Spidvid.com - We are back with one of our best Spidcast episodes to date this month (listen in below and subscribe to “Spidcast” on iTunes) with a focus on web series, acting, creative freedoms, Playboy, and other interesting sound bites! February’s Spidcast features the incredible individuals Brittney Powell and David Beeler. They are our amazingly sexy and talented guests for Spidcast 15, February 2012.
Michael London: Hi, I’m Michael London. Welcome to Spidcast, the Future of Collaborative Video Production brought to you by Spidvid.com and sponsored this week by Indie Source Magazine where they believe free is better and you know what? I think they got a point. On this episode, we are talking with Brittney Powell, an actress you’ve seen plenty on episodic TV and movies too and lots of other things. Also, David Beeler will be here. He’s an actor, writer and web creator. David is certainly one of the pioneers of the new media and he has a great story to tell us and will take us to at least two continents.
First up is, well, ladies first. She’s an actress, producer and I’m told an all-around awesome chick. Brittney, thanks for being with us today.
Brittney Powell: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I’m looking forward to this.
Michael London: So, tell us a little bit about Brittney.
Brittney Powell: Well, I’m an army brat. I’ve traveled the world just in being an army brat because that’s what we do and I would say that translates into why, one of the reasons why I moved to Los Angeles, the career path of an actor is very much a person who has to fit into new environments quickly and make themselves at home and make new friends randomly and get sent across the world to go on location and so forth. So, I find that being an army brat was good training for being an actor.
Michael London: Well, I can see that. So, where was the very last place you were right before Hollywood?
Brittney Powell: The very last place I was before I came to Hollywood was a little town in Texas, right outside of Dallas, Fort Worth which has grown exponentially since I’ve moved away and that was, well, I won’t say how many years ago that was because I’m still only 29 years old.
Michael London: And what is the name of that little town?
Brittney Powell: It’s Mansfield, Texas. In fact, I just found out from my parents that Kelly Clarkson now lives in Mansfield, Texas. I knew that she had been from Burleson but I had no idea that she went ahead and made the big move to Mansfield.
Michael London: Well, you have to fight her now for hometown girl billboard space.
Brittney Powell: I know. When I come to town, she better scoot aside because I want to be on the front page of the newspaper.
Michael London: I don’t blame you. So, tell us about that path, army brat lived in 10 or so places, new school every year?
Brittney Powell: Well, actually, when I was about six, I would say, I started—my father was an officer, so he would always get options of where we were going to be stationed next and I swear to God, that’s when I would pull out a map and a ruler and whatever was closest to LA, that’s the one that got my vote. So, when we had the opportunity, I was born in Germany, but then we moved back to the States and traveled a bit. When we had opportunity to go back to Germany, of course, that’s the one my parents chose but I’m thinking, no, no, I think Phoenix is a better option. Phoenix because it’s closer to LA.
Michael London: Good thinking and what about early performing opportunities?
Brittney Powell: Mostly, I started just doing family stuff whenever we would have family functions. I would write little plays and I would enlist the help of the friends and families that were there, and make them perform and then I would get, I didn’t understand when they would get nervous in front of their parents. I’m like, we’re just acting and they’re your parents, they love you. Just do it. Then I would get all frustrated if they got all nervous.
And then I started doing community theater. I would UIL competitions and they were One-Act Play competitions in high school and what I realized was that I would win and I loved getting the ribbons and the trophies and stuff but I realized very quickly that if I moved to Los Angeles and did this as a living that I could get as little green bio survival tickets that we called dollar bills and those were my trophies that I preferred. So, I just went ahead and I was like, I’m moving to LA. I’m going to make my living doing this.
Michael London: All right, all about the Benjamins. What is UIL competition?
Brittney Powell: UIL competitions, they’re One-Act Play, so you’ll take an entire play and you’ll go through it and just start editing down lines or even scenes and turn the entire play into one act and then you perform them starting at just the little district level and then you would move to Regionals and if your entire cast continues to win, then you go on to state and so forth.
Our cast never actually made it to State. We were always beaten by Martin High School so I’m going to go back and punch them.
Michael London: Darn those Martin High Goons. So, we fast forward a bit and you finally land in Hollywood. What do you think?
Brittney Powell: I loved it. I originally came out to Hollywood because I accidentally was in Playboy, the girls kind of things, just one those little side picture once they do and the editor saw that, asked me to be a playmate so they started flying me out to Los Angeles a lot and when I was out here, I was meeting agents and they told me point blank that I’m marketable, that I’m talented and that if I would just move out here that I could actually start booking work. So, that’s what I did. I just packed up my little car and tripped it on out here and I started booking work right away. They were right.
So, that’s what brought me to Los Angeles and then once I got out here, really, I started booking work right away, lots of commercials and a lot of episodic television, anything that Aaron Spelling had done.
Michael London: Wait, wait, wait, tell us where we’ve seen you.
Brittney Powell: Oh, my goodness, anything Aaron Spelling has ever done, I’ve been either a recurring role for half a season or I’ve been the series regular for like “Pacific Palisades”. I was a series regular on that. Then Stu Segall Productions, he would do all of the “Silk Stalkings” and “Renegade” all those kind of shows and so they would bring me down and just keep constantly casting me in those shows and then night time episodic was the majority of my career and then films. I had a little, not a little film, it was one of Icon Pictures, first venture into feature films. That’s Mel Gibson’s production company and that was a movie called “Airborne” which is a coming of age movie and I was the lead female in that. Just the (cutest little) movie and I still meet people today, kids who are still addicted to it.
In fact, I rented a car the other way and the guy behind the counter, I walked in and he looked me and he goes, “Airborne, right?” How do you know this? I’m like ancient compared to those days, how do you even still recognize me?
Michael London: So, he says, “Airborne” and your first word should have been, “Upgrade” right?
Brittney Powell: Oh, yes, and don’t think I didn’t. I got the upgrade.
Michael London: Good for you. So, you’re really living the working actor’s dream. You’re working a lot. You’re being seen. You’re making your contacts all in traditional media. Then you take a sharp right into the web world. Tell us about that.
Brittney Powell: Ah, this I owe to my business partner, writing partner, acting partner, best friend, Tom Konkle. I was at an audition for a commercial and I was just kind of being a little smartass kind of in my own little world but funny, I don’t know, it’s kind of quirky and I realized there was a human being very close to me who was laughing at all of the twisted things that I would say out loud to myself and so he and I started saying weird things out loud to each other and after the audition, I followed him to the parking lot and I told him that I have to know him and we became friends and he had been working on a script called “Safety Geeks: SVI” and very Monty Python-esque but in getting to me, he realized that I was the lead female that he had written.
And that started our ventures into the web world. It got a wonderful reception. Immediately, we were one of the first web series that was actually funded by an outside source. So, it was a platform called (Cold Cast). They went ahead and paid for it and it went crazy. We started winning awards, nominated for Streamy Awards and LA Web Fest Awards. It got an amazing reception and that’s when we realized we’re really on to something and then Tom had also in the past had worked with John Cleese who saw it and decided that he wants to be in our—we’re not going to call it a second season. We’re going to call it a sequel because we’re turning that actually into a feature film instead of a web series but it will be on the web as well so John Cleese, we have him on board. Virginia Hey wants to be in it. It’s so silly and it’s ridiculous, it’s so our humor.
So, that got us going. Then we decided based on that, other people were asking us to be in theirs doing cameos and so we were doing that. That’s when we realized that we’re going to start our own YouTube channel which we’ve recently launched. It’s RomComtTheSeries, so you can find that at YouTube/romcomtheseries and it is going to be Tom and I playing different characters, romantic comedy, just silly stuff, our humor, the one thing that we did notice with that is that we posted some of what we find to be romantic comedy and in researching the demographics, we’re realizing that we’re serving an underserved market which is people our age watching the internet, looking for more mature romantic comedy.
So, we started posting a few things up and when we first put, we just put up a silly sex scene, really fun, romantic but a bit off the wall and we were getting about a thousand hits an hour when we first put it up and it’s continuing to grow.
Michael London: Goodness gracious, it sounds like it. Now, John Cleese decidedly silly and then romantic comedy, who exactly is your audience?
Brittney Powell: Females love what we’re doing. The main genre, we’re serving it right now, our demographic on there is 60% female within the ages of 18 through 54. So, what we want, actually is for people to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and start emailing us some of their ideas of what they would like to see like if they actually did have the weirdest little romantic scenario in their life, we want to recreate that. We want to write it and put our own spin on it but we want their ideas, what they find to be funny and romantic and then we’re going to put those up as well and we fortunately found that people are finding it funny as well which is nice because sometimes, you put something up that you think is funny and they just run the other direction but they seem to like our weirdness which is cool.
Michael London: And you’ll know, you’ll know right away like you’ve seen before with the hits.
Brittney Powell: Yes, and I’m very, very fortunate to have Tom as my business partner because he loves computers so he has all the different spreadsheets and everything that are telling us what countries are from, for instance, “Safety Geeks”, when it first launched, we were very big in the United States, but now, we’re finding Saudi Arabia. We’re spiking in Saudi Arabia right now and we can’t exactly explain it. We aren’t going to complain about it.
Michael London: Yes, no need to explain it, just enjoy it. So, honest question time, all right? You’re doing well. Your career seems to be on the (uptake), features, episodic TV, you meet Tom. Tom approaches you and says, “Hey, want to do some stuff for the web?” Really, now, what do you think?
Brittney Powell: I’ll tell you what, what first caught my attention to say yes was the interaction that I had with Tom and I knew that we could create something that was unique and I knew that we could create something that made me happy. It was our product. We had control over what we were putting out and we had control over how it was put out. That got my attention because a lot of times, you’ll go into a sitcom and you have to do exactly what those writers said and they might not have quite your same personality but you do it because it’s your job and I love my job.
However, I love being able to tell Tom, “Can we twist it in this direction as well and have it still be as funny?” And then we can mull it over. We can twist it and tweak it and do that sort until we make it what we want and then we put it up and if people like it, they like it. If they don’t, that’s okay because somebody likes it. There’s not one guy sitting in an office somewhere that it’s his opinion of what’s funny. It’s actually out there for the public to determine and if they like it, they can go to it and watch it.
Michael London: Now, you know what? For my money, that is the single most exciting thing about this venue, no gatekeeper. So, literally now, being a pioneer, how about some words of advice for those coming up behind you.
Brittney Powell: I think my main bit of advice that I would give to people coming up in the web world would be really pay attention to what you’re writing because you can’t just write something and throw it up and expect it to hit. You’ve got to pay attention to the actual quality of the writing and then pay attention to the quality of production. A lot of people on the web, they’ll have an idea on the weekend and then they’ll shoot it over the weekend and get their friends together and they’re not real actors. They should hire real actors to portray the characters they’ve written instead of saying, “I want to be on TV so I’m going to write something and just put it up there.”
Don’t just put it up there. Make sure it’s good enough to represent you as a writer, as an actor and as a producer because that is what, I mean, it’s going to live on the web forever and if you’re just putting up crap, then that’s what people when they do go back 10 years from now and they’re like, “Who’s this person?” And they go back and see it, they’ll be like, “No, they suck. I don’t to watch it.” So, truly pay attention to the quality of what you’re doing and play to your strengths.
Michael London: Wonderful words of experience there. So, Playboy, did it hurt or help?
Brittney Powell: You know what? Playboy helped, I have to say. It was right around the time when Pamela Anderson was making it okay to be a Playmate and an actress. At that time, I actually turned down Playmate. I’ve shot my centerfold and it was right before Pam made it okay. So, I was noticing that a lot of the other Playmates who were trying to be actresses, they were losing jobs even after having booked the job, they were getting fired off sets once the producers realized that they were Playmates. So, I backed out of the centerfold but what I got out of that was connections. I actually met my first commercial agent through Playboy and we didn’t promote that I was a Playmate or that I had worked for Playboy or anything but I did continue to do the lingerie issues as a way to pay my bills in one day so that the rest of the month, I could be going out on auditions.
He was married to Kimberley Heffner at that time and she was very strict at the mansion so when they would bring me out, they would put me up at the mansion and I didn’t have to worry about lecherous old men trying to say, “Well, I can help you, baby, but this is what I like,” and I didn’t have to worry about that because she was like, “Anybody in the swimming pool, you got clothes on. I got a baby running around this house,” or when we would have the Sunday night movie night, it was just his closer friends that they trusted. It wasn’t really just kind of anybody who thought it would be fun to go see a bunch of hot chicks. It was people who actually had integrity and had something to say in the entertainment industry.
So, I met some really wonderful people that way and some of whom, I’ve remained in contact with since. So, Playboy I loved and I would do it again.
Michael London: Interesting, so what can you tell us about your experience with collaboration?
Brittney Powell: I think that what you guys have going with Spidvid is incredibly helpful to the independent producer because we can come to you and say, “Hey, look what we’ve got,” and then you have a whole targeted audience that comes to you guys to say, “I have this to offer but I’m lacking in this area,” and they have that to offer but they’re lacking in that area so it does become very much a collaborative effort and with people of like-mind. So, that to me is invaluable. So, thank you, Spidvid, for existing. It is invaluable what you guys do.
Michael London: Very kind words, Brittney. Thank you so much but the only way we exist is because of people like you.
Brittney Powell: Oh, well, thank you very much for saying that.
Michael London: So, what would be the takeaway message from Brittney Powell today?
Brittney Powell: Taking talent and utilizing it along with what would otherwise be considered maybe a more surfaced quality. People do pay attention to my looks and I know that but that doesn’t mean that I have to only use my looks to get ahead. My looks get attention and then from that, people can really go, “Whoa, wait a second, she can walk. Whoa, she’s intelligent.” That is what I appreciate about being on this planet.
Michael London: All right, and speaking of looks and talent, where can see everything Brittney.
Brittney Powell: Everything Brittney, well, IMDB as my entire resume and that’s of course, Brittney Powell on IMDB. You can find, a lot of the new stuff is going to be on the RomComTheSeries on YouTube. There’s a lot of stuff too on the safetygeekssvi.com. In fact, I even have a little bit on “Invention” with Brian Forbes. I have kind of a cameo in that. I’m a guest star on that one, a recurring player. The internet, I mean, anything Brittney, just Google it. Everything will come up. What won’t come up are my photos from Playboy. I don’t know why. I think it was because that was back in the ancient days when they didn’t have digital.
Michael London: I just sense a disturbance in the force.
Brittney Powell: That’s funny. Well, I’ll go find some of those old pictures and scan them and put them up and then I’ll put them under fake names so that nobody will come after me for copyright infringement.
Michael London: You can say, here’s Kelly Clarkson.
Brittney Powell: I will say, “Kelly, can you just come here and say a few words standing next to me and then I can pop up under your Google searches too?”
Michael London: Always thinking, Brittney Powell. Thank you so much for joining us today on Spidcast.
Brittney Powell: Thank you so much for having me. I had a great time talking to you.
Michael London: Spidcast brought to you by Indie Source Magazine, the fastest growing independent filmmaker resource and the only free publication of its kind and their mission is to bring you not only stories of the industry’s highly celebrated but also stories and insights from players in all areas of the media creation process. At Indie Source, they believe free is better. Visit them at indiesourcemag.com.
Let’s continue now with the Spidcast. Joining us is actor, writer and web creator, David Beeler. David, welcome to Spidcast.
David Beeler: Well, thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Michael London: So, David, tell us a little bit about your story.
David Beeler: Goodness, I was born of poor black child. No, I’m sorry, that’s already been done.
Michael London: Yes, already taken.
David Beeler: No, actually, I’m an actor, professional actor. I live out in Los Angeles. Before that, I lived in London, England for a decade. I went to drama school over there, a conservatory for three years and then wound up staying and working there for that decade before coming back to the States. But I was born and raised in Texas in a small town and I was kind of a class clown, enjoyed making my friends laugh because I quickly got that that made them like me more and there’s something very powerful about laughter and that it opens up people. It’s that saying that “laugher is the best medicine” and there is actually physiological evidence that that’s actually very true.
I did all the stuff as a kid. I got local theatre to local television show and by the age of 15, I decided, this is what I wanted to do. But when I was about fifth grade, my mom used my full name and I knew I was in trouble so I’m thinking, what did I get caught doing? And she goes, “I got a call from your teachers.” And I’m like, oh, what did I get caught doing at school? She said, “Well, they’re very concerned about you.” And I thought, all my grades are good? And then she said, “They think something might be wrong with your brain.” And I was like, “What?”
So, it turns out they thought I had an equilibrium problem because I had gotten so good at walking into desks, bumping at doors, and just falling over doing these pratfalls to make my friends laugh but they thought something was actually wrong with me. So, I kind of blame my teachers that I don’t have Jim Carrey’s career because my mom told me to put the brakes on that which I did.
But by the time I was 15, I knew I was going to be a professional actor and that’s what I was going to do with my life as a vocation. So, it’s been a couple of years at UT Austin, in Texas on a scholarship and then I applied for the school in England and got accepted which was a real coup and I didn’t realize it at that time, it was as big a deal for me as it was going to be.
And then I was paying for school so I had to pay for a lot more of school by going to this conservatory in England which was the Central School Of Speech & Drama and so I wrote and produced plays in Texas to pay for my training in England and that actually worked. So, it was ironic that I paid for school by doing what I was going to school to learn to do.
Michael London: Well, how cool is that? I’m sure this has helped throughout your career so far?
David Beeler: It was pretty cool. It was a big learning experience to get to school for me as it was being at school and that was really fascinating and some of that entrepreneurial spirit and production just sort of, “All right, we’re going to figure out how to make this work,” has carried into the stuff that I do now with my creating partner or creative partner, Tom Konkle because he and I do comedy and almost all of our stuff is a comedy based online.
Michael London: Now, we’re going to get more into your current stuff in just a bit but I want to hear about more of the stuff from England. This is good stuff.
David Beeler: I had some really cool opportunities there, things like I got to play Hamlet in a castle; did a one-man show called Booth about the actor Edwin Booth, took that to Denver Festival and won an award. A director who saw this wanted to work with me. She said, we need to retool the script and before you do the show again, which was about Edwin Booth preparing to play Hamlet after his brother assassinated Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth. She said, “You need to play Hamlet.” I said, well, it’s on my list and she said, “No, no. You’re going to do it.” And so I wound up getting to play Hamlet.
A company I was working with touring around England doing Shakespeare, we actually got to play Hamlet at Kenilworth Castle. So, that was an amazing experience for me.
Michael London: I’ll bet so you work your way to England. Played Hamlet in a castle no less so in your mind, had you arrived? Where you successful?
David Beeler: I do my goals between Christmas and New Year’s every year and realized, am I doing what I want to do? And I’m like, yes. I’m an actor, I’m earning my living. This is great. I thought is this really what I want to do and I went, what if I could do anything, I’d work in movies. And I thought, oh, well, I’m in the wrong place because they don’t do that many films in the UK sadly because when they do, do them, they do them very well.
So, from there, I thought, okay, I’m going to pick up and head back to the States. So I took a reconnaissance holiday, came out to Los Angeles and stayed here for eight weeks with some friends of mine from drama school and found much to my delight that it was actually a very nice place and in being here, one of the things that happened along the way was when I first got out here, I thought, gosh, I haven’t done comedy in years and that’s something I really loved. It’s partly what got me to acting. So, I signed up with LA Connection, which is a place out here that does improv and had found that some of the other places that are very famous for improv, you have to go through years of their training programs before you get to perform but LA Connection had a fast track where you could do that within a couple of months.
And so, I thought, well, that’s what I want. So, I did that. A group of us kind of got bored there, splintered off with some people from the groundlings and created a new sketch troupe and one of the guys from that group which fell apart fairly quickly because different people wanted to do different things. So, the group fell apart but one of the guys later was producing a show called “Beyond the Fringe” which is the seminal British review that launched the careers of Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett.
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, you may have heard of and Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller are very big in the UK and one is the director and one is the writer. This guy, Joe Dunne who was producing the show, he said, “I need you to play the Dudley parts because one of the improv characters I created having lived in London was an out of work mortician and I thought, oh, it would be fun. I lived in South London for the most number of years of my time in England and I can do a very good South London accent and I thought, if this guy is an out of work mortician but he’s on the dole but he’s so broke he has to nip at the formaldehyde if he can no longer afford to go to the pub and I thought, oh, that’s a fun idea for an improv character so I brought that in and what happened was he wound up sounding very much like Dudley Moore, completely by accident and “I’m going to go in and I’m going to do this thing and his name was (Glenn Long) and he was a less successful brother of (Forest Long). And of course, I didn’t hold that over Forest, God bless him, but he was very frustrated. He couldn’t get things to work right.”
So, everybody was like, “Oh, that’s a great Dudley,” and I’m like, oh, no, I don’t want to do Dudley. Dudley did Dudley so I was like, ah, back to the drawing board but they insisted that I keep doing this character because they all thought it was very funny. So, Joe knew I had done this character and he said, “I want you to play Dudley Moore in this review show,” and I was like, okay, “And you’re going to meet this guy who will play the Peter Cook parts. Tom Konkle is very funny, I think you’ll get on.”
And at the read through, sure enough, Tom and I got on like a house on fire and in doing that show which won Take of the Week in the LA Weekly out here, Tom said, “We need to do the two-hander that Peter Cook and Dudley Moore did called ‘Good Evening.’ They did this on Broadway,” and I was like, okay. And Tom said, “No, no, we’re going to do it.” I said, okay and then two weeks later he called me and said, “Okay, I’ve booked a theatre, we’re doing a show.” And I said, oh, all right. When? “In two weeks.” I was like, whoa, goodness, we probably should rehearse. We got the show up on its feet real fast. I had a great time and then in the process of doing that show, we kept kind of improvising and playing with those characters and we decided that hey, we could actually continue playing and develop that into some of our own original material which we did and that show was called, “Goodnight” and that was basically a tribute to “Good Evening: The Peter Cook and Dudley Moore Show” and in that process, Tom and I found that we worked really well together as a writing team that we were very (simpatico).
And about that same time, I’d written the stuff that paid for my training but I don’t write a whole lot because it feels like work and I’ve had a number of people go, “You’re good at writing. You should write more.” And so I was looking for a way to enjoy writing more and then Tom showed up and we had a great time writing. It was just a laugh and we would catch stuff and try to get it in the computer while it was fresh and still making it laugh and so we began to collaborate and write and around about the same time, I joined their sketch troupe called Lester McFwap and we were doing live sketch shows. We did them in different places around the country at different festivals and around LA and about that time, a guy came to one of our shows and said, “I think we should do a television pilot,” and we said, okay. So we wound up producing this TV pilot called McFwap with an exclamation point and not the musical but just McFwap!
So, we produced this pilot and it was green lit for along weekend before it fell through the cracks in the Vivendi sale, when Universal was bought by Vivendi and lot of these other TV network, cable networks that they owned, all kinds of people losing their jobs and so we fell through the cracks of that sale which was very frustrating. But at that time, we’d already began doing some sort of interactive media stuff in our live shows and filming things and putting them in our live shows.
So, when the internet began to come out with an opportunity where the bandwidth was large enough that you could actually post something and have people watched it without being it completely stilted, the very early days of YouTube, then we were like, oh, well, we should put something up. So, Tom and I did a sketch and we put it out and I think it was a month or two, we got like 500,000 hits.
So, here’s half a million people watching our comedy which was more than we had seen all of our live shows combined over the entire time we’d been working together before that. We’re like, wow, this is powerful. So, we formed Pith-e Productions and the idea of that was to keep it short and pithy because at that time, that was what it had to be as dictated by the bandwidth and a guy approached us about doing stuff for mobile and that was still way too early for mobile to have satisfactory mobile video. Nowadays, you have that quite readily but at that time, that was sort of more of an idea than a reality but we got this idea of, oh, we could do this and we kind of build a footprint here and then expand it out and hopefully go into new media, create our brand really strong and then take that brand and move it into old media or the more established media, however you want to look at that. So that’s kind of partly how we came to be and how we came to be doing what we’ve been doing.
Michael London: So, is “Invention” an outgrowth of that relationship with Tom?
David Beeler: “Invention” with Brian Forbes grew out of a sketch show. Tom and I were doing a two hand sketch show and Tom had this idea for this crazy inventor and being interviewed in a show that’s the guy who’s running the show was trying to do a very serious show but his guest is just a whackadoo and we did it as a sketch and I thought it was a great sketch and it always got a great reaction and at one point, Tom said, “Let’s film that.” And I’m like, okay, we’re doing these little short pithy one offs and so fine.
And then Tom later said, I think we should do that as a series because we’ve done another live sketch show and we’ve done another invention and Tom said, “Let’s do this as a series,” and I said, I don’t think it will sustain as a series, Tom because it’s a little just, they’re little snippets. They are really just little sketches and there’s no kind of continuation in that. I don’t see that being a series and I said, I think people will stale of the same thing again and again. And Tom said, “No, no, no, I’ve got so many ideas. They won’t.” And I’m like, all right, okay.
The great thing about Tom and I is if either one of us feels passionately about something, the other one usually goes, “All right, I trust you.” And that’s come from years of working together. And I was like, okay, if you really feel like that, let’s do it. So, we did. We began doing more and more and more of these and I have grown to love, love, love the show. It’s one of my favorite things we do because I love the relationship between Brian Forbes who’s desperately trying to do something legitimate and I think for a lot of artists, that craving of legitimacy, of I want to be accepted and do something that’s good and be lauded by my peers. Most artists have that in some capacity once they get involved in their disciplines, their craft that they want their peers to recognize them. Hence, the proliferation of award shows.
So Brian Forbes is deadly serious and then you have this force of nature which is the only guy that I know who’s just out of his mind or eccentric as they say in England I think the combination of that is really wonderful and it’s just a very simple idea that relies purely on the writing and the performing and the relationship between these characters.
Michael London: And David, how did you find your audience or better yet, how did they find you?
David Beeler: We call it our web series that good. It’s like the little engine that gets over the hill because for years, we would just do them because we wanted to and we never had any sort of game plan or sort of we must (do a mark at) this and put it out there and figure it out how we’re doing this. It was really just, we were doing it and we’ve never ever gotten a bad review. We’ve gotten tons of great press. Everybody seems to love the show and we’ve only gotten positive feedback on it and a few years then, on doing the show, we were like, oh, we probably should look at this. Another positive review would pop up and that’s a neat thing about the internet in a lot of traditional media. Once you have an opening, you air the show and it’s over and maybe it comes out again in rerun but it’s looked as a sort of second tier because it’s already been out.
Whereas with the internet, one of the things we have discovered is there are ways of discovering. We had this very recently where we don’t quite know why but on YouTube our views peaked into the hundreds of thousands out of nowhere. Just suddenly we were getting like hundreds of thousands of views in a week and it just sort of had this little peak and I was like, well, that’s interesting. We don’t quite know why but somebody somewhere might have discovered it, put it on Facebook and it just spread virally or something. We don’t quite know what that is although we’re trying to figure it out.
Michael London: But isn’t that one of the coolest things about being involved in new media that your show has literally forever to find an audience and there’s not one guy in the ivory tower saying, “No, this will not be made.”
David Beeler: That is phenomenal. Never in history has it been a more democratic platform where you can put what you want to say out there and people vote on it with their eyeballs. So, that’s incredibly powerful. As you said, there’s no men in the ivory tower, there are no suits going, “No, no, we’re not going to do this.” There aren’t gatekeepers other than people wanting to watch it or not wanting to watch it. And that’s amazing. That’s crazy cool, the fact that like I said, Tom and I were blown away and this is many years ago. Many years ago, and I think 2003 or 2004 when we put up a video and it got half a million views in a month or so and we went, “Wow, that’s amazing. The fact that that many people could see your work.”
Here’s a funny story, one of the things is called the “Prostate PSA” and it’s basically a public service announcement for men’s health and we did this thing. It’s pretty funny, it’s out there Prostate PSA, Dave and Tom, go check it out but we did it, put it out. Several months later, an old girlfriend of mine from Texas emailed me that her husband had just gotten that video sent to him from his friend in South Africa because he was having a prostate issue and it was sort of one of those things where I was like, wow, that circumnavigated the globe to come back to someone I know who says, “Oh, my god, I saw that (video.)” And that’s happened two or three times where people I know have said, “Oh, my dad just got this thing and it’s you and somebody that I didn’t know had sent it to him. And then it came back to me and they had discovered it.
So, that’s crazy (call). The downside of this very open democratic platform is that there are no gatekeepers by which I mean, for an audience, you sometimes have to sift through a lot of dirt to find a lump of coal much less a diamond because there is no barrier at all for submission. Anybody can do anything they want and put it up there and so sometimes, you have to kind of wade through some not so good stuff to find the good stuff. However, I would much rather have it this way than the other way where there’s, who’s deciding whether you get to watch that or not.
And then the good stuff tends to get the cream will rise to the top. The good stuff tends to get referred. It gets noticed. People write about it, blog about it. Other people share it. So, in that way, the good stuff tends to rise anyway.
Michael London: Right, not only does the good stuff rise but the good stuff gets very strong word of mouth, the best advertising for any business at any time in history.
David Beeler: Exactly, exactly and that’s where I would say if anybody is going to attempt to create video or do web series, there are a few things I would consider moving into it at this time. First of all is just to look around and see what’s being done and try to find a way to either do something that’s not being done and part of it just because this is an open platform so no one is going to say no. So, this is the chance to do something different as opposed to trying to recreate a television show with the resources to do it which a lot of people do and then it looks like a very sad sick cousin of something that you could see on television. Do something else. Find a way to use your voice to express your creativity, follow your passion but do something that’s been different.
If you’re going to do something that’s been done, for example, like another zombie story or vampire story which are just ripe at the moment, then do that really, really well. And one of the interesting things right now is because there are so many good shows out there, production values have gotten very good very quickly. It’s sometimes very amazing what people can do with very little resources and still have it looked very close to being a TV show. So, that is something you have to bear in mind that to be competitive if you want to, I mean, because you can also just put stuff out there and allow this to be a type of film school where this is where you’re expressing yourself, trying things out, learning and put it up there and if somebody likes it other than your friends and family, cool. And this is like film school. A lot of school films get made not to be watched necessarily but for the learning process that they give.
So, you can either do this to try build an audience and have people follow your shows or just for your learning curve and actually both of them will happen if you’re going for an audience. You’re going to learn stuff. You cannot help but learn stuff.
Michael London: Now, talking about that very topic, where can we follow your stuff? Now, talking about that very topic, where can we follow your stuff?
David Beeler: Well, if you would like to watch some of our shows, the easiest place to go to is daveandtom.com because everything is parked right there. You can also go to our YouTube channel. We’re on Vimeo (Cold Cast). We’re on over 200 portals so just do a search for David and Tom and you’ll find our videos. You cannot help but find them. We are out there and that’s amazing. We actually have had, we did this one thing about a genie and we did a search one time because we were talking to a new media agent and we were like, “Okay, how much are we out there? Let’s find so we can report back and say, this is where we are,” and we did the search and on page, I don’t know, 40 something or 50 something deep in the Google, we were on a French genie fetishes site. We’re like, (What?) That our video was part on a fetishes site for people who were into genies because we’d had a sketch about a genie popping out of a bottle and we’re like, “What the hey!”
So, that is the other wonderful thing is you’ll turn up in these wonderfully obscure and bizarre places.
Michael London: So, let me rub that lantern and wish for a parting shot, some words of wisdom, a golden nugget perhaps of advice?
David Beeler: Well, I think my biggest kernel of advice is one of the signatures on my Dave and Tom email which is a quote from Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss,” and it’s one of the easiest and hardest things to do. The beauty of the web space is that you can create whatever you want and that’s both like Spiderman, an awesome responsibility. It’s a power and with that power comes responsibility but if you follow your bliss, you set out doing what you really want to do. It makes your heart sing and there is this easy and difficult because yes, that’s easy to tap into. It’s difficult because there will be many hurdles like what they said, “Well, this seems like it’s been a pretty easy process.”
No, no a lot of it is really hard work but like playing a game like if you play soccer or tennis or any game, when you’re playing it, you’re putting a ton of energy into that but it doesn’t feel like work because you want to play that game. You’re having fun. So, follow your bliss, have that fun. Follow the thing that makes your heart sing and have the courage of your conviction to start. There is no path. Everybody’s path will be different so if you look at somebody else and they’re something and you go, “Well, that works. I need to do what they do.”
No, you need to follow your bliss, follow your path, follow your knowing because your path will be your own and you can’t look at somebody else’s and try and emulate that. Learn from them absolutely but have the courage of your convictions to know that you’ve got to do what you need to do and knowing that is sometimes very hard because there are so many different influence is they can push you in this way or that.
And I think that is it. Like I say, it’s a very simple but difficult thing to follow your bliss and that would be my primary advice to somebody wanting to do anything creative whether it’s making web videos, painting, doing music, an acting career, have that courage to start and then continue and as you continue, really tune into what makes your heart sing and constantly pay attention to that.
Michael London: Best advice I’ve heard in a while and David, thank you so much for joining us today on Spidcast.
David Beeler: You are very welcome and also, I think you need to check out the website like Spidvid that allows you to join up with other people or try to collaborate and do the same things you are because if you’re making anything with a camera, a video or film, it’s a collaborative process. You can’t do this by yourself and you’re going to need to find those people that are your peeps that share your vision and want to do similar things to you. So, I would say, use those resources.
Michael London: Absolutely, make use of those resources. Use us often and as you wish and thanks for listening to our Spidcast show. We appreciate your time and attention. You can now join the conversation at Spidvid.com or on our Spidvid blog and you can join our collaborative filmmaking community at Spidvid.com. Tune in next month for another entertaining and informative episode of Spidcast.
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