Web Series World News: Celebrity Series

Welcome to Web Series World News! This week’s topic:

Celebrities getting series on tranditionally indie platforms

This week YouTube Red ordered a 10 episode series from Adam Pally and the EPs of the ABC Comedy Happy Endings. After the announcement, YouTuber, writer, and LGBT+ activist Gaby Dunn expressed her frustration on Twitter in a series of now-deleted tweets, remarking “Remember when YouTube Red was gonna help launch homegrown talent or creators who wouldn’t otherwise have opportunities and who’ve worked for free on their platform for years making amazing original series with no support lol? You have queer and otherwise marginalized creators being demonetized for their work and they KEEP DOING IT ANYWAY. And many of their videos are good enough to be turned into series. But why bother when you can just turn your back on them.”

Do you agree with Gaby? From both a business and artistic perspective, should YouTube be doing more for “home-grown” creators? Or does greenlighting a web series from a celebrity make it so they can offer more legitimacy to the rest of us? Discuss!


@SnobbyRobot @SecretLivesPS @FilmFaction @filmwritr4 @movieguyjon @Jessi_Almstead @whoisjonporter @JonSosis @ghettonerdgirl @OSTSG @mdec24 @kmd @floorthirteen @OddLantern @dj_tilney @Halen_Williamson @mkatiehunter @rjlackie @barbaramcthomas @Joseph_Brett @JustinHarris @RobbieRuviews @w-e-spear @spatulawilwheat @gmcalpin @Shinsuke_Fusushi @Deliver_Me_show @alwaysafilmgeek @Ayelette @raggedybun @movieguyjon @threeminutesfast @hiamandataylor @chelsaat @Rebecca_Frost @rebeccashoptaw @gingernifty @LIWPride

1 Like

This is difficult to discuss but I will try!

So my initial feeling is what Gaby says. BUT I need to try to see the bigger picture.

The bigger picture to me is that web series (AKA shows NOT on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu) have a hard time being discovered and finding an audience. A series with a celeb could be seen as a “foot in the door” for the medium as a whole. Maybe that would get viewers to watch more series? This is what I’m hoping for at least!


I feel like I don’t have quite enough information to form a definitive decision, and I definitely don’t know enough about LGBT+ marginalization to comment on that subject. That said, I have been a YouTube Red subscriber for a couple years now (to the judgement of my peers) and I have never been a fan of the original content. Most YouTube Red originals star YouTubers whose videos’ success depended on the sincerity of their self-produced content. Now that YouTube tries to turn these videos into fully produced series, they often don’t translate well at all and simply radiate insincerity and a complete lack of understanding of why anyone liked these creators in the first place. So, I tend to lean on the side that YouTube Red needs to do something to change, because their seemingly altruistic mission to provide a platform for their dedicated creators has, to my finite knowledge, completely missed the mark on what people actually want to watch.

1 Like

Bri @Bri_Castellini - Thanks for the interesting post. To a large extent I don’t begrudge anybody their success; somewhere they did something to make results happen. Kudos! Also, the preceding point about Youtube Red getting coverage because of the names they attracted seems to be an opportunity to bask in a bit of the reflected glow. However, if this moment is the beginning of the channel skewing towards more mainstream (better word?) offerings, then maybe they won’t get (deserve?) the interest of independant filmmakers. Just a few thoughts.

1 Like

People gotta stop expecting corporations to be their buddies. YouTube doesn’t give a fuck about anybody.

If we want somewhere safe to post indie content (regardless of whether it’s by a marginalized community), we’ll need to make (or help grow) a new platform.


Agreed, but I think there’s the whole (valid) concern that it would be way easier to stay on a website with an existing global user base that’s indie/mainstream agnostic (theoretically). The barrier for entry for viewers on new platforms is a major thing and that’s always a consideration- people who I know personally and who are my friends literally told me they would not watch my series when it premiered on SeekaTV and would instead wait the two-three months for me to put it on YouTube. I imagine that issue was even worse for people I didn’t know.


I sympathize with Gabby Dunn. It’s frustrating.

But YT has communicated quite explicitly that it is not for us - for lack of a better way to put it.


This reminds me of the debate that sprouted up when Zach Braff crowdfunded a feature on kickstarter.

It seems to me that every platform wants to have these kinds of sure bets, even when they operate for the most part on a smaller scale with unproven series and talent. It’s probably a smart business decision that might bring more eyes to YouTube Red content in the future? But that kind of trickle down economics of art doesn’t work for me anymore, especially not when people are inking deals based solely on their reach as social media influencers.

I don’t think anyone who wants to tell stories has the time to do the marketing work to turn themselves into a brand before they turn to making their series or feature or writing their books. It’s laziness on the part of the platform that they don’t want to sink time and money into advertising something that doesn’t sell itself.

Drives me nuts that people at the top of the food chain in the arts don’t take risks anymore…but to be fair, Adam Pally is still quite the risk in the grand scheme of things. :slight_smile:


Really good points! Out of curiosity, did anyone get pissed about the Veronica Mars crowdfunding campaign for the movie version a few years back, or was the vitriol specifically for Zach Braff and that girl from Girls? I genuinely don’t remember

1 Like

Seems like there was some anger: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/03/15/veronica_mars_movie_project_kickstarter_campaign_did_it_ruin_crowd_funding.html

But also, the hashtag #endtimes to signify that Veronica Mars ruined filmmaking turned out to be really overblown…

And Zosia Mamet couldn’t harness her fans in the end to help fund a music video: http://www.businessinsider.com/zosia-mamets-kickstarter-campaign-fails-2013-6


I also think it helped that it was a different situation- they had theoretical studio backing, they just had to prove their was fan interest, which is different than Mamet and Braff I feel.

1 Like

I thought the same thing about the Zach Braff kickstarter comparison!


I know Amy Jo Johnson also used crowdfunding, but I wasn’t upset about that since her days of fame were in the 90’s mostly. Plus I can’t hate on the Pink Ranger. :heart_eyes:

1 Like

I can see both sides of this.

My thoughts are that YouTube Red needs to generate interest so that it can continue to be funded and flourish. Big names attract people. They can bring customers to YouTube Red and make it legitamite in the eyes of consumers.

Youtube is all about keeping people on their website. If you bring in numbers, they will advertise you. It’s as simple as that. Even though it is frustrating for smaller creators.

1 Like

I agree with the above post by gmcalpin. This happens so often with corporations in the entertainment/arts, it’s practically an archetype.

a. Launch a platform giving lots of lipservice to indies.
b. Basically use indies to get rich via sheer volume of content
c. Attract the attention of mainstream media and companies and/or get those millions of emails
d. Gradually dump indies in favor of mainstream, “reliable” “stars” because hey, by now you have that big mortgage and car payment to make and indies just won’t help you do that (theoretically).
e. If that venture folds, rinse, wash, repeat.

From youtube to patreon, this is the m.o…

The good news, if there is any, is that nature abhors a vacuum and there are always smaller sites popping up to fill the void. Seed and Spark for instance, seems like a legit, indie-dedicated crowdfunding and distribution outlet. But the bottom line is if you make quality you will find an audience. It’s just hard as hell in today’s media landscape.