By Alex J. Mann
The pilot episode of my web series “Conversations with a Twitter Feed” (CWATF) was conceived, written, shot and edited in about 12 hours. I was working on a writer’s packet for a pop culture variety show that I was submitting for, and in the final section, I had to pitch and write a segment. I knew I wanted the segment to incorporate social media, because that’s what my background is in, and executives love the sound of “social” and “media” together.
I spend a lot of time on Twitter, so I poked around there, hoping for a breakthrough. At the time, the most important news of the minute was Kanye West’s rant about one of his favorite bad words. As I read Kanye’s Twitter feed, I commented on his tweets out loud to no one in particular. (I was by myself, but swear I wasn’t “talking to myself.”) Then, I had that thought that writers often have: What if I wrote down the narrative in my head?
I copied Kanye’s tweets into a document and wrote short, punchy responses to them. Eventually, I had reactions/responses to about 15 of Kanye’s b-word tweets. It was a one-sided conversation with a Twitter feed. Since it’s just the Internet, I decided to drop the “one-sided” technicality and call the segment “Conversations with a Twitter Feed.” I had the missing piece to my writer’s packet.
I pitched “Conversations with a Twitter Feed” in my packet as a recurring show segment in which comedians have conversations with celebrity Twitter feeds. In order to sell it, I wanted to shoot an episode. So about an hour after I wrote the script, I sent it to David Monk, a DP/editor I’d worked with on previous projects. A few hours later, we had cut a rough two-minute video of me responding to Kanye’s tweets. I put the link and script in my writer’s packet and sent it in. I was sure I’d get the job.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job, but I found a solid web series premise. All I needed was more comedians who were interested in chatting with Twitter feeds.
As of writing this, we’ve released about 60 episodes of “Conversations with a Twitter Feed.” We’ve featured comedians who have performed on shows like Conan, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Comedy Central Presents and television networks like NBC, HBO, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1 and Adult Swim. The series has received some great press. It’s been written about in The Huffington Post, Splitsider, BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog and Tubefilter. Someone told me we were mentioned on one of the Nerdist podcasts.
Views and subscribers are growing. My goal is to continue to grow the series online and eventually get it to where I originally envisioned it: on television. I think that given the speed we can produce an episode, especially around topical pop culture stories, the series would be a great segment on a show like Best Week Ever, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon or Chelsea Lately. It’s cheap to produce (all you need is a comedian and green screen), and it uses social media. Executives love social media.