Scott Zakarin, creator of the first web series in 1995, The
Spot, introduces a groundbreaking new online
entertainment platform called , bringing a new spin to digital network connected content. Zakarin
introduces Rush It as a Content Connected Network (CCN), creating a spider web effect of content connectivity that
organically intersects characters, brands and storylines throughout each channel
and vlog on the network. The network’s newly launched dramedy The
SpinOffs, serves as the initial hub of all network
storylines, where all characters are created. The SpinOffs speaks to Rush It’s innovation that thrives on audience
participation, offering viewers a platform to give advice and feedback that
affects what happens to their favorite characters in real-time. In return,
characters engage and respond to viewers to create a social community that goes
beyond the shows.
Rush It Network also welcomes collaboration by inviting social media
stars of Youtube, Vine, Periscope, Instagram and other popular networks to act
alongside the SpinOffs cast of characters and then creating new
“spin-off” channels out of popular collaborations. Current channels
set to launch in early Summer 2015, include a “fly on the wall”
reality format series of shows starring Big Brother and Amazing Race stars Rachel
Reilly and Brendon Villegas called After Reality.
Pioneering new forms of online storytelling is nothing new for Scott
Zakarin, who created the first interactive entertainment web series, when he
introduced The Spot in 1995, which
became the inaugural recipient of Infoseek’s “Cool Site of the Year,” (“Webby” Award).
Zakarin went on to create several transmedia platforms, including , the first interactive “sit.com”
that featured live improvisational sketches and
streaming radio broadcasts, earning him a nod from People Magazine. He also created Fish Bowl, which went on to become a TV show
for the E! Network.
Over the last 20 years, Zakarin’s digital platforms have garnered over
2 billions views and counting.
shares his experience, inspiration and more about The Rush It Network:
“The World Wide Web was young. I was 26 and had just moved from
New York as a writer and director. I got into marketing, and wanted to know how
to get my work recognized by Hollywood and tell stories I wanted to tell. I
just wanted to make a show, and I basically started in the AOL chat rooms by
inventing characters. I started with eight people at once, and I noticed that
men are kind of stupid,” Zakarin jokes. “It’s easy to manipulate us
in real-time, but it’s even easier to
create an engaging character online. Being a man, I know what they’re interested in. I did it very PG 13,
don’t get me wrong, but
I started to dream about specific characters. For instance, when I created Cara
for The Spot, I literally looked at the people working around me, saw my
pretty 23 year old assistant and thought, she’s perfect, she’s Cara and then I
As far as my first show was concerned, The Spot, I had a dream about these characters and where they lived. I woke
up, and started writing down notes and told my wife about it the next morning.
When I started doing this medium, the advertising agency that I was
shooting commercials for, Fattal & Colins, got very interested and then got
behind it. This was 1995. We got popular immediately. At the time, we used the
message boards to seed it, and got a surprisingly large audience.
I also stayed up all night just talking to people, getting a handle on
what they were looking for and getting them excited about what was going to
happen the next day. Those numbers did well, and then we got on to Infoseek’s ‘cool site of the year’ – and if you got onto
that, your numbers got relatively big. I received 125,000 page views that day.
The format that turned me on, and there’s some of it in every show that I do, is the Rashoman form of
storytelling – this means having different characters with their individual worlds,
but together these characters make up a bigger story. Now, as with The Rush It
Network, it’s mostly through
video. That was most interesting.
Writers started to approach me, and say, “We want to do a web
network, so we can own the rights to our characters. We just want to make short
videos that we couldn’t make on
Zakarin continues, “My feeling was why stop there. Why not make
now Zakarin has taken this idea of the ecosystem and interactive storytelling
into the Rush It Network. He elaborates:
“The SpinOffs is a narrative comedy soap opera. The characters spread out, and then
they meet real people. My network is built on spin-offs and crossovers.
Sometimes real characters enter into the fictional world, and fictional
characters enter into the real world,” Zakarin explains.
“The talent are more relatable – they handle their own social media and guide the characters’s voice.
There are so many celebrities who handle social media by have other people put
out their message. Our characters do it themselves and in real time, which is
where a lot of entertainment is heading.
At this very moment, we’re building out the
show. It continues to only go up in numbers. We try to create very compelling
shows that attract an audience. The first show with the Rush It Network was The SpinOffs and now we’re starting to roll out and announce our next set of spin-offs and
collaborations, where the characters have “spun” off into their own
shows, whether it’s Openly Jake,
Unhinged Comedy, or whatever, each character’s voice determines the direction
of the new channel,” Zakarin continues.
“On Big Brother, and Amazing Race, there are always a few people who jump up and
become more famous than the rest. So we did a wedding scene on The
SpinOffs, where two of our male characters were
married by reality star, Rachel Reilly, an ordained minister. The fans
went crazy and started writing back to us saying things like, ‘I want Rachel to
marry me!’ so we’ve starting a new
channel with her and her husband, Brendon, called, After Reality, which
launches in a few weeks.
Another thing we’re doing with Rush
It is making seven second videos and working heavily with Vine star
collaborations. A lot of these Vine stars have a huge fan base because they’re
talented and hilarious. We’ll help them take
what they have, and bring in our actors and our cameras and create crossover
channel on our network.
For me, it’s about innovation
paired with good storytelling. Before, I really had to be dedicated because
there was no financial model, but finally things are changing. Now there are
signs of money. There are the Youtube millionaires and advertisers that have
started to come in giving us more to work with in terms of content and
We’re airing one
episode of The SpinOffs per week, and bringing in lots of new
content. We’re inviting
creative people to come play in our garden.
My hope is to get a big enough audience to be so interactively
involved in our shows that they would be fully involved in creating the
stories. We are establishing new forms of audience engagement to give the
audience an entertainment experience like no other.”