Friday, January 29, 2010

The Web.Files #28 A Comicbook Orange

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Web Files' host, Kristyn Burtt, is armed with cupcakes and ready for action with A Comicbook Orange host/editor, Casey McKinnon, and show writer, Rudy Jahchan.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Behind the Scenes of The Fine Brothers

I often get asked about how we arrange interviews and I will write an entry soon on how that process happens. This particular interview was probably our most unconventional. I think I received a note via our Facebook profile that said, "When is it our turn?". I didn't even know The Fine Brothers knew our show existed, so I was completely flattered to receive the note. We happened to have an open production date, so I wrote back, "How about next week?" and we were off and running. We also shot this episode in mid-November 2009, so it has been on our back burner because we had premieres or finales to coincide with on other shows. I am happy we were able to finally bring this episode to you since The Fine Brothers offered the most brutally honest take on what is happening in the web space. You have to remember that they were early adopters to the web arena even before YouTube existed. It's hard to imagine that YouTube didn't exist until February 2005. It has become a part of our daily internet landscape and The Fine Brothers have found great success on the site.

I hope you all take in the advice that Benny and Rafi are offering. It may not always apply to your show, but you can adapt it to fit your production. They were open enough to offer up some of the things they have done wrong and where they need to diversify. Listen to their words carefully, it might help you avoid some of the missteps they made on their way to success. I am also interested in watching how this all plays out for everyone in the next few years. I hope many of you can be supported solely by new media and that there is a greater understanding from the studios with how to utilize and promote internet content.

Now to some things that wound up on the cutting room floor: one more serious, and one more fun. First, I questioned them quite intensely on the issues that YouTube has with their view counter. Why does it freeze in the 300 view range? I understand that YouTube wants to make sure that they are qualified views and not some auto-generated program to bump up the hit count, but The Web Files has experienced view counts frozen for up to 3 months. You never get those views that you missed counted again. It is one of the main reasons we switched over to Blip because we are getting a more accurate read of what our views are, what everyone is enjoying, and what type of content drives them to our site. They defended YouTube and I would expect them too as their success has been driven by the YouTube viewer and as a partner, they have access to customer service representatives. This venue has worked for them, but it may not work for everyone as YouTube becomes saturated with content.

On to the fun! I wore a shirt that quotes an Oscar winning film that I received when I worked the 2007 Academy Award exhibit, Meet the Oscars. I wore it in honor of their hit, Movie Spoilers: Oscar Edition. Many of you know I am a huge Oscar geek because I used to do media work over at the Kodak Theatre, so I am a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. I thought I might try and stump them with my t-shirt. "Well, la-dee-da!" What Best Picture film is that from? The Oscar geek in me was happy to stump them. Do you know what movie it is from? First correct guess wins an NAIAS souvenir gift pack. Comment below and check out the episode if you missed it. Wednesday brings a new episode with Casey McKinnon and Rudy Jahchan of A Comicbook Orange.

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Open Letter to the City of Detroit

Dear Detroit,
I travel to your fair city for 14-16 days each January over the last 3 years for NAIAS. I come in with the masses for press, industry, and preview week and then stay to greet the public with the latest and greatest in the automotive industry. Your city has had a tough time over the last 20 years and I know the current economy has not helped either. But I have to say, for a city that is broke and needs a renaissance, you sure don't want my money. I don't get it. Don't you want me to spend $4 on a small hot chocolate? I was happy to pay for it, but your Starbucks at the Ren Cen had a line close to 45 minutes long. I tried to get soup and a panini in the lobby at Presto Deli by Andiamo at 6:30 PM. You told me...."Closed". That's odd...industry night went until 9 PM. I would figure that there is money to be made in the last 3 hours of the show. My hotel closed their coffee bar at 5 PM, their restaurants at 9 PM, the one place that does serve good food late won't do take out. I'm tired, I worked all day, why can't I take the food to my room? I am happy to tip the server. I know, I know, you want me to pay $18 for a small salad delivered by room service, but you didn't even offer bread with my expensive greens.

So, here's what I don't understand. NAIAS funnels millions of dollars into your city for two weeks, why aren't you trying to accommodate your visitors? Tell your staff they are going to work longer hours, extra days, make more money, and cater to the visitors to your city. Did you ever see Field of Dreams? Remember, "If you build it, he will come?" Trust me, it would work. I will happily give you my dollars. I don't mind spending a couple of extra bucks for conveniences like shorter lines at Starbucks or grabbing a soup at 9:30 PM when I get off of work. Sometimes I feel like at lot of you just quit trying to make this city shine.

While you are at it, please tell your cab drivers to stop trying to rip me off. I know how much it is from Cobo to my hotel. Don't tell me it is $5 more. I am going to only pay you what the meter says. Oh wait, you forgot to run the meter? I am still only paying the metered rate. Cab drivers are the ambassadors to any city. Just ask the Big Apple. Regulate your cabs and visitors will walk away happier and less disgruntled.

I will be back next year, and I hope to see more businesses open, your city flourishing, and a maybe a few more smiles for the guests who just want a hot meal after 12 hours at work. Come on, Detroit, I know you have it in you!

Now, not all of my experiences were bad. Here are a few gems in the Motor City that deserve my money and your money the next time you visit. They were open extra hours, or they had great customer service, or they just added something special to my trip.

Slow's.....Best St. Louis ribs not in St. Louis:

Zoom Cafe for staying open on the weekends so we had a place to eat lunch:

To The Whitney for being the most fabulous place to eat if you are a "Lady Who Lunches":

And to the pastry chef at Iridescence for making my tummy happy with my lantern dessert and to my server who offered up some great suggestions with enthusiasm and a genuine smile.

Thanks for letting me vent, Detroit. See you in 2011!
xo kb

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"The Great Detroit Auto Show Fire of 2010"

You never know who reads your blog, who picks up on your Twitter feed, or where you are going to be quoted. My good friend, Joe Neuberger, kindly informed me via Twitter (again!) that I was quote in a post over at Gawker Media's Jalopnik. If you aren't familiar with Jalopnik, it is a compelling auto news site that I check out frequently during the auto show season.

Head on over to Jalopnik to check out the article and the um, interesting comments that follow or read the article in its entirety below. Thanks, Jalopnik!

Were You At The Great Detroit Auto Show Fire Of 2010?

Reports from those on hand at the Great Detroit Auto Show Fire indicate no fire alarms went off, information was poorly shared, and Cobo Hall was altogether ill-prepared for the incident. Were you there? Have pictures of the aftermath?

The consensus is the fire occurred due to an electric issue with an adapter above the Audi stage that quickly ignited the roof above Audi and spread flames and black smoke around the hall. The response, according to The Booth Babe on DYCWTC, wasn't great:

What's the opposite of urgent? Lackadaisical? Because that's the kind of announcement that was made to evacuate the hall, and it was not backed up by anyone from their crack security team ushering people out. In fact, people were still milling around inside the hall poking around in vehicles a good half hour after the initial announcement. Instead of being led to nearest exits, people were told to go back to the lobby, which meant everyone marched straight towards the fire and smoke.

This reported is backed up by Kristyn Burtt, who writes RedCarpetCloset and is also a product specialist:

Honestly, I am not sure the show should have reopened. We came into a hall that had a strong stench of burnt plastic and all of the fire doors open to the outside. So, the temperature had dropped below 50 degrees in order to blow out the smoke and odor. It was not the healthiest environment to work in, but we plowed through the rest of the shift with headaches and stinging, burning throats.

Curiously, the new management company in charge of Cobo made a big deal this year about preparing for just such an occurrence in an Automotive News story before the show. Gary Brown, the chief construction officer for the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, said they'd fixed a glitch in Cobo's fire system and worked on emergency equipment.

There are emergency battery lights that were dead, and we've replaced those batteries on the emergency system. We've also done a fire protection investigation and inspection that was routine anyway, but we've done it in advance of the auto show."

Since the building didn't burn down it doesn't yet appear there was a major failure of any fire-suppression systems, but it does make us wonder how much of the $3 million was spent on technology or operational training for staff to alert and direct visitors in the event of an emergency and if any was spent, where the money actually went.

We're glad no one was hurt (and for our sake, that the fire didn't happen during media days), but if you were there for the fire, or are there now, drop us a note with photos of the event or aftermath.

Article written by Matt Hardigree

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fire at Cobo Hall at NAIAS

If you were following my tweets or the news today, you might have heard about the fire at Cobo Hall at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. At about 1:20 PM today, a muffled voice commanded over the PA system to evacuate the building and file out in an orderly fashion out the front doors. The PA system sounded like it had not been used since the 1955 Detroit Auto Show so, there was a bit of confusion as to what was happening and what the actual message was telling us. Once we received confirmation from the Cobo Hall security guards, we grabbed our bags and jackets and headed out of the display. I decided to grab a few snapshots on my iPhone on the way out of the building. As we walked towards the Ferrari display, we smelled the burning plastic and saw the smoke........
As we approached the front doors, the smoke got thicker and the smell clearly indicated an electrical fire. Thankfully, the crowd moved in an orderly fashion. No one pushed, everyone was calm, and we moved to front doors in a matter of minutes. The only thing that really struck me as odd was the fact that people waited to get their hand stamped on the way out, creating a huge line of people trying to exit. Um, there is a fire and acrid smoke in the building, please move along. We moved to the right towards Audi where the fire occurred and headed out to an open exit. By the way, we never heard a fire alarm.....

Security let everyone stay in the lobby for quite a while even as the fire trucks pulled up and the firemen assessed the damage. Information on what was happening and if the show would reopen was sparse and often wrong. One security guard would say the building was closed for the day and another would tell us to return in an hour. Many of the auto show teams decided to gather across the street at Zoom Cafe and wait out the evacuation. Once it was determined that the show would be closed for more than an hour, a group of us ventured to one of Detroit's hidden gems....
Yes, that would be Slow's. If you must wait out a fire emergency, do it at the best BBQ place in the MidWest. I happily gorged on St. Louis Ribs, Mac and Cheese, and Green Beans to pass the time. We even managed to top it off with Ryba's chocolate fudge. Yep, a high caloric day!

While we returned to the convention center at 4:45 PM in time for the supposed 5 PM open, Cobo Hall was not ready for the public. The teams were allowed into their displays, but we did not see the public until close to 6:15 PM. Honestly, I am not sure the show should have reopened. We came into a hall that had a strong stench of burnt plastic and all of the fire doors open to the outside. So, the temperature had dropped below 50 degrees in order to blow out the smoke and odor. It was not the healthiest environment to work in, but we plowed through the rest of the shift with headaches and stinging, burning throats. I am not the only one who questioned the reopening of the show, check out The Booth Babe and her take on today's emergency: The Booth Babe. The good news to end this drama was that no one was hurt and everyone exited the building safely. The show reopened and the crowds poured back into to see 2010's offerings.

Before I wrap up here, I want to call out the Detroit Free Press for pulling my photo off of Twitter and not crediting me. I took all of those photos on my iPhone on the way out the door. I don't mind that they used it, but responsible journalism goes a long way--especially when you are a legitimate media outlet.

**UPDATE** A big thanks to Jalopnik and Auto Blog for crediting the photos back to me. I also want to thank the readers of Jalopnik for thinking of creative spoofs for my name. I got a good laugh out of it and the comment section is worth a read.

**SECOND UPDATE** My photo continues to be linked to other publications even to international automotive media: iCarros.

**THIRD UPDATE** Another international view of the day's activities from Brazil: Notícias Automotivas.

**FOURTH UPDATE** Roman Mica of kindly linked to my article and photo. Be sure to check them out too: TFLcar

The Web.Files #27 The Fine Brothers

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Web Files' host, Kristyn Burtt, has a heart-to-heart with The Fine Brothers, Benny and Rafi Fine, about their journey to online fame and, er, fortune as early leaders in the YouTube revolution.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekend Web Watch 2009 Favorites: Camera Obscura

We asked, you voted. One of your favorite episodes was MWG Entertainment's Camera Obscura. It was our Halloween episode in 2009, so it was a fun way to celebrate the holiday. Go back to the behind the scenes look here: Camera Obscura.

If you are looking for this series, it hasn't debuted yet. I'm not sure what is happening with the series, but the buzz was hot and now it is one big question mark. I hope we get an answer from creator, Drew Daywalt, soon because we have some amazing footage with Special Effects Artist, Jeff Farley, that needs to see the light of day.

Be sure to check out the episode if you missed it the first time:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Behind the Scenes of The Bannen Way

Ah, The Bannen Way. So much excitement, so much buzz, so much.....controversy? Yes, controversy. We stepped into this interview during a heated week of discussion by the web series community on the internet regarding The Streamys nomination process. SONY decided to launch the first three episodes of The Bannen Way before the scheduled launch date in order to qualify for the 2010 awards. Jesse Warren, the director/creator of The Bannen Way, dove right into the controversy at the beginning of the episode and I really appreciated that. I think we addressed the issue and answered any lingering questions. We did delve a bit deeper than what you saw, but I do think the Streamys will update their rules for 2011. It is a constantly evolving nomination process and just like The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences updating their rules year to year after 82 years in business, this will be no different.

So, let's push that aside, and talk about how much fun this web series is: slick, sleek, and sexy. Mark Gantt and Jesse did start this project independently and I was fascinated how they even procured a Jaguar for their shoot. It was a process that was all new to them as this was an idea developed by them to gain more ground in their film/TV careers. Once SONY jumped on board, they really hit the ground running with name actors to flesh out some of the roles. I might add that I think this is the best role I have seen Vanessa Marcil in yet. The web series model is constantly changing, but I believe The Bannen Way is going to change the web series scenery as it has set a new standard for web series production. Now is every web series going to look like this? No, of course not. I do think it will challenge all of the independent creators to set new goals for themselves. Let's see what happens to the web series landscape in the next 12-18 months. I am excited to see what the future holds.

It is always fun to unmask the crew behind the scenes, so let me introduce Perry Payne, who may be familiar to some, but he is our editing guru and DP on The Web Files, and Lucas Plouviez, our Camera Op for The Bannen Way episode. Without all of their hard work, we wouldn't have a show! So, thank you for your continued dedication to The Web Files.

Finally, the dress and belt. It is another fantastic find from Roni B. Roni is magic when it comes to styling wardrobe for a shoot, so be sure to tell her I sent you. Makeup was courtesy of e.l.f. Cosmetics and my awesome earrings in this episode were a Christmas gift from our makeup artist, Melissa Anchondo. You need to watch the episode to see them close up.

So, watch the episode right here! See what the buzz, controversy, and excitement is all about.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Donate to Haitian Relief

Today is not a day to talk about what happened in Hollywood or what I wore or who I talked to. Today is a day to think about others in need. Please consider donating to the Haitian Earthquake victims who are suffering so greatly. There are three main ways to donate:

1. Your Money
2. Your Time
3. Your Blood

I hope you join me in finding a way to help the Haitian community. I am donating via the American Red Cross where 100% of the proceeds go directly to the victims. Together, we can all make a difference.

*Updated* I added the link to Doctors Without Borders, another amazing charity that is responding to the tragedy.

The Web.Files #26 The Bannen Way

Web Files' host, Kristyn Burtt, hits the jackpot with the creators and executive producers of The Bannen Way, series star Mark Gantt and director Jesse Warren. Heres a hot tip: its aces!

Formats available: Flash Video (.flv)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Behind the Scenes of Dorm Life

When I say in the cold open of this episode, "Everyone asked me about this show", I wasn't kidding. It was my dog sitter that continually asked me about doing an interview with Dorm Life which led to a friend on Facebook, a web series producer at New Media Vault, and a group of web series stars at a holiday party all asking about Hulu's #1 rated web series. Well, it's here and it was fun! It was actually my friend, Annie Mureau, who put me in touch with Jordan Riggs over at Attention Span Media. It was a long process since they wanted to wait until there was news to deliver. That is always a smart strategy with media and interviews (take note, web series producers), so we waited until the launch of their Season 1 DVD.

Sandra secured our fantastic school book store location over at LA Valley College at the end of their school semester. People were turning in their old text books for cash and we were hitting the books to find out more about the creators of Dorm Life. Chris Smith, Jack De Sena, and Brian Singleton proved to be an entertaining interview. They were funny, engaging, and demonstrated why their show is so popular. Dorm living is a rite of passage here in the U.S., it is that first bit of freedom we get as a young adult. Some of the stories that come out of dorm living may frighten parents, but, man, those were some fun times! That is exactly why Dorm Life is successful....solid writing about an experience we all can relate to.

They started their project while they were at UCLA and it became a great calling card for all of the young writers and stars. Remember, they have up to 14 writers on this show, so it is truly a collaborative process. They have created two successful seasons landing them at the top of Hulu's most watched web series. Will they make it to Season 3? That is still a big question mark for them and I didn't get any definitive answers from them because I truly believe that they don't know. All of the fans will just have to wait or just let them know what you want, let your voice be heard. It is the fans who demanded longer episodes from Dorm Life and they delivered in Season 2, so give the guys a shout out for Season 3.

One of my favorite moments that didn't make the episode is that Brian Singleton's mom has taken it upon her self to be cast as Marshall Adams' mother, the character played by Brian. She will respond on social media sites about her "son" when viewers make comments about Marshall. Not only is she new media savvy, but she's funny. Guess we know where Brian inherited his humor.

Finally, a quick shout out to my friend, Ali North, who saved the wardrobe day with my awesome shirt that she gave me for my birthday. It was our last shoot for 2009 and I had nothing to wear, until she dropped off my present the night before. Thanks, Ali!

If you haven't seen our episode of Dorm Life, check it out here:

Friday, January 8, 2010


Well, look at that! What a great way to start off 2010, with an unexpected win for The Web Files for "Best Web Original Non-Fiction Show" as a part of Clicker's Best of 2009. The competition was incredible with shows like A Comicbook Orange, Hungry Nation (who I am dying to interview), and New Media Minute. It's hard to imagine that we started this show only 6 months ago because we have been so welcomed into the web space. We appreciate your votes, views, and all of the support. Thank you!

We look forward to bringing you more in 2010. We kicked off the year with Dorm Life, Hulu's #1 most watched web series and next week brings The Bannen Way, the most anticipated show of the last year on Please keep that feedback coming, we want to bring you the shows you want to hear more about.

Finally, a shout out to our fellow web winners in other categories: Compulsions, Casual Mafia, The Legend of Neil, and Live from the Future with Stuart Paap! Congratulations on your win, guys!

Articles about the win:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Web.Files #25 Dorm Life

Web Files' host, Kristyn Burtt, hits the books. She gets a lesson in how to succeed in New Media from creators Chris Smith, Jack De Sena and Brian Singleton, who earn an A+ from fans of their hit show, Dorm Life the top viewed web series on

Monday, January 4, 2010

For Your Consideration: Best Hosted Web Series

Awards season is in full swing here in LA: SAG Awards, Golden Globes, Oscars, and yes, The Streamys. Jeff Elwell of Web Series 2 Watch kindly provided a suggested list of shows for Best Hosted Web Series including The Web Files. Public nominations end in the next few weeks, so if you are enjoying The Web Files, please help us out with a nomination. You will find the voting icon on the upper right hand corner of this page.

Read Jeff's article: Web Series 2 Watch
And thank you for your support!

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