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We are RocketJump, creators of Video Game High School and freddiew! Ask us anything!

Feb 19th 2014 by freddiew • 29 Questions • 1904 Points

Hey folks,

First of all - we're in pre-production for the FINAL SEASON of Video Game High School and there’s less than a week left on our crowd funding campaign for Season 3!

Click here to support Season 3!

Anyway - Freddie Wong here. You may know me as the face of the http://youtube.com/freddiew channel (now http://youtube.com/rocketjump) I've been making short visual effects-y action videos for exactly four years now.

We’ve gotten back to making a new short every week - here are some of them!

Mexican Standoff (ft. Key and Peele)

Jean-Claude Van Damage (with JCVD)

Ping Pong Masters

In 2012, I teamed up with my friends Matt and Dez to create RocketJump with the goal of going beyond making YouTube shorts. We’ve created two seasons of Video Game High School, a TV-length web series about an alternate reality where gaming is so huge, high schools exist to train kids. Both those seasons are available on YouTube, RocketJump.com, and Netflix.

VGHS was named Variety’s #1 Webseries of 2013, and our company RocketJump was recently named one of the 10 Most Innovative Companies in Hollywood by Fast Company.

We’ve done quite a bit in this weird, new, world where traditional entertainment is starting to crack and new independent producers and movie creators are figuring out how to make things. We’ll be as open and honest about our experiences - so fire away!

Some other people who will be dropping by:

/u/matt_rocketjump - Matt Arnold, Co-Creator and Co-Writer of VGHS

/u/jimmywong - Jimmy Wong, actor and musician, "Ted Wong" from VGHS

/u/sandwichpants52 - Benji Dolly, "Games Dean" from VGHS

/u/lauren_rocketjump - Lauren Haroutunian - BTS and cinematographer for shorts!

/u/dezd - Desmond Dolly, co-founder RocketJump

/u/will_rocketjump - Will Campos, Co-Writer of VGHS, the voice of "Shot Bot”

/u/ben_rocketjump -Co-Editor and Post Production Supervisor on VGHS

/u/danny_rocketjump - Webmaster and tech guru of RocketJump

/u/pwnisher - Clinton Jones, VFX wizard and the body of "Shot Bot" from VGHS

/u/whitney_rocketjump - Whitney Moore, head of our social media and ALSO star of Birdemic 1 and 2!

Edit: Thanks again everyone! We'll be answering questions sporadically for a bit because, well, I have a Reddit account that I actually use, so feel free to keep asking things, and if you want to support VGHS Season 3, CLICK HERE!

Q:

Roller Coaster Day 2014?

A:

Something else... something... radder...


Q:

Who is responsible for this "oops?"

A:

Hahah probably got smeared by someone's hand. SORRY!


Q:

FREDDIE WHY ARE YOU NOT ON NODE

A:

LAN Party was originally created as an excuse to get more video games back in our lives. I'm too busy with VGHS and other RocketJump projects at the moment though for anything other than Spelunky on my Vita.


Q:

Hey Freddie! What were some of your early inspirations to get into VFX and start releasing stuff on YouTube?

A:

The Matrix. Straight up. The Matrix.

And Star Wars - Jimmy and I have some rad lightsaber videos lost to old hard drives.


Q:

How did you meet Brian Firenzi?

A:

He was on my floor freshman year at USC.


Q:

Where do you see RocketJump and its affiliates 10-15 years in the future?

A:

Two possibilities, in my mind:

  1. We can make this thing work and sustain it. We are making 5-8 full length series or feature films a year with a variety of directors and creators.

  2. Hollywood throws their hands up and buys us and we're working for some arm of a gigantic global transmedia conglomerate.

I would prefer option 1.


Q:

I'm an airsofter, how big a part are airsoft replicas a part of your videos? We'd love to hear on /r/airsoft

A:

Big part. We use boneyard and broken airsofts all the time as props because we don't need working gearboxes. Gas blowbacks are perfect for pistols - just add smoke and flash and a shell and boom - instant pyro license.


Q:

Awesome! Do you get to play often?

A:

I have an AK and GBB M4, but don't nearly get out to the fields as much as I want to.


Q:

Thoughts on Twitch plays pokemon?

A:

I can't wait to see the timelapse compilation of the whole thing.


Q:

Hi Guys! I'm a high schooler that's interested in film and special effects. Do you have any tips or advice?

A:

Get a camera, get the student edition of Adobe's Creative Suite, download Premiere and After Effects and STOP PLAYING VIDEO GAMES.

Do you want to get good at film and special effects? Take the hours you play video games and make movies.


Q:

Will you ever work with Rooster Teeth again?

A:

We would love to.


Q:

Freddie after seeing your last web short (not the JCVD but the previous one) my question is why have we waited so long to see your magnificent body?

A:

I'VE BEEN LIFTING K


Q:

In the old days, you guys had a pretty intense video schedule, and all of your videos felt like they were made by just two dues with a (slightly-better-than-potato) camera and a VFX program. Do you ever feel like some of that old magic is lost now that you've got RocketJump and all of your other big projects going?

A:

Have a look at our last month of work and let me know - I can say that right now it feels more like the first year than any other time.


Q:

Any tips for someone wanting to get started in the entertainment industry?

A:

Everyone says that breaking in is difficult.

I can tell you - if you're truly good at something (cinematography, VFX, organizing other people, etc.) it's not hard at all. Competent people who can work with others are shockingly rare.


Q:

Hey Freddie, Big fan of your work!

What happened between you guys and Brandon?

A:

Basically, we're pursuing different projects separately. We were making shorts for 3 years straight - that's a long time! We basically wanted to do different things.


Q:

Woah woah woah!

I completely missed this drama. I doubt you're getting an official answer for this, unless it was some sort of joke.

A:

When someone says they're talking to lawyers, it doesn't mean lawyers are threatening to sue them. We had a discussion with Brandon about some questions with rights, making sure people don't get confused, etc. etc. Both our legal teams were present because, well, those guys know the law better than any of us do.


Q:

How did you get Key and Peele to work with you?

A:

We had talked to them and the schedules worked out for me to show up randomly in their Halloween episode and for them to spend a few hours shooting the most ridiculous video we've ever come up with!


Q:

Will we get to see a series with Shot Bot as an intrepid investigative journalist?

A:

I really enjoy ShotBot and push every day for more ShotBot. Maybe we'll do a spinoff comic?


Q:

Will Logan ever return to the facerocker podcast?

A:

Yes. He's now recurring. Here's his latest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYyQOj1oi3s


Q:

Have you found that your YouTube success has translated into any offers in Hollywood?

A:

Yes, but a lot of times, those offers are really really bad, and continuing to do and own your own thing is a much smarter move in the long run (at least, I hope so)


Q:

Would you rather go back in time and meet your ancestors, or go into the future and meet your children?

A:

Future. Much much cooler.


Q:

How important was attending USC Film School, Freddie?

A:

For meeting everyone I work with now? Incredibly important.

For learning VFX or filmmaking skills? Not as important as just practicing.


Q:

Hi Mr. Wong. Long time fan.

1) Do you think you'll ever attempt to produce another feature film like "Bear?"

2) Do you think the Google Plus-YouTube merger and YouTube's stricter copyright protection measures have harmed YouTube's reputation? (More specifically, if something better came along, would you leave YouTube?)

A:
  1. We'll do another feature, but probably not as DEATH DEFYING as Bear haha.

  2. I think everyone agrees the Google+/YouTube comment thing wasn't rolled out smoothly at all, but I don't see things as "leaving" - just "also being on". Nowadays there's no reason not to be multiple places.


Q:

After VGHS, are you going to continue on the way of long-form projects? I remember from the podcasts it seems you are very into how the entertainment industry is evolving. Do you think it's still a journey to doing TV shows and a big budget movie? Do you see any other path/future goal and would you pursue it?

Also it seems that crowdfunding has worked very well for VGHS but do you think it's sustainable? Many people are already expressing a bit of exhaustion from an increase in crowdfunding campaigns and are not willing to spend so much at a time now. Do you see an alternative to crowdfunding besides going back to traditional studio funding?

A:

We want to own our own content. That means TV show length projects and feature length projects. Will those projects show up in theaters? That remains to be seen. Functionally, doing VGHS as a 6 episode TV show and putting it online and having people watch it on smart TVs is really not that different than how "traditional" TV is currently consumed.

I don't think crowdfunding as it is currently misunderstood is sustainable. We look at crowdfunding as (and the most successful campaigns tend to be) a visible preorder system, similar to how Louis CK did his comedy show. We're basically doing a "pre-order" for an upcoming project.

Or maybe the more apt comparison - it's similar to pre-alphas for games like DayZ or Rust - money comes in early for a non-finished project that they use to complete it.


Q:

How did you meet Brandon?

A:

Also on my floor freshman year at USC!


Q:

Hey Freddie, Do you ever lament the loss of guitar hero/rock band? Did you ever wish to make a career as a pro guitar hero player, as might guess your YYZ video was what brought me too your channel (here for those who havn't seen it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua3hZXfNZOE).

On a slightly more serious note you have shown yourself to me a talented real guitarist have you ever though about doing something more music focused like start a band or maybe some more music based stuff for youtube (something like your favourite martian). You clearly have the stage presence for it, I laughed hard when watching you do this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua3hZXfNZOE

A:

I'm really really good at a game that nobody plays anymore, but it's cool I had my really weird time in the sun. I played a video game for Sebastian Bach. I intro'd Joe Satriani with a video game version of his song on stage. I got flown around the world to play a video game. I have a work permit from the government of Canada recognizing me as a "professional guitar hero player".

Would love to get back to doing more music though. I really enjoy it.


Q:

What do you uphold as the most important virtue of storytelling?

A:

I'll let the writers chime in, but "make people care" for me.


Q:

I know you spoke to us long time fans before about the Brandon/Freddie split, but I think we deserve more as loyal viewers.

It was obvious that there was some rift/creative difference/etc growing over the past 2+ years as we saw less and less of you in Brandon's work and vice versa. It just feels as though you have stepped through a door with RocketJump that has made you more of a classic commercial studio producer type then the relatable, talented young filmmaker that you were. Which, of course, is understandable. It is just sad in a way to watch you and the RJ team ascend to a level in the entertainment industry that makes you feel less accessible. Red tape, lawyers, branding, etc.

I guess I really want to know what was brandon going to say when you cut at 1:40 in your "Phase Two" video? Or does this violate some NDA in place?

A:

I'm really not sure where you're getting "classic commercial studio producer" from - I'm still basically doing the same thing I've been doing for four years now.

Red tape? Not sure what that means. Lawyers? We've had lawyers since year one - it's a sad necessity in the entertainment industry. Branding is a bigger thing - you're right in that I stepped away from the "FreddieW" branding and putting RocketJump ahead of that.

That was because I want to make movies and help other people make movies and use the platform we built to put awesome stuff out there. I can't do that if everybody still thinks I solely make everything by myself.


Q:

Banana or apple?

A:

Bananas. My dad goes to Costco just to buy bushels of bananas. It's a little weird.