The original cast of BYUtv’s “Studio C” asked fans to fund new work. Here’s what $ 1 million bought.

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The fan reaction to the first season of Freelancers – an online comedy about friends starting a video production company with virtually no money – delighted the actors who did it on a really tight budget.

The eight episodes of season one reached 7 million views after debuting on YouTube in March 2019. Studios.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the group shot videos from home, members received “so many comments” asking for more “freelance” episodes, executive producer Natalie Madsen said.

While Season 2 debuted this month and releases a new episode every week through mid-December, the group has done more than just resuming the project.

JK! The studios raised more than $ 1 million in funding after working with Provo-based Angel Studios last year to crowdfund season two. “This is the first time we’ve really reached out to our fan base and said, ‘Hey, do you want to invest in the show and help us make it?’ and they did, ”said Madsen.

“When something is on the Internet and it gets a lot of views, it’s always a surprise because there is just so much to see,” said Madsen. “[So] It’s so humbling and exciting that people get excited about something you do. “

Thanks to the much larger budget, she said, Season 2 features longer episodes (18-25 minutes each, compared to Season 1 nine-20 minutes each), better production quality, more characters, and even a musical episode due in December.

“We just wanted to get up in every way,” said Madsen. “And I really think we did.”

The shift in season 2

The group’s “Studio C” sketches soared online; at the time the actors left JK! Studios, the show’s YouTube channel, had nearly 2 million subscribers and more than a billion views in total. One sketch alone – starring Matthew Meese, who plays cameraman Ryan in “Freelancers” – has been viewed more than 62 million times.

But JK! Studios is now hoping that their audience will move away from YouTube and download the Angel Studios app to see his new work.

Angel Studios was previously known as VidAngel, which Hollywood’s studios sued for its practice of filtering nudity, violence, and profanity from movies. The lawsuit that ended last year resulted in VidAngel agreeing to pay Disney and Warner Bros. $ 9.9 million in installments over the next 14 years.

JK! Studios, which launched in January 2019, is focused on family-friendly comedy. Ahead of the first episode of Season 2 of Freelancer, which is available on YouTube, Madsen assures fans, “We love our YouTube community” and says the team “wanted to put episode one on YouTube”.

Then she warns: “But you can’t always count on entire episodes to be seen on YouTube.”

She and Stacey Harkey, who plays the sound mixer Micah on Freelancers, then urge fans to download the Angel Studios app to see the full episodes, fan experiences, merchandise and other extras as early as possible. (Season 1 is available both in the app and on YouTube.)

Comedy for everyone

“Freelancers” was created by former “Studio C” actor Mallory Everton and is co-produced by JK! Studios.

“It’s very meta because we’re all best friends trying to make [videos]”Said Madsen. “In a roundabout way, it is definitely based on us and our cooperation.”

The show follows editor Devin (played by Everton), cinematographer Ryan, sound mixer Micah, producer Arizona (Whitney Call) and director Owen (Stephen Meek) as they try to get their video production company off the ground.

In season 1, they stumble from one botched gig to the next, dealing with everything from nosy neighbors and ex-bosses to the curse of a psychological medium and Arizona’s short-lived relationship with a chainsaw killer (seriously, it’s a thing).

The show’s comedy is based on the struggles of video production (difficult clients, power outage on deadline), but it never gets so niche specific that the average viewer doesn’t appreciate it.

“Freelancers” also draw heavily on shared life experiences. For example, anyone who has ever dealt with the ups and downs of dating apps will appreciate episodes four and five of the first season.

And true to JK! Studios brand, the show is completely clean. “Our brand of comedy is, we want to be inclusive, we want to be welcoming,” said Madsen. “It’s so exciting for us to think that a 10 year old and his grandma can laugh at the same show.”

The future of the show will depend on how the current season goes, Madsen said, but they’d like to keep doing “freelancers”.

For now, though: “My hope and dream is that families will snuggle up over Thanksgiving, Christmas and the [show] and laugh a lot, ”she says. “Because it’s so weird and so funny and I’m super proud of it.”

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