VGHS: Season One Roundup (2012)

So this round up/mixed content/thoughts on VGHS, and is going to explain some of the indirect links to YouTube. So take it in and understand the brilliance (or demise) of their creative work.

To begin, the YouTube channel freddiew which I first stumbled upon from their Chrono Trigger video when viewing a Video Copilot post a couple of years ago. Ever since, I have seen all their videos, grown with them, and learnt a hell of a lot of film knowledge from just viewing. There’s more to that, but in a nut shell that’s how I first “met” Freddie Wong and Brandon Laatsch. The same occurred with Corridor Digital, where I first found them in freddiew’s videos as extras, and then their public announcement to support the new channel. Likewise occurred with Jimmy Wong (who plays Ted Wong) and his channel, jimmy. Somewhere in that timeframe the internet introduced 5 Second Films and with it Brian Firenzi (who plays The Law), while Wong Fu Productions somehow made my subscription list too and Harley Morenstein (plays Dean Ernie Calhoun) when he first appeared in Epic VFX Time.

What this is trying to say is this web series has been a long time coming, and expectation from all the viewers in the land of YouTube. We always ask, beg, and rant that they (being the ‘Tubers) should make something great, and lengthy. This is after all what we want to watch because sitting at a computer and devoting time to video content is difficult when there is extreme levels of distracting items.

But what does this all have to do with VGHS? Well the call out to funding was a beginning of something I had never seen firstly, in Australia (on a global internet scale), and secondly, for a web series. Traditionally, you would gain funding on your own accord and be run by the studio, however, the Rocket Jump team often go for more futuristic models (which I wholeheartedly believe is the way to go). Yet it’s not only the entire way it is placed together, but VGHS is indeed a compilation1 of all of the aforementioned YouTubers, locations, connections, that is what you see. You can really only see that if you have followed each channel on their daily, weekly, occasional channel, but its there.

So the series threw me off at first when I saw the suburban housing, and high school environment because these aren’t the people i’ve known to see work in. It’s either the loft, or the highway, their bedroom, but regardless it’s always the same familiar place. I questioned the authenticity of such a series on the basis that these are creators from film school, working on film sets, and then being released into the internet restricted by only their imaginations. But they swiftly pulled me back in.

I read around on people’s initial reactions to the series because like all of the big studios that want to know if online web series is indeed profitable, I wanted to know is it enjoyable. But from the countless comments, tweets, status updates, many people were fixated on the one thing that made me know this is just like YouTube. The flying bike.

See Matthew Arnold’s written response on the charaterisation in episode one(link expired).

But to be this flying tandem-bike is more than just what they say. It’s over six years of YouTube, countless jobs, numerous inclusions for the general public to say, “we may have a huge online budget, and big name stars, as well as really recognisable YouTubers, while some of these other characters are professional, we ultimately are the same”. And in that, VGHS plays on a different note to the audience, immersing them into years of content, rather than what is presented here and now.

From every characterisation, to line delivered, this series had more to battle with than any film set. Watching a film you are expected to believe the actors are apart of that setting. You may have seen them elsewhere but if they aren’t playing themselves, you know that their doing their job – acting. But play that context onto YouTubers, and you don’t know what to expect. Does iJustine play Justine or a character? Am I meant to know Harley talks like that in Epic Meal Time, or is that just the character he is going to be given? These are aspects that a freddiew fan had to contemplate even before you understand any of the episode characteristics. I can’t decide for you fans and die hards but to me I think they succeeded on this level, and for me that was the greatest achievement.

So where does this leave the rest of the episodes, and the series as a whole?

To simply put it. This is the bar. In terms of quality, story, execution, performance, and scheduling, this is what other YouTubers, and companies are going to base their work off. And you can already see some of it occurring with Corridor Digital’s S.Y.N.C., while to compare it to Mystery Guitar Man’s, Once Upon… it’s clear which was more effective and enjoyable to an audience. Everything on this project makes me expect future web series to be played out exactly like this.

If you love gaming, innovation, and romance, then you’ll enjoy VGHS. If you’ve followed freddiew, admired the teams execution, or blown away for the quality over platform, then you’ll love VGHS. And if you want to see somebody else besides Tarantino reference a bajillion other films, video games, or pop culture then you’ll love VGHS. It has something for everyone, and most definitely make you a fan of all the actors involved. It is a recommendation beyond quality, but a benchmark for internet video.

Again, to read individual in-depth reviews of each episode use this:


1 If you watch all the behind-the-scenes of VGHS, and all of freddiew, freddiew2, Corridor Digital, and samandniko, fuse them together, and understand all the connections, locations, and ideas, you’ll see that VGHS is apart of that world, just like the Tarantino film world theories.