Getting to sit in the audience for the entirety of 5-Second Films’ finance-raising YouTube stream was a fascinating lesson in the nerve-wracking business that is a live telecast. Particularly one based around begging anonymous internet folk for money.
For those of you unfamiliar with the particulars of the event, let me give you the lo-cal version: YouTube production crew 5-Second Films is raising money via Kickstarter for a feature-length “slasher” flick based off one of their short films. With 10 days left and $80,000 still to raise, they put on a 4-hour YouTube live stream show comprised of music, comedy and a whole lot of memories, doled out in 5-second clips.
What makes a live stream event so difficult is that, as much as you script and plan, shit happens. Cues get missed, lines get flubbed and acts don’t show. So you start out the event at a sort of glacial pace, stretching every segment, enunciating every word. By the end of it, you’re so pressed for time, the producer is in the back scratching off the non-essential skits so that you have time to accommodate the “headliners.”
And to complicate matters further, 5-Second Films, really intent on hitting a homerun with their broadcast, added in a backstage “murder mystery.” Perhaps it’s only natural, as the film they’re raising money for is called “Dude Bro Party Massacre 3.” But when you’ve got time constraints, trying to shoehorn a whole lot of content into what really is a very small window, becomes a Herculean task. One that could have majestically gone down in flames for all the world to witness. And yet, somehow, those creative bastards pulled it off.
“We typically work in a tightly-edited post-production universe, so for most of us, doing a live show is very rare,” said Ben Gigli, one of the principals in the 5-Second universe and our de facto contact for the evening. “It’s going very well, exceeding my expectations.”
As we walked with him around the grounds of the Los Angeles-based YouTube Creator Space, Ben admitted that the initial idea was for a 24-hour live event with everybody just getting loopy from exhaustion. But good sense kicked in and the more realistic run time was settled upon.
Speaking finances, he admitted, “We didn’t set any goals specifically for tonight; we just wanted to see what we could do on this. We’ve been taking a very PBS telethon angle — spend some time with the fans, let them see us live, interact with them on Twitter and Facebook. And then, ideally, we’ll raise a whole bunch more money than we normally do in a day.” They came into the telecast with the financial ticker at $120,834. After musical performances by fellow YouTubers Awkward Kids and Animal Raps, plus the comedic stylings of Dan O’Brien from Cracked.com (amongst several other equally funny stand-up acts) and that aforementioned murder mystery, the show wound up running a half hour over, but netting a final evening total of $130,965 — a gain of $10,000. Not bad for four hours spent blending a variety of talents onto two stages and breaking up the craziness with the occasional pre-recorded gag.
From my vantage point, the show wasn’t perfect, but it was fun and interactive, and the off-camera antics of the 5-Second Films crew kept the audience, some of whom donated $60 or more for a ticket, engaged. They’re going to need some skillful fundraising to wrangle the final $70,000 they need (with Kickstarter, if they don’t reach their $200,000, they get none of the money), but Ben assured me it will happen. “We’re not going to be one of these barn-burning Kickstarters that raises, you know, $800,000,” he said — a fitting comment considering that Freddie W. made a special guest appearance on the live stream. “But we’re going to make this movie come hell or high wawa [sigh] — hell or high water.” That’s the breaks of working in live show business, I guess.
You can watch our exclusive behind-the-scenes video of the 5SF event below:
You can donate to their Kickstarter right here.
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