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The Fate of Wicked City Girls

01 Jan 2019 17:21 #62462 by Jim T-Shirt
The Fate of Wicked City Girls was created by Jim T-Shirt
Hi all!I'm gonna ramble on for a minute, but first I'll get the main bullet points out of the way...Sadly, Wicked City Girls is done and over with. It's actually been over with
for more than a year, it's just taken me this long to admit it's gone.The site is closed down, the core team has disbanded, and our parent company, Usual Time Productions, has been dissolved.We have one last film, Iridium, that I do plan on releasing as soon as I
can. I'm not sure what platform it will be on, but I'll let everyone
here at SWM know first.And now a more in-depth look at Wicked City Girls for those interested:5 years ago we had a vision: create a cinematic universe in which the
girls held all the power. We endeavored to create something that
Hollywood would never touch; something that was bigger, deeper, and more
cinematic than superheroine fans had ever seen. We were determined to
treat the superheroine genre as something more than a fetish.With a cheap camera and a big idea, we began production on Wicked City
Girls. For 2 years straight we were constantly shooting with one rule:
Make each episode better than the last.By the time Meridian and November Hotel came out in 2016, we could finally see our original vision starting to come to life.And this is where things started to fall apart...Our movies were getting more and more expensive to produce and we were
quickly reaching a point where they weren't making a profit. The fan
base that we were counting on turned out to me much smaller and far less
supportive than we had hoped. On top of that, rampant, illegal file
sharing was wiping out our sales by more than 75%. (I'm not gonna name
names, but we all know who's responsible)With insufficient budgets to fund future episodes, we had to scale back. We
could no longer afford our cast, so the actresses who played Callie,
Sasha, Charlie, Paige, and Lex all moved on.We probably should've given up, but instead we began focusing on a "soft
reboot" of WCG that we referred to as "Wicked City Girls: Season 2." New
characters, deeper mythology, leaner, more efficient productions.We still needed money to get Season 2 off the ground, so with limited
resources, we produced a series of smaller "One-Shot" episodes with the
hope of investing those potential profits back into WCG.Unfortunately that didn't work. The Rack, Murderfest, and Dark Forest all sold poorly.We still didn't give up. We funded the first Season 2 movie, Iridium,
completely out of pocket. Once Iridium wrapped, we began work on what
would have been the next chapter, "Tracer".As we started pre-production on Tracer, we finally had to face reality. We
were broke. The financial strain was finally getting to us. The
audience wasn't there. We pulled the plug.I don't think even our most loyal fans ever truly understood how much
work went into WCG. From the 20 hour shoots, to the tens of thousands of
dollars we invested in equipment, to the absolute heartbreak we felt
when we'd see our movies show up on file sharing sites an hour after we
released them.To be fair, a few senior members here at SWM did warn us not to get too
ambitious with WCG; "Super heroine fans are like Star Wars fans; in the
end they'll kill the thing they love." (The author of that quote was
spot-on)In closing, I don't regret anything. We met some amazing people during
this journey and created some of the best memories we'll ever have.To everybody who ever supported us: THANK YOU!!!JT
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01 Jan 2019 18:45 #62464 by lfan
Replied by lfan on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
A damn shame, but not surprising.   The losers who callously post to file sharing sites are Keep calling themselves "fans" are killing our genre.  While everyone has the right to support or not support producers by purchasing their movies, I hope this serves as a cautionary tale.

ive seen firsthand what Jim says, first with The Awakening and the Steeles and later with Sierra and PSW.  It is ridiculous how little time passes after release before someone is posting to a file sharing site.  

Same goes to sharing "the best parts" clips in a public chat room or forum.  Please.  Fucking.  Stop.

elf
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01 Jan 2019 19:08 - 01 Jan 2019 21:42 #62465 by kikass2014
Replied by kikass2014 on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
"The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy."

Sorry to hear you are gone.

But thank you for posting and explaining the situation, rather then just fading away.  That is much appreciated.

And thank you for the wonderful productions you put together.  I have (legit) all of them and they really are (still) a cut above all in terms of production values imo.  Except Iridium ofc, which I will purchase as soon as you release it :)

Piracy is the bane of any digital content creator.  I can understand the effort that goes into making something like Wildcard: Deception, having dabbled myself (not superheroine genre though).  Unfortunately I have not, and tbh cannot, see how to circumvent the copy/sharing.  Maybe on day, there will be a way. 

Wish all of you the best of luck with whatever your current endevors are.

I will sorely miss your teams productions.

Peace.

/K
Last edit: 01 Jan 2019 21:42 by kikass2014. Reason: Typo

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01 Jan 2019 19:16 #62466 by ace191
Replied by ace191 on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
My mom was a teacher and more than half a century ago she told me that all it takes is one kid to ruin the fun for all.  Just as true a statement today as it was back then.  I think the only way this works is when a dedicated and talented individual like Random puts together modest budget productions and has a solid group of fans who support his work.  If it's a hobby, all you need to do is break even, so what I would suggest is that we as a community do what we can to support those who despite all the negatives continue to turn out great products for us to enjoy.

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01 Jan 2019 19:18 #62467 by Gincognifo
Replied by Gincognifo on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls

ace191 wrote: My mom was a teacher and more than half a century ago she told me that all it takes is one kid to ruin the fun for all.  Just as true a statement today as it was back then.  I think the only way this works is when a dedicated and talented individual like Random puts together modest budget productions and has a solid group of fans who support his work.  If it's a hobby, all you need to do is break even, so what I would suggest is that we as a community do what we can to support those who despite all the negatives continue to turn out great products for us to enjoy.


Except with file-sharing, it's a case of one kid to ruin it all and a bunch of others to take advantage of what they did.
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01 Jan 2019 19:31 #62468 by ace191
Replied by ace191 on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
Very true.

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01 Jan 2019 19:51 #62470 by Sarge395
Replied by Sarge395 on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
Sad to see you go.  

It would seem the only way today for smaller niche producers to get their due is to use a Patreon or pre funding site.  

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01 Jan 2019 20:52 #62471 by fats
Replied by fats on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
it saddens me to see one of the top producers die due to the sharing of the videos, I've spotted a number and have reported them as soon as I can, sometimes only a few hours after the video has been released, it's a damn shame.

Jim has my full support if he ever wants to restart WCG and wants a dedicated space either on the site or the server, I will help in any way I can.

Fats

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01 Jan 2019 23:00 #62472 by Markiehoe
Replied by Markiehoe on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
Truly sad to see this happen.
Good luck in the future WCG team.

Like mentioned earlier in this case it is not the one person but every "fan" that takes advantage of file sharing that ruins it for producers and legitimate fans who will pay for content.
It is a bigger problem than just one guy.

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01 Jan 2019 23:32 #62474 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
I've watched this kind of thing happen over and over since the 90's. If any operation needs money to operate (which usually means video), then the Internet is going to fail them. Piracy is always the cause.

Paradoxically, free sharing of information was actually the goal of the Net when it first rolled out. The idea was to break down the hoarding of content by publishers and academic citadels and to free everyone to share and consume material without regard to compensation or control. The disclaimers on my AU site back then kind of went along the line of "you are free to share this story as long as you give credit to the original author(s), but permission is required from the author for sharing this story outside the known universe". A tongue-and-cheek bit of fan service to Science Fiction. But the point was clear... sharing a story is a good thing. 

That was the prevailing ideology of the time. We were going to make everything freely available to everyone who wanted it. It was an opportunity to get your material out to a larger audience. I felt so strongly about the free model of the Net that I made it a point of principle to not link to commercial sites back when the AU was popular.

But people soon found that they needed money to produce content, and various ways to protect the distribution of content arose -- and always failed. What amazes me is that nearly 30 years later, we are essentially back where we started. Publishers controlling the content, and advertising paying the bills for magazines and TV. Now its Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, etc. but still the same thing. 

Perhaps the original design of the Internet is the root cause. It wasn't designed for commercial benefit but for free sharing of info among academics, and then everyone. Trying to layer on systems to protect content has never worked, That would be incredibly frustrating if I needed to raise money. 

But I don't, and I'm pleased that the SWM retains its focus on the original intent of the Internet -- to collect and freely distribute the efforts of authors, and to provide a forum to encourage dialog.  But SWM largely works because it's a labor of love and is low budget enough to live within the boundaries of donations. 

The big risk with sites like SWM is fatigue on the part of the folks creating and moderating the forum. That eventually becomes insurmountable unless the members are uniquely supportive. That fatigue becomes critical when the expectations of the developers are not being realized. That was visible around expectations for discussion of the Supergirl TV show. 

One suggestion for commenters -- ensure that every critique (whether a TV show or a story or whatever) is balanced by praise. And vice versa, praise always comes with some opportunities for improvement. It's so easy given Internet culture to be continuously negative on things you don't like that it gets wearisome, even when it's deserved. Always find something to mention that you like when you critique. 

That's especially important to maintain a positive attitude among the folks who work to keep a site like SWM working. What you say on commercial forums is less worrisome, given they don't live for the discussions. 

The SWM, which operates (thankfully) outside the space of most of the rest of the Internet, is a special place. 

Anyway, my 2 cents. (And something I'm as guilty of as anyone else. It's easy to forget.)

Shadar

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02 Jan 2019 19:00 - 02 Jan 2019 19:04 #62480 by Kamelmann
Replied by Kamelmann on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
I never realised that piracy affected our niche area.. and that it decimates sales by that much.. I'm honestly shocked, especially if those doing it claim to be 'fans'... what the hell do they think will happen if they don't support the creators of the content they claim to love so much..?!

Of the clips I bought, I enjoyed all of them immensely. Thank you for sticking with it and trying something so ambitious.

As mentioned above.. perhaps patreon/subcribestar will be a possible future funding route for creators going forwards so they have a defined/known, and secured income.. beyond further sales from some of the fetish clip sites? 
Last edit: 02 Jan 2019 19:04 by Kamelmann. Reason: I suck at typing when flabbergasted..

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02 Jan 2019 22:15 #62482 by Random321
Replied by Random321 on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
It's really disappointing to be losing a content creator that tried to raise the bar with non X original characters. I'm sorry the team sounds so disappointed and your investment took a hit.

Thank-you for your contribution to the genre of super powered women.

Looking forward to what TKS, Taurus, Heroineburgh, others, and any new content creators bring.

Project Super Woman
SFX Laden Video Shorts and Digital Comics Featuring Super Heroines
www.projectsuperwoman.com
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02 Jan 2019 23:08 #62484 by Starforge
Replied by Starforge on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
Very sorry to hear this.

GoT season 7 pirated over 1B times (that's not a typo.)  It's a plague, but one of our own creation.  Not everyone does it (I've always refused to pirate and buy my own material be that games, movies or whatever) but I know and I'm sure many of you know others who will look at you like you're an idiot if you have that philosophy.

Many creators have moved over to rely on things like Patreon to let people fund them directly apart from buying a product to avoid the fact that, today, it's incredibly easy to replicate any form of media.  Given the opportunity - people will steal.  Given the fact they can do this from the privacy of their home with no real repercussions, I don't see any easy way to avoid it.

Best of luck in the future.

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03 Jan 2019 04:24 #62485 by Grif
Replied by Grif on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
Sad to hear that it's gone. I enjoyed the episodes that I did purchase from the Wicked City Girls site. Hope yourself and the crew retain your passion for film making for as long as possible. 

Wicked City Girls will be missed.

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03 Jan 2019 05:20 #62486 by Ffejl
Replied by Ffejl on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
I'm sorry, but I have a hard time buying the 'piracy killed us' line of reasoning.

First, lemme get this out of the way:  I bought every single WCG release, and I'm glad I did.  And I never posted any of them anywhere.

Also, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to see something you've poured your heart and soul into show up on DownLoadMeForFree.com.  In your shoes, I'm sure I'd be pissed as hell.

But the problem with 'piracy killed us' is the belief that views on free sites represent lost sales.  They don't, at least not in any kind of significant quantity.  Nearly everyone who watches a video on a free site were never going to pay for the video, anyway.  The only price point those viewers are willing to spend is $0, or so close to $0 that WCG (or anyone else) couldn't have made the economics works.

WCG was a quality product and Jess, you did great work in promoting it.  There simply isn't a large enough audience to support the kind of quality you wanted to produce.  That sucks, to be sure.  But that's the bottom line.
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03 Jan 2019 06:16 #62487 by willow
Replied by willow on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
That is unfortunate. It would be interesting to learn how online piracy affects Blue Stone Production, Taurus Productions, Random's work, JonX's work, or even the old Mandi Steele content.

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03 Jan 2019 08:08 #62488 by d_k_c
Replied by d_k_c on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
I'm skeptical that piracy has adverse affect on quality product. It was mentioned in a thread that GOT was downloaded a billion times. Suggesting that potentially 1 in 7 people got a free copy of the series. Yet if I told you that GOT was profitable you shouldn't be shocked. 

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03 Jan 2019 11:13 #62492 by Starforge
Replied by Starforge on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
Yep, GoT was profitable.  Doesn't make the piracy any less about stealing than it is.  That's like saying - hey - those people are rich so it's OK if we take their stuff.  It's not like they don't make enough money to replace it.  I'm not insinuating that you were saying that stealing was OK, simply refuting the notion you mentioned at the end that they were still profitable.  So?

The reason I mentioned Patreon in this case here isn't so much about increasing the number of people buying niche products, but allowing people to spend what they will to have those products produced.  Setting a fixed price on such things when your potential base of customer is limited might reduce your possible income.  I'm no expert on such things, but a number of content creators from DA seem to make a living doing so.  Of course, the overhead of creating a story isn't what it would be for video so I'm not trying to say that *I* know personally what the numbers would need to be, but it does allow people to donate within their means and some people are well capable of donating more than the price of a video if they are interested in the product.  Value, after all, is relative.

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03 Jan 2019 14:35 #62494 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls

Ffejl wrote: I'm sorry, but I have a hard time buying the 'piracy killed us' line of reasoning.

First, lemme get this out of the way:  I bought every single WCG release, and I'm glad I did.  And I never posted any of them anywhere.

Also, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to see something you've poured your heart and soul into show up on DownLoadMeForFree.com.  In your shoes, I'm sure I'd be pissed as hell.

But the problem with 'piracy killed us' is the belief that views on free sites represent lost sales.  They don't, at least not in any kind of significant quantity.  Nearly everyone who watches a video on a free site were never going to pay for the video, anyway.  The only price point those viewers are willing to spend is $0, or so close to $0 that WCG (or anyone else) couldn't have made the economics works.

WCG was a quality product and Jess, you did great work in promoting it.  There simply isn't a large enough audience to support the kind of quality you wanted to produce.  That sucks, to be sure.  But that's the bottom line.


I think you got it backward. The problem isn't that there are people unwilling to pay even a single copper for any kind of content, but that there are other that indulged them and even put these content on other sites. The result is that all those people that might consider to buy it at some point (like me) won't because there is a free source immediately avaible.

(formerly Anon, still Librarian)

"What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?" ("Gentleman" John Marcone)

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03 Jan 2019 17:32 #62495 by Jim T-Shirt
Replied by Jim T-Shirt on topic The Fate of Wicked City Girls
Thanks for the kind words everyone; I'll make sure to pass it along to the rest of the WCG team :)
I'm gonna try my best to respond from the Producer's point-of-view:
To be clear, this wasn't a case of "piracy killed Wicked City Girls."
Yes, piracy was the "straw that broke the camel's back", but there were other factors.
Because we were working on such a small scale, we felt the impact of piracy a
lot more than HBO does with Game of Thrones. It's an apples-to-oranges
comparison.
We could see it plain as day: as the instances of file sharing went up, our sales went down.
Wicked City Girls was actually the first step in a much larger plan; we
intended to grow it to a point where we could either do a feature film,
or possibly shop WCG as a legitimate series to Netflix or Amazon.
As long as we were breaking even, we were fine. When we stopped breaking even, we had to shut down.
Now let's talk about the thing that nobody's talking about...
Making superheroine movies is hard!
One of the main reasons we never treated Wicked City Girls as "fetish videos" is because, well, they're difficult to produce.
Let's be real here: we all love beautiful girls with superpowers, right? We all want to see them in action, right?
So at some point we have to SHOW THE SUPERPOWERS!
This calls for complex VFX, wire removal, stunt actors, careful
choreography, intricate camera work, compositing, editing...you get my
point??? (It takes time and money)
In a nutshell, we were producing expensive content for an audience that's too small to pay for it.
We knew this going in, of course we hoped the core audience was a little bigger...
You see, this is why Wicked City Girls had a plot, character arcs, and a
growing mythology. We knew at some point we were gonna need to cultivate
a bigger audience, so we started laying the groundwork from day one.
Hell, the first Judgment Girl episode was mostly filmed in my backyard, but
it still hinted at a larger world and a bigger story.
It's not all doom and gloom though...
During WCG's run we talked to quite a few industry professionals. We showed
them our sales numbers and our YouTube numbers and they all agreed that
we were onto something. We just needed to take it a little further.
Unfortunately, we died within sight of the finish line.
The support we had from you guys actually went a long way and we're
eternally grateful for it. We always tried to give back as much as we
could; our movies were never more than $15 and we tried to release as
much free content as we could. (We probably could've done a better job
at answering emails though!)
I've got more to say on this, but I'm rambling on again, so I'll take a break :)
JT
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