The YouTube revolution made stars of the comedy duo known as Smosh, Carmichael's Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, back in 2005.
These days, more than 5.2 million people subscribe to their channel at www.youtube.com/smosh.
Because of such viral success stories, YouTube, blip.tv, Vimeo and other online video sites are increasingly drawing entertainment industry professionals who believe the medium could pay off one day.
They are working in places as diverse as Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada; Melbourne, Australia; and yes, even right here in Sacramento, where high school theater teacher Rick Gott recruited a bunch of theater pros and some of his students from Natomas Charter School to produce the sci-fi thriller "Dark Pool."
B Street Theatre veteran Jason Kuykendall stars as Jim Krall, whose 6-year-old daughter is kidnapped and yet no one (not even his wife) seems to care. Gott's series, or "webisodes," won awards for best ensemble cast, series, direction, musical composition and editing at the L.A. Web Series Festival in April. (View it at www.youtube.com/darkpoolfilm.)
"There were about 1,000 people there, and I literally couldn't get back to my chair before they were saying our name again. It was so Hollywood," said Gott, who also was able to recruit actors Patrick Murphy and Gary Pannullo to his project.
Gott sees "Dark Pool" as a way to show his students how they can use their talents after high school.
Getting beyond Smosh
Smosh draws largely a teen- and college-age crowd with "Beavis and Butt-Head"-style humor, and these demographic groups spend hours on their smartphones and computers.
That's not the same demographic drawn to Gott's "Dark Pool" or to Deborah Adair's "Set the Table." Adair's series chronicles attempts by a pair of empty-nesters to rekindle the flame, and like Gott's show, it draws viewers ages 35 and up. That poses a challenge.
"There's not that many people my age going to the Internet for their entertainment like this, but if you look at the trend in Hollywood they're actually financing some projects specifically for the Internet," said the 48-year-old Adair, a Sacramento resident.
Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks, William Shatner and other actors have launched webisodes, some of them animated projects, which depend on social- networking sites to get out the word. So far, the payoffs come only if the shows go viral and make revenue-sharing pay off, or if corporate or Hollywood interests buy the idea, à la "The Guild" and "Sanctuary."
Many operations begin on a shoestring. Gott's friends and students donated time to "Dark Pool." Adair, however, is spending roughly $3,000 per episode for her series. (View at www.youtube.com/ watchsetthetable.)
Talk about a revolution
As televisions and computers become more integrated, video editor Nick Rood sees a day when YouTube channels will be regular viewing on the couch or in bed for people of all ages.
"The general public these days seems much more inclined to turn on a seven-minute online show that they can watch at their own leisure, rather than settle in for an hourlong show on TV at a specific time and with many commercials," said the 24-year-old Rood.
He attended El Dorado Hills' Oak Ridge High School, went to film school at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and now works as a video editor for YoungHollywood.com, which broadcasts interviews with celebrities.
Rood didn't envision this job when he graduated from college.
"When I was first looking for jobs out in L.A., I was of the mindset I'd be searching for film work, television work, advertising, etc. ..." he said. "But I quickly found that almost every job I came across involved some form of online content."