“I think the internet has allowed a lot of people to be more proud of what they love. Everyone is reflected online.” – Felicia Day
...because while film and TV studios were all talking about the potential of the internet and digital media, Freddie Wong was actually out there making it happen. His web series “Video Game High School” relied on crowdfunding and fan interaction to become a breakout hit. Yet Wong’s vision for new media content extends beyond YouTube and the limits of ad-supported revenue, as he has partnered with Netflix, Hulu and Lionsgate to develop future projects. Still, Wong hasn’t abandoned the open source spirit that fueled his rise, continuing to share his knowledge and experience through a virtual film school on his website RocketJump and ventures like the YouTube Creator Academy.
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In addition to being one of the most prominent new media filmmakers, Wong also understands the business realities of digital distribution. YouTube may have been instrumental as a platform to release “Video Game High School,” but Wong quickly realized he couldn’t continue to produce content at a high level using the video streamer’s ad revenue model. Instead, he decided to partner with bigger, subscriber-based fish like Netflix and Hulu to produce his next projects. So far, these business dealings are proving mutually beneficial, allowing him to create content on a slightly larger scale with the same freedom he enjoyed on “Video Game High School” – a luxury he would not have with a traditional network series or studio film. At the same time, Wong has also launched his own web site RocketJump as a way to release additional media on his own and also diversify his revenue sources for future projects.
Like Taylor Swift, Wong knows that fans have become more important than ever in a world dominated by social media. When he appealed directly to his potential audience for the funds to make “Video Game High School,” he set the KickStarter record for a media project at that time. Because every filmmaker ultimately has to answer to the financiers, Wong continued to share information about the series with his backers…who just also happened to be the show’s fans as well. Wong even went so far as to release the show’s budget in a post explaining why he decided to end the series. Unlike most Hollywood relationships, being open and honest actually seemed to work. Wong’s direct contact with the audience contributed to the show’s success, as fans appreciated – and may have even come to expect – the sense of intimacy with a project many of them had literally helped produce.
As a film school graduate, Wong acknowledges the role his education played in helping him to write, direct and produce his first project. While old Hollywood may have been kind of a members’ only club, new media thrives on sharing information. In addition to hosting content and other material, Wong’s web site RocketJump also functions as a virtual film school for those without the time or resources to enroll in a full program. There are video tutorials on a range of subjects from development to post-production, all available completely for free. Wong’s dedication to opening the doors to film education doesn’t end there either, as he has also worked on video courses for the YouTube Creator Academy series. If knowledge is power, then Wong is leading the revolution.
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