Q&A with Superhero in Training: How to engage your audience with forums
Clint Gage is a renaissance man: He created, pitched, produced, edited, and appeared in the fitness series Superhero in Training. So maybe hero would be a more accurate title — the series is all about what it takes to become a Hollywood-style action hero, with real exercise and diet plans. With an existing YouTube following, Gage and his team have worked hard to engage fans before, during, and after buying Superhero in Training. Here’s how:
VHX: What inspired the Superhero in Training ?
Gage: Our YouTube channel Cinefix is a bit superhero-obsessed. We’re a site that’s dedicated to movies and we do a lot of shows about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making movies. So it was a no brainer to do a show about what actors have to go through to get into superhero shape.
VHX: How did you build an audience and market the series?
Gage: We started Cinefix 3 or 4 years ago now and we’ve been steadily growing ever since. We do everything from heavily researched film school kind of shows, to off the cuff reactions to movie news and trailers, and everything in between. We didn’t do a lot of marketing outside of our existing audience. We did send it to a few blogs to feature.
VHX: What role has your YouTube presence played in promoting the series?
Gage: Everything! I had actually been pitching a show like this for a long time. The way we had developed our audience and just looking at the things they were responding to, we finally got to a place where doing Superhero in Training made sense. So we at Cinefix had an audience that was primed to buy into it, and Joe and Julianna (who also appear in the series) have their own audiences that they brought into the show. Between all of that and the new fans that came to the channel via the show, it was a very diverse audience by the time we were through!
VHX: How did you decide to launch the series by staggering the episodes over 10 weeks vs waiting to launch un til the series was complete?
Gage: Because our show is about a process (a very difficult and often trying process at that), it was important to air the show week-to-week instead of putting it all out there at once. We wanted the audience to follow along with us and see where our heads were at as we went. We found a lot of our audience became very invested in our journey along the way. It was actually a very rewarding experience for us in the show to see the comments come in every week and get encouragement from the viewers.
VHX: You included forums on your site and your fans are very engaged there . W hy do you think that is ?
Gage: So much of working out is in doing the exercises right so we wanted to make sure our users had the chance to ask questions that either we could answer, or the rest of the community could weigh in on. Because so much of this particular workout program is about sticking with it and working hard, the forums were a great way for everybody to interact and share results, tips, and encouragement.
Our audience responded very positively to the work we put in on the show and saw what an impact the program had on our lives and our health, that when people decided to do the workouts themselves, they were already heavily invested in the program. It was really great to see!
VHX: Steve Zim seems like an incredible trainer. What’s he like?
Gage: Steve remains a mystery to this day! I know he’s from back east somewhere, I know he’s been training actors for a LONG time, getting people in shape to look great on camera... people like Chris Evans, Christian Bale, Jessica Biel… and I know we worked out with some folks in the gym that I’m not even allowed to talk about! He’s a great guy and he really knows his stuff.
VHX: What has been the biggest challenge you've faced with this project?
Gage: For me personally it was both being in the project on camera and having to produce and edit the show as well. One or the other would have been enough work but doing both was REALLY taxing.
VHX: What ’s your favorite part about being involved with Superhero in Training ?
Gage: I learned a lot about how my body works. How I need to eat to stay healthy, how I need to work out to stay in shape. The getting in shape so quick was really great, but the real benefit is how much I learned about staying healthy from here on out.
VHX: What do you like to watch?
Gage: I like a little bit of everything. This year there have been a lot of really great indie movies, so I’m on a low budget genre film kick right now. Movies like It Follows, Ex Machina, and The Overnight are great. But I’m also a sucker for the popcorn movies. I love a movie that’s easy to re-watch. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched The Avengers or Jurassic Park (the original) or James Bond movies. I’m a huge James Bond junkie!
VHX: When it comes to promoting and marketing a series what is the ONE piece of advice you wish someone had given you?
Gage: Have a clear plan for promotion before you start! It’s not the MOST important thing to have figured out before heading into production, but it’s definitely up there. You want to make something that first and foremost you’re proud of, but you also want to make sure people see it. Figuring out where and how it’s going to play during preproduction can inform a lot of the decision making as you go through production.