Okay, so by now you’ve probably heard that Phelan, Lindsay, Andrew, and I are the most recent folks to exit TGWTG/CA. If you haven’t, well, you have now. But I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it, so here’s a long post explaining what happened as far as I’m concerned.
(EDIT: Clarifying none of the exits outside of Phelan had anything to do with me, and even then Phelan and I had been planning on leaving for quite some time.)
(EDIT 2: I didn’t think this would be an issue, but let me also clear up who Mike is. Mike Michaud is CEO of Channel Awesome; Mike Jeavons is the video producer and has nothing to do with any of the events listed here.)
So was I fired? Well, yes and no. I was let go, but calling it being “fired” implies I worked for CA, and I did not. The only people with contracts/a payroll are those who work directly for them in Chicago. No producer has ever been paid by CA, and that includes the anniversaries. All profits from those, including the DVD sales, go directly to CA, and we were paid in “exposure” and “a free trip with our friends.” The only contracts we ever had to sign were for the anniversaries, mostly to sign over to them any crossovers we filmed (to pay for our trips there). So in actuality we were not on a “free trip” with our friends; we were working off our trip while also acting in a film we would have no profit from (the exception being commentaries, which we could keep). If we questioned this, we would be told we didn’t have to go and that was that. We did get a free copy of the movie for ourselves, if they remembered to send it to us. If you didn’t get a copy of To Boldly Flee, don’t worry, neither did I. One of Mike’s favorite things to tell us was how great it was that they hosted our stuff and never asked for a cut of our profits.
ANYWHO, my exit starts with the midrolls and Patreon. I’d been struggling for awhile to pay the bills, and ad revenue was down, and one of the things keeping me afloat was extra midrolls, which weren’t extremely popular. But I also had to do that to make barely enough to live, as this is my job. So while I’m in Chicago, Mike corners me while I’m alone and proceeds to tell me my midrolls are screwing everyone else by making people turn on adblock. It was very hostile, unprofessional, and uncomfortable. I told him I needed to do that to make enough money to live, he didn’t care (and also told me they left up comments about the midrolls as a hint to me, apparently), and it ended with me crying in a bathroom over how I was going to pay my bills. This was followed shortly after with a call from him and Doug mandating how many midrolls we were able to use, among other insulting things. Doug suggested I simply make more videos, like his TV show vlogs, because that was just his “work ethic.” I, of course, wouldn’t know about a work ethic. Mike was also unaware that I’d been posting on Sundays for 3 years, and implied that videos that weren’t OLPs didn’t count.
Anyway, I’m looking for alternative ways to make money, and Patreon is starting to do well for some folks. I decide why not? It wouldn’t hurt to try it out. So I start one up, and ask if Mike can put a link up to it under my next video. Mike and company do not know what Patreon is, and have not checked, because they’ve decided in their heads what it is. So he tells me I’m not allowed to promote it. I explain that it’s like an ongoing Kickstarter, and he tells me they won’t promote those either. This is despite them having already promoted Nerdquest stuff and their own Indiegogo, which you might remember was given $90,000 for something they have yet to produce.
(Side note: how many times does it take to film a game show pilot? As it turns out, at least 17, most with the same questions and guests. The other shows don’t even have a title, much less any start on production.)
Incidentally, the reason I don’t use as many midrolls now? Patreon. If they’d had their way, I’d still be broke, and people would still be using the same archaic system.
Rob then messages me and tells me adding Patreon to midrolls is a “slap to the face” and that their Indiegogo was “executive authority.”
Suede had made a video about the pros and cons of Patreon, and they told him he could not post it on the site. We weren’t allowed to put up any links, and only after the news about Suede got out and they looked bad did they tell us we could do a promotion at the end of our videos. After many of us had filmed them, they randomly told us they could only be 30 seconds long. I don’t know why.
Fast forward to now, and I see that they’ve posted Brad’s Patreon video on the new site. I ask Mike why it’s okay now, and quote the previous conversation with Rob. He tells me there was no reason to bring that up again because they’d said it while they were “still on the fence” with Patreon (“slap to the face” = “on the fence”). I told him, yes, there was reason to bring it up, because they never told us any of that was okay now. About 50% of the site’s problems could be fixed by them simply telling us things. I told him they were being hypocrites and should apologize, he deflects me, and I told him they’re always making excuses why things aren’t their fault.
So he asks me if I have time for quick call. I tell him no.
2 hours later, I’m away from the computer and Mike creates a new convo with me, him, and Doug. He asks if I can talk now. I don’t answer because, again, I am away from the computer. He waits approximately 15 minutes, and then tells me because I’m ignoring them they’re taking my stuff off of the site and letting me go. My stuff is immediately removed, which, coincidentally, is the only thing they’ve updated since the new site has gone up. Keep in mind, when the Noah incident happened, they never let him go, they simply kept extending his suspension. I was never even put on suspension. And he got a nice farewell post!
(Edited to add that Mike has been known to stop contact for weeks at a time and, to think he’d be available within 15 minutes of any contact is laughable.)
They’re getting a lot of bad PR right now, which probably could be fixed if they hadn’t fired their PR person the day after her surgery.
The site has had many, MANY behind the scenes issues, and ANYONE who has said anything has been labeled a troublemaker. Also, anyone who has said anything is gone now. It is a site fueled by yes men and denial, and many broken promises. They’ve referred to the other producers as “children” on more than one occasion, which is as patronizing as it sounds. The site has ALWAYS been about Doug, and they don’t care about anyone else there.
But what does this mean for videos? Nothing, actually. Us former CA members are still making videos on our own sites, you can find me, Phelan, and Andrew on Phelous.com, Lindsay on Chez Apocalypse, and I encourage you to continue to support folks who have or will leave the site. The producers are still friends, we will still work together, and we still love what we do.
tldr; I was let go for being away from the computer for 15 minutes.
UPDATE: Relevant links, if you’d care to read the convos yourself: