Geek and Sundry - Production Paradigm Shift

torontogaltorontogal Member, Moderator
edited April 2014 in Geek & Sundry Discussion
Hey gang!  So there's an interesting topic that's surfacing that would be good context for our faithful G&S fans.  As a lot of you know, there was a really cool announcement that TableTop Season 3 is being Crowd Funded.  There's been a lot of lovely reaction to that and a lot of positive support.

But as within anything, there's also been some skepticism and wariness from certain commenters who have somewhat of a cautious/cynical view on G&S asking for funding - in fact, I've just spent the past hour or so, engaging in some polite debate in the comments on Felicia's Facebook page :)

But just to summarize, gang - G&S used to be funded year-by-year by the Google/YouTube Original Content initiative.  It sounds like the landscape has changed, and now Felicia and G&S need to get creative to keep the company going.  So as a fan-base, let's keep that in mind as our lovely channel keeps pushing forward.  Felicia explained it all over on her Facebook page, in response to some of the more negatively-tinged comments...
Hey guys! Thanks for all the comments, we are now up to 130k and growing, so MANY MANY thanks. I'd love to clarify a few things:

1) Geek and Sundry (and Tabletop) up until now was funded by YouTube's original channel initiative, which is not continuing to go forward anymore. We have been talking to a bunch of partners and are excited about some of our options to continue G&S as a company, but Wil (and we) were passionate about being able to keep Tabletop on schedule to release more episodes this year, and stay independent of influence to change the show for sponsor/commercial reasons. That is why we are fundraising like this.

2) This show is a standout for a reason: We pay professional people to make it. It's polished and stands next to TV show quality because we wanted to make something long-lasting, and impact in a big way, like a TV show when we conceived it. To put it in perspective: The average 30 second commercial you see on TV? Costs 1-3 million dollars. EACH. The average 1/2 hour comedy? 2-3 million dollars. Shows like Game of Thrones? 7-9 million dollars. PER EPISODE.

We are doing a minimum of fifteen, 30 minute shows for a fraction of ONE TV SHOW. If you put it in that perspective, we are definitely not paying people professional rates to work on it. I do a lot of low budget web videos (to help do shows like Tabletop, actually), and I think the ones that last beyond that moment of consumption are the ones that have budgets, that people tend to enjoy over and over. My goal always has been to show the established TV world that people can work outside the system and compete with their business, Tabletop is our best example of that, just like The Guild before us. We are doing this show for the minimum we can do it and keep up what we have established before us.

3) You do not have to donate, we appreciate it so much if you choose to do so, and understand if you don't. It will still be free and watchable by you if we make our fundraising goal. If anyone has any other questions I'll check this thread back to answer more. Until then, thank you and play more games!
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Comments

  • Daniel_WallaceDaniel_Wallace Member, Moderator
    Can you give us a link to the source on FB? Thanks!
    If you see any spam, @-mention me in the thread and I will come in to kill it with my hammer. The hammer is not my... you know.

    I try to attack ideas and not people. If I fail, let me know. You may be wrong but I still love you. ;-)

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  • I must say, I went to find this discussion thread on Felicia's Facebook page (I checked the G&S one first! stupid move) after Felicia thanked @torontogal personally via twitter for her polite and measured responses in the thread.

    So hooray for @torontogal for trying to explain things to the dissenters and naysayers without getting nasty, and hooray again for getting a Thankyou from Felicia, and hooray for @feliciaday who hopefully has explained the G&S reasoning enough to if not sway people, at least get them to stop being negative.

    Bonus hooray for @littlemisskris_ who also weighed in intelligently and pleasantly on the thread.

    When I first heard about this (after coming home from an 11 hour Tabletop Day), I was a little skeptical, and thought that $500k was a lot of money. But after seeing these explanations, I can kind of see why it's a reasonable figure to get Tabletop episodes at the production values we're used to. After all, most of the magic of Tabletop is in the editing and I wouldn't want anything that's less than top notch.

    I am all for crowd-funded creator owned content - I was a little skeptical about, say, the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter (after all, it's a property owned by Warner Brothers, not Rob Thomas, and that hasn't changed), so I didn't back that. But I did watch the movie and quite enjoyed it so I'm glad people did decide that they wanted such a movie. I will be backing the Tabletop S3 campaign, because I do enjoy Tabletop so much, but I still need to recover from this absolutely insane weekend first :D

    (Yesterday: Tabletop Day, 11 hours gaming straight. Then no sleep :( and today we were at a convention, which was tiring but fun and we did get to meet Jewel Staite, so that's cool :D )
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  • torontogaltorontogal Member, Moderator
    edited April 2014 PM
    @Daniel_Wallace - the tricky thing with Facebook is I don't think I can direct-link to Felicia's posting on the matter, but it's part of her Facebook page.  Not everyone here has Facebook (I myself only created a skeleton account so that I could help out @littlemissKris_ with FeliciaAppreciationDay, lol).  So for the benefit of those who don't have Facebook, here's a PDF capture of the conversation:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/dougqkkqf8atfvw/FB-Posts.pdf

    Many thanks to @Molokov for the very gracious words!  I certainly had to put on my diplomat's hat for the sake of entering that debate :)

    The disheartening thing is that the same debate is now raging within the YouTube comments of Wil's fund-raising announcement video.  The Facebook conversation was at least somewhat civil, but the YouTube debate is getting kind of ugly.  As @Molokov said, I can certainly understand why people naturally approach crowd-finding with an air of caution and a hint of skepticism.  But it's quite disheartening when people convert that skepticism into raw cynicism and start posting comments about how Wil is being 'greedy', that this effort is a 'cash-grab' or a 'scam', etc.

    Sadly, the YouTube comments now have a lot of that going on.  And I kinda hate how the new Google+ system at times feels like it's rewarding the controversial postings.  e.g., if a negative comment gets 10 up-votes, hitting the down-vote button doesn't actually do anything.  i.e., the up-vote count doesn't reduce.  So the support for the negative comment gets artificially inflated and that skews the perceptions of other readers as well - I sometimes wish for the simplicity of the old commenting system! [mini-rant complete!]

    Anyhoo - I tried to diplomatically post some counter-points over in the YouTube comments.  Hopefully the divisiveness dies down a bit...

    image
  • TranquilityTranquility Member
    edited April 2014 PM
    I only managed to read a little of the PDF before I risked losing the will to live (I didn't even attempt to look at the YouTube comments); but from what I saw, it seems there are some people who really can't grasp the difference between "helping to fund something" and "having to pay to watch something". They don't seem to grok that TT will still be viewable, for free, to everybody regardless of whether they helped fund it.

    Sigh@torontogal, I really don't know where you get your endless patience from!?

    If G&S should ever announce a subscription model I think the internet would explode.
  • @torontogal, you always look lovely in your diplomat hat. :}

    I just checked in on the fundraising site, and note that in one and a half days, they have already nearly raised 50% of the initial goal of $500,000 for Season 3 of TableTop. So while the grumpy people are making unpleasant noises in the comments, passionate fans are steadily pushing to get the show on the air. I like to think that speaks a little louder than skeptical complaints.
  • torontogaltorontogal Member, Moderator
    edited April 2014 PM
    @Tranquility - you make a fantastic point - whether people do or don't contribute to the funding, the final result is still going to be free to watch.  So it's not as though a gun is being held to anyone's head!  Many thanks for the kind words, btw! - beneath my calm exterior, there's always a swirling whirlpool of neurotic anxiousness, lol.  But I do genuinely enjoy trying to get people on the same page, and trying to bring people to a consensus - so I dorkily try my best! :)

    @Farlander - yet another great point! - the rate at which the donations are coming in is truly fantastic, and it goes to show there's a groundswell of positive support!  It just bums me out that there may be YouTube/Facebook lurkers that are on the fence about contributing, and they may be swayed when the minority negative opinions get too much attention/airtime.  Luckily, Felicia herself re-posted her awesome summation within the YouTube comments, and hopefully that helps calm the waters.  Thank you also for the very generous kind words!

    I also wanted to commend @Daniel_Wallace for jumping into the YouTube comments with his usual intelligent replies - along with some of the no-nonsense bad-ass edge that he's really good at drawing upon!

    Just to expand out the original topic of this thread - we really are entering a brave new world for G&S, if the Original Content initiative has ended.  It actually explains a lot.  e.g.,...
    • It makes a lot more sense why partnering with Hulu is a critical G&S initiative.
    • It explains why the new Unplugged show has Microsoft sponsorship.
    • It illuminates why Spooked is a partnership with Bad Hat Harry.
    • It elaborates on why Amy Berg made reference to being a co-financer of Caper.

    Geek and Sundry is heading into uncharted territory where the Google funding is no longer their foundation - whilst that is a little scary and challenging, it's also exciting as it means the company will be branching out to form new partnerships/relationships and will be doing what Felicia and team are so good at - i.e., thinking outside the box, to find new paths to deliver content!

  • Daniel_WallaceDaniel_Wallace Member, Moderator
    Thanks for the transcript, @Torontogal.

    I read some of the YT comments and it's just like back in the old days when this was the most toxic place on the interwebs. :-D Seems like all the idiots finally figured out how to sign up for G+.
    If you see any spam, @-mention me in the thread and I will come in to kill it with my hammer. The hammer is not my... you know.

    I try to attack ideas and not people. If I fail, let me know. You may be wrong but I still love you. ;-)

    G+: https://plus.google.com/+DanielWallace/
    twitter: @evildanwallace
  • torontogaltorontogal Member, Moderator
    edited April 2014 PM
    @Daniel_Wallace - looks like we were posting our replies at the same time!  If you take a look at my post directly above yours, I noticed your smart, thoughtful rejoinders to some of the YouTube comments - you're fantastic as always! :)
  • Daniel_WallaceDaniel_Wallace Member, Moderator
    @Torontogal: Well, as you would say, thanks for the kind words. :-) I only sent the replies I could figure out how to not be a total dick in. ;-)
    If you see any spam, @-mention me in the thread and I will come in to kill it with my hammer. The hammer is not my... you know.

    I try to attack ideas and not people. If I fail, let me know. You may be wrong but I still love you. ;-)

    G+: https://plus.google.com/+DanielWallace/
    twitter: @evildanwallace
  • Daniel_WallaceDaniel_Wallace Member, Moderator
    The fun thing is: While the brats are complaining in the comments, the grown ups seem to be donating. Half way there. :-D
    If you see any spam, @-mention me in the thread and I will come in to kill it with my hammer. The hammer is not my... you know.

    I try to attack ideas and not people. If I fail, let me know. You may be wrong but I still love you. ;-)

    G+: https://plus.google.com/+DanielWallace/
    twitter: @evildanwallace
  • MAKING IT HAPPEN IN THE COMMUNITY!!!!
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  • Don_DiegoDon_Diego Member, Moderator
    I'm late to the party but more than glad to tag-team with @Daniel_Wallace to fight the ignorant masses. Youtube fools beware!
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  • OakspoorOakspoor Member, Moderator
    image
    "but, masters, remember that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass" W.S.
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  • It makes me sad that people are bringing the negative on something that they can choose to just not participate in but then, that's the internet, I guess.  I contributed and I spread the word so I hope more people do!  It seems to be progressing nicely, though.

    I haven't seen the youtube comments but I saw the tweets and that led me to the facebook comments and I do agree, Felicia and the community, especially @torontogal, have been very polite and eloquent as well as being amazing representatives of our community. 
  • Like @ayzil I have donated, spread the word and commented on YT .
    Thankfully I didn't send my 1st YT draft as I couldn't help myself and was nasty to the nasties. My 5th draft was toned down appreciably, even benign.  :)
    How hard can it be to donate $5 and not make a negative comment anyway?? Obviously impossible for those with little or no knowledge of personal interactions or how the real world actually works outside of YT!!
    Long live TableTop!!
  • OakspoorOakspoor Member, Moderator
    edited April 2014 PM
    Too bad we can't get a statistical sampling of the negative YouTumors and find out how many actually have to pay for their own rent and groceries.
    "but, masters, remember that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass" W.S.
    Wheaton's Law; "Don't be a dick." It's not THAT hard.
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  • TriencoTrienco Member, Moderator
    edited April 2014 PM
    @Oakspoor  probably not too many or they would realize that if you stop paying people they have a tendency to also stop working for you.

    I guess the problem is that many people are spoiled by getting stuff for free on YT without ever caring how it's produced. Someone even brought up Beer and Board Games. Not sure how a bunch of guys filming themselves at home getting increasingly drunk and obnoxious with the actual game ranging from "impossible to follow" to "being completely ignored" is comparable to a full blown production like Tabletop.

    Other channels like WatchItPlayed or rahdo do everything themselves at home and STILL rely on donations every year. Again, you can't ignore the difference between someone only having to pay himself with a studio, a crew of 30+ and up to 60 guests that also need to be paid and potentially accommodated.

    The nightmare it must be to schedule all this is also constantly ignored. "Why don't you just shoot all episodes in one month, then you don't need to pay everyone for a whole year". Ignoring the difficulty of making this happen, I wonder if someone suggesting this is aware of the implications. Only hiring the team for a few months means they will walk away and work somewhere else after that. You can't keep a well oiled team machine together like this and most likely end up with different people every year basically "starting over" in terms of Tabletop experience. (Plus, I'd expect they work on other G&S shows and don't just idly sit around for the rest of the year).

    Considering the size of the team, 500k seems like nothing and I wonder how many of them either have to be interns or work for far less than they could be making. Who would even bother getting up in the morning for less than 17k a year? People who are dedicated to their job and willing to make sacrifices for it (though I hope they don't have to and actually ARE working multiple jobs/projects... can you even survive in the LA area with around 15k?).

    I'm grateful this kind of thing doesn't make Felicia and/or Felicia simply start looking for a lead role in a TV show, make much more money and say "well, screw those ungrateful... brats".

    Not being willing/able to donate is fine. Bitching about them not wanting to shoot in their own basement with a camera phone is being a dick... and I think the rule about that is well known: don't.


    Guess now I need to copy this somewhere else, considering I'm pointlessly preaching to the choir.
  • @Trienco They /do/ shoot Tabletop in a short block. The first season was shot in a 10 day period (not including weekends, 2 games per day), and I think the second season was the same.

    This is mostly to reduce cost on renting the set/equipment etc. But it's hell on Wil, Boyan and Felicia who are there for 18 hours a day for two weeks straight. The guests they want (paired with the game they'd like those guests to play) has to all be sorted out and scheduled well in advance, and they have to be sure those guests are available exactly when they need them to be. There's certainly been one or two episodes where Felicia stepped in to play when the previously scheduled guest couldn't make it.
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  • The thing with tabletop on kickstarter is, you know what you are paying for since theres already two seasons available.

    I'm sure they will have expected some people being negative about it, it can't be avoided. My advice to Will is to just assume those people think its big bang theory Will Wheaton speaking to them. I'd not trust that guy either!

    Personly I really prefer them doing it like this rather than getting a sponsor to fund them and tell them how to do their work. They clearly know how to do it.

    Similar deals have been the beginning of the end for Bullfrog, Westwood, Maxis and many other once creative companies. Creativity tends to die once sponsors take ownership.

    I'd just wish Rome 2 was on kickstarter now..



  • SplattercatSplattercat Member
    edited April 2014 PM
    Felicia and Torontogal hit the points better than I would have. Bottom line to anyone that can't pay or doesn't want to, that's perfectly alright. 300K+ in two days pretty much means it's going to be funded. When it is, the people that couldn't/didn't help fund it still get to watch it.

    Obviously they like the show (or are just trolls and really, their opinion doesn't matter), so why burn it's third inception? Their approach, like mine would be in all honesty, should be "Refuse to/Can't help fund it, but I hope it happens for them". I'll be contributing, but if I couldn't, I would still absolutely want it to happen.

    Second part of that concerns the people that say "People make the same kind of shows on their handhelds." Well, no, they really don't. And the people that decry the crowd-funding are the same ones that would literally unsubscribe from G&S because the production values on Tabletop took a steep steep dive.

    These are the same kind of people who I've seen state outright that they won't watch a show because of one guest that they don't like. Which is... quite frankly idiotic. I likened it in the comments to refusing to watch any of the Harry Potter movies because you don't like Robert Pattinson from Twilight.

    Virtual courage hateful trolling and blatant ignorance are an unfortunate part of the human condition that happens wherever you go on the internet. It's a major reason why I have such a low faith in humanity.

    And as @Rhalius said right above me, they want to maintain their creative control. Sponsors tell them what games to play and with whom. That SERIOUSLY impairs the quality of any product when you have some disconnected entity calling the shots, saying what can be shown, what can be said, what MUST be said, who is allowed to appear... Scheduling alone limits the latter, add in other people making decisions and it would dillute the product.

    *exasperated sigh*

    The amount of negativity is... I don't know what the right word is for it. There's a lot at any rate. Honestly, I felt a traitor to my fanhood by saying I had better things to do than convince these people that will invariably refuse to be convinced. It's likely inevitable that I get involved in the discussions at some point. Right now, I'm just happy that Season 3 of Tabletop is well on it's way to becoming a thing and I myself am elated to have DVDs of the first 2 seasons (plus a bunch of other stuff besides that I forgot to look at) available to me through making that a reality. :)
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