Ever wonder what it takes to start a webisode outside of the creative production? Julian Breece one of the creators of Buppies took some time out of his schedule to give us the “Blueprint”.
How did you come up with the concept for Buppies?
Buppies was an idea I had in film school and it was inspired by the identity struggles I saw a lot of my friends go through post-college. The show deals with what I call “the journey back to square one.” It’s about five young adults figuring out what they really want and who they really are.
How did you pitch your idea (pilot show, etc)? How many people did you pitch to?
Unfortunately, there’s no infrastructure for pitching webseries. I pitched Buppies as a TV series right after film school. A big production company was attached and one studio loved it so much that we just knew we were getting a deal. But then the execs started asking questions like, “How do we get people in middle-America to watch this?” and “Will white teenagers watch a show with an all black cast?” From there our TV prospects faded, but a few years later I started to see great web series like Quarterlife and Prom Queen pop up. I became fascinated with the web space and had a feeling that Buppies would fit right in. I reworked the show for the web in 2008 and we ended up shooting it independently.
How much and how long did it take for you all to produce the show?
I finished the script in early 2008 and we started casting. That took about two months. We shot the show in June for five days on location. The real monster was post-production, which took place over a year of starting and stopping. When you’re working with an ultra-low budget that tends to happen unfortunately. Luckily it all worked out.
How is the deal structured? Did you sell the series outright, is it a rev share on the ad revenue, etc? How is this different (or similar) to how traditional television series deals are structured?
BET acquired the show through a content license. That’s how most web series deals work. It’s more cost-effective to license a finished project for a term than it is to produce or buy it. An outright-buy is extremely rare unless there’s a studio or distribution entity involved early on. But again that model is very rare and very new.
What are you thoughts on the web series market for African-American media (potential, etc.)?
I think the market is tremendous, but it’s still considerably under the radar. There’s a severe lack of black content on TV and in theaters, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t significant demand. If there’s quality black content on the web, the same neglected eyeballs that desire black films and TV shows will eventually shift to their computer screens. And let’s face it, broadband is the future for motion picture content, so watching content on the web isn’t a step down, it’s a step into the next phase.
Is this the only web series you all will be doing, can we expect more?
This first go round has been an incredible ride and it’s definitely just the beginning. Right now my producing partner Aaliyah and I are looking at a variety of options for continuing Buppies, and we’re in talks to shoot a new web series and a film project through our company, Game Theory Films. All that to say, it’s a very exciting time.
How is Buppies performing so far?
Buppies is doing very well. It’s exceeding everyone’s expectations. In its first month the site received over 5 million page views, which is unheard of for a new series. That means people are discovering the show and returning for more content, which is exactly what you want. In a little over a week our Facebook fan numbers doubled and the feedback has been tremendous. The cast and I have been overwhelmed by how deeply people have gotten involved in the Buppies world and truly relate to the characters. To that end, I have to give it up to BET and Covergirl for believing in the show from the beginning and really sticking by it. So far we’re looking at an across-the-board new media success story and I couldn’t be more grateful.
If you could give one piece of advice to an up and coming web series producer what would it be?
I’d say definitely do a little homework first. Trends and technologies in this space are advancing fast, so even before you start considering scripts, look at other series to see what’s working and what isn’t. Then really think about how you’d like your show to add to that conversation. Other than that, I’d just say go for it. There’s tremendous opportunity in cyberspace so I’d encourage anyone who’s interested to strike while the iron’s hot.
Here is a video of Julian talking more about Buppies: