Monday, April 19, 2010

Girl Number 9 at the Streamy Awards

I love America, I really do. They have an infinite combination of interesting foods and beverages, any of which you can get at any time of the day or night. It's a much more civilised way of doing things. However, with great choice comes the inevitable abuse of power. This, surely, is a sign of the apocalypse:

Last week I went to Los Angeles with Dan Turner to attend the 2nd annual Streamy Awards. Girl Number 9 was nominated for 5 of them, which was a huge validation for us - just being included in a lineup with big names like The Guild was very cool and a real honour. Back when we were thinking up the idea in the Star Cafe in Soho last year, we had no idea that our little project would get so much attention. We didn't win anything on the night, which was obviously disappointing, but overall it feels like a win that we were even there. While in town we managed to "take" a few meetings, too, which all went very well. Why do people say they "take" meetings? I have them, or attend them, I don't take them anywhere.

And now Girl Number 9 has been snapped up by distribution company Fireworks International, who will get it seen by many more people this year, so our freakishly mutated baby is growing up even faster. But what was it like for a small town farmboy with just a few dreams and broken droids to be thrust into a galactically important event? Shall I tell you? Shall I?? Oh, go on, then.

Blah blah breakfast, blah blah preparations, blah blah travel. Cut to: Me and Dan, dressed in our finest smart-casual gear, arriving at the fancy schmancy Orpheum Theatre in downtown Hollywood. They had valet parking (more on that later), and a huge red carpet area over by the entrance, which we were due to walk down:

Gulp. I've done lots of press things before and am used to it, but crowds freak me out a bit, especially when they're all looking at me. We were met by our "handler", who then handed us over to the PR lady from Girl Number 9's new distribution company. She came with us on the red carpet and held up a piece of paper with our photos, names, and the title of our show - that way the interviewers could pretend they knew exactly who we were without any prompting. Dan's photo was of Joe Absolom, but nobody seemed to notice. Each group of people had their own "handler", each one holding their own piece of paper in silence, which was a bizarre sight. The first section was a horde of photographers, and our job was to stare at them in terror and look awkward while they took photos:

Photo by

Then on to the next section where we got interviewed several million times by various people from websites, news channels, and so on. In the middle there was a big bed, for some reason, with a loud, comedy guy who shouted jokey questions at us and waited for us to hurry up and answer so he could shout his next joke. I made a quick joke, which he immediately countered with another, and then just got even louder, as if to make it clear who the comedian was. Then we were quickly moved along so he could do it all again with the next batch of people.

There were more interviews in the next section, and I was running out of things to say. Most of the interviewers were really nice, but some were completely dead-eyed and just stared blankly whenever we made jokes. Or maybe our jokes were just shit. Met the very cool Zoetica Ebb, who I recognised from The Internets, and had a brief chat with after she took our photos. On to the next interviewer, and I started rambling about how Streamy attention for a small UK show was a good example of the American dream in action. Good line, but I just. Kept. Fucking. Talking. Going on about the web being a new frontier, like the gold rush days, and we were going to find a piece of internet land, stake our internet claim, and… raise internet horses. I stopped, amazed at my own nonsense. She laughed, so I pretended it was a deliberate joke and joined in.

And then the next one, and the next one, and the next, a never ending row of people who would interview us and then politely wait while we got shuffled on. It was like a constant replay of that scene in Grosse Point Blank when they get their name tags at the reunion, awkwardness and all. Strangest question was from an environmental website, and a funny interviewer with amazing tattoos, who asked if there were any eco friendly messages in Girl Number 9. I thought fast, and said the dim lighting in the police station was a message about turning off unnecessary lights. I then started going on about "creative juices oozing from our every pore", for some reason, which made her laugh and then actually blush. Hey, I was running on fumes, and was grabbing the jokes where I could. She was the last interviewer, and we gratefully escaped into the lobby. Took about 30 or 40 minutes altogether, but only felt like about 6 hours or so.

In the lobby, we clung to one wall, staring at the people who were there. All around us were cool, stylish, good looking people with deep tans and expensive outfits. We were two pasty, unfit Brits who had somehow snuck our way into the building. One guy had a lot of makeup on. I mean, a LOT. I kept staring at him, fascinated, and he caught me a few times. I couldn't help it, he fascinated me - he had dark orange skin, thick, augmented eyebrows, badly dyed hair, eyeliner, and flesh tone lipstick, like he'd painted a matinee idol face over his own. I think I fell in love with him a little bit for daring to leave the house looking like a Thunderbird puppet.

I knocked back a drink to calm down, and a Twix because we hadn't eaten since breakfast and had to leave the hotel at 2pm. No time for lunch or love, Dr Jones, we were getting ready. And there was no food there at all, not even to buy, apart from chocolate and crisps. We wandered around, and saw Robert Englund, Felicia Day, James Gunn, Ted Raimi, Fran Kranz - and Patrick Duffy, randomly. Turns out he has a web series, Patrick Duffy and the Crab. I know. It's very funny though, check it out.

Finally, we went to get our seats for the ceremony. Other people have had a lot to say about what happened, so I won't dwell on it. But you don't honour new, innovative web media by belittling the industry, telling us that we're wasting our time on something crappy nobody will ever see, and that we'll never make money from it. It was a huge honour to be nominated for the Streamys, but the ceremony whittled that away over several hours, and made me embarrassed to think that people I cared about were watching. If you did watch, I'm sorry, I had no idea it would be like that. Hopefully things will be better next year, it sounds like steps are already being taken to address it.

While I'm on the subject, if you're attending a 3+ hour show, please don't bring *incredibly* stinky food with you, talk loudly amongst yourselves and on your phones, and then try and tell me that my seat was reserved for your group, when I have a ticket for this exact seat *and* a reservation placed on the seat itself. You stinky-food-eating, obnoxiously loud wanker.

Once it was all over, we went back to the car park with a valet parking ticket, but no car. Or keys. Nobody seemed to know what was going on, and we weren't the only ones wandering around. Finally, someone came out and told us to go out the car park, turn right, walk about a block, cross the road, walk about another block, find the first big car park on the right, and the guy in there would give us our car. Not exactly "valet" parking, but hey, as long as we get our car back. We went there, and ended up standing around waiting for our car, with Ted Raimi and Felicia Day (both of whom I wanted to say hello to, but didn't want to hassle them when they didn't know if their cars would ever arrive). The parking attendant had all the keys in a box in the back of his car, which was actually pretty funny. Not so funny for people at the after-party, who weren't told what was going on - see James Gunn's blog for his version of hunt-the-car in the rain. Thankfully our car arrived, and we escaped.

After a succession of failed attempts to find somewhere to eat, and a slight temper tantrum from Toddler Jimbo, we ended up at the Aroma cafe on Sunset Boulevard. I had a steak and three margaritas, as I was feeling very sorry for myself. Until I saw what a shit evening the waitress was having - customers hassling her, plates dropped, chaos everywhere. And *I* was having a bad day, because I hadn't won any awards?? What a spoilt bastard! I cheered up once I realised I was being a petulant swine, and we both tried to make the waitress laugh to counteract the douchey customers at the next table.

It was a really cool flying visit, and all because of what we did. We made a great show that we're really proud of. Lots of people liked it. And it got nominated for 5 awards, at an event alongside several huge budget, sponsored web shows. We did that, we achieved that. And that, in the end, was our big win. Although those margaritas were very nice too.