When Alabama-born actor-producer-musician-writer-singer-gamer Kathryn Felicia Day (aka Felicia Day aka the creator and star of The Guild and Geek and Sundry fame) couldn’t persuade Hollywood to buy her original TV pilot about a group of online gamers, she turned to YouTube with her talents.
What followed was an avalanche of support from her fans, awards, and opportunities, including sponsorships with Microsoft and Sprint, a deal with video game developer BioWare, a YouTube funded channel, and a 24/7 working schedule.
So what can we learn from a square peg that couldn’t quite fit into Hollywood’s round hole and launched a successful career on the internet instead? A lot.
Turn your addiction into Benjamins.
Before she was a multi-Streamy Award winner, Day suffered from a two-year gaming obsession. “I fell into playing World of Warcraft for 8 hours a day. It became my job; I would eat, sleep and dream the game,” Day confessed in an interview. “I had other people online who I played with, so it didn’t seem dysfunctional to me. I don’t think online games are necessarily inherently addictive or destructive, but I was in a place where I was looking for any addiction to fill the creative void in my life, and gaming was what I found.”
Luckily for likeminded individuals on the internet, she got help. “I started feeling quite empty and depressed, and had some fantastic intervention from close friends and my boyfriend. In particular, I started breakfasting with several other women in Hollywood who wanted to start a support group, set goals with each other, be held accountable. When I showed up every week with nothing but gaming to show for my time, even I started to get some awareness at that point.”
And after that point, Day turned her avocation into a vocation.
There are no excuses anymore.
When Tinseltown wasn’t buying her loosely autobiographical pilot project, someone in the “women struggling in Hollywood” support group suggested Day go around the system, self-produce, and post it on YouTube.
“Don’t waste one minute waiting,” says Day. “There are certainly things you need from other people in Hollywood to get your goals realized, but in the meantime, build the stepping stones yourself to make it easier for others to recognize your talent — there’s less reason to say ‘no’ because you’re bringing more to the table. With the Internet, there is no excuse for anyone creative to not be sharing their work with the world. The balance is shifting, and it is the self-starters who will own the creative industry in the future.”
A YouTube Vlogger from the Midwest can get more views than any network Hollywood show on a weekly basis, so the writing is on the wall. There are honestly no excuses anymore.
If you want something done, wear many hats and do it yourself.
If you’re strapped for cash (and who isn’t nowadays?) try the DIY approach. When asked how many hats she wears as a webisode creator and star Day replied, “There are almost too many to list! Producer, writer, production designer, PA, craft service, script supervisor, location scout, grip, actor, makeup, accountant, web page designer, marketing, publicity, Photoshop, etc, etc. I have half-learned every job in Hollywood — and respect every one of those professions more for the experience. When we needed something done, we had no money to hire someone, so we just figured out how to do it ourselves. It was improv on a daily basis, and continues to be, to this day.”
Take note aspiring online video creators, on the path to success you should rarely say no.
The First Drafts Series is a Tubefilter column that highlights and critiques the first online video work of the world’s greatest online video stars. It is written by the savvy online video experts Lynn Chindamo and Frank Chindamo. Lynn is an award winning webisode creator who has written and directed series for Babelgum, Planet Green, and Petco. She is the world’s first Internet Stardom Curator and has written a book on the subject – Internet Stardom: Insider Secrets to Web Fame and Fortune. Frank teaches webisode production at Chapman University, UCLA, and USC School of Cinematic Arts.
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