'Annoying Orange' creator Dane Boedigheimer
LOS ANGELES - What happens in Dane Boedigheimer's garage doesn't just stay there.
But it's there that Boedigheimer turns on his video camera, reads his lines and records his lips and eyes - which he superimposes on a little orange. Then he heads into the house to edit his work into another episode of his insanely popular Annoying Orange video show for YouTube.
The Annoying Orange is the three-minute weekly adventures of a bunch of fruit who tell crude jokes and try to escape death by knife. Last week, Boedigheimer's Orange channel on YouTube (where he is known as Daneboe) surpassed 1 billion views, making it the channel with the ninth most subscriptions on the site.
On Friday, he celebrates with a blow-out tribute roast that brings back popular YouTube (and Orange) celebrity stars such as iJustine (Justine Ezarik) and MysteryGuitarMan (Joe Penna).
And Boedigheimer's Orange character - best known by his shrill laugh - is so successful it's about to make the move from one small screen to another.
Turner Broadcasting's Cartoon Network has signed Boedigheimer for an Orange TV series it hopes to air this summer. And his high-powered Hollywood management company, the Collective, has cut merchandising deals with the Bridge Direct for plush Orange dolls on sale at Toys R Us and Halloween costumes at Rubie's.
Boedigheimer, 33 began making homemade videos on VHS and Hi-8 video cameras as a teen at home in Harwood, N.D. He moved to Los Angeles in 2004 and picked up freelance work on a variety of productions. In 2009, he decided to start putting his videos online.
His first Orange video attracted 1 million viewers in two weeks, so he followed up with a sequel. It hit a million within a week and a half. By the time he did his fourth episode, word of mouth had spread so fast that he reached a million in just two days. "That's when I realized something was going on," he says.
Success on YouTube is self-directed, but there's a big financial incentive. The Google-owned company shares more than 50% of the ad revenue with the creator of the show in its "partner" program. The more views a video gets, the better the paycheck will be. Boedigheimer does a new episode every Friday, and promotes them on Twitter and Facebook, where he has millions of fans.
Rob Sorcher, the chief content officer for the Cartoon Network says he was attracted to Orange due to its huge audience. "If you talk to any kid, they know it instantly. For us, it comes with a pre-built awareness."
Michael Green, CEO of the Collective, says Orange is now a "multimillion-dollar" property but his goal is to make it "arguably $1 billion." The model is Nickelodeon's SpongeBobSquarePants, Green says. "With YouTube, TV and merchandising, it could be that big."
The secret to the show's success? "People love to watch other people getting annoyed," Boedigheimer says. "Look at past cartoon characters. So many of them were annoying. Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Pepe Le Pew. It's why (past YouTube sensation) Fred got so big. Everybody knows someone who's funny like that and annoying, but don't know it."
Ezarik calls Orange a show you either "love or hate," but more important, "Once you see it, you want to send it to someone," which is the true definition of viral.