Helbig, the former YouTube face of website MyDamnChannel who now hosts her own Youtube channel It’s Grace, announced the venture with production company Astronauts Wanted at Vidcon today in Anaheim during “Industry Day” of the giant fan festival. The show, #HeyUSA, will launch July 1 and will be executive produced by Billy Parks and Nick Shore of Astronauts Wanted, the online-media shingle of former MTV CEO Judy McGrath. The show has “a little bit of a traditional show” mentality in it, Parks said, but still with lots of the interactive elements that make YouTube productions so much more involving for young fans. During shooting through the summer, the two online stars will be featured about three times a week in behind-the-scenes video shorts as they visit fan-suggested sights in eight U.S. cities. The weekly shorts would typically run 2- to 5-minutes long, Parks said. Another friend and YouTube notable, Hannah Hart of My Drunk Kitchen, is also expected to appear. This fall, the site will post eight more -finished, longer episodes pulling together all the events in each city. “It’s dizzying if you don’t love the platform,” said Parks of the complicated two-way process of creating the show. “Here’s a great way to connect with an audience if you love the way this audience works. If you create varied platform-specific content, it gets less dizzying.”
Helbig acknowledged the programming is a bit more ambitious than the kind of one-person-and-a-camera projects she’s typically been associated with. “It’s definitely a step up from what I’ve traditionally been doing on the Internet, and that was a goal of this,” said Helbig, 28. “Mamrie and I love travel, So we conceptualized an interactive travel show. We derive ideas from the two-way conversation between us and (their fans). We want people to learn from our mistakes.”
Hart and Helbig have been collaborating for several years in various ways, beginning when both lived in Brooklyn and had less-than-traditional work schedules. Now, they are in Los Angeles, and Helbig is pursuing a range of opportunities online and off.
“To be honest, I don’t know” what project will be next, Helbig said. “I’ve kind of abandoned the idea of having long-term plans for things. The way my brand has grown has been trying to have an authentic relationship with my audience, not playing a character. It’s interactive, it’s personal. This is purely an experiment right now. So we’re saying yes to projects that make sense to us and to our fans.”
Parks said the program is being funded by Astronauts Wanted as the company explores ways to drive revenue for the project. “Lots of great opportunities are emerging,” Parks said. “There’s probably some branded content we can work with. There’s stuff we can sell. We’re early in the game, focusing on great talent to make great content with.”