With over over 3.2 million subscribers on YouTube, Freddie Wong and Brandon Laatsch are two of the most prolific filmmakers and special effects gurus in the online space as well as the brains behind the witty and wild Video Game High School web series.
While they've become online innovations, they got their start working on traditional films before jumping ship. "It turned out to not be that fulfilling or exciting because when we put that stuff out, we never actually got to see any feedback on it," Brandon said. Ironically enough, they were most excited to see that their work got pirated. It meant people cared, wanted to watch and engage with their content.
Thus enters the revolution of entertainment in the web space, with YouTube emerging as a viable platform on which full-time creators can build their ideas and engage massive audiences.
"We were watching a lot of YouTube beforehand and we were like, 'Man, this is the kind of video we want to see' and it's the kind of stuff we ended up making.," Freddie shared. He describes their videos as short, funny, high action, and visual effects-driven.
While the duo has been getting offers for feature film and Hollywood productions, that's not something they're looking to pursue.
"One of the cool things about [YouTube] is that we have a very direct interaction with the people who watch our work," Freddie says. "You get a lot of feedback. You get a very good sense of what works and doesn't work." Compared to many Hollywood directors who aren't as hands-on with social media, it's a more personal and productive form of communication.
After building a huge following on their own YouTube channel, they decided to launch 'Video Game High School', a web series where kids attend school to become professional video game athletes. Developed with help from Kickstarter, they raised an awesome $270,000 with a successful crowdfunding model that they hope to use for future projects.
They also started their own site RocketJump.com along with a YouTube channel. Brandon describes it as "a destination that we can sculpt as the perfect viewing experience for the audience." He notes that YouTube is great at generating a large number of views and accessing new viewers, but they have to design their pages for the masses. Freddie and Brandon wanted to have a place to cater to their niche audience with supplementary content.
So, what's next for online entertainment?
"We feel like what web series could be is a lot like what television was when TV first emerged compared to cinema," Freddie says. "It's a new genre that's coming out during our lifetimes and it'd be so dumb of us to not try to do what we can with it."
You heard the man. Get out there and make it happen!
@WhatsTrending VGHS is awesome..... @fwong@brandonjla you people are awesome
— Sarthak Champatiroy (@sarthakcroy) June 13, 2012
@WhatsTrending i wonder if they made an actual full length hollywood film, whod act in it? Some film
— Joshy Woshy (@Bassically_Josh) June 13, 2012
#FreddieWong is the man @whatstrending bit.ly/qCa5qi @GetGlue #WhatsTrending
— Raj Rawal (@RajRawal37) June 13, 2012