Digital Series, Mental Health, Crowdfunding and Going Viral


(Meg Carroway) #81

Do you have advice about pitching? Do you recommend having something shot (like a sizzle or pilot) first, or just a script and a solid deck?


(Yuri Baranovsky) #82

We’ve mostly sold shows to either brands or networks. We did a show with Drake Bell (and Angela!) called Dan is Dead that hasn’t been released yet (long story) but that show we sold with a PIlot and Drake as an attachment to Maker Studios and they funded a season. Leap Year was a branded campaign – the brand had the skeleton of an idea and had seen a fake trailer we made for a show we were pitching (we only had the trailer, nothing else ) and said – if you can make Leap Year look like that trailer, you’ve got the job.

They were really hands-off, so we got to take Leap Year and really make it our baby.

So, yeah, a combination of brands and digital networks, thus far. But first we had to make a show on our own that really showcased our voice and style. That’s what got us into rooms to pitch ideas.


(Bri Castellini) #83

Whoops sorry Meg I missed this one!


(Yuri Baranovsky) #84

It depends on what your resume looks like. If you’ve got a strong track record of content, you can likely just rely on a script and a solid deck. If no one knows who you are or hasn’t seen your stuff, a slickly shot trailer can really make the difference. We shot a trailer for a show called Lovemakers that we NEVER made but that turned out so well I think it got us multiple OTHER jobs.

Other than that, know your story well, don’t take too long, be engaging, practice your pitch with others, etc. It’s not fun to pitch, but the more you do it the easier it becomes.


(Angela Gulner) #85

The launch is the last step. There is so much work that needs to go into the project before kicking off. Months of work. Do your research, read all the books about crowdfunding, watch the videos on all the platforms (they are publicly available and have great insights), and don’t do it alone! Find a team of people who are just as passionate as you to reach your goal.

It’s a full time job – we’ve had to put day jobs on hold for this, and that’s hard. Plan in advance, if you can – take some time off work. It’s a lot of output, and it’s really tiring.

  • Research successful campaigns, follow their models
  • Get $$ pledged to you ahead of time, so you know you can reach 1/3 of your goal by the first week
  • Create perks that people really respond to
  • Explain to your friends and family AHEAD of time why this is important to you, and what they can expect.
  • Get ready to piss some people off
  • Practice self care, and often
  • Sleep
  • Find ways to remind yourself WHY you’re doing this

(sam lockie-waring) #86

oh cool. i actually meant more branding as in branding your work. as hlg, as an individual show, etc. do you have a designer or do you all collab about consistent fonts and colors?


(Yuri Baranovsky) #87

Sorry I missed this! I recommend reaching out to an accountant or finding a partner who is good at business stuff to join up with you. If you don’t have the latter, I recommend the former – they can at least give you advice on what the best type of business might be for you. We started as an LLC but switched to an S-Corp. We got VERY LUCKY in that my mom is a professional accountant so she’s saved us a lot of money and headaches.


(Bri Castellini) #88

What have been your most successful perks? Any surprises there?


(Angela Gulner) #89

Once and a while. Our show promo image is pretty graphic, and a few eating disorder organizations have asked for alternates. If you’re got triggering content, I think providing a few shots to choose from is nice – each publication has a different audience and a different feel. We try not to censor ourselves, while also being mindful and respectful of the audience.


(Meg Carroway) #90

It’s ok! These things are always crazay. Did you have investors/ do you have investors, or is the company totally supported by the work you bring in?


(Angela Gulner) #91

Definitely the mugs! Which makes sense :slight_smile:
We really didn’t want to do physical perks, because of the challenge and the lost $$ in fulfilling them… but having something fun and exciting to take away from a project is really important to people. And understandably so. I’m really happen we ended doing physical perks – it’s a way to solidify and connect the community – and there’s a lot of fun social media stuff to be had once the perks are fulfilled!


(Yuri Baranovsky) #92

OH! Got it!

So, I think we have a very particular voice to our content and that’s mostly because it’s generally all written by me, me and my brother, or, now, me and Angela as well. But, generally, the voice of the company sort of evolved from that – we started from our creative, our writing, and that’s why we got hired for things, and that sort of continued to create the “HLG brand” – which is, I think, smart, witty, fast-paced comedy with a touch of darkness and drama.

Justin has almost shot everything we’ve ever made and he’s a friggin’ genius DP. So, visually, I think we have a style though I can’t tell you really what it is other than “Jusitn’s crazy ideas.”

Dashiell is a fantastic editor, he’s edited almost all of the things we’ve shot, so he’s created a pace and style that even when we hire other editors, they mimic.

My brother also commonly does all our music, so that also creates a very specific vibe.

So, I think all our shows do have a bit of the same feeling in that – the comedy is often similar, the banter, the speed of things, etc. And then, graphically, Justin and Dash are fantastic graphic artists too, so we all, over the years, have created a visual graphic style that we all love.

We’re all very nitpicky and work closely together until we’re all happy – which can often take weeks, but, it’s how the brand is born I guess!


(Blair Hunter) #93

Hey speaking of social media real quickly… how do you guys keep up with social media while you’re in production or in an “off season” so you continue to engage? What’s your strategy there?


(Yuri Baranovsky) #94

Totally supported by the work we put in. Boy, I wish we had investors.


(Angela Gulner) #95

Our DP and our editor are really fantastic at this stuff. Yuri and I generally come up with the copy, and they transform it into something really cool. The mug branding for BINGE just kind of happened – Yuri wrote the joke into the script, we shot the pilot, and all of a sudden the audience was asking us where they could buy them! It’s fun that they’ve taken on a life of their own! Our “brand” for BINGE is pretty irreverent, in your face, and witty. We try to capture the spirit of the show in our merch and promo material!


(Angela Gulner) #96

We could honestly probably benefit from a bigger strategy (anyone out there good at this stuff??) – it’s mostly run by me, just interacting with the culture and the times as they come. We’ll aim to have a “real strategy” for our season one launch, but we’ve been kind of flying by the seat of our pants so far!


(Meg Carroway) #97

Do you guys put thought into thumbnails, or just pick a nice still and maybe add the show name?


(Meg Carroway) #98

OH OH before this is over also… any thoughts on distribution? Is Facebook the future? Or is YouTube still the best place for narrative, episodic content?


(Bri Castellini) #99

lmao well Stareable has a few articles that might be helpful… :smiley:


(Yuri Baranovsky) #100

That’s how I started too! And honestly, sometimes I think I still need to brush up on the technical side of things. My secret? Get a Justin. No, but, get a partner who is like, I will show you this side of things, and you show me that side of things, and together we will conquer the world.

Justin and I taught each other. Because we started together, our styles have merged and we have a shorthand. There have been shoots where I rarely concern myself with the lighting or camera angles because we have no time and I 100% trust Justin, so I focus on what I’m good at – working on performance with the talent.

But, it’s all just practice. Finding yourself a good DP is step 1.