Hanging with the SourceFed crew is one of my great experiences at NMR. Talking YouTube with six people simultaneously is one of those events where you just sit back and let them bicker amongst themselves. No small task when you’ve got six hilarious people all competing for a punchline.
SourceFed, winners of the “Audience Choice” award for “Series of the Year” at the recent Streamy Awards, are a sort of show within a show within a channel. With no less than a half dozen “show brands” to their name (they don’t even know how many), the group — comprised of Lee Newton, Joe Bereta, Trisha Hershberger, Elliott Morgan, Meg Turney and Steve Zaragoza are a sort of “personalities first” creative team that hosts segments on the news and pop culture — but frequently become pop culture themselves. And as Streamy voters clearly agree — news is always better if it is filtered through irreverent comedy.
Walking into SourceFed was like walking into Willy Wonka’s factory — if Willy Wonka had a dingy nondescript warehouse in the San Fernando Valley. But the outside fortunately doesn’t match the inside, and the studio is chock full of the sort of fun (and funny) imagery that you’d expect to find in the land of Sourcefed … including a ginormus image of Phil Defranco (SourceFed’s guiding visionary) staring down like “Dr. T.J. Eckleberg” … or … perhaps more fitting, “Big Brother” (whoo, literature!).
But everyone in the cast, you will be relieved to know, is as upbeat and genuine off-camera as they are on (perhaps more so …). And when they aren’t “on camera” riffing on the news, composing impromptu songs or playing “Truth or Dare” (as they were the day NMR came to visit), they are doing all those things anyway … just to amuse themselves. They’re like the cast of “Friends,” except without all the coke and bulimia rumors.
*For the interview in video format, please go to the last page.
How did SourceFed originally come about?
Elliott Morgan: I believe Phil had the idea a very long time ago to create sort of a news YouTube platform where it could be like a la carte and if somebody had a particular interest in one particular story they could just watch a quick video on it. So from that, [it] sort of evolved into what it is now. I could be making all of that up.
Steve Zaragoza: I think also, didn’t I hear the rumor that he fell off of his toilet trying to hang a picture frame, and he hit his head on the toilet and he drew out the SourceFed logo?
Elliott: One time he couldn’t find his kids, so he was having a whiskey and a bright light came in the window, and he didn’t believe in the bright light, so he said he didn’t believe in the bright light, fell dead. Tinkerbell that is, Julia Roberts, huh? [group laughs]
Steve: Did you think we were going to get on board with you?
Lee Newton: I was trying to go.
Joe Bereta: I literally thought we were like going into “K-Pax” and “Fire in the Sky.” Then I thought we were in “Phenomenon” with John Travolta and I was on board!
Steve: I thought about “Signs” too for some reason.
Joe: That was wrong, that was wrong.
Elliott: Just ‘cause.
Steve: ‘Cause I like that movie. I like to think about “Signs” [laughs].
Lee: God, that movie, right?
Trisha Hershberger: Cool, cool, cool.
Feel like we took a journey with that one.
Meg Turney: That’s going to be every question!
And that’s good, that’s what we want!
Meg: We’ll end on “Signs” for every question!
Joe: Phil saw “Signs” [group laughs].
Now when you say “Phil,” you are of course talking about Philip Defranco, the YouTube superstar. Give me a little dirt here. Describe Phil as a boss.
Steve: Oh he’s a pervert.
Lee: Real perv.
Trisha: We do get toast though.
Lee: Oh yeah, I get toast on a daily basis. He shares his toast. I want to chalk it up to friendliness, but it might be low carbs.
Joe: He has a lot of daily “meetings.”
Lee: He has a lot of daily meetings with Bereta. Bereta gets a lot of daily meetings.
Joe: It’s a closed-door policy. Like I want it to be open, but he closes it.
Meg: He just doesn’t want to put a label on it yet.
Steve: The weird thing for us is when Joe gets called into these meetings he goes in pretty happy, has a lot of energy. He comes back an hour or two later, he’s just got a red face, and it looks like his hair is all messed up.
Joe: No, it’s good, it’s good! Everything’s good!
Lee: It’s great, it’s great.
Steve: We just worry about you Joe, like I don’t think this is a good opportunity.
Joe: This is about Phil.
Steve: Oh sure, okay! Are you okay?
Joe: He’s a great boss.
Steve: No, he is an awesome boss! He lets us kind of like a come up with a lot of cool ideas, and we have a freedom to just kind of like try out our little ideas here and there. He lets us express ourself in our own way but also just kind of like, you know we’re doing news here and other things so there has got to be that sense of seriousness.
Meg: But I think he just does a great job of saying look I know you’re interested in blank so why not try and run with that. I see that this is your passion so do something with it.
Joe: But he also doesn’t beat around the bush, if he doesn’t like it. No more.
Lee: Which is nice in that sense because then you know, I feel like he really knows what he wants from this and so that’s really helpful and I think he respects that all of us are so different and so alike that he really embraces that and fosters that creativity.
Elliott: He’s our foster dad.
Lee: He’s our foster dad group [laughs].
Steve: Yes, he is.
Meg: In “Signs” wasn’t there a foster dad [group laughs].
Lee: Yeah, in “Signs” there was a foster dad.