There's a reason Jeremy Redleaf is so good at producing a show about odd jobs: He works them. When he's not churning out episodes of Odd Job Nation, the hit Web comedy series about a hotshot-turned-odd-jobber, Redleaf runs OddJobNation.com, its companion job-finding site. He's also head of Resume Shirts, a more irreverent Internet service that lets users pay to wear their credentials. As Odd Job Nation gears up for season two—and a possible network deal—we chatted with its creator about building a multifaceted brand, one three-minute Webisode at a time. Excerpts below:
Fast Company: What's one thing you know now that you wish you had known before you started producing OJN?
Jeremy Redleaf: When I first started, I felt like I was always asking people to do me a favor. But as I went along, I realized they were really excited about the project. I wish I would have realized sooner that people are happy to work for less than their rates for something they believe in. I felt very stressed and indebted to people, and I didn't realize that we had something to offer them, too.
FC: How do you get people to believe in your Web show? Is it all about creating a quality product?
JR: It's a lot of mind control, a lot of voodoo work. [laughs] No, I guess there isn't really a specific way. You just have to make great content that has universal themes that a large number of people will respond to. And really try to treat everybody with respect. There's so much do to when you're producing a show that sometimes you forget that. But it matters: getting people's feedback and trying to incorporate it. Even making sure every production assistant has water and feels appreciated. I just go out of my way to make sure everyone feels like they're part of the process.
FC: Any advice to aspiring Web filmmakers?
JR: Do favors for everybody, and don't be afraid to ask people to help you in return. And set a road map up first. I definitely believe in outlining and having a plan and start cultivating fans from even before you shoot it. Make people feel involved from the first moment, so they'll tweet about it, and try as hard as possible to get the word out about your show.
FC: What's the best thing you did to promote OJN?
JR: I created supplemental content around it. Odd Job Nation, the Web site, became a news story, and that got a lot of people to visit and see the show.
FC: Anything involving social media?
JR: Everyone you meet is valuable, even if they're not in the business. I had someone that I met on a plane donate to one of my projects. So just keep in touch with everyone and keep them in your social network. Every time you meet someone, you should follow through and friend them and continue to interact with them. Because you never know who you're gonna meet, and how they're gonna help you.
FC: How'd you get funding?
JR: [laughs] I called in a lot of favors and asked a lot of people to work for free. And I started Resume Shirts, and that pays for about a quarter of the costs.
FC: You're currently in L.A. talking to different studios about getting the show onto a network. How's that going?
JR: So far, so good. [laughs] I'm just waiting to get through all the meetings to see who I want to date.
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A version of this article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.