Not long ago the Writers Guild of America decided to strike to further their negotiations with the networks and studios in regards to the internet. During this time writer/producer Frank Zanca decided to create a sitcom pilot made to air as webisodes as well as to pitch to the networks. When he placed an advertisement on Craigslist looking for help he had no idea the caliber of people that would respond.
Without the writers, the entire industry had ground to a halt and everyone was looking for new projects. The internet looked very appealing and so a partnership was formed between Frank and Timothy Ryder, former producer of That '70s Show and 3rd Rock from the Sun. The production began and several months later the sitcom pilot, Sunset Stand Up, was born. It would be the first of several productions Frank and Tim would engage upon until the unspoken question begged for an answer: What now?
The duo, under the Big Smiley Entertainment banner, proposed a website purely for the distribution of the myriad low-budget webisode series that were currently in production by independent filmmakers. So they set to work on creating such a site and requesting that filmmakers send in their material for review.
After nine months of designs and re-designs, StayTunedTV.net was officially set live on June 16th, 2009 with a mere three shows. Now, eighteen weeks later the site has blossomed into a fully functional on-line television network with close to thirty shows ranging from webisode series to shorts of various genres.
"The episodes air weekly in the same designated time slot much the same as network television," says Frank. "However, once they air, they remain in their particular category until the subsequent season is produced."
StayTunedTV runs a quarterly contest doling out five hundred dollars to the series or short with the most hits during that three month period. They are presently in their second quarter after C-Squared Pictures won for their series Accidental Heroes, while Zach and the Bikini Girls has now risen to the top with a tremendous lead.
Recently Frank and Tim have revamped the '80s television show The Greatest American Hero starring Don Stark of That '70s Show and Veronica Mars' Duane Daniels. With rave reviews from fans it is currently ranked third on the site. In addition, their second sitcom pilot - Just the 3 of Us, starring sketch comedy artists, Kristen Herbert, Brandon McConnell and Rick Steadman, along with film festival winner for best actress, Debra Hopkins, was accepted into the Valley Film Festival. They have also just completed a short film entitled Manipulation starring German actress Anna Daria Fontane, which is currently in post production.
Several notable series on StayTunedTV.net are the various Star Wars fan films, including the award winning Pink 5, by Trey Stokes and Amy Earhart as well as several Batman fan films such as, Grayson and Batman: Dead End. Original series such as Misadventures in Matchmaking starring Jenna Elfman's husband, Bodhi, Mad Maxine and Sin City inspired Dead End City are a must see.
"It's truly amazing what independent filmmakers are doing with little or no budget," says Zanca. "Some of these shows rival network and studio productions." Tim and Frank have hopes of creating an on-line awards show in the vein of the Golden Globes to honor those filmmakers that have gone above and beyond what their budget allowed.
The creators of StayTunedTV.net encourage people to become members of the site in order to critique and rate shows as well as uploading their own and chatting in the Community Section. Members may also vote for their favorite shows, actors, writers and directors for the first annual STTV awards.
"These are exciting times for filmmaking and the internet allows us the tools to have our work seen and appreciated around the globe."
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