The History of Channel 101
After creating Heat Vision and Jack for the FOX network, Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab are banished from legitimate television.
Rob Schrab makes a series of home movies about eating poop and having sex with babies. Dan Harmon, not to be outdone, makes a movie about Chris Tallman coming back from the dead and raping him in the ass.
An innocent lunchtime decision to rent a bad film leads to a creative challenge: Attendees of that night's screening of Jaws 4 in Rob Schrab's living room must bring their own "prediction" of Jaws 4's storyline, in the medium of their choice. To complement the puppet shows, poems and mix tapes, Rob Schrab offers up a video featuring his own penis in the lead role and a DV revolution begins.
A "Fresh Horses" challenge is issued and a slightly larger circle of friends participates, outgrowing Schrab's living room. For the "Creepshow" challenge, a larger living room is acquired but over 100 people show up. The "Batman" challenge takes place in the back room of a Los Angeles nightclub but the audience keeps growing and strangers begin asking for the "name of the festival" so that they can submit.
Harmon and Schrab "name the festival" the Super Midnight Movie Show and make some decisions: For ease of coordination, the show will be monthly, and, for audience safety (from Scott Chernoff), the videos will be limited to five minutes in length. Two Super Midnight Movie shows are done at Improv Olympic West: The "Music Video" challenge and "Saturday Morning Challenge." Then, Harmon asks one of the employees why she's "being such a cunt" and they stop doing the show.
Harmon and Schrab soon grow to miss the monthly event and they analyze the situation. The problem with the Super Midnight Movie show was that once it got too big, some creators would have to be rejected. Either that, or a large percentage of the show has to be crap, the problem with that being that the audience will stop coming if they lose faith in your judgment. Schrab, a genius at avoiding responsibility, comes up with the idea of making the audience responsible, and over the course of that afternoon, he and Harmon devise some very simple rules and give the show a new identity: Channel 101. No longer a show, in fact. A living, autonomous, untelevised TV network, powered not by promise of reward to the artist, but by the artist's desire to reward the audience.
For the audiences that attend the live screenings, Channel 101 is a chance to sit in the worn-out chair of the fat network exec, drunk on the blood of lowly artists whose right to exist is given in exchange for their ability to nourish. If there are 10 shows in the screening and 7 of them are good, that means 2 good shows aren't coming back and the power of life and death is in your hands. Base your decision on whatever you want. You run the network. You pick the programming. Then come back in a month and see the next episodes of the shows you picked- plus a healthy crop of new pilots. Dump the whole lineup and start fresh, or keep your favorite show running all year. Unlike "real" television, at Channel 101, what you want is what you get more of, and the day you stop wanting something is the day it stops.
For the creatives that participate, Channel 101 is where the rubber meets the road. The deadlines are unreasonable, the time limit is impossible, the pay is non existent and the judgment is blunt. The amount of ego and sense of entitlement with which you enter is exactly proportional to the amount of pain you'll experience before you leave. Channel 101 is where you learn three things: How to fail, how to succeed, and finally, how there is no difference between the two. After all, the only thing as bad as being told your pilot failed is being told that your third episode was worse than your second. And the only thing as good as having the number one show is having a chance to come back with something new. In the mean time, you become harder, faster and fearless. You surrender to the audience as life-giving God and acquire total creative freedom through that surrender. You make connections with fellow creatives, you have something to look forward to all the time and for a few shining moments here and there, you're in the zone and your life takes on a little meaning.
Audiences: Please join us at our next FREE screening. We have one every month here in Los Angeles. Directors: Be a part of our movement. Every month you sit around and think about what you're going to do is a month you could've done something. Turn yourself loose and submit to Channel 101.