maandag 11 juni 2012

Why I can't help but smile when I think of Felicia Day

If you haven't heard of Felicia Day, you are truly missing out. She's amazing and a real example for everyone wanting to work in the new media industry. The first time she came across my path was in - where else? - Buffy the Vampire Slayer, episode 7x11 'Showtime'. She played the role of potential slayer Vi and she immediately made an impression. Vi was funny, timid and kinda anxious and I was really happy when she survived. Even in the couple of episodes (eight in total) on Buffy her character grew. Compared to her life, however, it's nothing. In real life, she's a game changer. 

Watch the Guild
In 2007 this great independent sitcom WEB SERIES about a group of online gamers came across my path, called The Guild. Because I was still a student at the time and my main interest is the use of new/modern (social) media in movie and television culture this show was perfect for me. I studied film and television at the university and I'm also a big fan of audience participation and/or acknowledgement. So when I found out that Felicia Day (creator and actress) had made a web series specifically for the world wide web (with Kim Evey and Jane Selle Morgan), I was extatic. Even better was that it's a great show and the first season was solely financed by LOYAL FANS.  Hello, future of series!

The show was a succes and still is. They already have five seasons and other companies wanted to distribute it, like Xbox Live, YouTube and Microsoft. It's one of those things that just pops up and takes off. As is the case with good shows, they win a lot of awards. And this web series is no exception. What's so great about this show is they have an amazing cast of characters. It's really funny and even if you are not a gamer - because I'm not - it doesn't go above your head. You don't believe me? Watch the first ep below:

(Webisode 1x01 - Wake-Up Call)

Of course I do believe that, if you are a gamer, it would be even more enjoyable. As in many shows, there are a lot of inside jokes, references to other games and such. I won't get them, but regular gamers probably will. Every season is different and fresh and there are great guest appearances (Wil Wheaton, Nathan Fillion and.... Stan Lee, people!). In short: There is no reason to not watch this show.
There is however one thing that's less great. Because it's a web series, the webisodes are short: from three to eight minutes. However, this makes it easy to catch up on, or simply watch in between doing other things. But it also means that it's over before you know it. You wish there was more and that webisodes were longer. Luckily, there are already five season now and they are available on dvd (or what have you), so you can simply watch hours on end!

As it goes with things that are a succes, there will be more. The Guild now has dvds as I mentioned before, but it also has it's own comics - even more stories!, - songs, T-shirts - about the show but also as part of the storyline - and so much more. From trading cards to soda's, posters and costumes. What more could you ask for?  

Music vids
I like these kinds of vids. I love it when a show I watch has a 'special' episode, like one that's in the spirit of Halloween or Christmas. The Guild is no exception. They make Christmas vids in which they sing carrols, totally in the theme of the show. It shows the creativity and love they have for what they are making and it's pure enjoyment. Their music vids are just as catching. The first time you hear the song, it stays in your head and in a short while you will be singing along. And the vids really look amazing. The costumes, the setting, it's all funny and it just amazes me how they pull it off. *Takes a deep bow* Instead of just telling you about it, here are some examples.

(Christmas vid from The Guild)

(Music vid 'Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?')

(and finally the music vid 'I'm the One That's Cool')

Looking at all of this, it's safe to say that The Guild isn't inferior to any other show that's on television right now. It has the great characters and great actors, storylines that keep you invested in the show, a catchy tune, various distribution channels, merchandising, songs and a loyal fan base. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but I think I made my point. Turns out, this was only paving the way. Because now, Felicia Day has her own channel... Not just any channel, but a YouTube Channel. So much better than television ;-). 

Busy little beaver
Beside all of this work, she also keeps on acting in different things. Just to paint a better picture of Felicia Day as an actress, here are some titles she appeared in:

- Bring it On Again (movie)
- Lie to Me (series)
- Dollhouse (series)
- Supernatural (series)
- Eureka (series)
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (web series)
- Dragon Age: Redemption (web series -kinda a PR thing for the video game I believe).

An even better way to show who she is, would be to share some YouTube-vids of her, like her speech at the Streamy Awards or something, but there's just to much. So if you like, simply look her up on YT or at her personal site: .

Her own channel: Geek & Sundry
The popularity of The Guild is so big and she's so creative that she took it even further. Not only does she have her own web series, she also has her own YouTube Channel. It's called Geek & Sundry and it's basically like a television channel. It has several shows, with new episodes every week or so. There's something for everyone, because they are:

- The Flog: Felicia Day trying out something new every week (about 10 minutes).
- Dark Horse Motion Comics: They work together with Dark Horse Comics and make Motion Comics of already existing stories, like Hellboy (webisodes are about 6 minutes).
- Table Top: Wil Wheaton is the host in this show where he plays table top games with celebrities (about 30 minutes!)
- Sword and Laser: Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt give the scoop on Sword and Laser.
- The Guild: As of now, all the seasons of the hit web series can be found/watched here.
- Above and Beyond: I believe this was added later. It's a category where (cool and creative) stuff made by talented fans for the makers of the channel can be found.

Pretty much every show also has extra's, like interviews, gag reels or behind-the-scenes footage. Just like a television channel, it has you tunning in each week for more. The best thing about it, is that you can totally watch it in your own time. You don't have to DVR, record or download it. It's always there and it's not going anywhere. Also, if you have internet, you can watch it anywhere. So you can watch in on your laptop in bed, on a couch or well... wherever. Easy, peasy.

My two favorite shows on her channel are Table Top and The Flog. On Table Top I will only say that I really like it, because I like playing board games. It's something that I still do with my family and it's just a lot of fun. It's just a lot of fun watching Wil Wheaton explaining the rules and the goal while playing the game with friends, family and/or colleages. This can be guests who work either in front of the camera or behind the scenes. If you haven't seen it, you really should check it out. Best ep so far for me? Settlers of Catan, because I have played it a couple of times myself and it's just fun to see them trying to do it :P. 

The Flog
Why do I like the Flog? Well, for one, I don't like it: I love it. Each week there's the fave five, which is basically a list of five things that Felicia recommends. It can be anything. From sites and games to books and people you 'should' follow on twitter. It brings fun new things to your attention and gives you a possibility to discover them.
The main, and middle, part of the episode is a segment in which Felicia learns something new each week. From the art of ice sculpting and dancing to learning how to handle a bulldozer and simply doing a Neo-Victorian photoshoot. It's interesting to see how some things are made, how things work and simply to see Felicia work hard to master the crafts. She's very interested and it's great to get a kind of 'behind-the-scenes' look at some craftmanships. These are things that you hardly stand still for and take two seconds to think about. That's what makes it very entertaining.
The third, and final, part is a letter. Felicia Day reads one of the letters she recieved and answers them, with a voice-over. It shows a commitment to the fans and the audience participation that is really appreciated by her.
She also asks viewers of her flog to recommend some of their 'fave fives' or to write a letter. But what I like most about her and about this show is that she can be herself. She does things that - I think - she is really interested in and she presents it totally in her own way. And it's a great way. Just take a look at the first ep. New eps on Monday (so, yes, that's today!)

Future of television
While this may not be the exact future of television and while I don't think that television will ever disappear (just like the awesome shows that I watch too many of), I do think that this is a future of television. An online channel, with online independent web shows, created by inspiring people with a direct connection and appriciation of their viewers. There's no cost, though - like with The Guild - I think that donations for making shows or movies will be seen more and more (Hello, kickstarter!). So, why can't I help but smile when I think of Felicia Day? It's easy. To me, she's what the future will (hopefully) look like. Creative people who get turned down by big companies can still make it, she's shown that. And she can simply say: screw them. Because she's succesful, and she has a lot going for her. When I think of Felicia I think about all of that and that makes me smile (Come on, who does like does big companies who won't give people a chance because they think or are different?). I simply cannot help but love her. I am certainly no gamer, but she seems like a great person. I also admire her for her entrepeneurism and the guts it takes to do all she does.

I smile when I think of Felicia Day because of everything she has done and is doing. She inspires me and makes me look forward to the future of 'television' or some kind of hybrid form. I think it's exciting and Felicia really deserves a lot of credit. Other than that, I really like the way she comes across. There's a Dutch actress, Carice van Houten, and whenever you see her or hear her talk, I get the feeling she's really herself. Sometimes goofy, but always fun. And I get the same feeling with Felicia Day. It makes me like her as a person, not just as an actress or a character. That's why I will leave you with this advice: Check her channel and/or site out. You won't regret it!


Follow Felicia Day:!/feliciaday

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