Friday, December 9, 2011

How Much Are You Willing to Pay For a Hillywood Parody?

I realize that this post may seem a bit off the norm for MMSAI, not really book related, not really movie related. But something has been on both mine and Rosmelie’s mind for a week or so now and I think that I need to touch on it. Be for warned, it’s long but worth the read.

You’re all familiar with The Hillywood Show Parody group, two sisters from Las Vegas with one camera and an insane ability to make kick-ass parodies.

Oh wait, there a few of you who don’t know them? Well please follow links below to see some of their work…don’t worry – I’ll wait while you check it out……I suggest the Dark Knight one first…it’s my favorite….

HILLYWOOD YOU TUBE CHANNEL

Back? Okay good.

So here’s the deal, no doubt you noticed while watching their many parodies, they are really good at what they do and obviously they need a bank roll to pull off these amazing videos. I mean, it’s not like they have minions in the garage building sets…at least I don’t think they do.

Their Twilight parodies shot them to internet super star status, Summit Entertainment, the power house behind the Twilight Saga franchise, picked them up fast and sends them to all the Twilight conventions, not to mention The Vampire Diaries conventions, where people fell over themselves to get a photo with these amazing look a likes and buy their merchandise. They have spawned a t-shirt line, sell props from their sets and have sold what I can only imagine as hundreds of thousands of  autographed photos and trinkets with their name on it. All the proceeds go to help fund whatever brilliant idea they have next, except for 10% which the girls lovingly donate to charity.

Amber, you’re rambling again…get to the point already…..these girls sound like saints what could you possibly have to say more then this?

Well…as it kills me to have a somewhat sour opinion on these two pint sized beauties – sadly this week I do, well correction not of them, but the way they are doing something would be a better statement. You see, where they used to bust their tushies to make the bankroll for their parodies, it seems they found a new way to fund their dreams. And I’m a little turned off by it. Let me break it down…

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I’ll start at the beginning…it’s a very good place to start…Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music says so *wink*.

A few months back, they wanted to make a Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Parody. For it they needed to rent out a theater, hire a snake, buy costume pieces, and hire a professional British singer for the background music. Apparently all of it proved to be out of their budget a bit. So they turned to their swarm of fans to help. Key word here is HELP. The girls seemingly (at least from what I gathered, and I could be wrong) had some of the money, but not all. Adoring fans from across the world pitched in $5, $30, and in some cases hundreds to help. The girls responded with by listing each person who donated in the credits of the parody (kinda cool!!) and also gave facebook “thank you’s” but attached the donation form to each batch, flooding feeds with requests for money.

The call out for help went crazy well, they collected the money in a record amount of time and off they went to film Harry Potter. People loved it and there was no doubt they wouldn't! Now, Halloween was approaching shortly after the release of the HP parody and fans clamored to see this years annual Happy Hillyween video, usually a lower then normal budget collection of adorable videos of the girls as kids in costume or some such thing, and it’s always loved just as much as their big budget productions. Seriously they were always great and showed a nod to their roots of cleverness and ability to work in any condition, with $2 or $2,000 and brought a level of respect to them they well deserved because of it.

Fans were taken by total surprise when a full on HUGE production of GaGa-Ween was made, including sets with coffins and creepiness, and every Lady Gaga costume you could buy. From the stand point of an outsider, this production looked to cost at least nearly as much as HP in costumes alone. Yet the girls needed no financial help whatsoever and happily bought up the GaGa design costumes with out a blink of their eyes.

Here’s where the it get’s a bit interesting….

In November Breaking Dawn Part 1 came out in theaters and the world waited to see if the girls would jump on board for the parody for this. Since after all it was Twilight that made them as popular as they are today, but the ending of the Eclipse parody left us all wondering if there would be more. No word came, and the boys who played Jacob and Edward both seemed to move on in life from the parodies. The world held it’s breath. Would they make the parody? Would they replace the boys if they did?

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Then last week or so, it hit my Facebook and Twitter streams in grand fashion and every hour. A request. From Hillywood to their fans. They needed our help again, only 5 months after the Harry Potter donation requests. Since I failed to help with Harry Potter I thought even if I can only pitch in a few bucks, it’s better than nothing. Right? After all I’d be watching the parody no doubt dozens of times. And as I do, forcing anyone who enters my home to gaze at the brilliance that is Hannah and Hilly Hindi via YouTube. (No, seriously ask my friends how many times I’ve said “here watch this!”)

But….Ohhhh that pesky word, “but”…there’s always one, isn’t there?

But then I saw what they were trying to raise from their fans. And I didn’t donate. In fact my mind reeled at how they could possibly need an amount that is enough to buy a car, make a down payment on a town home (at least here in the Midwest), pay for a semester of college in some cases, travel Europe for a month, heck even pay my mortgage for several months… all to make a parody – even if it may be a kick ass one, still a parody! Especially when they have been nothing if not resourceful, clever and brilliant in pulling parodies together in the past on a budget they could afford themselves.

You see, they need $10,000 to make this production a go. Yes, you read that correctly. And they are asking for it a month before the holidays, and in a horrible economy which really slaps the frosting on my bitter cake. Sure, they are offering autographs and wristbands and other items depending on the level of which you donate, but most true HillyFans already own these items, in some cases several of each. (Not to mention, you can buy most the stuff off their site for far, far less than what they would need to donate to get them and they still make money off them)

Maybe you don’t see it as a big deal. Maybe you see it as necessary if these girls are really as amazing I have had said repeatedly in this post. Maybe you think them enterprising and me bitter and jealous…. If this is the case, go back and watch normal_Characters_Edward Scissorhandssome of their early web shows and earlier parodies. These are 2 enterprising, smart, and strong woman. So much so, they managed to get an actual DELORIAN for their web show for little to no cost. They made Twilight and New Moon, Dark Knight and Eclipse all in grand form, each better than the last. And while I realize these parodies don’t come for free for them, they never once asked of their fans for anything other then their continued support and love. Even though many still donated money, did fundraisers for them, and even gifted them a new video camera when they publically complained of the one they currently had. (No disrespect meant on that last one, who doesn't use Facebook to complain..wasn’t that why it was invented? I do it all the time..just pointing out the generosity of the fan base is all) But still, with all this support from fans, they still felt the need to ask for more, not once but now twice.

And so here we are today. We’ve gone from them making parodies because they love it and can do it, to us paying them to do them. And they use just a sprinkle of guilt to make it work, saying they can’t do the parodies we really want, if we don’t essentially pay for them ourselves. 

It seems their dreams have outgrown their budgets. You know, it happens to the best of us, no shame in it. The girls obviously feel a responsibility to their fans to keep doing what they are doing and I commend them for it. However; why should it be the fans that pay for it all now? More than that, why is it they only ask for money on some productions? Notably the bigger movie parodies that more people are dying to see? It feels like they are exploiting and manipulating their fans a bit. Giving them something little here and there, then reminding them if they want more, it will cost them.  Maybe this wasn’t their intention when they started asking a second time around, but for me this is exactly how I felt.

NewheadshotI guess my biggest concern is where does it end? What will they ask for if they do Breaking Dawn part 2? Will BD P2 cost $15, $20K? Where will these two girls draw the line? Once they see what can be done in 1 week of asking for cash for their newest venture, will they go grander and more extravagant for the last half? How much are you willing to pay for a parody from Hillywood?

 

To drive my point a little further home, it seems that other than setting up the donation site, and calling out an informal “Thank You” to those who do donate via Facebook, the girls are not doing much else to earn any of the money themselves. Could they be? Sure, it’s possible. I don’t stalk them after all. But a little public show of effort would be great. Because it feels like the fans are in this alone, running around like blue-assed flys to get them their money while they sit back and watch it roll in. A status update like “Skipping Starbucks and my hair coloring this week to help save for the parody!” would send me over the moon with happiness.  Nearly every photo they upload is professionally taken, and they are always covered with designer brands. To me It reminds me of the homeless man I saw wearing brand new Jordans, talking on his iPhone holding up a sign saying his family was in need…..???? Frustrating and a bit contradictive to say the least..

The celebrity level these girls have is more than enough to bring in the moo-lah! Why can’t they do a few private parties in their area. Tweens and Adults alike would go batty over having “Bella” and “Alice” or “Benny” and “Joon” over for a themed party!

Why must they have every identical piece of designer clothing the cast wears for the parodies? Fans find cheaper knock offs all the time that would suffice. Yes, we love their attention to detail but when it ups production costs by a few grand I think corners could be cut, don’t you?

They have hoards of talented fans. Carpenters and electricians, artists + more. Why is there never a call out for donation of time? Why must they hire professionals for every last thing? When they travel it’s hotels and eating out while shooting on location – why not stay with trustworthy fans, where they can cook meals and such? It’s good enough for musicians, heck I’ve had some in my home!

I just think there’s a lot of money saving options out there that are being over looked…

Now, now settle down you rabid HillyFans, before you haul off on me in the comments section…please note….I’m not trying to hate on them in anyway, I’m voicing a concern, asking a  question if you will. Thinking out loud on this little piece of the internet I own. If you think I’ve been mean then you obviously didn’t read this well enough. Here, let me make it clear one last time in case my many glowing reviews of these two sisters escaped you the dozens of times prior – I think what these two are capable of, and have done is uh-maze-ing. Their talent is immense. They are sweet girls who I have met in person and they have a great road ahead of them. But I’m just a little sad that in order for them to travel down it, we have to pave it with our hard earned money.

I didn’t write this in hopes that people wouldn’t donate, in fact here….click this banner to donate if you really want to…

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I don’t want to deter people from becoming fans or try to stop people from being fans. I wrote it to point out a few things I noticed. To share my concern about the monster that might evolve if we keep giving them money several times a year at these levels. I simply can’t help by donating because of my fear of this monster and fear of what they are going to ask for next…..Even if you may think this false, I do hope that if nothing else I shared these amazing parodies and this talented duo with more people…and I’m glad I have this off my chest. I hope this is understood.

Visit The Hillywood Show:

Facebook, Twitter, Official Web Site, YouTube

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Because I know some type before they think: Please be respectful in the comments section, as I have been in the post. I didn’t attack. Any vulgar language, threats or verbal abuse towards anyone will be deleted immediately and the author will be blocked. Please be an adult in your response both here and elsewhere.

*All photos copyright of The Hillywood Show,

6 comments:

  1. I've gotta agree here. I loved Twilight parody, and clearly, we will all want more. However, the fans aren't asking them to go film in Forks, stay in big fun homes there and buy exact replicas of clothing. All we ask is that we have fun videos to watch. (And frankly, they are less parodies now and more musical versions of the movies. Parody = making fun of.)

    Anyway. I'm not paying them to make me a fun video. I can find that for free:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkYGARAOySQ

    That's my boyfriend being funny for free.

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  2. At this point they are very close to their goal! Do they have any other revenue other than fan donations and sales? corporate sponsorship? I think they are very talented, but maybe this is the way they can keep full creative control of their projects? They could easily have their own show, but again, maybe this works better for them? b

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  3. I really don't think this is a matter of keeping creative control. First, I think they would say that in the description, and instead it talks about 2 secret location being scouted for the parody and nothing more really.

    (really is Brazil or somewhere tropical to recreate Ilse Esme is on the docket I will really be a little more upset...that kind of detail isn't necessary for a parody and we shouldn't be paying for their vacations, let alone their hobbies)


    And also, considering that from what I have heard here and there and through the grape vine is that they would love to be picked up and have their own show, so for a tv deal I think they would be more than willing to hand over a little bit of control, as one must when in that business.

    And last - yes they have nearly reached their goal. I wasn't rying to stop them from doing so I just wanted to point out asking for thousands 2x in 5 months is a bit much....how frequently can we expect these requests from them?

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  4. No I didn't think that you were, (trying to stop people from donating) I was just impressed that they had almost reached that goal.
    If they can raise almost $10k in 12 days (they are $500 off at this point) If that's any indication of their fan base, then an agent would do well to snap them up!
    It's an interesting topic. I guess that there may be another request for donations when part 2 comes out.

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  5. I think everything on this blog was well-said and very respectful so I'm glad no one has said otherwise.

    I think what really bothers me about their asking for donations is that they make it a "give and take" type of thing, saying the parody will ONLY get done if fans donate. I love that they want to stay connected to their fans, I love that they give fans a chance to be a part of something, but I REALLY want to know if they would have still done the parody if they were only able to raise $5K.

    What rubs me the wrong way completely - more than them asking for donations - are the fans who are able to give SO much to a parody. I'm not saying these donors aren't giving money to charities of his or her choice but if you have an extra $250, can't it be given to a legitimate nonprofit organization (I say that because I remember a fan once posting on Sara's blog that donating to Hillywood and a nonprofit were the same).

    And although they used a different website, this reminds me of Regretsy's recent run-in with PayPal of asking for donations. THS really DOES have a DONATE button on their website but that button is only supposed to be used for nonprofit organizations that are registered. Regretsy's fundraiser was shut down for a time yet Hillywood doesn't get a notice about it? And, if for some reason THS actually IS registered as a nonprofit somewhere, where are my receipts for taxes?

    It's too late in the day. I'm rambling and I apologize.

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  6. I've always thought they were a bit full of themselves. I was AMAZED by the Twilight parody when it first came out, no doubt they are talented. I just think they think they are famous. and they're not. They're twi-famous, not the same thing. Shit, *I've* been twi-famous. No one outside of the intense twilight fandom has any idea who they are.

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