By Michael Varrati
While I admit guzzling champagne directly from the bottle isn’t the most traditional way to kick off an afternoon, I’ve also come to discover that the unconventional tends to be par for course when you’re spending the day at Machinima HQ.
After a riotous morning with the dudes from “Inside Gaming” (which you can read about here), I hopped next door to the office of Machinima ETC to meet up with Khail Anonymous (the show’s host and senior producer) and Jeremy Hache (senior producer/on-air accomplice) to get the skinny on their high octane channel.
Within minutes, I was whisked off to a green-screen studio, where I not only was recruited by Khail to cameo in the weekly “Top 3” video, but also bore witness to the spry host popping open no less than five champagne bottles as part of their regular challenge segment. Just like the bubbly itself, the whole experience was a little dizzying and extremely delicious. The energy that Khail and company portray on screen is no act, but a sneak peek into a frenetic funhouse that they live in every single day.
With the video wrapped, each of us was handed an open bottle of champagne to nurse, and we all returned to the ETC office to do a proper sit-down that began as all great interviews ought…
…with a toast.
“ETC has gone through quite a few iterations before it’s become what it is today,” Khail tells me of the channel’s inception. “It’s basically become a soup…a jambalaya, actually…of all the stuff that we love. It’s none of the filler. It’s none of the stuff we think we need to talk about, it’s just the good stuff. It’s supposed to be a quick, fun fix.”
However, don’t let the idea of a “quick fix” fool you into thinking that the channel is somehow put together in a slapdash fashion. While the information presented on ETC may seem to come at a breakneck pace, the details of each particular episode are well-curated, displaying a high encyclopedic knowledge of the pop culture world the show inhabits.
When I ask Khail about how the show even begins to sort the massive amount of material available per video, he displays visible excitement. It is clear that the discovery of the show’s content is as much fun for him as it is for the audience who later gets to learn that information through his lens.
“We get in and we get excited about our day,” he says. “We immediately open up all our pores to what the internet has to offer. We check reddit, we check all the blogs we love, we look at what other people are covering, Twitter, Facebook. We just open up for a good hour and a half, and then say, ‘Okay, what’s important?’ What if someone ran in the room right now and said, ‘Here’s what you NEED to see!’ That’s what we like to do. That’s how our mornings are, that’s how we shuffle everything together.”
Furthermore, Khail reveals, if this process seems exciting to you as the audience, Machinima has recently taken steps so that you can throw in and be part of their daily morning madness.
“We have a morning live-stream now, which is new as of this week,” Khail shares. “The idea behind it is that everybody is looking at different forums, and when we come in here, we’re all talking about something different. We live-stream us talking about all the things we’ve found. It’s an organic, fun way for the audience to get involved with how we create the content, because transparency is so important on YouTube.”
With so many different outlets to pull from and so many equally different ways to present the material, ETC has certainly had its share of golden moments on the web. Regular viewers know that Khail, Jeremy, and company pull
no punches in creating a fun, energetic recap of the world’s pop culture events, and often do so with a sense of off-beat humor that leaves viewers coming back for more.
When I ask Khail, who’s been the host since the very beginning, if there are any moments that stand out to him, he takes a moment to really mull the question, as if each day was such a unique adventure, it was hard to single one particular thing out.
“The things that I like to do are the things that people have seen before, but with a fun spin,” he says.
“I am big fan of our ‘Drunkets,’ where we get drunk and go interview a celebrity. I’m not pro-alcohol abuse, but it is funny to see someone completely open up in front of a celebrity and not be scared. We also did a thing where I did speed-dating with someone, but they had to wear a shock collar and an ear piece, and had to say what I told them. Oh, also ‘See No Movie, Hear No Movie’ where we do a review with a bit of alteration. I’m a big fan of anything that brings entertainment and information at the same time. That’s what we want. We want to be entertained, but we want to be informed. Life’s too short to not have a little bit of both. My best moments are when I finish an episode and I can say, ‘That’s solid, because that provided both.’”
Of course, with such a firm commitment to informational entertainment, the team at ETC has trail-blazed in the world of content presentation; garnering fans who relish each and every video for its unique take on the world at large. With such a devoted viewership and a mission statement that cites fun in its very foundation, Khail is quick to remind me that, despite all other elements, a channel’s success is still contingent on one factor alone.
“Passion is the most important thing on YouTube, because that’s what people want to watch, that’s what people want to follow, and that’s what good people have…a passion, a drive, and an ability to evolve,” he says. “Those are the channels that I love, those are the people I follow. We try and show that passion on our channel. We show how much we love television, how much we love movies, and all that stuff. We want to show that we’re big fans. Sometimes we’re just as big a fan as you, sometimes maybe more!”