David Cross has thrown his comedic weight behind a nascent Web channel called FKR.TV, which he is co-developing alongside Frenchkiss Records' founder Syd Butler in conjunction with Orchard Video Network. Launched six months ago, FKR.TV has more than 6,000 subscribers and hosts nine shows -- most made on a super-indie budget of about $500 per episode.
"One of the first things I told Syd when he approached me with the idea is that nobody is going to give a [crap] about making a video for us with so little money unless they get to own it," said Cross, who met Butler backstage at a rock show over a decade ago.
"So it's still their piece, it's just on our channel. ... Nobody's getting rich off this thing, at least not yet, but it seems like a very equitable process creatively."
Butler said he was inspired to start a channel because he was tired of listening to his "successful, talented friends complaining that their agents weren't calling them for work."
"There're are no rules, that's the great thing about this time in the world," said Butler, who plays bass in FKR's flagship band, Les Savy Fav, which is fronted by the outrageous singer Tim Harrington, who also stars on FKR.TV's first series, "Song of the Wild," (a cross between "The Hunger Games" and "American Idol" in which five musicians have to survive in the woods with the winner getting a recording contract).
"Vimeo, YouTube and other sites are breaking down those fundamentals. If you have an iPhone, you can edit a movie in seconds," he said.
Butler compares the endeavor to running an indie music label: "You don't have to put out a band that sells a million copies, you can put out a band that sells 1,000 and that's awesome. It's about managing expectations. And viewers are less judgmental about the production of the content; they care about laughing and being entertained."
That's the catch with most of what becomes successful in the streaming universe these days. Funny just seems to work better.
"You're not going to have 'Breaking Bad or 'Game of Thrones' or any of those shows on a YouTube channel," Cross said. "And people are always going to have an appetite for that, especially as more of the silly, looser, cheaper stuff is being screened."
And much of what is on FKR.TV is silly and loose, but the channel's shows possess the blissed-out levity that comes with artistic freedom, and most contain some real laugh-out-loud moments.
Of particular note is one of FKR.TV's newest shows, called "Law of the Land," which was co-created by and stars actress/comedian Ali MacClean as nymphomaniac CIA officer Phoebe Rose Quackenberry.
A spoof-a-minute cross between "Homeland" and "24," the debut episode of "Law of the Land" finds Quakenberry trying to foil a Bahamian terrorist plot to bomb the Hatchet Body Spray Factory.
As Quackenberry tries to make out with a suspect she is interrogating, he says the Bahamians hate Americans because of their "beer-can hats and fuchsia Crocs, stinking up our beaches with your Hatchet body spray."
Another show called "Buyer's Remorse" follows the demonic heartache experienced by a washed-up pop star who buys a house that ends up being haunted a la "American Horror Story."
Although FKR.TV is just beginning to spread its wings, Butler and Cross said they have high hopes for what it can accomplish, and believe they can ultimately produce shows on a level with Ben Stiller's Yahoo Web series "Burning Love," which was nominated for an Emmy and was picked up by E! for a TV run.
"It's just a bunch of guys in the office at this point," said Cross, who is curating and soliciting much of the content, mainly from friends. "We don't have the time or personnel to sift through all those [blind submissions] yet."
To watch FKR.TV, go to: www.fkr.tv
Streamland is a series of blog posts on Show Tracker devoted to examining TV shows and shorts made exclusively for a streaming audience. As more and more viewers watch programming on smartphones, tablets and laptops, Streamland will work to highlight interesting and unique offerings from all corners of the digital universe. Please feel free to drop me tips at email@example.com