Yep, after Break a Leg, we got a few branded jobs and then one HUGE one called the 7-Eleven Road Trip Rally (you can still find some eps online if you try hard). It was a silly reality show-thing for 7-Eleven and Blip.tv (now defunct) but the budget was the biggest we had ever gotten and it was kind of a big deal. That show lead to another 7-11 show that won a bunch of awards (Slurpee Unity Tour) and finally to our very big branded/original crossover: Leap Year, which was a branded series that was fully scripted, on Hulu, and co-starred awesome people like Eliza Dushku, Steven Weber, Josh Malina, etc. etc. Vlad and I wrote two seasons of it, won a few awards and got great press from it, so it really put our names on the digital map, so to speak.
And challenges! oh, man! So many challenges! The same ones as now, weirdly! The industry keeps changing every year, so we kept being like – okay, what are we this year? Do we make branded? Do we make originals? We’re constantly having to adapt.
We also wanted to push the envelope always, one big thing we always pushed for is higher quality (in a vlog world this was unheard of) and longer episodes (someone told us, “I don’t watch anything over 90 seconds” when we were making Break a Leg… which had long episodes).
The other big challenge is that once TV and film people started really entering the arena, the competition really spiked. It’s much harder to sell a show now if you don’t have a TV showrunner attached – which is how traditional TV works. The problem is, of course, that showrunners don’t know how to make digital series (lower budgets, different audiences) and networks need to realize that it’s the digital creators, who have figured out this space a long time ago, who can help them make successes.
In short, it’s been challenging to succeed in an entirely new genre, you know? Money constantly comes in and out and we have to fight for every job. But HLG has survived and weathered the storm, done well for ourselves and I’m quite proud of that!