops live on in whatever form it wants to naturally live on in the future. But most importantly we see the potential for a lot more great content with companies like 10ton partnering with studios and networks, to take advantage of what each of us does best.
Tubefilter: What’s the current status of Flip Flops?
CC: As creators, of course, we hope that it comes out, and comes out soon, because we love Kat and Molly and think that it would be lots of fun to film them on more adventures. But in the end the answer is: we don’t know, and that is one of the dangers of getting money from big places. There are larger things at work.
You often have to make certain sacrifices in your creative autonomy, but also you get a lot of resources not available to the average independent filmmaker. It’s not the right way to go for everybody or every project, but it’s the way most mainstream TV and movies get made. And we’re certainly not unhappy about that because we feel strongly that right now there are all sorts of new opportunities, and we’re excited about Flip Flops and everything else that’s coming along soon.
Tubefilter: What is next for you guys?
CC: Moving forward we’ve been working with a number of great studios, entertainment companies, and brands. Everyday is a new adventure. But we certainly feel there are lots of new opportunities; more opportunities than ever before to develop first class content featuring known talent and with major funding partners, and have it all start out on the web.