This is going to be long and disorganized and I'm not going to bother to edit it. This is how Machinima hurt my trusting boyhole
I started making Bro Team videos in June, 2011. My roommates and I occasionally made dumb videos and put them up on my one roommate's channel, Digitom. At the time, an illness I had felt for years had reached its peak; what I thought to be a gluten-insensitivity turned out to be an enlarged prostate, and had a bunch of effects that made my life shit (so to speak). Besides never being able to shit properly and all that kind of good stomach stuff, if I stood up for too long, I got extremely dizzy and light-headed. I'd get vertigo sometimes instantaneously. I couldn't work. Most of the time I just laid in bed or sat in front of my computer. It was shit.
I had ambitions. I had finished film school a year earlier and wanted to start my own production company. I wanted to start acquiring gear and writing scripts, to eventually start shooting my own short films. Or work freelance on sets. Or do freelance editing and other post-production work. Instead, I was some fucking slime wasting my youth away in a shitty Toronto apartment. I had a lot of anguish. I figured I would probably spend the rest of my life like this. Working on Digitom videos was a great distraction and made me feel like the skills I just spent three years learning weren't just going to waste.
After several months, I slowly started to get better. I had an idea for a while that I thought I'd finally try out. I'd seen shitty $1 games on Steam forever. I thought it would be fun to try to talk them up in pseudo-review videos as if they were incredible while clearly showing their irreconcilable flaws. You know how you have ideas of "Wouldn't it be fun to make a _______ where _______...?” and they just kind of linger on your mind's back burner for a long time. It was one of those. But then one night, I decided to just go for it. The angle was originally going to be a mild Christian kid slowly getting frustrated at his very evident inability to defend the merits of whatever game and then eventually drop some cusses. He'd work himself into a shitfit of anger and guilt. My voice recordings for this were shit though, and I just started recording myself screaming the lines out. Then I realized this angle was more fun. I had never heard of all these other "angry gaming videos” before, and if I had, I probably would have never even started this project. Anyway, I had a laugh and it was fun as shit. I showed it to my roommates and they put it on the Digitom channel.
I made 3 or 4 more videos over the next two months. I thought it would become a niche series that maybe 300 Digitom regulars would check out and be in on. Then it would die, and I would have had my fun. It was just fun to have something substantial to consistently focus on. My health came back pretty quickly in that period and I was almost fully well again (my ass is still weird though so it hasn't been perfect butt fuck it). Then I made a video for Battlefield 3 in September and then my dumb videos took off over night.
I made my own channel for the videos and within the month, had tons of offers to join shitty gaming sites,shitty gaming "startups”, and a bunch of Youtube networks. One of them was Machinima. I'd always heard a lot of craptalk about them, but I figured I'd take a look at their contract anyway. I wasn't a 16 year old that they were going to trick into making headshot montages or whatever. I had just turned 25 when I started making Bro Team videos (God, this fucking thing is sounding more like the Elliot Rodger manifesto the longer it gets) and was capable of reading a contract and understanding what English words are. I joined, things were great. I was making more money for my videos than I would if I were just dumping them onto Youtube without an MCN. Within a month after that, the writers from Valve emailed me saying they were my biggest fans. This actually happened. How fucked up is that? Obviously, I shit myself instantly. They sent me a box of merch and then a few months later they asked me to write some things for TF2. How fucking surreal do you think my existence was?
Around the same time, Russ Pitts actually messaged me on Youtube with, "Hey, I'm the guy who made Yahtzee rich. Love your videos. Hit me up.” I didn't know who he was at the time, but he sounded like a smug asshole and I wanted to tell him to fuck my shits right then. I wish I did. He is. I messaged back and we talked about bringing my series to an upcoming gaming site he was part of (It would eventually be revealed as Polygon). He talked a big talk, and it was really exciting to think of making actual okay money off my videos. He took forever to get back to me on details, saying that so much is up in the air since they're still trying to figure out their website's direction themselves, but it's for sure going to be a sweet deal, they're really excited to work with me, etc. He suggested I hold off on posting my videos on Youtube and just bank them for now, so when we finally get our agreement going, we'd hit the ground running. Sounded good. Then a month after our initial contact and without me posting any new videos and killing most of my channel's momentum, he finally got to me with details. I'd had in one video every two weeks and receive $300 for it. This would happen for the next six months, as a trial period on The Verge while their main site, Polygon, was brought online. Also, they'd buy my rights and back catalog of maybe 20 videos for $1000. He had to have thought that I was fucking retarded. I'd stagnated for a month for the actual shittiest possible deal. If they didn't like me at the end of 6 months, I would be fucked. They'd have my rights and I wouldn't be able to go back to uploading on Youtube. I broke off negotiations and ate my own shit about trusting an asshole who isn't instantly upfront.
Not long after that, Machinima contacted me about making Bro Team an official series on their channel. Sounded great, plus I'd keep all my rights. Also, I already had a huge crush on Adam Kovic by then and he was letting me do a weekly game releases segment on his show, so I was up for more dealings with Machinima. Kovic is seriously a mensch. Watch Inside Gaming. Doing that game releases bit was something I looked forward to every week, even at the end. Sucks to have to sever ties with those dudes.
So, things were all right for a bit with Machinima. Then I started getting hints that something weird is going on at that place. The Inside Gaming guys said they'd flight me out to PAX and cover my hotel. Amazing, right? It eventually was. I didn't really hear anything about it in the weeks before the event, but I assumed everything was taken care of. I thought a company like this was on top of everything. I didn't hear anything about the travel arrangements but didn't want to sound like a nagging diva with "Did you book my hotel and flight yet?” questions. I hate that shit; I consistently want to be easy to work with. At the point where only a week was left until PAX, I finally asked what was up. No one had been overseeing this. Understandable, I'm just some peripheral piece of a large machine. Machinima had its own personnel to worry about, so I could have easily been forgotten. Anyway, flight and hotel were then booked, a great time was had, really no big deal. Still, it was a bit of an insight to the fact that Machinima has immensely poor management. Tons of things fall through the cracks. On its own; completely insignificant, right?
A few months later, I noticed my channel was suddenly make a lot less money even though I was getting more views than ever. This was because Machinima cut payouts by 60% without telling their partnered channels. They even had a "guaranteed $2 CPM” deal in their contracts. Didn't matter. I think they told some partners they could either deal with that or leave. At this time, I already received offers from virtually every gaming thing on the internet. I usually turned those down because I really liked my setup with Machinima. Now, I was ready to jump immediately. The partnership guys didn't give a shit about talking to me about why the pay rate was suddenly so low, so I mentioned to the Inside Gaming guys that I unfortunately was going to leave Machinima. A producer for Inside Gaming eventually talked to the network guys and convinced them I was worth negotiating with. They offered a 60/40 split of revenue for my channel. Real generous! I eventually agreed to an 80/20 split. Pretty ok, I guess. At least they were answering my fucking emails.
Doing Bro Team videos every week for Machinima was burning me out. A lot of the videos were fucking terrible. Before the Machinima deal, I'd fine a game that I could exploit for whatever angle and make a video on that. Machinima wanted all new releases though. At the time, I didn't understand that this was mostly because this is how Machinima makes a lot of their money. Besides new releases being topical and thus ensuring a lot of hits, Machinima looks for brands that they can involve in their content to take a paycheck from. They do direct sales with brands for a bunch of money and give their game or product exposure in exchange. I was constantly saying how I really wanted to just choose older, shitty games to cover and that I thought most of my work was shit, and I'd be reassured that yes, I'd be able to choose some games that were not new releases to cover; you work with us, we'll work with you. It never happened. Plus, I wanted to be a good person to work with, so I didn't nag about it. I just kept getting more burnt out spending all hours of the week working on a piece of shit video that I had no passion for. Bro Team used to be fun as cripe to work on.
Before PAX East, I emailed my "handler” at Machinima to let her know I'd be at PAX and would only be able to deliver one video the week before or after the event. The email address I sent to didn't exist anymore. I tried again and got the same result. I tried emailing her boss. His email address didn't exist anymore. Cool.
I eventually emailed Adam Kovic, who had nothing to do with my contract at all, and asked what is going on. He said that someone should have let me know that both of those employees were no longer at Machinima. Someone for sure should have! I think it took another week or two for someone to finally email me about what was going on. This is a perfect example of the true inner workings of Machinima. There is no oversight, no management. The creator of one of their "original series” had no idea how to actually continue conducting business with the company. No one gave advance notice that a change was happening, no one said anything when it happened, and it took well after the personnel change occurred to get me back in the loop. Kind of weird for a big company to just overlook that, right?
So things were back to normal. Except sometimes my videos wouldn't be posted until a week later. Or sometimes a month later. The burnout continued. Sometimes I submitted videos late, working well into the morning to finish a video I felt was total shit. No one said anything about it and I emailed as soon as I thought I might not make my deadline. I started getting the feeling that I was just out there somewhere, not really being watched. I'd usually hand my video in on a Thursday and it would be posted on Saturday afternoon, so a late submission still meant there was time to "process” the video.
I was working on some shitty Deadpool video and trying to finish it in time to make it to my friend's wedding that week when I realized I clearly wasn't going to make the deadline. I emailed my handler, let him know, and apologized. I was almost late for some tuxedo fitting that caused a bunch of drama and a rift in a friendship that hasn't mended since. Things like this that had been interfered with by retarded videos caused me to look at how much I was giving up. I emailed again saying I needed a break. Not long after, I got back to work, determined to get my shit under control. It didn't last long.
I submitted a few videos and then one week, my video didn't go up. It didn't go online the next week either. It took over a month to post it. I didn't want to nag and ask "You gonna post that shit or what?” and I assumed they had everything under control and were just sitting on it for some reason. I error on the side of politeness. I'm an idiot. That's a month's wages gone. I should have been pissed. I emailed and found that my submission had gone unnoticed. Sick.
I think it was around the end of last year that I needed another break. It was difficult to come up with a few minutes of content for mediocre games, surprisingly. I mentioned again that I really wanted to cover games that weren't new releases. I think this was the time I got no response about that. Machinima has a 10% chance to reply to your emails, so I can't really remember. After some time, I emailed saying I was ready to get going again and was told all was well, but I needed a new contract because mine had expired. I think this was in December. It would take until June to actually get a new contract.
I emailed a bunch of times asking if a new contract is on the way and was constantly assured that they were "working on it”. There were layoffs, there was a new CEO, a lot of changes were underway, sure, I can wait. All the while, offers to join other networks, gaming sites, comedy sites, sites that don't even do gaming or video but want me to join enough that they start a section for that, are coming my way that I'm passing on because I'm a fucking idiot and I believe Machinima will come through with a great new contract and pay raise that competes with what I'm being offered elsewhere to keep me happy. What was really going on is that the revenue model is changing, they aren't making much money off of content like mine and they can't afford to keep me. I wish they told me this so I could have left right then.
I tell them I'm getting impatient and that I'm just going to join somewhere else, then suddenly we can make conference calls about getting something together. Around this time, there was talk of flying me out to Machinima's offices in LA to work with the Inside Gaming guys. We had talked about this for years and now it was actually going to happen. Machinima would pay for my flight and hotel and pay me a wage while I worked there. Fucking incredible, right? That was the dream. Over a month in advance, I was told to let them know in two weeks if the payments didn't go through so I could book my travel. They didn't go through. I was told they were hounding the finance department to just please process the payment. I've heard what goes on at this finance department. Over a year ago, Machinima stopped paying a bunch of people for no reason for a while. Partnered channels, review writers, contractors, stuff like that. Some were counting on that money for tuition, rent and food. You know, to stay alive like. I was told that finally someone went to the office of the individual responsible and found they had a pile of invoices on their desk just sitting there, way past due. They were asked what the hell is going on. The person actually fucking said, "We don't have to pay these people.” That's what happens at Machinima. Jesus fucking shit. I think I only had to wait a month and a half for some payments. I know someone who waited 3. This wasn't someone low on the chain like a channel partner, either. He had to email the CEO to get this looked at.
A few days before I'm supposed to fly out there (and the money still hasn't been sent to me), I'm on a call with a bunch of "bizdev” types at Machinima. I've told them I'm ready to leave and they're giving me the rundown on what Machinima can do for me. In short, it's a shitty deal. They are losing money and don't know how to adapt. I tell them as long as they can get a contract going immediately, I'll stay. At this point, it was for dick money comparatively, but I just wanted to get something going now.
Look how long this got. Fuck.
The money to cover the cost of going to LA would eventually be sent to me the day before I was supposed to fly out there, approximately 14 hours before I'd have to be at the airport. It was sent by paypal, so I wouldn't actually have it in real people form for another two days. I was on skype with Joel of Machinima telling him I'd have to call it off at this point, and he was prepared to go out of pocket to cover my flight and hotel. He showed me some AirBNB places and I was almost prepared to do it. It dawned on me how brutally the situation should for sure not have come to this. How hard was it for someone to process the payment? The IG guys had been constantly reminding them for weeks that it was a crucial thing that needed urgent attention. E3 took place at the same time and this became a lower priority for them, but the finance guys never processed the payment. Somehow even just being told once that it was important wasn't good enough. Even being told 10 times wasn't.
I felt like such an asshole to call the whole thing off. In the same week, Machinima sent me a shitty contract to renew Bro Team (with the stipulation that we get this going NOW) with the delivery dates for my videos left as "To be agreed upon by both parties”, another Machinima payment was late (this is routine for Machinima, if you deal with them, expect to usually get your money not on time, a clear violation of their contracts), and then this, what should have been an easy task taken care of weeks in advance came to Joel and I scrambling at the last minute to make up for what someone didn't bother to do on time. It was really clear at that moment that I had to get out of Machinima. I felt like a shameful fucking diva asshole to make this decision after Joel was so willing to make this work at his own expense and to suddenly leave the Inside Gaming guys with no editor for two weeks (I would have been covering for an editor who was going on vacation). I realized this wasn't totally my fault though. This was yet another thing the Machinima infrastructure could have taken care of if it was properly organized to handle its own shit.
Machinima is failing. They are in the dire shit. No brands want to touch them, they've laid off the people who try to get brands involved, and they are now relying mostly on indirect sales through Youtube ads. This is why they've bloated to over 22,000 partnered channels. This is why you're going to see their "original series” go from their hub Machinima channel to the content creators' respective channels. They want to grow several channels to Pewdiepie levels and make their money that way. They told me this is what their plan was for me. They didn't really even know how that was going to work, thus why they stalled me for so long. My contract was going to be a deal about receiving a "license fee” from them to create videos and put them on my channel. They'd then recuperate that cost from the money my video makes, then I'd keep anything above that.
So next comes the part where I want to move the fuck on.
Up until recently, Machinima had a section of their contracts that said that either party could give 10 days written notice and terminate the agreement. Machinima rarely honours this
. They'll just ignore your emails until you stop asking. Still, if that was the case, I was prepared to be a saucy cunt about it. I asked Machinima to unlink my channel and I was told I still had until November to be unlinked from their network. This is correct. I went through my contract and found that section had been omitted in the latest version. Evidently, they don't want people being able to ask to leave their network and then having to oblige them. When I get a contract, I scan the fucker for hours. I once paid a lawyer $3500 to go over my contracts and give general "don't let them fuck my ass” advice. I thought I found all the ways they could fuck me. What I wasn't looking for was anything they might have omitted.
I asked if they could do me the favour of unlinking me anyway, considering the rough fuck they'd given me of late. I should have been more clear. I should have detailed all their misdoings. Different departments at Machinima have no idea what other departments are doing. Still, the person I dealt with knew exactly what my situation was. I thought it would be the least they could do to take the 6 minutes it would take to free my channel and let me go on my way, no hard feelings. Instead, I got some contrived shit about how we should really honour what Legal wants and stick to the contract. Legal doesn't tell the rest of the company what to do! Again I asked if they could just do it anyway; there's a part in the contract (which I've posted online somewhere
, have a peak! Ripping read!) that says Machinima can just terminate the contract whenever they want. No response. I waited a couple days to give them a chance to respond, just in case I wasn't somehow getting the Machinima Treatment, then I posted about it on Twitter and uploaded a copy of my contract (which is supposed to be the worst thing you can do) . SUDDENLY MACHINIMA HAS TIME TO EMAIL ME BACK!
Again, they say they can't unlink me but also get into full Retentions mode. They say they've already made tons of changes based on my experience and feedback and things can be good again and all that shit an abusive boyfriend tells you after he punches your eyes shut. They say they want to keep me as a happy partner still and they insist on getting me on Skype to talk. This is because they want no fucking records of the promises they'll make.
Any time you come close to closing a deal with Machinima, they always want to fucking get you on Skype. It's weird as shit. Sometimes it's not even about something that can be used against them later being documented. It's always about something that can just as easily and quickly be discussed by email. They insist that I can't "move forward” with the issue until I talk to them on Skype. I ask if they're ok with being recorded. I don't hear back from them for a day.
They don't answer the question, just again insisting that I skype. If they were going to unlink my channel or tell me anything that is possibly good for me, they could email it and would have. I know they want to get me on skype and either threaten me about posting the contract or butter my ass with all the blowjobs they're going to drop on me if I just shut up and stay with them. I tell them I'm not going to skype unless it's about unlinking. They say they're keeping me until November.
So that's where I am now. I am absolutely looking for special treatment here, and I can see how a lot of people who don't know what's going on see this as a diva asshole pamper (probably the reason why Ricky Hayberg moaned about me on his stream). I am asking for Machinima to cancel my contract and unlink my channel. Countless hundreds of other partnered channels want this as well. What they don't have is the direct fuck dealt at them that Machinima has dealt me. Bro Team was my full time job, and for 7 months they blocked my income, besides what little my channel actually made. I'm poor as fuck and really considering just giving the whole thing up. Until I'm unlinked, other companies don't want to get involved until they know they have the entire Bro Team package, with no existing affiliations to Machinima.
I can't believe you read all this. Jesus, and this is the short
Get a fucking job.Edit
- I wasn't clear about this:
What I mean by my unwillingness to nag is that I email whoever I have to at Machinima about whatever issue. Then I wait. Then I email again a bit later. They don't reply. Machinima never replies. Instead of messaging them everyday, I just assumed they were too busy or didn't give a fuck. I was young. I didn't think to just spam them until they have to acknowledge you. This is actually for sure necessary. This wasn't me just quietly raising an issue once and hoping they'll instantly tend to it. This was giving due notice several times, then backing off.Another Edit
Russ Pitts isn't an asshole! He actually took the time to post here and clarify what was going on. Disregard all mention of him not being a stand-up guy, he's clarified quite specifically what it was like dealing with Vox.