@’s by GEEK & SUNDRY’s Felicia Day!!!
SJIMBROWSKI (SJ):…written by a Kid.
FELICIA DAY (FD): Yes, did you like that episode?
SJ: F***ing hilarious.
FD: Thank you.
SJ: I mean you had Joss Whedon in it so it was even better. That was obviously a brilliant cameo.
FD:I mean, I was surprised he did it, but he is actually--he had a bit of an actor inside him obviously. He’s a good Sport, at least.
SJ: It was very well done because it was an animated backdrop and you know it’s him, okay, everybody is like,“Wheee it’s Joss,” but then it’s like “a Squat team?!?”
FD: It’s actually a good story even without him. Yeah, that’s our goal. These kids made up these stories on the spot. There was no coaching. We took exactly what they did, and the cool thing is every single episode has a different director, so some of them are purely animated beautifully. Some of them are really web video type likelow indie. The Renton Link episode that’s in two weeks is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. It’s so twisted and weird I just can’t think of the words to describe it and it’s all because these kids make it up on the spot so I’m pretty excited about the show.
SJ: That was obvious that the kids were making it up on the spot.
FD: Yeah. We didn’t coach anyone.
SJ: It came through. That came through that the kid was making it up on the spot and it was just kind of like you know, and then on day seven…
FD: Several of the kids never have endings. They were like, “No, there is no ending.” And we’re like, “Okay, well, go for it. We’ll go with it. We’ll make it work.”
SJ: No, I thought it was really, really good.
FD: Yeah, thank you.
SJ: I wanted to ask you about Geek and Sundry. There’s a larger musical component. You’ve had a lot more musical related content versus the longer timeframe between “The Guild” videos. Is that just by design you’ve decided to have a larger musical component just for yourself?
FD: I mean, for myself, for the vlog I have to do a segment every week, which is interesting for me to be able to balance with all the other things I do, but you know, I never want to do anything that’s not hundred percent.
SJ: You are busy.
FD: You know, the network has been an interesting process and it’s been a learning curve like when you make, we did two shows together last year, “Dragon Age: Redemption” and “The Guild” Season 5, along with being aregular on “Eureka”, so, you know, I thought I can’t get busier than that, but you know seven shows, and all that goes with it. I got pneumonia, so that was fun. But other than that, it teaches you to prioritize and then really just find people you trust to help you make it work, and we’re still three women with very few people to help us in a small not really legitimate office, but the thing is we kind of accomplished what I’ve set out to, really launch this as a brand and a channel that people feel included. It extends the Guild umbrella to all the shows.
SJ: Have you found how it’s been in terms of what you set the bar for success for? Have you found it to be as successful as you wanted it to be?
FD: I mean, it’s to me I know how we’re starting from zero on the internet, especially on web series budgets. I feel like we’re doing greater than I could even hope for. A lot of people ask “Hey, what’s the difference between TV and web video?” I’m like, one episode of TV is I’m making a year of content.
SJ: I believe once you said the craft service budget for the television show was basically the entire budget?
FD: It’s true. Sometimes I watch the pre-roll ads that go before our videos, and I’m like, “That’s like eight months of my--what it took to make that video, that commercial.” It’s really interesting, you know, there’s a big shift. I feel like this step in this initiative is really awesome because basically I think it’s the equivalent of starting cable channels, when cable first started. You know how many people watched those cable channels when, you know, they were first starting?
SJ: They didn’t.
FD: And if you look at the ratings of some of these smaller cable channels we have those ratings. You know, a lot of these channels have comparable ratings, so you know, I think it’s just a shift of just broadening, like what we can include as channels in a sense.
That was my goal for Geek and Sundry. You know, to me, I just want take the people who love The Guild and find a new community for them so we can make all sorts of shows for them. And, you know, with the means that we had make the best shows we can. So every show looks good, every show is like really scaled to what we have resource-wise to make it really, really watchable.
SJ: What do you, in terms of content overload I’m not trying to discourage anybody from creating, but I mean there’s just so much stuff out there.
FD: Well, it’s discouraging. I mean, you know, I think it’s almost out of my hands as a producer and somebody’s who’s running a network-- we’re doing absolutely everything we can to make it easy for our audience to find our content but it’s almost incumbent upon the platforms right now, because you know, five years ago when I started “The Guild”, it was a different world.
It was much easier to drive traffic with one broadcast. But if you look at the click-through rates of one tweet, you look at people who are literally subscribed to you but they can’t find your video, like it’s really a platform issue. It’s just dealing with the influx of the popularization of these platforms.
And hopefully down the line they see, I need to make this work for my audience better but at the same time we’ve had a lot of boost especially for placement on YouTube and we have a lot of social media that drives a lot of our traffic and that’s just “The Guild”. We have an audience who’s very loyal, and a lot of people don’t have that and that really is a success of the channel, our audience liking what we do.
SJ: But it seems like the entrance bar is so low these days, and it’s kind of like “Oh, it’s the whole one plus X means success.”
FD: It’s not immediate. It’s definitely not immediate. And you, know like I said, we are making the best shows we can on the budgets. Sometimes you--just because you can make a video like just in your car driving, I love the fact that people can be creative spontaneously, but you know, if you want to reach other levels of it I think you do have to kind of pause and be like “Am I doing something that I would watch as a viewer, or is it for just myself?”
Because then set your goals like that. If you just want to make a video for yourself, that’s cool. But if you want to broaden your audience you have to make sure as an audience member they are going to be attracted to your stuff, whether it’s subject matter or production-wise or just making it easy.
So, you know, I do appreciate the sort of grand democracy of it, but at the end of the day there’s a lot out there and that’s why I really value when we have a loyal audience who’s coming again and again. Because I know it’s like a cable box with 8 million channels vs. 100, right?
SJ: Yeah. You’d just get lost.
SJ: Well, when one dies you have the other one. You can surf. What role does innovation play? Because it seems like you’re always working with innovation in mind. The Google hangout, the subscriptions drive, as a fan of PBS I got a kick out of that.
FD: Oh, thank you I mean, that’s probably the reason why I do what I do. I mean, it would be much easier for me to be on a half hour show, acting, very easy, a much easier life. Much, much, much more money but at the end of the day, like, I am thrilled when I can do something that nobody has done before, so every single one of these shows, I don’t want to copy anyone. I don’t want to do anything that anybody is remotely doing because that’s their thing. Like, I love seeing a niche or a subject matter or a style of show that isn’t already being done, or at least it’s our twist on it.
And that’s what I want to do. And especially new technologies, like we don’t have a big advertising budget. We don’t have marketing. We do not have billboards. We do not have the resources that traditional TV stations and producers have, so our best bet is to be on the cutting edge, be on the platforms that have a little bit easier to reach audience--even if it’s smaller, at least you can reach them because one tweet does not reach every single person that follows you. It just doesn’t. That’s kind of the--
SJ: It gets lost.
FD: It’s not the dirty secret, but just the reality of it. The click through rate of even somebody with ten million followers is like one percent. It’s very low. It is very low, and so you know, but that’s just saturation and the platform needs to be able to sort people better because literally every day, you know, I have somebody who would be like “Why didn’t you tell me about that video?” And I’m like “Well, I tweeted about it about 50 times, you just couldn’t see it because you are following too many people,” and that’s just not their fault, it’s just the platform.
So I think, you know, in the next year, because there is so much information and so many audiences just not getting what they want because they are overwhelmed, I think that’s the next generation of existing platforms or new platforms.
SJ: You mean in terms of social media where the people are dumbing down the fire hose a little bit?
FD: You have to, because you can’t--the thing about it is people just say don’t follow as many people, but there’s an emotional component to social media that you can’t just un-follow people. It’s a social outlet. It has social repercussions. It’s the same thing as un-inviting somebody to a party, and then they see you are having a party. It’s like “Why didn’t you invite me to the party?” and it’s awkward. That is directly translated to technology now. So that’s the challenge, and nobody’s going to just follow a hundred people and expect their life to be better, especially in a personal way, like you know?
SJ: I see how it presents a problem.
FD: So you un-followed me? I have had it happen too many times that I will not do it anymore. So that’s why I’m so careful about who I follow, but it’s still me. I don’t see everything that goes on, and I only follow 200 people.
SJ: Just too many.
FD: Too many. It’s too much information.
SJ: Perhaps you are following too many people. I’m just saying, it might be too many a bit of information overload. I’m not advocating that you un-follow anybody. I wanted to ask you about “Eureka”. I know it’s ended. You are playing very evil on that.
FD: You know, I have to say that playing evil was the funnest thing I’ve ever done. And I was disappointed to go back to being normal. I was actually a little disappointed. I relished that part. I actually felt that I tapped into that in a way that surprised me personally.
SJ: Yeah, you seemed to relish it.
FD: It’s tough because, you know, people write things for me and they--it’s that thing that I created that nobody had when I first started “The Guild”, that character, and then I’m blessed with that character, and then people are like “Why aren’t you playing something new?”
And because people complain when I do something different--it was great to be a little bit different--there’s no winning. Honestly, there’s just no winning with certain people, so I just have to do what’s fun, and the great thing about Holly is that she is a step away from Codex in a way but then we get to put all these spins on her. I mean, she’s been through so much in this season of “Eureka”, it’s like a blessing as an actor.
SJ: I was sad when they killed her.
SJ: Killed her.
FD: Killed her, paranoia, I mean as an actor it’s fun to be able to stretch a little bit within the confines of what people like to see me in, so yeah, I always look for those roles that aren’t completely down the line of what people see with me, but just not so far that they only see me behind it. It’s tough because I am me but I’m also an actor.
SJ: I am going to ask you a very directed, nerdy question on quest lines. Do you prefer quest lines that are directed, like more of a “Diablo” where you are just kind of going, going, going, or like the EA ones where you sort of choose your own?
FD: Oh, always choose your own. Always, those are my favorite games are that I feel like I have an influence. I mean, that’s why I don’t see any movies lately, because as a--if I can look at a trailer and feel like I know exactly what that movie is, which inevitably they cut the movie, the trailer to look exactly the same--literally I could script out exactly the beats. Why would I pay for that movie? So if I’m not being surprised, why am I watching it?
SJ: No, I was just actually having that question playing more of “Diablo III” and it was just kind of, there’s this certain like, you are just checking boxes.
SJ: Just kill that guy.
FD: I mean, exactly. And that can be very satisfying for an hour. In Skyrim, I have 125 hours in that, so it’s a different kind of play--you know, I think the cool thing about gaming is that there are people attracted to it for a lot of different reasons. And I don’t think that you could condemn anybody for it, and that’s why I hate this whole casual gamer thing because, like, you know, if hardcore people are like “that person’s hardcore”, what is hardcore?
You know, people game for different reasons, whether it’s just literally ten minutes on their iPhone or it’s a marathon session with Halo, or it’s MMO where you literally have lived in that world for years. And that’s what’s great about gaming and how inclusive and how they can cater to what people need from gaming.
SJ: Not that gamers are opinionated about what they feel.
FD: Well, gamers feel passionate about it. I have posted as many outraged comments and then deleted them about gaming because I know too many people in the industry. But I think we feel more strongly about our worlds because we are immersed in them, versus just passively watching a TV show. You know, that’s just how I am.
SJ: Well, but in terms of what you mentioned, that you might have had opportunities to do TV and things like that and you’ve kind of said, “Well no, I’m really more interested in going my own way.”
FD: Yeah, well it’s a hard balance for me because I always feel like I want to stay in the world a little bit? It also helps with everything I do, and also people might discover what I do through those avenues, and quite frankly I like walking on a set where I don’t have to worry what if the camera breaks or if we’re going overtime or, like, using my own wardrobe which I still have to do on the vlog. So that part of, like I said, I love playing Holly. I love playing evil. Like, I got that script out I was like so surprised and so delighted to do something that I didn’t have to control, so it’s like a balance. It’s always a balance, and it’s always hard for me, but I asked for it so I can’t complain.
SJ: Of the multiple channels of Geek and Sundry, which one were you kind of surprised most about, in terms of audience response?
FD: Well I mean to me, like--that’s the great process of the internet is that you never know if something’s going to hit. You could literally put all the effort and all the money in one video and that could be the failure video and it’s just an impromptu that you do on the street could be the most popular thing. You know, that’s the thing that frustrates the people who want to make money in the space, and want to define what it is. That’s to me the chaotic--I have a little chaotic neutral, as far as alignment.
It definitely appeals to me, that idea that you can’t pin it down. You can’t define it because that’s why I started doing this. I didn’t want to be pigeon holed. I didn’t want to be told “This is how you are going to work. So just be like this. Cut your hair like this. Wear the quirky glasses. You know, act like this and then you are going to work all the time.” And I knew that would be the equation 20 years down the line, and I don’t like that. I’d rather roll the dice and see what happens. It’s the only gambling part of me.
SJ: But what channel do you feel like, you were just kind of just like “We’ll go try this.”
FD: I think the “Written by a Kid.” We had that idea for a couple of years. I do believe that is going to be a surprising success for our channel. I feel like “Table Top”, a lot of people looked at the log line and were like “What?” They didn’t understand it at all, but we’ve had more input and more feedback about that show than anything.
People who felt like they weren’t represented say there’s a voice. People who had never played a board game who felt like all the games they were doing, when we feature a game on “Table Top”, it literally goes from not on the Amazon sales list to the top ten, literally within an hour.
We just made a big deal with Target to feature our games with our sticker in all Target stores, and like as an independent person, being able to bridge that mainstream gap and still stay independent and making an impact for some of these game designers, that’s like, that the story that I want to live versus this is I’m going to just walking onto the set and act. I think that “Table Top” is being literally grown on conventions. I feel like that was--and then “Vaginal Fantasy”, my romance novel group, is going to be moving to Geek and Sundry.
Let me just tell you. That was a hobby. A hundred percent hobby and I would say the fans of that group are the most motivated to connect and just excited about the group that I’ve ever seen, and that is so gratifying to me because, you know, I don’t think anybody should be ashamed about what they love. That and, you know, romance novels, I try to pick really well written ones because I think there’s a lot of underrepresented ones, and you know, to be able to connect people and just enjoy something that literally other people might mock, that’s, like, I love owning something. I own my love of that.
It’s my reality TV and I’ll stand by it and I geek out when I meet the authors that I really admire and one day I’d love to write a book like that so, to me, that’s like the stealth thing and even if it’s, you know, even if it never means a million people watch the show, I have a really hardcore group of people who enjoy it and it’s part of their lives and they discover things because of it and that’s the reason why I do what I do.
SJ: I have watched it some. I don’t actually read the books but--
FD: Yeah, but we have fun discussion.
SJ: The tangents are the fun of the show.
FD: It’s the totally off-the-cuff spontaneity of it--that’s why we love doing it, and literally, it’s going to be the exact same show on Geek and Sundry because I do not want to do any extra work on the show. It is literally my hobby show and the fact that we could maybe broaden the group and really bring more people into the forums and stuff, and maybe start doing like in-person stuff, and you know, that’s all I want. You know, for more people to be able to enjoy it.
SJ: Now in Geek and Sundry, you’ve got the new shows that are coming out. Are you going to put some of those shows on hiatus just in terms of being able to not produce them all the time?
FD: No. The thing is, we are scaling with our--we are actually, we were contracted, YouTube is letting us make this channel for a year and cross our fingers with that we could prove that we are a growing, worthy investment, hopefully more investment so that we could make more shows, because every day I have a really creative person come up to me and like, “Hey, I have an idea for a show.” Or I really would love to go out to people who I worked with in the past, and who would be like “Hey, I would love for you to come and work with--you know, pitch us a show, we’d love to make it.” We know how to make it and we’ll scale it so it looks great. So that’s, you know, the agenda in a sense which is like “Let’s just make more of what we love.”
So the ones that we are adding are very small. They are just the hangouts, every Tuesday doing a different hangout which is really awesome. It just takes advantage of the platform.
SJ: Is there a reason you picked the name? I mean, it seems like you actually go out of your way to pick the name. You know, “The Penile Code”?
FD: That wasn’t me. “Vaginal Fantasy” was my idea. I had that URL four years ago because I wanted to just do a book blog of the books that I read. So that was like already grandfathered in. And Sean was like “Well, I just want to do one. I want to do a show that counterparts you. ‘The Penile Code.’” Okay, do your show, dude. Because honestly, the reason why you do a web show is that you have creative freedom. So I always want to-- it’s the idea that’s brought to us, and if it fits within our group and I think people might like it in our community then let’s make it happen.
And whatever scale the show is, we want to make bigger shows. Like I’d love to do another big narrative show, but those are very--those are a lot more expensive to do. So adding “The Guild” to the list was a thrilling thing that you know was something exciting for me, so that’s happy, but hopefully next year we can expand that to more scripted stuff like “Learning Town”.
SJ: Now, “The Guild” Season 6...
FD: I think it’s going to be a really good season, and the cast is psyched, and just seeing so many fans who just discovered the show like last month. That’s the great thing about it. It just speaks to a lot of people and so many, especially girls and women that come up and say “Thank you for representing gamers,” and I just love that. I love it.
SJ: Do you see the people that are just kind of like “I just discovered and I watched all the episodes.”
FD: All the episodes, and we uploaded them all as movies, and we can do annotations every five seconds or something, which was a crazy stupid idea but hey, people love it. So yeah, it’s really, it’s evergreen in a sense, and that’s why it’s hard to get new shows off the ground but also, like, it’ll last forever hopefully.
SJ: Yeah, well here’s hoping.
FD: Cross fingers.
SJ: Well, thank you.
FD: Okay, thanks a lot.
SJ: Find out about all things Felicia Day at Geek and Sundry!
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G