In a creative & financial dispute that began early this year, the people behind YouTube’s popular The Retarded Policeman series recently brought their feud to “court of public opinion.” Mediocrefilm‘s Greg Benson created the show with his wife Kim Evey (who produces The Guild, staring Felicia Day), and hired “Ponce” Perry, who stars as the, well, retarded policeman. Benson also hired Ponce’s brother Scott, who appeared in the first episode, and helped write and direct a few episodes, including the one in which I appeared (so it’s been removed).
Here’s the blow-by-blow:
- The first episode appeared in September 2007. The most-recent posted video, posted last November (2008), was “Lt. Ballsack” and ironically stars Benson getting pulled over by Ponce.
- In April, the Perry brothers created the Ponceman account.
- Five of the episodes have been removed (including the one in which I appeared) because Scott participated in the writing or directing. The rest of the episodes, according to Benson, are his.
- The DVD is still for sale. Get ’em while they last, folks.
- The Perry brothers first created a video about the feud, and posted details on their blog. They claim there was an agreement between them and Benson: “We had an agreement with mediocrefilms that has not been honored. Since the beginning of this year we have tried to work things out but, regrettably, we have reached an impasse. We cannot allow our work on the series to be exploited any longer without our original agreement being honored and all of our attempts to “work something out” with mediocrefilms have been fruitless.”
- Greg Benson responded to the Perry Brother’s claims in this video, and on his blog. Benson said they had no agreement, and that he paid the brothers thousands of dollars. He said he offered them various compromises, but was ignored when he requested the Perry brothers to propose terms that would satisfy them.
- Neither is providing specifics of the terms, and whether the Perry brothers had a “work for hire” or revenue-sharing arrangement.
This debate, only recently brought public, was part of the reason I suggested TheStation (The Station is Doomed) will run into a similar snag. Parenthetically, check out thehill88 and brookers, who provided some informally entertaining responses to that video on their superlazerz channel).
Alas, it’s extremely difficult to collaborate on a channel and share YouTube proceeds, because it’s nearly impossible to determine who contributed to a channel’s success… was it the promotion, producing, writing, acting, directing, editing?
This is the first significant and public feud over ownership rights of a web-video show, and that’s maybe the most surprising piece of news.
So how can you reduce the chances you’ll find yourself in a sad, creative/financial snag like these guys? Get something in writing… the more money a channel earns, the more people will feel cheated unless terms are explicit. Is it 50/50 or are the actors simply paid a flat fee and/or some small percentage of revenue?
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of these guys, and I’m saddened to see them disputing, especially in public. Benson’s Mediocrefilms channel, one of the most-subscribed, continues to monetize the bulk of the episodes. Ponceman‘s channel has a fraction of the following with about 28,700 subscribers.
If there was (as the Perry brothers claim) an agreement that wasn’t honored, would they have a recourse in YouTube? Or does the video-sharing site have no responsibility here?
Perhaps a YouTube community member will volunteer their services to arbitrate. The show was brilliantly conceived and executed, and we can only hope it will return in some form. We can dream the impossible dream, right?