Why Web Stars Can’t Act, and Why It Doesn’t Matter

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:

  1. We are not the world’s finest script actors.
  2. 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.

  1. Ability to connect with the audience as if each viewer is a friend.
  2. A unique and interesting approach to videos.
  3. Good looks (I make up in other areas).
  4. The commitment to interact with the audience in comments and e-mails.
  5. Editing skills. I have the power to turn horrendous acting into B-movie acting via this alone.
  6. Street smarts on what audiences want. This means watching a lot of video.
  7. Low costs. Big productions bleed.
  8. Acting.
  9. Self promotion and networking (among creators and industry folks).
  10. 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.

13 Replies to “Why Web Stars Can’t Act, and Why It Doesn’t Matter”

  1. editing skills? you have editing skills? shouldn’t you qualify that “video editing skills,” Kevin? I can’t wait to see Marilyn get ahold of this post.

  2. I cringed for the first time reading this blog. Kevin. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    after I correct that grammar, I will remember that list.

  3. Jesus christ, that hooking up thing blows. It’s not the acting that’s the problem, it’s the writing!

    Your performance was not bad considering the crap you were working with. That is, until you got to the “go for a drink? F yes!” You should have quit the show in protest over that line alone.

    are you in any other episodes? I have no desire to watch this cesspool of bad writing unless you’re in a particular episode. and even then, I may have to think twice

    P.S. I think you direct yourself better than whoever is directing you in the show. Fight for your scenes more, man. This is your chance to be a diva and start a whole new youtube drama. It’s been way too long since weinergate.

  4. Well, I’d say it doesn’t matter NOW. Like the end of your post says, talent will be a force to reckon with soon. While we at WAF do engage our community/fans, we don’t make enough videos or exploit our hit videos enough (Punchy, NBK 24/7, Teen Tips). That being said, while we’re not huge like Nalts online, we take quite a few meetings here in Hollywood based on what I surmise is interpreted as “talent”. We’ll know soon enough if our latest deal to include some “real world celebs” alongside the WAF crew and just a wee bit of money to improve production value will translate to expanding the WAF brand. Hmmmm….

  5. Sorry, DahliaK, I am too tired after our teacher workshop day today, to go about correcting tis post. I’ll have to do it tomorrow.

    Ok, maybe just a quick one. “Skill sets” is 2 words.

  6. @7 Bobby- brilliant investment in WAF. Rabbit Bites has done this well.
    @5 Sukatra- as much as I can tell, they killed my character on HookingUp. It was a tragedy really. Something about a beaker of glass breaking. But my ghost may come back for the sequel, “Hoody ‘n Woody Hooking Up.”

  7. I have to agree that “Hooking Up” sucks. I only subscribed because you were in it, Kevin. sXephil can’t act, and he’s fat. The rest aren’t any better. The plot line and script are ridiculous. The vlogs are boring. Other than that, it’s ok.

  8. Hooking Up would be more interesting if it was a video of sxePhil scarfing down a box of jelly doughnuts. You and Buck couldn’t save that train wreck if you had the slightest chance (which you didn’t get). Woody did right to leverage an audience by building on the pre-established audiences of top creators, but that is the only thing he has done right.

  9. the only thing the numbers prove is a lot of people will watch a lot of crap.

    the other stuff you said I agree except, #3 you forgot to add humble too.

  10. I’m surprised that they’ve gotten such viewership. I expected the first couple of episodes to have high views (since everyone wants to go see how it turned out), but didn’t expect it to last at all. No offense to you since you’re a part of the project, but I could barely stand to sit through the first episode, it was so poorly acted AND written. It doesn’t matter who’s in it, I just can’t watch it, and didn’t expect so many people to be able to.

Comments are closed.