Wildseed Studios is a broadcast alternative for online video producers, founded by former BBC creative executive Jesse Cleverly and Aardman Animation’s former head of broadcasting Miles Bullough. What does it mean to be an online producer today? Wildseed Studios’ senior producer Andy Mosse answers.
MIPBlog: For you, what does it mean to be an online producer today?
Andy Mosse: By making series and shorts and uploading them to their own channels, online producers are doing something television and other traditional broadcast media can’t. Taking risks on new creators, getting it made quickly and making an idea the best that it can be without endless development and notes from people further up the food chain. As a former TV producer I find it a really liberating and exciting place to be.
> Nowadays if you’ve got an iPhone you’re a film producer. How has digital technology changed the playing field when it comes to producing? Has this impacted creativity in a positive way?
Yes, it’s certainly levelled the playing field in terms of production values and amount of people who have access to film-making – there was even a iPhone-shot film that won at Sundance this year. Now wannabe filmmakers have completely run out of excuses… The technical side of film-making has been opened up, it’s now really easy and cheap to get something looking relatively “cinematic” and worthy of being on a bigger screen. And with the huge online film-making community exploding you’ve got people to help you do it too. So what makes a film stand out now is the important stuff, the craft of film-making…the vision, storytelling and performances. With so many filmmakers are pushing themselves creativity there is some staggering stuff out there.
> What are the key challenges for online producers today?
It’s really hard for filmmaker’s nowadays to receive proper professional advice and guidance for their work, advice that will help them develop into mature filmmakers with salable ideas. We’ve found that people can get stuck creatively and struggle to move their ideas from just a single short skit into something bigger. We began Wildseed to help these daring and exciting creators achieve their bigger more ambitious ideas and get them out there. So often they can’t get considered / thoughtful feedback on their work: only this will help them grow and become better filmmakers. I see a lot of one-man-band filmmakers make a lot of the same kind of work.
It’s also a real challenge finding an audience. With literally decades worth of material being uploaded to Youtube and Vimeo every day it’s really hard to get your material out there to reach people who will love and appreciate it. In an online world, finding the right audience is the hardest thing. It takes a lot of effort, marketing smarts and commitment to push your films to the right people.
> Is there a Wildseed Studios ‘style’ when it comes to online production?
Making something that looks a lot more expensive than it is! No, not a house style at all, we take each idea on its own terms and think about the best way of shooting it. Each idea has its own aesthetic and inspires a different stylistic approach… We’re always limited by cost and time. But I always think limiting factors push you creatively and you can come up with some surprising good stuff. In our comedies we’ve shot a range of styles, straight 2 camera drama, single camera mock doc, mock daytime programmes, even aped the classic youtube vlogging style…
> What are the key differences between off- and online producing?
I think it’s creative control. Being your own broadcaster (Wildseed Comedy) and your own producer allows you so much freedom creatively. If we like it, we make it. It’s that simple. And if we love it, our audience will love it too. We can move very quickly on projects and get them up and running in a month or two. We hope to fail quickly till we get it right, something you are never allowed to do in the broadcast world.
> Which online producers do you rate these days and why?
So many! Among my favourites is High Maintenance (watch the trailer below). Not so new but a really funny and brilliantly executed show. It has a fantastic set of characters every episode and is very definitely the “greatest show not on television”. Also Horrible People from My Damn Channel at Photoshop, hilarious parody of shit overly dramatic soaps, and it’s got Kristen Shaal in it.
> What are your top three Wildseed Studios shows to date and what is it about their online production style that you like?
Our last three? Supercreeps: I like for its spontaneity and character driven humour. We shifted the length and structure around and ended up with 3 characters that you care about, and a compelling story arc across the series.
Marijana: a truly brilliant character created by comedian Gabby Best with a less than subtle parody on cheap daytime TV programmes.
Phillip Human: a YouTube comedy series made for YouTubers. Paul Neafcy has taken all that’s become a “thing” in the vlogging community and turned it on it’s head… It’s charlieissocoollike meets Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
> What is the future of online producing?
We are hoping that there’s a bright future in online serial comedy and drama series. After Transparent won at the Golden Globes… the sky’s the limit. Ok, I know it was commissioned by a billion dollar internet company. What is does say is that there is an audience and it’s getting bigger and bit fed up of the “same old same old” safe commissions on TV.
> Can you give us any insight into Wildseed Studios’ new productions that take online producing to the next level?
I used to have a rule: there’s cheap film-making, fast film-making, good film-making. Pick two because you aren’t going to get all three. Well we are trying to break that rule systematically with our productions. We shot Phillip Human in 4 days with one day messing about shooting pig offal, we are really proud of it and hope that it will genuinely connect with the YouTube community. So far it’s looking really good, there’s been a huge response and they like it. *phew*
> What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into online production?
Make stuff, fail quick, get better. Good is sometimes enough. Don’t wait for it to be perfect, get it in front of your audience and see what they think.
Top photo: Wildseed Studios comedy Staff Room