Thoughts from series writer/creator James Rodehaver
Making a show or a movie, or any form of media that’s going to live in a public space, you really have no idea what’s going to happen. Once we decided to make Walking In Circles back in late 2009, we had ideas about what could happen. Wild fantasies of viral status complete with cheering fans, interviews, awards, and network deals lived side by side with nightmares of vitriolic backlash, public hatred, and ridicule until we released the show and found out that the answer was something entirely different. Our release plan was very simple, put it on YouTube. We emailed our friends, family, and everyone we’d ever known and waited for the views to come pouring in, and when they didn’t reach our fantasized predictions we scratched our heads and Googled how to get YouTube views. The results were less than satisfying; there was a burgeoning science to it but the most prolific answer seemed to be blind luck. "Did the internet randomly go nuts over your content? No? Well, maybe next time." We came to realize that people with vast followings were either internet lottery winners, or people who had cultivated an audience one subscription at a time for years. We didn’t have years; we had a $13,000 hole and a show very few people were watching.
Ultimately, we decided to make season 2 anyway. We figured we were smarter, stronger, better, faster now and we’d really wow ‘em this time. We agonized over strategy, put a microscope to every word we posted on social media, certain that we could maximize our outreach if only we unlocked the secret. If we say just the right thing, at just the right time, it’ll all be different. Our release went better, we had a nice little day in the sun, but when it came down to numbers we found that things were roughly the same. The end result was now a $30,000 hole and 2 seasons of a show. Our view count was weak and unsustainable, our social media outreach felt like trying to hold a quiet conversation at a death metal concert. It felt very hopeless at times.
We started doing small conventions and film festivals. We met people, and when we met people it was a whole different experience. They would get excited, they would ask questions, they would go home, watch the whole series, and send us these gushing messages that I found almost baffling. I was wondering if they’d found some other show by mistake. In Fresno, at a convention, we met a young man who talked to us, went home, watched the whole show, and then came back that same day to tell us how awesome it was. It was bizarre and incredible to see people like our stuff with such enthusiasm, because our entire experience with public acknowledgement had been watching a slowly creeping view count and a mixed bag of comments. Then there was fan art. There were people (multiple!) who sat down and took hours drawing characters from Walking In Circles. Inconceivable!
The other night at dinner, the director, Adam Rady, told me he met a man who works at a VFX studio. At some point in their conversation, Adam mentioned Walking In Circles, and this guy had heard of us. That is shocking by itself, but the kicker was that this guy knew about us because some guys in his Dungeons and Dragons group had been quoting the show. When I heard this story my immediate reaction was disbelief. There was no way some random person had heard of our show, and there was no way some guys sitting around playing DnD were quoting it. That would mean that despite our relatively low view count and our pitiful social media presence we had achieved what Walking In Circles was really all about in the first place.
Tomorrow, Walking In Circles first season is moving to Stan Lee’s World of Heroes on YouTube. This move is the product of yet another bizarre set of circumstances that we never could have seen coming. We decided to become a part of the Geek Fest Film Festival which tours to various conventions around the US, and they worked out a deal to put all their entries up on World Of Heroes so here we are like, “Sure okay, we’ll just go be on STAN LEE’S channel now.” Back in ye olden times when we conceived of Walking In Circles, we never imagined getting to this point, and even if we had, we wouldn’t have imagined it looking like this. We’re going to be reaching a new audience, and regardless of how many views, likes, comments, or shares our episodes do or do not get in their new home, we know that maybe some Friday night there will be just a few more people sitting around slaying dragons and quoting Krag the Barbarian Prince.
If you want to subscribe to Stan Lee’s World of Heroes, click those words and that’ll get you where you need to be. Season 2 isn’t moving yet, but if we make enough of a splash then that’s certainly in the cards. Thanks for watching the show, checking out the website, buying a T-shirt (eh, wink wink, nudge nudge), and sharing this show with your friends. More importantly, thanks for all the ways you enjoy and support this show that we didn’t think of.