Sunday, February 28, 2010

Behind the Scenes of Elevator

Okay, there are a lot of you out there who are jealous that I got to stand in the Elevator.  Who knew the set was the source of much envy?  I do appreciate the comments and the emails though.  If you are really interested in how the Elevator is created, make sure to watch until after the credits run.  You will see us break down the mystery of the Elevator.  In fact, we are starting leave some of the really fun footage to the wee end, so make it a habit to watch every last second.  Anyway, Woody Tondorf, Genevieve Jones, and Ben Pace entertained me throughout this entire episode.  I am not sure I got a word in edgewise, so Sandra and Perry Payne worked miracles to make the interview as coherent as possible.  You can tell they all have great chemistry and truly enjoy each other's company.  That is why Elevator works.  


I personally had a blast since Genevieve and Woody are both Bostonians.  I always think that there aren't many New Englanders living on the West Coast, but I continually run into my NE peeps in the web series world.  We left Ben Pace out of a couple of conversations reminiscing about all that is Boston, but we still love him regardless of his geographic upbringing.  Woody also attended one of the rival prep schools in the area, but I will forgive him because our hockey team was better.  So, I had lots of hometown connections on this shoot. 


What you didn't see in this episode was the mini-Elevator show we did on the fly. The problem was, I was in it.  While I am fine at hosting, any sort of acting or improvisation results in failure of epic proportions.  We tried several takes, but I don't think it ever reached the level of funny that is required in Elevator.  So, I am very happy that footage made it to the cutting room floor.


Given the success of the show, I think we also dropped the bomb on a lot of people that this will be Elevator's last season.  We were aware of some of the changes going on behind the scenes, but we didn't address it too much during the interview.  Sandra and I talked about doing a post script to the episode, but I think the article, written by NewTeeVee's Liz Shannon Miller, stands as the best epilogue to our feature.  Have no fear though, after 86,000 subscribers, 200+ episodes, and 48 million views, I think we will see more of Woody and crew in the future.  In fact, I expect a Web Files invite to the 24 hour marathon shoot of the final season of Elevator.  While I won't be writing or acting in the show, I sure can do press coverage.  

Finally, if you haven't seen our episode of Elevator, click here: Elevator  
Coming up on Wednesday, our second episode of The Web Files Buzz featuring an on-set visit with Olga Kay's Circus and the red carpet coverage of The Resolve premiere.  

Photos 2 and 4 courtesy of Ben Pace.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Red Carpet Interviews...Some DOs and DON'Ts

Okay, Streamys time is upon us and the spotlight is on web series, actors, and all of the talented people behind the scenes.  It is an exciting time and I know that getting publicity for your show is an integral part of finding new viewers or connecting with your current fans.  So, I hope all of you who wake up to a Streamy nomination get ready for a thrilling time in your career, but prepare yourself for the round of media that is to follow.  Do yourself and your show a favor, mentally prepare for the red carpet. Here are a couple of things I have noticed recently on the red carpet, a few bad habits, and some things to point out.  At The Web Files, we want to showcase you and your show in the best light possible:

1.  Talk to the reporter.  Don't talk into the camera.  It is a conversation between two people.  Trust that the cameraman is focusing in on you and he will get the shot.  If you look directly into the camera while being interviewed, it makes you look a bit crazy because you are ignoring the person asking you the questions. (Now, you can casually glance at the camera to include the audience, but don't get stuck in that lens.)

2.  Don't EVER, EVER, EVER, hijack someone else's interview.  I had this happen on Monday night at a web series premiere and it made the actor look like a big, old jackass. I was interviewing the creator of the's his big night, his big moment, and his chance to shine.  The actor comes stumbling into the shot, puts his arm around the creator, and expects me to start interviewing him.  Sorry, nope, no way.  The creator hired YOU, he wrote a part for YOU, he directed YOU.  Without him, you wouldn't be on this red carpet.  Show respect.  Let everyone have their moment in the spotlight.  Trust me, you will have your turn, but if you jump into my shot....forget about it.

3.  Finally, sound bites.  During a sit down interview with The Web Files, I want more in depth answers.  On the red carpet, I want sound bites.  A reporter from any show, whether it is a marquee entertainment show like ET, Access Hollywood, or E!, or a little one like The Web Files, is looking for the funny, off the cuff, short quips.  If I asked you to tell me about your show, do it in less than 20 words.  A 2 minute explanation usually makes your clip unusable because red carpet footage is edited in a faster paced rhythm.  If you want to watch successful interviews in 30 seconds or less, take a look at the clips from the Whatever Works premiere from June 2009 for Focus Hollywood:  See Larry David, Peter Fonda, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, and John Lithgow all giving great little moments in an extremely short period of time.  They are true masters at dealing with red carpet reporters when we only were allowed to ask them one question each that night.

I hope that some of these tips are useful to you and your cast.  I am happy to offer up a few more helpful hints as we get closer to April 11th, 2010, so feel free to fire away with questions or suggestions on this topic in the section below (Anonymous posts are okay).  I can address them in another post soon.   See you at the Streamys red carpet!

PS  All of the photos posted are examples of GOOD red carpet interviews, so don't start any gossip that I think you stink on the red carpet.  xo kb

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Behind the Scenes of Epic Fu

I was really looking forward to shooting this episode because Zadi Diaz and Steve Woolf were the winners of last year's Streamy Award for "Best Hosted Web Series".  Their journey to the top has been an interesting ride and one that web series creators need to pay attention to.  While they have had amazing success with production deals at Next New Networks and Revision3, they were not immune to the economic downturn.  They currently find themselves on their own as they grow Epic Fu as a brand.  The independence allows them the freedom to try new ideas and allow the interactivity of the show rise to a new level.  While they are continuing their focus on film and music, watch as they grow over the next year or so.  Their longevity in the web space is something that I admire and Epic Fu is one of the shows that has set a high standard in the Hosted Web Series world.  


We shot in their downtown loft which serves as the new backdrop to the show.  The first thing I noticed was Steve Woolf's artwork.  His incredible pieces line the walls and add the perfect compliment to their decor.  I don't know if he sells his work, but it's worth checking into it if you are looking for unique and significant pieces in your home.  Steve and Zadi were such a treat to interview.  They are smart, kind, and really thoughtful about their place in the web space.  The interactive aspect of their show, Mix, is a place where hardcore fans interact about the show, new music, pop culture, and even debate with Steve and Zadi.  


I love that Steve took all of these behind the scenes photos because you get a great look at our crew.  They sometimes like to hide from the camera, but they are crucial to making The Web Files the show that it is.  You get some glimpses of makeup artist, Melissa Anchondo, our PA/Renaissance Woman, Jenn Bobiwash, and DP/Editor, Perry Payne.  Also joining us for the first time was stylist, Katelin Flanigan, who dressed me from head to toe for the episode. She is a great additional to the team because no one is a bigger fashionista!  So, if you see that I am dressing better in upcoming episodes, thank Katelin.  (And we will get her on set photo soon.  She's a beautiful, statuesque blonde, you will love her!)

Finally, a kind shout out to Miss Casey McKinnon for putting us in touch with Zadi and Steve.  Without suggestions, connections, and feedback, we would not have access to some of the shows we interview.  So, please keep the dialogue and comments coming.  You can always leave a comment here or visit me on Twitter .  

If you missed the episode, check it out here: Epic Fu

Later today, a new episode of The Web Files with Woody Tondorf, Ben Pace, and Genevieve Jones of Elevator

Behind the scenes photos courtesy of Steve Woolf.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Welcome to Chicago!

Well, here we are, a little over halfway through the season and at the toughest show on the circuit.  Now, don't get me wrong, Chicago is a fantastic city, but we are here at the toughest time of the year:  everyone is exhausted from back to back cities, we are at the height of flu and cold season, the weather is cold, and this is the show that has the highest attendance across the U.S.  Yet, this show offers more excitement that even NAIAS cannot match.  

We have amazing guests who stop by our show like Scotty Van Hawk of Four Feathers Racing who is one of the Top 5 AMA Pro Racers in the U.S.  He spent last weekend signing autographs for fans after his interview on the show where he revealed he has broken 84 bones in a sport where speeds can top 197 MPH.  Wow. 

And a three year guest to our show, Ramblin' Ray from US 99 Chicago.  I really enjoy Ray's visits, he is never at a loss for words and oh boy, he tells it like it is.  He has a partnership with Toyota that includes a Tundra that he loves to kick up to 110 MPH. Shhhh, don't tell Toyota.  Check out his website and photos from past Toyota Live visits: Ray's Tundra. 

This was our first attempt at a photo on Valentine's Day. Was it the camera or was it the champagne?

Our second attempt worked out much better!  My favorite friends from the Mitsubishi team. Yes, we do hang out with other manufacturers.

The larger shows also offer a glimpse of the show on the large screen.  Here I am looming over the
FT-CH turntable:


The crowds were in full force over the 1st weekend of the Chicago Auto Show:

Other fun guest included an annual visit from members of the Chicago Bears:  Robbie Gould and Hunter Hillenmeyer. I have to say I was a fan of Robbie after interviewing him.  He's pretty charming. 

The other reason I love this show?  My little cousin.  Isn't she magical?  

Yep, a nap backstage and a photo kindly taken by my co-host, Matthew Troyer.  Not my best look, but it sure sums up the week so far:  Lots of fun, but lots of work!

The Web.Files #30 EPIC FU

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Click to Play

Web Files host, Kristyn Burtt, delves into the fascinating history of global fan favorite, EPIC FU, with the help of its host, Zadi Diaz, and her co-creator, Steve Woolf. In the realm of here-today, gone-tomorrow online content, how does EPIC FU stay so relevant?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Behind the Scenes of The Web Files Buzz, Episode 1

Yes, we brought you something different this week, the inaugural episode of The Web Files Buzz. Sandra and I have been toying with this idea for awhile, but it took some time to figure out how we wanted to execute the episode. I have received a lot of questions about this format: Is this the new format of the show? Is the old format gone? The answer is "sometimes" and "no". We will do a Buzz show every few weeks to mix it up in between our longer, more formal interviews. As the web space grows, we have to grow. Viewers want us to get in depth with their favorite shows, but we do not want to forget those shows that are up and coming. So, I think the new format serves an important purpose. We had a lot of fun shooting these shorter segments and I think delivered an action packed episode.

We kicked it off with the IAWTV "For Your Consideration" Screening of The Fall of Kaden and Blue Movies, both Koldcast TV web series. I did an in depth piece on the evening which can be read here: Fall of Kaden/Blue Movies. I haven't seen the Koldcast footage yet, but hopefully, it will be released soon. The Koldcast shoot talked more about the fantastic idea to hold a IAWTV screening and it is a format now being wisely copied by others before the Streamy ballots are due. I think it will also give web series creators, Adam Leiphart and Matt Double (Fall of Kaden) and Scott Brown (Blue Movies) even more deserved face time with the IAWTV voters.

Our second segment featured one of my favorite web series stars, Brittney Powell, of Safety Geeks: SVI. We caught her in between an appearance at the Xena convention on a Saturday afternoon. If you didn't know, Brittney has quite an impressive resumé as she played Brunnhilda on the series amongst other high profile roles. Xena has a strong female following, so while we didn't shoot inside the convention, there were a lot of women running around the lobby of the LAX Marriott trying to get a glimpse of Brittney. Popular girl! Anyway, I wanted to discuss the Safety Geeks: SVI calendar since it's a great way to think outside of the box in terms of marketing their web series. The cheeky pin-up girl theme also brings Tom Konkle and Dave Beeler along for the fun. Check out the cast's calendar at Amazon: Safety Geeks Calendar.

Finally, we rounded out the episode with a visit to Jonathan Nail on the set of his upcoming show, SOLO the Series. The set was built inside his garage and we had a chance to climb inside to take a closer look. Jonathan's show has created a lot of buzz over Twitter and I am glad we were able to see what those 140 characters were all about. He also showed me the pilot after the shoot, so get ready for a comedic, sci-fi ride sometime in 2010.

It was a day for cupcake shirts and many of you asked where you could purchase my shirt after I posted the photo on Twitter. Well, it was purchased at the Union Square Christmas fair in NY by a friend of mine. She tried to track down the designer, but we were not able to find her. However, you can find similar cupcake shirts online, just google "Make cupcakes, not war". I also took a close-up photo of my crew badge. Jonathan made me an honorary crew member of Team SOLO. Let's just hope I don't get stuck in space like he did.

Be sure to check out our first episode of The Web Files Buzz here: Episode 1. It is our fastest rising show to date, so we appreciate your views and feedback. On Wednesday, we go back to our usual format with an interview with Epic Fu creators and the 2009 Streamys winners for Best Hosted Web Series, Zadi Diaz and Steve Woolf.

Red carpet photos courtesy of Bernie Su of Compulsions.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Behind the Scenes of Legend of Neil

Okay, all of you Legend of Neil fans have me baffled. Never in the 29 episode history of The Web Files have I received such interesting and rather, uh...odd feedback. Many of you are obsessed with the decor of Sandeep Parikh's apartment. From the oranges on the table to the decorations on the wall to the lack of decorations on the wall, you all had something to say. I think a lot of you want to help Sandeep out or maybe there are some ladies out there looking to add a woman's touch to the place. Regardless, Sandra did add the oranges to the table, a bit of color for the interview. I have no idea if Sandeep is looking for decorating tips, but hopefully, he will check out my blog and add his 2 cents.

**UPDATE** I have a clarification and a turn of events.......Sandra DID NOT add the bowl of oranges, Sandeep DID! So, he is the one who added a bit of color to his coffee table and I think that is a lovely decorating idea. So, maybe the naysayers should be taking tips from Sandeep? I am calling this on DecoratorGate 2010!

On to more important things, the interview! I think Sandeep was very clear that while his show is higher profile than some of the other web series out there, it is not a huge money maker. He sells merchandise to supplement the production costs for the show. While we didn't see all of that during the episode, you will notice a pile of shirts to my right during the show and the t-shirt I wear during the opening. Another question that wound up on the editing room floor that I think is really important to ponder: "Would their show been as successful today on YouTube as it was back in 2007 when they first launched?" Tony Janning responded with an honest, "I don't know." It is a huge challenge to launch a web series on YouTube because the site is so saturated with content. It is tough to stand out amongst the crowd. Now, Legend of Neil was going to be successful, regardless of YouTube, but it may have taken more time to find an audience had they launched it in 2010.

I had to watch this episode several times to refresh my memory about the behind the scenes action. I looked back at the calendar and realized that we shot the show on December 14th, 2009, so it was almost two months ago. It isn't often that we bank shows that far in advance, but we sometimes we have to work with shows that have deadlines like series premieres or finales. That is why you saw episodes with The Bannen Way and A Comicbook Orange before you ever saw Legend of Neil. Both episodes were shot in January well after Legend of Neil shoot, but they aired before the Sandeep/Tony episode in order to accommodate their season premieres.

And yes, I did get a chance to wear Link's hat and check out all of The Legend of Neil props. I know there are a few jealous fans out there. So, that was a really fun treat for me. If you haven't seen the episode, check it out here: Legend of Neil.

Wednesday brings our first episode of The Web Files Buzz featuring "the buzz about the biz....the web series biz". Highlights include the red carpet of the IAWTV screening of Fall of Kaden and Blue Movies, checking out Brittney Powell's Safety Geek:SVI calendar, and a set visit to the upcoming web series, SOLO the Series by Jonathan Nail.

Finally, a shout out to Casey McKinnon for kicking all of the boys' butts in January. We had a male heavy slate with Dorm Life, The Fine Brothers, and The Bannen Way in the month of January. Little Casey's episode of A Comicbook Orange not only exceeded our expectations, but the views on that episode are HUGE. I like seeing a female whooping some ass in the industry. Congratulations, Casey and Rudy!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Disneyland's Club 33

UPDATE:  Check out the latest information on the waiting list and new perks for Club 33 here

Anyone that knows me understands that I am a HUGE Disney dork. The parks have always been a fun place for me to visit whether I was 3 or 33 years old. My family spent a considerable amount of time visiting Walt Disney World in Florida during cold winter breaks when I was a kid and once I moved to LA in 2000, Disneyland became a fun day trip several times a year. I became clued in on a private club that Walt Disney had built to entertain VIPs at the park back in 2001. Walt never had the opportunity to see this club finished, but I made it my mission to find a way into the famed Club 33.

I spent countless visits taking my picture next to the sign, hoping that maybe one day I would make my photo a reality. Well, 2010 was the year it all came true. My super cute boyfriend was able to make a connection with someone that had a corporate membership, and that is how my December 2009 birthday gift came to be. It really was one of those friend of a friend of a friend of a friend situations, so whomever you are, thanks for making one of my top wishes come true. Scratched off the bucket list!

You receive free admission to both parks the day of your reservation and we checked in at Guest Relations over by California Adventure. Our day happened to be the wettest day I have ever been to at the park, but no lines makes for easy ride hopping. The reservation was for 1 PM, so we were told to check in 15 minutes early. We headed over to New Orleans Square and checked in by pressing the hidden bell. They asked for the name of the reservation and then buzzed us in. Turns out, our table wasn't ready, so we had to go out and do the whole process again ten minutes later. Hey, it's Hollywood, you always get a second take. To see my grand entrance, here is a short one minute clip: Club 33
Once we were let into the lobby, the concierge gave us a brief history of Club 33. It is decorated much like a Parisian hotel lobby right down to the lift that was replicated by Disney Imagineers. Americans are kind of chubby, so the lift only holds about 3 average sized people...maybe in France it would be 4 or 5 people. There is a set of stairs to the left of the lift, so half of us hiked it up while I rode the elevator to the top floor.

Much of the decor was selected by Lillian Disney with lots of antiques like this harpsichord rumored to have been played by Elton John during a visit.
The infamous bar! Yes, this is the only place in the Disneyland park where you can drink. (California Adventure allows alcohol to be served in several restaurants.) The bartender was quite a character, but we enjoyed him because he said, "heavy price, heavy pour.". Yep, the drinks were strong and delicious.
Along the walls, there were beautiful wardrobe sketches from the movie, Mary Poppins, along with renderings of Disneyland back in the 1950's, and a fantastic photograph of Walt with Shirley Temple at the Academy Awards.
During media interviews when I worked at the Kodak Theatre, I was always asked about the restrooms. I don't know why people are obsessed with how fancy a bathroom is, but if you are one of those people, these next two photos are for you. This is what the Club 33 bathroom looked like.....vanity area....

And their really odd shaped toilet........
For me, I always want to know about the food. So, all of you foodies out there, enjoy!
The menu....I chose the Monkfish, but our waitress kept trying to get us to order the Chateaubriand. She never stated that it was the best on the menu, she made it sound more like a fire sale on beef.
The opening course is a buffet of cheeses, lobster tail, shrimp, salads, and soup. I was hungry.....
And then my meal came, so I had to find some room for my Monkfish with Lobster Bisque.
But wait, there's more! Dessert buffet filled with every sweet you can imagine. The purple cake thing was not so good, but my Hostess cupcake lookalike was amazing.
But there's even more! It's my birthday celebration, so I also received a Mickey Mouse chocolate mousse cake. Yum!
After eating we headed outside to the balcony to check out the view....
The wet view below with umbrellas and ponchos in sight. This is looking towards the Fanstasmic stage. If you eat dinner at Club 33, you might be able to catch the early showing of Fantasmic from this location. The back end of the balconies leads you into New Orleans Square by the restaurant, Bayou.

The infamous vulture that Walt didn't live to see, but it was designed as one of the Disney animatronics to talk to the dinners and listen in on their conversations.
In fact, he had microphones built into the chandeliers so the person behind the vulture could spy on people dining at Club 33. (microphone in the center of chandelier hanging down.)
And all good Disney attractions lead to a gift shop. We bought an $18 (suckers!) shot glass with the Club 33 insignia. We also managed to take home a few napkins lifted from the restroom, our cocktail stirrers, a pen, and a few chocolates. Hey, it's a once in a lifetime visit! We spent over 3 hours here and it was well worth it....especially the ride on Space Mountain after a few cocktails!
Are there any Annual Passholders reading this? I would like to get my hands on these vintage pins. Email me if you have the hookup. (My first and last name at Gmail)
Now, a few parting shots of our day around the parks....Tower of Terror!
Space Mountain.......
Buzz Lightyear......
Thanks for celebrating with me at Club 33!
Just a few Club 33 details:
14 year waiting list for membership
Waiting list is CLOSED as of Spring 2007
$10,450 to join for an individual and an annual fee of $3,275
$27,500 for a corporate membership with an annual fee of $6,100
Reservations are taken up to 90 days in advance for members and up to 60 days in advance for guests.

P.S. For those of you that are Hidden Mickey fans, they do exist at Club 33. It isn't in the architecture, but in the cast members' Club 33 uniforms. Happy searching!

Many thanks to Disney Food Blog for linking to this post. If you are a Disney Dork and a foodie, this is the site to check out: Disney Food Blog

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