Today we talk to Matt Hullum of Rooster Teeth. He shares with us how Burnie Burns and he started as students at UT, and how they took their own ideas and beliefs about video creation and distribution, and used it to change the industry. They are pioneers of online content, and whether it’s their sci-fi comedy, “Red vs. Blue,” anime, “RWBY,” feature film, “Lazer Team,” (sequel released soon), or RTX convention, they are constantly pushing the boundaries, and expanding what is possible in the video and online production world. They started from one spare bedroom, recording in a closet, and now they are have two buildings, 275 full-time employees, have had a #1 crowdfunding record and were a launch title for YouTubeRed. We thank Matt for taking time out of his very busy schedule to come on and share all about his background, and the current and future state of Rooster Teeth!
[2:20] Matt grew up in Atlanta, but his family is from Dallas. His dad and other family members went to UT, then moved to Atlanta. Matt went to UT and met Burnie Burns. He had a brief stint in LA, but came back once Rooster Teeth took off.
[3:27] Burnie was a computer science student, and was in the media group that did TV on campus, TXTV. Matt was a film student at the Department of Radio, TV and Film at UT, but having a hard time getting things made, and saw that it was way easier to get involved hands-on at TXTV. This was beneficial for having free reign of making their own content, and getting real life experience at broadcast TV.
[6:15] Burnie’s show Sneak Peek, a movie review show, is still on air.
[7:10] Their first film was called The Schedule.
[8:19] The hardest part was getting it shown, and going through gatekeepers for the screenings. Getting the film out there was harder than making it.
[9:00] Matt worked in LA on a sci-fi film called The Faculty, on visual effects and animation.
[10:08] Matt caught one of his employees that he was managing watching a video featuring their friend that Burnie helped create! They knew they were onto something on internet video distribution because the video had only been out for eight hours and it had already gotten out across the country organically.
[14:12] “Machinima” is a genre that uses video game engines to make animation much faster in almost real time. They used the video game “Halo” for “Red vs. Blue”. They repurposed the original intent of the Halo game into a comedy series in the vein of “Stripes” or “Seinfeld” — situational comedies where there isn’t much going on, and that is part of the comedy. They used the original video game to create the visuals then created dialogue by dubbing voices in.
[17:20] By the third episode, “Red vs. Blue” was doing a million downloads a week. They realized this is a real business!
[18:03] Microsoft called them and were excited to work with them. This began a relationship of over 15 years of Matt and Burnie working with Microsoft.
[19:46] They are in Season 15 right now of “Red vs. Blue.” They are the longest running American Sci-Fi of all time.
[20:46] Rwby is the only western anime that is broadcast in Japan. They created a channel and turned it into their own TV station with a ton of content and basically the first online TV channel.
[22:13] Rooster Teeth has over 275 full time employees.
[25:01] They did crowdfunding for their feature film, “Lazer Team.” It was the #1 campaign on Indiegogo by raising $2.4 million. They did screenings all around the world, and it was a launch title for YouTube Red. They just finished filming “Lazer Team 2,” and it will be out later this year.
[27:29] In some of the Rooster Teeth offices they have pieces from the set of from “Dusk Til Dawn.”
[28:27] They launched the RTX convention. It started for Rooster Teeth Expo and has expanded into a ComicCon type expo. They have a big show floor at the Austin Convention Center with new video games and special events. It’s a place for people to gain education, inspiration, and meet others in the community.
[34:32] Next week our guest is Meredith Walker, co-founder and Executive Director of Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls.”
Thank you to our Sponsor, the Papasan Properties Group.
Paco’s Taco’s | Paco’s Pick
Runner up is Juan in a Million | Don Juan
Mentioned in This Episode:
TXTV — Texas Student Television