We run a Youtube channel called Squidjib, which we use for a variety of random comedy shorts and bits. Our “bread and butter” is Drinking With Goosebumps, where we read classic 90’s Goosebumps by R.L. Stine and drink along to a set of rules (twist ending, if a character has the same name as you, if someone says the name of the book, etc.).
We started that over four years ago, thinking we could burn through the 62 Goosebumps books pretty quick, but we’re just creeping up onto book #40 now
Ned and Bob are cousins, and I met them both in 7th grade, which was a very very long time ago. I (Jason-with-the-pink-handcuffs-on) studied film in college, so I would often rope them into my movies or short films.
Believe me, there is no “what made you want to start a Youtube channel together.” I pretty much forced them into it, and they bitch everytime we go to film a new episode. “Come on Jason, film faster. I want to go home.”
Anywho, the origins of Drinking With Goosebumps are: Bob was flying somewhere on a business trip back in summer 2013, and he was talking about downloading a PDF of every Goosebumps book to read on the plane. The minute he said that, I thought it would be a good idea to re-read them for a web series, with drinking rules and all that jazz.
I did a Youtube search to see if anyone else had done anything like that – as I recall, there were maybe two or three video book reviews, as well as the hysterical Blogger Beware review blog – but nothing like I was imagining.
I wanted to do something like RedLetterMedia’s Half in the Bag movie review show, but obviously based around Goosebump. So we shot two episodes in late July 2013, with the idea that we’d release them both on Halloween of that year. As it turns out, that same summer was the birth of “Goosebuds,” a Goosebumps podcast with – wait for it – three adult men.
And they had a clever name, too! But we didn’t end up finding out about them for a while, so it was all good.
We came up with the entire concept pretty much one night during bar trivia. As I mentioned above, Bob was talking about re-reading the books on a plane ride.
But I convinced him not to read them until we could do the show.
Amy (Bob’s sister/Ned’s cousin) was also there, and she offered to make shot recipes so that we could have a drink for every book. At the time, Amy thought she was just giving us the recipes, but I later convinced her to actually appear in each episode. Otherwise the show would’ve been a complete sausagefest.
We laid out the basic drinking rules early on, but we’ve added some more as we got further into the series, especially when it became evident how often some things cropped up in Goosebumps (namely animal abuse, which was kinda weird)
Ned and Bob are lucky – all they have to do is spend an hour reading a book, then show up, drink, and discuss the book. That’s the goddamn dream.
But I have to get all the equipment together, set it up, force them to stay on topic, monitor the cameras and dump footage, then spend a week editing the damn thing.
I mean, it’s my fault – the show was my idea, and neither Ned nor Bob know anything about editing. But you’re right, it does take up a ton of time.
But we have a small following on Youtube that keeps us going. The fans are really really nice. And really funny. They leave encouraging comments and send us neat fanmail and whatnot, so that really makes it worth it, to know people are actually looking forward to our stuff.
A lot of people ask us if we’ll review Fear Street or Animorph or any of the Goosebumps books beyond the original 62, and my answer is always the same:
It’s taken us like 5 years just to get to book 39.
I mean, that’s ridiculous.
When we started this, I thought we’d knock out the entire thing in like a year. I also thought each episode would be like, 5 or 10 minutes. I was very naive. I hope we do more stuff in the future, but I think whatever it is, it needs to be something shorter, easier, faster to edit.
I’m a little burnt out on Goosebump, or really just how long it takes to produce an episode when I’ve got other stuff to do.
If it weren’t for our little fanbase, I think we would’ve quit around episode 15 or so.
A lot of fans will send in letters or emails or even fanart (like the pumpkin carving above), so it’s a lot of fun for us to engage and respond with them. It’s a lot of work to film and edit this shit for effectively no money, so it’s nice to know we’re not just sending this stuff out into the void when we upload each video.
We always get a ton of comments and emails and whatnot, so it’s fun to write/comment back, and to give shout-outs to the fans in the episode (like below).
As we’ve gotten further into the Goosebumps books, each review has become longer and longer simply because of all the people we have to thank, and we’re seriously so grateful for that. Again, just knowing there’s people out there in the world looking forward to our shitty adult opinions on a twenty-year-old children’s book series is gratifying.
Aside from reading the current Goosebumps book (which takes an hour or more, depending on whether someone falls asleep in the middle of the book), all the pre-planning is really just buying the booze and spending a little time to get the lights and cameras set up.
We all typically read the book the day or two before filming, and when we get together, I insist no one talks about the book before the cameras are rolling (though occasionally Bob will slip up with a “Dude, that book was so stupid”).
All our thoughts on the book are fresh and unrehearsed.
Same goes for the TV episode if there happens to be one; when we cut to us watching it, that’s literally us watching it for the first time, after having discussed the book. There’s no script or notes or anything that we follow, just sorta whatever falls out of our mouth (and believe me, there’s a lot of terrible stuff I have to cut to make us seem likeable.)
We’ve got two Cowboy Studio lights with 5 banks of bulbs each (suck it, 3-point lighting!) that we angle at a 45 from behind the cameras. These lights are so beat up that they’re constantly making electrical hisses and pops. I’m sure it’s all very safe
Then three cameras, typically all Canons. One is the center-cam that captures all 3 of us, the second camera on Bob and myself, and the third camera on Ned.
Then we’ve got lav mics on each of us running to our iPhones, recording on a free app called VoiceRecorder Pro. The only thing that changes is if there’s a TV episode to watch – we switch to a single camera to record all 3 of us for that.
There’s an easy answer whenever anyone asks “Who does [x] on Drinking With Goosebumps? Who edits? Who does the Youtube stuff? Who handles the Twitter account? Who made the website? Who unclogs the toilet?”
The answer is always Jason (me!).
Ned and Bob don’t do shit, except make my life harder. Do you know how much mundane crap I have to edit through because they’ll go on a tangent about Paula Abdul, or they’ll purposely keep interrupting me so I have to start the same sentence over 10 times?
That shit happens every… Single. Episode. It doesn’t get old to them. It’s like in Teletubbies, where halfway through the episode, they just start over and play the whole episode again.
That’s why some of the episodes are me talking for 80% of the time, because I’m trying to drive forward the plot synopsis of the book while those two jagwagons fart around.
Anyway, I’m editing, I’m doing everything. Once I have all the footage dumped and all Bob and Ned’s audio from their iPhones, I sync everything in PluralEyes.
PluralEyes, by the way, is the best thing ever. I edited the first 10 or so Drinking With Goosebumps episodes WITHOUT PluralEyes – and was syncing all the clips manually. That’s 3 video tracks and several audio tracks, all by hand. It was miserable, probably one whole day of editing in itself. Once I got PluralEyes, that turned into like 20 minutes (including my fine-tuning PE’s mistakes).
Anyway, after everything is synced, I drag it all into Premiere and start chugging away. First pass is usually to cut out all the fat (dead air, pointless conversations, etc).
After that, I start dropping in clips from the TV episode if there was one for that particular book – books with a TV episode are 1000% easier to edit, because it’s not just our incoherent ramblings explaining the plot. We have genuine 90’s Canadian television to help make the audience understand the plot as well.
Anyway, I keep on editing, trying to keep the whole episode under 15 minutes. Which is impossible anymore – it’s a happy day if the episode ends up under 20 minutes.
Oh my god, quantity. Consistently be uploading stuff.
Get on a schedule. Honestly, quality rocks, but quantity edges it out.
Maybe 70% quantity, 30% quality.
We had a year there where we were uploading a new episode every 3 weeks, which was great. (For frame of reference, it’s now 2 or 3 months between episodes.) That period of time when we were putting new stuff up left and right, we were rolling in the subscribers and audience interaction. But we just couldn’t keep it up. I’d love to, but editing something like Drinking With Goosebumps is so time-consuming, and it’s so hard to get all 3 of our schedules to line up.
Not sure on book – maybe Dune? I’m trying to get my wife to listen to Dune. It’s not happening. Podcasts is easy, The Adventure Zone. It’s the Dungeons and Dragons spinoff podcast from My Brother, My Brother and Me, and it’s great. I was listening to a lot of Harmontown just for the D&D bits, and then I discovered The Adventure Zone, which is a very story-driven comedy podcast about D&D.
Highly recommend, even if you’re not into the game or know nothing about it.
Dear lord, who knows. A vacation?
We filmed 85% of a new indie comedy film (our third feature film from Squidjib Productions, after a vampire comedy and a comedy about video games), but the last bit of filming stalled when we had some trouble getting some locations.
So hopefully we get that finished soon… And then, I dunno, maybe we’ll finish reading the main 62 Goosebumps books by… 2024!
Recorder: iPhone (with VoiceRecord Pro)