A recent HBOLabs series titled “Hooking Up” has surprised people in two ways: those who expected TV/film-like acting performances from web stars have been disappointed. Those who expected another web series to be ignored were wrong.The show has had nearly 50K subscribers, and hundreds of thousands of views per episode (less for the vlogs).
So this proved that a web series that accesses the fame of known creators in 2008 and 2009 will draw larger audiences than with trained actors. Indeed by TV/film standards, web stars shouldn’t even be called actors.
Each medium creates its own stars… and some survive the transition from stage to radio to television to film and now internet video. But Hooking Up is a reminder of two indisputable facts about web stars:
- We are not the world’s finest script actors.
- We can (even me sometimes) attract sizable audiences (especially by web video standards).
The series would have floundered like many others had it not tapped into the vibrant audiences of its top stars. Kids that would watch Ishtar 2 as longs as KevJumba and LonelyGirl15 were in it.
Let this be a reminder that to be a popular video creator, there are a number of skillsets required that are far more diverse than acting. If a video creator is brilliant at a few, but lacks a balance, than he/she has far less odds of success than the one with decent skills across the board.
- Ability to connect with the audience as if each viewer is a friend.
- A unique and interesting approach to videos.
- Good looks (I make up in other areas).
- The commitment to interact with the audience in comments and e-mails.
- Editing skills. I have the power to turn horrendous acting into B-movie acting via this alone.
- Street smarts on what audiences want. This means watching a lot of video.
- Low costs. Big productions bleed.
- Self promotion and networking (among creators and industry folks).
- Most importantly, unwavering persistence, thick skin, and the ability to reenvent.
I’ll bet on a web personality that has most of these, and can’t act before a brilliant actor that’s too shy to interact with other creators or audiences.
Here’s what’s interesting, though. I believe these requirements will change as larger players enter the arena. Remember 2 years ago you just had to be an interesting vlogger that caught the attention of a popular vlogger. So the rules are changing.
2009 will still require all of these skills, but in years ahead we may well see that larger productions will find these skills in a few people, allowing the “best in breed” instead of the “full service personality.”
Confidentially (which is why I’m only telling the 19 of you that read this blog) I didn’t care much for my own acting on Hooking Up, but I have two things that saved me. My appearance on The Retarded Policeman (which is Emmy-Award winning) and the fact that some of the Hooking Up acting was so bad I’m Shakespearean by contrast.