Interact with Somebody's Basement


Frequently Asked Questions

Foundation FAQs
Content-Related FAQs
Tech-Related FAQs
Player-Related FAQs
Rights-Related FAQs
Promotion-Related FAQs
Community-Related FAQs

Foundation FAQs

How did Somebody’s Basement come to be?

On January 19, 2007, Bonnie and Keith went to see a friend’s daughter’s band play at a hole-in-the-wall club in a strip mall in the Valley. It was the kind of place you’d miss from the street. And inside, there were wire-spool coffee tables, duct-taped sofas, and broke-down La-Z-Boy chairs. The stage was a whopping foot off the ratty, shag-carpet floor. The walls were festooned with black-light velvet posters. And there was a bar off to the side. As the band warmed up, Bon said, “I feel like we’re in somebody’s basement.”

Keith snatched Bonnie’s “Sixhundy” (AKA a trusty Handspring Tréo 600) and registered the domain name http://somebodysbasement.com. They decided that moment that, someday, they would have a space in Los Angeles called Somebody’s Basement. It would be an artists’ collective. It would be a safe place for gathering, working out material, rehearsing, collaborating, putting on a show, holding casting sessions, shooting, whatever. And the first $10M Bonnie and Keith get, they’ve already picked out the real estate in town on which they’ll bid.

As hyphenate David Nathan Schwartz said to Bon, years ago, “If you get five musicians in a room, you’ll get music. Five actors, why is it only bitching?” Why indeed? Bonnie and Keith decided Somebody’s Basement would be a place for creatives to collect and jam. Because if you bring together the right people at the right place at the right time, well, it’s like Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers—genius happens. Somebody’s Basement will be the place. We’re—daily—meeting the people. And, it turns out, now is the time.

Why “Somebody’s Basement” as a web distribution channel?

Well, it was inevitable. Bonnie got inspired, featuring “Self-Produced Clips of the Week” at her weekly Showfax column, showcasing actors who are out there doing it for themselves, rather than just clicking submit and waiting for the phone to ring.

She became addicted to MuseCast, which featured the weekly video journals of artists holding themselves accountable for their experiences, while demystifying some of the process of the pursuit of a career in show business for the viewers. She watched Diani & Devine go global, saw Dr. Horrible win an Emmy, and even tuned in for web-produced series on StrikeTV while flying Virgin Australia! She realized that actors have more power than ever, as self-producers, and decided to come together with some rockstar producing partners to offer self-producing actors a venue for their offerings. Sure, there’s YouTube. There’s Vimeo. There’s the option of hosting on your own site or at your Facebook page. But Bonnie Gillespie asked, “What if we created a place where original characters; music; actor journals; interviews with industry professionals; and reviews of products, services, and classes for actors—heck, even restaurant reviews, for cryin’ out loud—all co-exist?” What if everyone came together in Somebody’s Basement to see what’s going down?

The truth is, she knew the time was right to launch a channel like this. At first, it was going to be a YouTube channel care of Cricket Feet, starring invited producers. Then it was going to be something living on the Cricket Feet server. And then one night, Bonnie and Keith were walking home from the market in the summer of 2009, discussing the where and the how and the what of it all. “Could we put the vids up on Somebody’s Basement?” she asked, figuring there was certainly space there, since the name was just parked on this ridiculously large server waiting for the day the physical space came to be. Keith said, “Sure! We could put it all on Somebody’s Basement.” And then they both stopped walking, in an alley in Santa Monica, and as if in some corny movie musical, turned to each other and said, “We could put it all on Somebody’s Basement!”

Yes. This is what Somebody’s Basement would be. At least first. And no, we’re not visionary enough to have thought of that in January of 2007. We just parked the space back then. It would take until July of 2009 to realize that we had the best place for collaborators to jam, just downstairs.

What makes Somebody’s Basement different from YouTube, et. al.?

The most striking difference between Somebody’s Basement and the larger Internet video distributors is that we strive to provide nothing but top-quality independently-produced content, while they are open to less-than-professional material and cool stuff like hamsters on pianos (nothing wrong with that—just not our thing). Our goal is to become the place people go when they want to experience the best that Internet entertainment has to offer.

For producers of web content, we’re different in one major way, but it is just a variation on a way in which we’re similar. All major Internet video distributors require that you grant them rights to edit your work and make derivative works from your works. Now, while we ask for those rights as well, we, unlike the big guys, give you ownership of the edited and derived material. That means that if you give us something to put up and we cut some of it for time considerations (or for any other considerations), you can take the stuff we edited and sell it or do anything else with it that you want, without ever paying our editors for the service! Another difference that producers need to be made aware of is that if Somebody’s Basement distributes your work via any other type of media, you will always receive full credit as the producer of the work. This is a right you sign away when you post your work elsewhere. The likelihood that someone will run into your gem on your private site, or on YouTube or Facebook or Vimeo or Crackle or FunnyOrDie—and be able to negotiate any of your rights back for you—is low compared to the likelihood that they’ll begin to shop for original content produced for and by a community that would prefer to create than complain, right where the new goods are premiering, every week.

We may start small (no worries), but we’re striving to be the industry’s HOME PAGE. We’ll be the page they’ve set their browser to use, when they start up their ‘puters each day, because at least they’ll know, for sure, they can see a quick vid to start their day inspired by what self-producers are creating. There’s no other site where that is true. Lastly, if we do premiere your material (meaning that you use Somebody’s Basement for your initial launch), we require you—should you host or sell it somewhere else—to give us credit for the launch of your material. This is as simple as putting “originally produced in Somebody’s Basement” in the closing credits, once you post it elsewhere. We hope, eventually, to have a large family of really powerful producers who are all excited to list their premiere status as having been down in Somebody’s Basement—and that starts here and now.

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Content-Related FAQs

What are the categories you use in Somebody’s Basement?

  • Original Characters: This is the bulk of submissions we receive. Someone has an idea for the next viral darling, original webseries, whatever, and this is its launch point. It can be a pilot, a teaser, a trailer to a movie you don’t plan to submit to Somebody’s Basement, part one of a ten-part series, whatever. It doesn’t have to be scripted. Improvised content is fine. It’s just that the characters need to be not you, journaling, interviewing, or reviewing. This is basically our category for narrative content of any kind.
  • Journal: If you like to do the whole “direct to camera” video blog thing, talking about your journey, your observations, your experiences, and dos and don’ts and whatnot, this is the category for you. We’d also love to see you take your camera “out in the field” as you live your life, showing us a bit about your journey and your POV. This is primarily actors coaching fellow actors on what’s worked for them along the way, but we’re totally open to it being a series on, say, launching your own survival job business or staying positive or even something not at all related to the biz. Heck, we could have the next Shiba Inu Puppy Cam!
  • Interview: An extension of what Bon did with Back Stage West all those years ago, that got her into casting: Interviewing the pros in the biz, and doing so to demystify the process for peers, for self, etc., and of course this is a great way to connect with people who wouldn’t ask you into their offices with a headshot, but love to welcome you if you’re doing something “official” for a web channel.
  • Review: This can be reviews of restaurants, movies, plays, acting coaches, books, gyms, anything that might be of interest to anyone else who visits Somebody’s Basement. Great launchpad for someone looking to get into more mainstream reviewing as a host or commentator.
  • Music: Music videos, live performances, creative use of technology to assemble music, you name it!
  • Premiere: This category is an “overlay” (meaning your vid will be in one other category already) reserved for content that has not yet seen the light of day. Somebody’s Basement Premiere content will receive featured and promoted status on our site and within our presentations to interested parties in more mainstream distribution categories (i.e., traditional TV networks, DVD packaging).

What if my vid has already premiered elsewhere (YouTube, FunnyOrDie, Facebook, film festivals, etc.)?

Totally fine to submit, but your vid won’t qualify for Premiere status. We ask that you disclose your vid’s history at the time of submission, so we are sure you’re not putting us in a bad position with your previous agreement for distribution, which may have involved exclusivity. The burden is on you to be sure you have the rights to submit your vid to us. This goes for Premiere content as well.

What if my vid is over five minutes in length?

We’re strongly discouraging videos longer than five minutes, but of course we’ll look at anything you’d like to submit. If something is really special, we’ll consider making room for it, even if it goes over five minutes. But our five-minute limit is specifically in place for people who don’t know the delicate art of editing down to keep us all wanting more. You know, the folks who do those tedious direct-to-camera video journals for 10 and 20 minutes at a time, with no sense of awareness that no one can watch them babble on and on for that long. We want excellent content. We tend to find that is usually in the under five minutes territory. But, we’re always open to watching longer stuff, just to be sure!

Will you accept my entire webseries or just one episode?

We’ll decide this on a case-by-case basis. If you have a phenomenal first episode, we’ll commit to you for your entire series, assuming your quality is consistent. In fact, we have already invited specific producers to develop series for Somebody’s Basement based on their awesome pitches and our awareness of their level of work from previously produced self-produced projects. Further, there are some series we’re so excited about that we’ve agreed to come on as executive producers for them!

Do you require a pitch before accepting vids? Does my vid stand a better chance of being accepted if I pitch it first?

Certainly, some folks have done a pitch first, because they want to be sure we love their idea before they go deep into production, but that’s not a requirement, nor is enthusiasm over a pitch a guarantee that the vid will be screened in Somebody’s Basement. While pitches are fun, we’ve also gotten plenty of releases emailed in and footage uploaded without even knowing it’s coming (without even knowing the people, but they’ve heard about this from a manager or acting coach or self-producing friend—even before we’ve launched, which is so dang cool), and it’s all a fun process of discovery to see what everyone is doing. Absolutely, feel free to pitch first if that would make you happy. We’ll give you feedback and potentially steer you toward a crew, if that’s what your brilliant idea is missing. (See Community-Related FAQs for more on this concept.)

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Tech-Related FAQs

What are the tech requirements for my vid submission?

    Supported video formats

  • H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels for SD (960 by 540 pixels for WS), 30 frames per second, Low-Complexity version of the H.264 Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .mp4 file format
  • H.264 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels for SD (960 by 540 pixels for WS), 30 frames per second, Baseline Profile up to Level 3.0 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .mp4 file format
  • MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels for SD (960 by 540 pixels for WS), 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .mp4 file format

How will the Somebody’s Basement Player display my vid?

The player automatically adds black bars so that videos are displayed correctly without cropping or stretching, whatever the size of the video or the player. For example, the player will automatically add vertical bars (pillarboxing) to 4:3 videos in the 16:9 widescreen player size. However if the player is resized (when embedded on another website for example) the 16:9 videos are letterboxed (black bars top and bottom) when the player is sized to 4:3. Anamorphic videos will be automatically letterboxed when shown in either 16:9 or 4:3 sized players. The player can only do this if the native aspect ratio of the video is maintained.

Will the video file be converted to Flash for viewing?

MP4 files are the most versatile for mobile viewing, and although the player will be Flash-based the content will still be viewable on handhelds. However, please note that the video may be re-encoded prior to deployment. The closest the video is to the original source, with a minimum of intermediate re-encoding steps, the better. Each re-encoding can generally degrade the quality of your video. The general idea/theme is to keep the video as close to the original source as possible.

Will viewers be able to watch my vid in HD?

Depending on the overall quality of submissions—and if your file is submitted in HD—this may be an option that will be developed. Please check back for an update on this possibility.

I’m visiting the Somebody’s Basement mobile site using my handheld device. Why won’t the desktop site load when I click “visit the desktop site” from the mobile version on my handheld device?

When you visit the site on a mobile device or iPad, a custom version is loaded and a cookie is set. When you visit the desktop site, we test for the presence of this cookie. If, however, you have them disabled or blocked, no cookie will be detected. In that case, the site will assume you’re a new visitor and load the same custom version of the site. In order to visit the desktop site from a mobile device or iPad, we recommend you allow Somebody’s Basement to set a cookie. Don’t worry, our goal is to try to provide you with the best interface for your device. The cookie is set to expire after about an hour and we don’t use it for anything more than the test described above.

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Player-Related FAQs

What are the player-related system requirements?

To enjoy the vids on Somebody’s Basement, make sure you have access to: Adobe Flash Player 10.0.22 or above, Microsoft Windows XP SP2 or later, Macintosh OS X 10.4 or above, or Linux Internet Explorer 6.0 or above, Firefox 2.0 or above, or Safari 3.0, or Chrome 4.0 or above. JavaScript and Cookies must also be enabled. In addition, you will need an Internet connection with sufficient bandwidth.

How can I watch vids in full-screen mode?

To watch a vid in full-screen mode, press the “Full Screen” icon to the right of the player. To exit full-screen mode, simply press the “Esc” button on your keyboard. If you are unable to watch vids in full-screen mode, please close your web browser and open it again. If this doesn’t fix the issue, you may have an older version of Adobe Flash installed. Uninstall Flash following this link. Restart your computer. Reinstall the latest version of Flash here. If you’re still having issues playing in full-screen mode and have Adobe Flash Player or later installed, please visit the Adobe Tech Support page for further assistance.

What about using the player across dual monitors?

There are some technical snags in Adobe Flash that cause the full-screen mode not to function for dual screens. If you’re working in one screen, the full-screen mode will not work in another. As a suggestion you can load the vid you want to watch, select the pop-out player option (link to the right of the player), move it to the monitor desired, and expand to fit your screen.

What about viewing HQ vids?

HQ vids are higher quality, which means improved sharpness and visual clarity. Yay! The difference is especially noticeable in videos that contain text or fast movement and in full-screen mode. Many of the vids on Somebody’s Basement are viewable in HQ by clicking the link to the right of the player.

How do I embed the Somebody’s Basement player?

For users who want to share content on their personal websites, social networking profiles, or blogs, Somebody’s Basement Player Embeds play a single video and are easily inserted on to any webpage. Users can grab a video’s embed code and add the code to their own sites or social network profiles to share with friends. To embed a vid on a website, go to the vid page for the video which you’d like to embed in another site. To the right of the video player you’ll see an icon labeled “Embed” click this button and a field will appear with text. In the embed field you’ll see some code: this is the embed code. Example of embed code:

Copy and paste the embed code into your site and the video will play on that site.

What if the player is giving me audio issues?

Most of the audio issues can be fixed with very simple adjustments. Make sure that the video you’re watching isn’t muted and that the volume is not set too low. Check that your computer speaker volumes and settings are correctly set. On a Windows computer, you can check this by double-clicking the volume icon in the System Tray and making sure that none of your volume settings are muted. On a Macintosh system, the volume controls are located in the top right corner of the screen. Check that other media speakers such as Windows Media Player or QuickTime can output audio. Are you able to hear a video that’s stored locally on your computer? Restart the browser and try watching videos again. Try re-booting your computer. If these steps do not resolve your issue, you may need to reinstall your Flash drivers. To do so, uninstall Flash following this link. Restart your computer. Reinstall the latest version of Flash here.

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Rights-Related FAQs

I shot my vid under the SAG New Media Agreement. Does that conflict with the Somebody’s Basement release regarding “all media”?

Nope! The SAG New Media Agreement actually includes language about what to do if something you’ve produced under their contract escalates to another tier of distribution. We love the SAG New Media Agreement and are exec producing several series for Somebody’s Basement using it!

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Promotion-Related FAQs

How can I help promote my vid once I’ve been notified it’s been chosen to screen in Somebody’s Basement?

Once your vid goes live in Somebody’s Basement, you can point folks to your content using the unique URL for your vid and its info, ratings, and comments from users. You can also use the page’s RSS feed to help populate your Twitter page, your personal blog, your Facebook page, etc., with updated comments being made to your vid’s page at Somebody’s Basement. Further, each vid living on Somebody’s Basement will feature a bank of “share buttons” that you can use to share your content at any of the major social networking sites or your blog, including embeddability using the Somebody’s Basement Player.

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Community-Related FAQs

I have an idea for a vid, but I’m not a director. Can you connect me to a crew?

Possibly! We have a private group on Facebook for invited writers, directors, actors, and producers whose level of work is impressive and for whom we want to encourage collaboration on future content for Somebody’s Basement. Pre-approved production units and/or pre-approved writers/writing teams will be invited to skip certain steps in the process of submission to Somebody’s Basement. Pre-approved production units working with pre-approved writers/writing teams are granted further “skip stepping” through the submission process. These vids also qualify for priority/expedited distribution in Somebody’s Basement and featured status at the site.

May I promote my goods, services, or anything else to members of the Somebody’s Basement community?

Nope. Any advertising or promotion, or behavior that could be construed as such for a person, product, production, service, or entity via comments, messages, or other means of direct contact on the Somebody’s Basement website or any of its affiliated servers is strictly prohibited.

What is defined as “prohibited commercial use” in your Terms of Service?

Prohibited commercial use is defined as posting Somebody’s Basement content—as prescribed by the Somebody’s Basement Terms of Service or otherwise—in an environment outside of Somebody’s Basement for the purpose of personal gain (i.e., posting Somebody’s Basement content on an ad-supported blog or website for the purpose of generating income from said ad support). That said, you absolutely may use the Somebody’s Basement Distribution Products to display Somebody’s Basement content on ad-enabled blogs or websites, provided the primary purpose of using the Somebody’s Basement Distribution Products is not to gain advertising revenue or to compete with Somebody’s Basement.

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