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Puppets / Muppets online - Would You Pay?

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Buck-Beaver, Aug 6, 2002.

  1. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    OK, here's an idea - would anyone pay for an online Muppet series? How about a good, Muppet quality online series done by other puppeteers?

    I've been reading Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics, which talks alot about the idea of freeing artists by putting their comics online and I got thinking "what if that was done with puppets?"

    With creator-controlled online shows, there's no network to cancel it after a few episodes like they did with poor "Greg The Bunny." But if this was done, is there an audience to support it? You could just pay a few bucks to watch an episode. Or you could adopt an honour system where PayPal donations are used to support a series.

    The truth is, something like this probably isn't feasible for the Muppets with the kind of costs they have (at least not until video-on-demand takes off in a big way). But that leaves some room for independent puppeteers/filmmakers doesn't it?

    OK, let's discuss!
  2. matleo

    matleo Active Member

    that's a great idea, Buck! I mean the net has been a HUGE help to indpendent filmmakers thus far and some of them have used puppets. I think if it gets puppetry in the public eye then Yeah. I'm all for it. I know a lot of folks who would would love to see something like that.
  3. MoguiViper9

    MoguiViper9 New Member

    Hey Buck,
    I think I would pay to watch some online puppet shows. But I think alot of people would be affraid to pay for something they didn't know, so only hardcore puppet fans like us would pay for it. Unless maybe Joe Blow could watch a few episodes for free, you know, like check it out for a few days or weeks. I bet a ton of people would pay for "Muppets Online" because everybody in this conformist country loves Kermit the Frog, but with some unknown puppeteer with an unknown character... It would be tough.

  4. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I think that the problem is that the audience is too small at this point.

    We're developing an all-puppet feature film (it will actually be the first all-puppet feature ever made in Canada and there have only been a handful done around the world) and it's going to cost about $175,000 which is dirt cheap even by indie standards here considering we'll be using pro puppeteers and doing tons of FX stuff (I'll probably end up doing most of CGI and FX myself). The thing is I could do it on the web for about $60,000 but no one will put up that kind of money for a puppet film distributed on the web (the irony is we probably can get 175 grand to it, but it has to be on film).

    We did a short-lived "webcast" all puppet series back in 2000 called "The Marshall and Buck Show" and that was cool because we had a small budget to do two episodes a month, but then our sponsor went under in the dot-com bust and we were forced to shut down after five episodes. If we had had paypal donate back then we might have been able to keep it running.

    Two friends of mine, Jay Williams and Colin Tattersall have their stuff (which is made for TV) online at rudytooty.com which is great, but it's not paying their rent so they only post stuff paid for by TV, or videos they do when they have enough time (check them out if you have never seen their work - they are hilarious!).

    So the problem is that good content is never going to come (or will only come very slowly in bits and pieces) if the creators aren't paid for their work. But if there isn't a lot of work out there to begin with the mass audience is going to be likely to pay as Mogui pointed out (Scott McCloud has numerous visual essays on this subject and explains this much better than I ever could over at scottmccloud.com).
  5. MoguiViper9

    MoguiViper9 New Member

    Well said Buck
  6. Salmoto

    Salmoto New Member

    I'm an avid watcher of webcartoons and even a site that charges as little as 5 dollars a YEAR isn't making any money there. It seems the only entertainment you can sell for free over the internet you have to be 18 and older to watch. :D

    This is not to say if you did a web show using puppets for free it wouldn't eventuallygain ad revenue or even get picked up as a TV show, something I've seen a handfull of web cartoons do.
  7. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Hey Sal, I'm a big fan of web cartoons (well, really more web comics than cartoons - but they're close enough). There are actually a few people out there making a little money.

    A new comics site that started up awhile ago was Modern Tales . They carry the work of several different artists (including many well known names like Wil Eisner and "Kat" Garza) and you can see all of their work for $2.95 a month.

    Though I personally think that subscription-based services are limited and may not catch on for awhile (though CNN.com and similar sites are making small inroads gradually) Modern Tales pulled in close to $20,000 in their first six months - which, while it's not enough to pay for even one high-end video production, is certainly more than most online comic artists are used to making.

    I know of a few creators who are able to pull in $700 - $1000 per month through voluntary donations. I think this "honour" system is a great way to work - when I read a web comic I really like if there is a option to donate I will - usually a buck or two, depending on the content. If everyone who read and liked the content did that these creators could make decent livings and create even more.

    Incidently, if you are looking for a very cool web comic check out Delta Thrives - it's awesome!!! Be warned there is a little mature content in it though (but nothing too bad).

    Another great (but different) web comic is When I Am King
  8. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member


    I've also forgotten to mention THE ONLY place on the web that's updated semi-regularly with puppet video content (it's all free) - Gordon Smuder's tres cool site The Puppet Forge.

    Be sure to check out "Sam" which is one of the best puppet short films I have seen in awhile. It's by a film student at UCONN named Sean Overbeeke.

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