We receive a ton of tips every day from independent creators, unaffiliated with any major motion picture studios, television networks, new media studios, or other well-funded online video entities. Indie Spotlight is where we shout out a select few of them, bringing you up to speed on the attention-grabbing films and series you probably haven’t heard of. Read previous installments here.
On Jan. 1, things changed radically for some YouTube creators. Those who make content for kids had their videos stripped of personalized ads, a policy change that’s reportedly cost them as much as 60% of their AdSense revenue. But other creators are also being caught up in the sweep: creators who make content that isn’t for kids, but could be considered “child-attractive.”
Creators like Studio Killers, an independent electropop audiovisual group. The foursome has been on YouTube since 2011, uploading new tracks and–crucially–eye-catching animated music videos to go with them. Studio Killers’ content isn’t for kids, but because said music videos “feature music, animation, and are incredibly colorful,” the group worries their channel’s earning potential will be sapped.
Studio Killers’ members have always kept their real-life identities mum, instead portraying themselves as animated characters: frontwoman/artist Cherry, keytarist Goldie Foxx, DJ Dyna Mink, and manager Bipolar Bear. Their animated alter-egos have proven popular; music videos that feature Cherry, Goldie, and Dyna have gone viral, amassing 8 million, 14 million, 20 million, and as many as 48 million views.
But even before Jan. 1, those views weren’t paying the bills. All four members were working side gigs to cover the rent and the cost of putting together content. So, with the threat of potentially devastating revenue loss looming, Studio Killers decided to try something new.
They launched a Kickstarter to fund the pilot episode of 404–an animated series parodying classic magical girl series like Sailor Moon and featuring their fan-favorite characters.
“Thrown into cyberspace and left fending for their very existence, Cherry and the Studio Killers are building an army of LGBTQ+ positive misfits and outliers on a quest to overthrow the Evil Algorithm, a deep state-like organization that is destroying the internet and erasing all its weird wonders,” reads the series’ official description. “Style battles, a war between cats and porn, a whole planet dedicated to taco memes–there’s so much to explore and save!”
Cherry and co. reached their $115K goal in just three days, and by the end of the campaign, had raised more than $166,000 to bring a 22-minute 404 pilot (with a brand-new song) to life.
“Cherry and the Studio Killers’ big dream is to create an animated series to push this project to the next level and to deliver the kind of amazing jaw dropping content they’re known for, but with a much healthier business structure,” the group wrote. “Getting an animated series signed with a network or VOD would drive all our other content.”
They added that some partners and networks had expressed interest over the years, attracted by the success of their music videos, but Studio Killers is, for now, opting to self-produce 404, because “ultimately development, pitching, and negotiations often take several years, with the additional added 1.5-3 years of production before the fans get to see anything at all, if ever. We’d really prefer not to keep you in the dark THAT long.”
Following the Kickstarter’s success, Studio Killers have buckled down to work. 404 doesn’t yet have an official release date, but for now, there’s plenty of content on the group’s YouTube channel to tide fans over–and introduce new viewers to the gang before they set out to save the cyberworld.
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