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Felicia Day and The Guild: The Web Series That Saved Itself

by Ethan Tussey

by Stephanie Spiro for IN MEDIA RES

How do you save your show before it even starts?  You might want to embrace a new model, self-produce the show with the help of your interactive fans, bring it to the wild frontier that is the Internet, and work it on the web to amass a large set of followers using an audience collaboration model and the power of Twitter.  

This is what i-ingenue and queen of geek-chic, Felicia Day did with her web series, The Guild, a show about a gaming posse that blossomed out of Day's obsession with The World of Warcraft.

In terms of breaking into television as a star, Day was a new breed, virtually unknown in the world of A-listers.  Instead she was proving herself to be a self-made cyber-star, the web's ingenue, a major player amongst the nerds and i-listers (Internet folk).  Honest and accessible -- wearing her avatar heart on her digital sleeve -- Day was emerging as a Twitter goddess with the mind of a gamer.

In an interview with Fast Company, Day mentioned that television studios wouldn't be as interested in her show idea if they didn't think it had a mainstream audience.  She pointed out that in the world of the web, even a niche audience could be millions of people.  So Day engaged her cult following and created The Guild's 5+ minute episodes herself, her way, marketing it organically by cultivating an accessible, honest brand, and tapping in to her enormous social media network.

When the networks saw how popular The Guild was, they came calling, but by then Day had already partnered with Sprint and Microsoft and she had made a deal with XBOX 360 to cross entertainment and gaming platforms.  This also gave Day creative control of her show, something she may have lost if she had signed with a television network.

Five years after the launch of The Guild, Day's i-television empire grows in a medium that is more flexible than tradtional TV, allowing for more creative autonomy, and reaching a global community with a global village mentality.

Day was recently commissioned by YouTube to create a network called Geek and Sundry that plays to her "niche" crowd of millions.  Cancellation?  Never.  This is one i-ingenue with a show that is not in need of saving.

Do You Want to Date My Avatar?

The Guild music video

from The Guild (2009)
Creator: Felicia Day
Posted by Ethan Tussey