New Media

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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

Sometimes, certain things seem strange or stupid just because we haven't seen them enough.

You know what I mean? They'll come out with a new car design, and it'll look strange and stupid and then you see them all over the place and soon they look normal. And a little while later you're thinking, "Hey, I like the look of that car."

It just wears you down.

Like, for instance, Bluetooth headsets. It's a stupid piece of plastic. It looks like you've got a stick of chewing gum coming out of your ear. It's a jerky thing to walk around with. I'll never wear one of those.

And then, you know, you start seeing them everywhere. Everyone's got one. You try one out. It's okay, but you take it out right after the call. And then, a few days or weeks later, maybe, you leave it in for a while. Suddenly, you're that guy.

Which brings us to the word "webisode."

At first, it sounds like a cheesy, stupid, made-up name to describe whatever lame two-minute screed or story has made someone "Internet famous" that week. Then, gradually, people starting making actual "shows" for the internet -– still about two minutes apiece, of course –- and if you've got a show on the web, it's going to be made up of webisodes, right? Soon, in the great tradition of script workshops and two-day film schools, people will be offering webinars on making webisodes at the Learning Webannex.

So, by now, the word "webisode" no longer sounds weird or goofy. It sounds about right. It sounds like the kind of word you might actually use, when talking to someone via a Bluetooth headset.

I remember when I first started making webisodes, about a month ago. Along with my producing partners, I'm doing some stuff for, a new web comedy site launched by a bunch of guys from the entertainment business. It's got some pretty great stuff on it –- our first contribution is "VoiceOver Vandals." For each… webisode… we gather up some of the funniest improv comedy actors in town and have them improvise new dialogue to play over old movies, viral videos, whatever we find on YouTube. We've done a bunch of…webisodes…and they've all turned out pretty funny.

But what I remember most was my first meeting with the group at, when they told me how much we'd be paid, per webisode.

They named a figure in the mid three-figures.

My reaction was: [laughs, then] Seriously?

Not only where they serious, they were webserious. It was a number so oddly low, so out of place that it was like spotting one of those Bluetooth headsets for the first time. Whaaaat? What on earth? Whaaaa?

And then, a few weeks later, it's totally normal. And you start noticing, all over town, little web shoots everywhere. I mean, we're all used to driving around and spotting an actual film crew -– the trailers, the tents, the motorcycle cop reading the paper. But have you noticed, more and more, four, maybe five people -– all under twenty-five -– standing on street corners or walking along, one holding a digi-cam, two performing a loosely improvised scene, and one holding a sheet of white construction paper angled towards the sun?

These are people making webisodes. For the mid three-figures.

And they're changing the way we're all going to work in the entertainment business and, worse, how much we get paid. It sounds crazy and outlandish, I know. But soon, it'll be perfectly normal. We'll all be trading in our BMW's for WebCorollas and WebDaihaitsus. Palmdale will be the new webBrentwood. Get webused to it.

Oh, and check out VoiceOver Vandals. Please. I'm trying to get them to a high three figures…

That's it for this week. Next week, lunch part two. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.



Rob Long