Interview with Freddie Wong on Video Game High School’s final season

video game high school freddie wong

Nerd Reactor got Cory and I a one-on-two with Freddie Wong himself, and we got a little insight on the upcoming third and final season of the awesome web series, Video Game High School. He also told us who he wanted to work with in the movie industry and gave out a little advice for all you duo creative teams out there. Freddie was great, and so was the interview. Check it out.

Video Game High School Season 3 is now available on YouTube.

Freddie-wong-Beach-Justice

Cory Vincent: First of all, Freddie Wong, it’s an honor because we have been following your videos for a very long time, and we talked about you on the show a lot. It influenced us.

Freddie Wong: Thank you.

Cory: What can people expect for season 3 of VGHS?

Freddie: Season 3 is bigger everything. [It] is essentially the driving, propulsive sort of single storyline that we saw from season one combined with the television format from season 2…sort of a hybrid of those two. So you see every character in the show get put through the wringer. You can also expect car flips, the biggest explosion we’ve ever done, and a character to die!

 Cory/Aaron: Wow!

Freddie: Yeah this is a heavy season. A lot of stuff happens.

Cory: Is this the first time you’ve ever dealt with death in your videos? Is it going to be like a serious death?

Aaron: Permanent death?

Freddie: Actual serious death? Yes, actually. I would say yes it is.

Cory: Wow breaking new grounds. Now we saw your interview on Conan it was amazing. You had the honor to work with Conan, Hardwick, and Stan Lee. Is there anybody you haven’t been able to land on a project that you have a great idea for?

Freddie: Oh man we’d do anything action with ol’ Nic Cage.

Aaron: Really?

Freddie: Oh yeah straight up. I don’t know if he’d ever take this online stuff seriously, though we’d jump on that. Uh I wouldn’t even shoot anything with him. I would just sit down and talk to the man. Werner Herzog…dude’s a legend. I tell you what, we’re kind of promoting that there are no good action stars anymore. What happened to all the good action stars?

Cory: They’re all on The Expendables 5.

Freddie: They are either old or I don’t buy that they’re an action guy. Look, I don’t know, I think like most of the time the people that try to look like action stars can’t do anything. I need some harder-looking dudes. Jason Statham got old, where’s our replacement?

Aaron: Are you thinking of taking Rocket Jump in that direction, to be the next step for action stars?

Freddie: Hey, listen, if someone steps up and wants to do an action movie, we’re always game.

Cory: At your level, with a billion people seeing your videos, you’re pretty much a force in a way in this new shaping industry. Do you still run into that a lot, people not wanting to be associated with a web series?

Freddie: I’ll tell you what, it’s not so much that they don’t want to associate with a web series, it’s that online there’s a very clear demarcation of where people put content, and where they catalog it in their heads, and everyone does it. Everyone has categories, hierarchies, and taxonomies that we put things into. When you say a television show, that means something. When you say a Netflix show, that mean something to people. When you say HBO, that means something, and when you say web series, that also means something.

What we found is that the more we worked, pushed, increase production value, and really delved into all the aspects of making [the show] look professional and making a good final product as much as possible, we kind of start to feel like we blur the lines. If I say web series I’m also lumping in a lot of stuff that, while very entertaining, is not quite the same format. We’re talking about shows that are shorter, we’re talking about shows that are 5 to 10 minutes long per episode. If I say it’s not quite television because while we are as long as television, we’re definitely playing loose with terms of what the lengths and what you fit into each episode.

We definitely do more than a lot of what television does, so it’s sort of this weird beast. It’s very hard to explain what Video Game High School is to people, and usually we say it’s a show — it’s online — you can watch it on a number of places. You can watch it on YouTube, Netflix, and iTunes. At some point it’s funny to hear where people think it’s cool. So a younger crowd, a younger generation of kids, you say “It’s on YouTube.” They’re like “Whoa! That’s cool. Can’t wait to watch it on YouTube!” For people my age you say “YouTube.” They say, “Uh huh.” You say “Netflix,” they say “Oh, okay. Netflix! Cool, cool sweet!” So definitely content lives on its own and is on a number of different platforms, but the demographic of the people on those platforms is wildly changing in between each thing. So I found it’s not so much that people don’t want to do the web, but I think a lot of people have a misconception of, and they sort of have too narrow a definition of what web series necessarily entails.

Cory: So this is your final season of Video Game High School. All 3 were crowdfunded through Kickstarter. We talked about it on the show a lot and it was great. Then you crowdsourced the second one, and on our end we’re thinking, “Is Freddie Wong not making money off of these? Is Video Game High School a complete passion project, or what was the need to crowdsource it three times?”

Freddie: Well there was a couple of directions on that. I would say that one, we’re going to be doing (in the same way that we did season 1 and 2) a season 3 cost breakdown to show people how much stuff actually costs. And now that we’ve gotten to the end of 3 series, we can start talking about how much it costs. Here is what you can expect to make in a show like this with viewership like this, and that I think is a very important conversation nobody else is having. So we will be getting into that specifically. I need to compile the numbers and give you a lot more content to understand that, but I think when you’re talking about crowdfunding in the world of properties and video properties, it’s less about charity and less about having money to get this made. It’s more about fan participation, especially three seasons in. What we found was a lot of people wanted to get in on the process of getting cool stuff for giving, exclusive stuff for participating in that way that crowdfunding allows.

So it wasn’t so much that we were begging for money, but it was a situation where people wanted to participate financially and in that scenario, I’d liken the crowdfunding thing less as a charity and more as a pre-order. The same way Minecraft and DAy Z give you an early access or you can pre-order a game from GameStop. [It] very much functions the same way in that people are doing it because they’re fans of the series and want to get extras on top of what they would normally get otherwise. Crowdfunding and that sort of world, especially for what happened third season, definitely stated that profile more so than a place where we said, “Hey, we just need money here. Guys, help us out. Let’s get this made.”

Cory: Being a guy who have followed your career to this point for quite some time, I remember I was one of the live viewers for one of those first Rocket Jump Podcast you ever did. It’s very fascinating stuff to watch you guys grow. I remember in the beginning you put up these videos weekly, and it was like “Freddie Wong does these great effects,” and then slowly it’s like “Man, Freddie Wong just makes great videos, but can he tell a story?” And then Video Game High School proved to everybody, “Wow, Freddie Wong can really put depth into a storyline.” So the next question is, can Freddie Wong end a story? We’ve seen this happen with Dexter and a bunch of other series, where the show is awesome, and then they butcher the ending.

Freddie: I promise you we’ll not be pulling a Dexter, and [it’ll] probably be better than the last episode of The Office, but not the UK Office. The UK Office is great.

Cory: Is there any anxiety within your production team about this ending? Are you so confident that this isn’t going to disappoint people?

Freddie: I think we’re pretty confident in the ending. What I’m curious about is how people will react to it, because every single season, I think we’ve successfully taken the show in the direction that people did not expect, even from the first season. Any time you talk to people who are not fans of the show, almost universally, I hear this over and over again which is, “Dude, I thought your concept was great, but you didn’t do what I thought you [were going to do] with the concept.” That scenario is something that we kind of pride ourselves on to be like. Here is the obvious way to take the show. What’s another potentially more interesting way to do it?

The third season is no exception to that. I think the third season ends in a way that, again, is not conventional by any means, but I think it’s still satisfying and is true to what we set out for, for each of the characters. On that level I’m confident that it is a solid piece of storytelling, and I’m very curious about how people will react to it. But if they hate it or love it, I still think we were able to set out to tell a story that we wanted to tell. We were able to do that and there’s something to be said about that in this day in age.

Cory: Being part of a dual, Aaron and I work together and built this little show we got, the Videogame BANG! In the early days it was very inspirational. We admire the work from you and Brandon collectively. He was very clear that you guys were a great team, and not being privy to and not asking about details, it was upsetting to see you guys kind of split ways because this is a common thing. Aaron and I just interviewed these guys making documentaries together. They started their production company together. Any advice for these creative content duos out there trying to make it in the industry?

Freddie: Yeah I think the foundation of any sort of partnership involves the ability to be open and honest about what you want to do. That’s what it really sort of comes down to. We wanted to pursue different projects and that’s one of the things where there is no reason to get in each other’s way, especially if that’s what’s going to make each of us happy. It was sort of the basis of it. So I think that a creative collaboration is a very interesting thing, when to be born in the same headset at the same time, you see a lot of good examples throughout history. I think all good creative collaboration, if you’re true to the artistic integrity of each individual involved, will eventually come to an end. It’s something not to shy away from. That’s just simply two individuals growing as artists and finding out what they want to do. To acknowledge that, that’s a very human thing; to not be in completely lock step with what you two want forever. You take the Garfunkel. You take the Beatles. Nobody sits around and stays in the same step forever. The danger in that is you can get stagnant quickly, so it’s a matter of acknowledging and being open to what everyone wants to do, what they want to do with their lives, and what they want to do with their careers, and make sure it doesn’t take away from all of it.

Cory/Aaron: Freddie Wong, thank you very much for your time. Awesome talking to you as fans, and we are very much looking forward to the third season of Video Game High School.

Freddie: Thank you very much.

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