Channel 101

Channel 101
Channel 101
Channel 101 logo.png
Launched 2002
Slogan The unavoidable future of entertainment
Formerly called Super Midnight Movie Show

Channel 101 is a non-profit[1] short film festival (usually monthly) in Los Angeles, which also has a sister festival in NYC, Channel 101: NY. Channel 101 is a creation of Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab in which participants submit a short film in the format of a pilot under five minutes in length. The event is structured such that a panel of previously successful submitters choose what pilots are shown, and a live audience decides which pilots continue as a series for the next screening in much the same way TV programs are rated and managed. According to the Channel 101 website, “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...You run the network. You pick the programming.”[2]



Roughly once a month, a screening for Channel 101 occurs at the Downtown Independent theater in Los Angeles, with (usually) ten shorts being screened. At the screening, the audience votes on which pilots they would like to see return. The top five shows are entered into the “prime time” slots on the Channel 101 website, and get to make a follow-up episode for the next screening. This process continues with new “episodes” being shown at each screening until one fails to make the top five, at which point the series is “cancelled.” Some successful shows also can choose to be cancelled voluntarily by running over five minutes, (The first to do so being Ultraforce), disqualifying the show from continuing and leaving one last un-voted episode. Shows that fail to make the prime time spot are known as “failed pilots.” An added benefit of having a prime time series is that prime time directors are part of the panel that decides which five new pilots will be shown alongside the five established shows from the previous screening. Shows that fail to make the screenings are known as “rejected pilots.” Each calendar year of the festival is referred to as a “season,” comprising 10 screenings, due to there being no December screening, plus month break “to allow the creators to rest” between spring/summer and the November screening, which is the yearly awards show (The Incredibly Prestigious Achievement Award or “Channy,” so named as a parody of Emmy).

Other rules have been tried out, most notably the “Chauncey” (named after director Chris Chauncey, the first to invoke the rule), wherein a director could overrule the voting panel and force their pilot to be screened, but the audience had the option of stopping the film at any time. Introduced in October 2003, it was done away with in November 2005 due to the popularity of the festival making it difficult for the honor system to be viable.[3] Only one Chauncey ever made prime time (Dick Richards: Private Dick).

The name "Channel 101" does not imply a school or a classroom: in fact, Channel 101 derives its name from the prevailing Hollywood method of numbering a TV show's seasons and episodes. Since it is a festival for pilots, all of the screenings start off as episode "101" of their series.


The idea for Channel 101 began in 2001, when Schrab invited several friends over for a screening of Jaws 4, but challenged them to bring a short film predicting what would happen in the movie.[4] In 2002, three more short film challenges were issued, but the group of viewers outgrew Schrab’s living room. Instead, the screening was moved to the backroom of an LA nightclub. Additionally, friends of friends of the filmmakers were beginning to ask what this “festival” was called and how they could enter. In 2003, Schrab and Harmon named their creation the Super Midnight Movie Show and decided on a monthly screening and a five minute format. However, they quickly realized that once the show started growing, it would only be a matter of time before a large number of low-quality submissions were entered, and filmmakers would need to be turned away for time constraints. They decided to adopt a TV network-like ratings model where the audience votes on which films they like, and popular filmmakers were allowed to screen more films accordingly. In 2004, a pilot for a reality show about Channel 101 and its filmmakers was shopped to FX Networks, but was eventually passed on. [5] A sketch comedy show based on the format of Channel 101 and executive-produced by Harmon and Schrab aired on VH1. [6] The show was called Acceptable.TV and it began airing 23 March 2007.

The success of Channel 101 led to a sister film festival in New York, Channel 101:NY.

Notable shows

  • Everything—an anthology show curated by Jason Whetzell and Danny Jelinek, featuring very short films by a variety of artists, introduced (briefly) by host Sophie Kipner. Was voted back for its 14th episode in January 2011, breaking the record for longest-running prime time show.
  • Classroom—The previous longest-running prime time show (13 episodes total); parody of after-school specials.
  • Chad Vader—A popular video series that was created for Channel 101, but was cancelled after only two episodes. The creators, Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda, went on to continue the series, and it became an extremely popular series on youtube where it was "featured" multiple times.
  • The 'Bu (TV show)—another long-running prime time show (11 episodes); also known for being filmed with new casts and crew for the last three episodes. The show was created by The Lonely Island.
  • ChooseYourOwnSelectAVision.TV—a parody of Channel 101 and Acceptable TV from Dan Harmon and JD Ryznar, in which Internet viewers voted for one of three 30-second pilots to return in the next episode. Was voted back for a fifth month, but was cancelled when Harmon and Ryznar failed to complete the fifth episode on time.
  • Gigabots—a Power Rangers parody made by the Duncan Brothers and Brenan Campbell.
  • Computerman—Starring Jack Black as a cross-breed of a man’s DNA and his home computer.
  • Brently and Mrs. Gould-Starring Brently Heilbron and his 85 year old sidekick, Mrs. Gould (played by Jean Farber).
  • Call Me Cobra—Starring Drew Carey, a show about a man who is mistaken for a professional killer, but takes the job for the money.
  • House of Cosbys—About a man who clones Bill Cosby several times over.
  • Laser Fart—Long-running series starring Dan Harmon, noted for guest-starring Jack Black.
  • Time Belt—Previously held the record for longest-running prime-time show; the show was an homage to Quantum Leap and guest-starred Paget Brewster. The show was created by Chris Tallman.
  • Kicked in the Nuts!—Starring Family Guy writer/co-star Mike Henry. A Candid Camera parody that consists of an orange-haired man kicking men in the testicles, later to their delight when he tells them that they are on TV. Made reference to on the Family Guy episode “The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire.”
  • Yacht Rock—Credited for launching a revival of “smooth music” in popular culture.[citation needed]
  • Channel 101: The Musical—Fully orchestrated Broadway style musical featuring Sarah Silverman and Happy Days' Donny Most.
  • Most Extraordinary Space Investigations—Starring Dan Harmon, Sevan Najarian, Justin Roiland and Sarah Silverman. Noted for intentional mistakes, and purposely performing notable errors.
  • Twigger's Holiday—Colorful Musical about a kid growing up. Starring Rob Schrab.
  • Shitbuster—Holds the record for most downloaded failed pilot. A revived short series starring Chris Romano as the original Shitbuster ran for 3 episodes.
  • The Jogger—Cancelled pilot about a jogger solving problems, it garned praise for the choreography and was later featured in Entertainment Weekly. The show later had its rights picked up by a production company. [7]
  • The Wright Stuff—Starring Ethan Phillips as President Teddy Roosevelt. Created by Ford Austin & Scott Ingalls. Became the highest budgeted Channel 101 series at $5000 per episode.
  • I Love Vaginas—The creators, at age 14, were the youngest ever to make it to the Channel 101 screening.
  • The Serious Businessman—This show’s challenge to its rejection by the voting panel created the "Chauncey" system.
  • Sockbaby—Zero-budget martial arts from Doug TenNapel, the creator of Earthworm Jim, starring John Soares.
  • Cautionary Tales of Swords—Trip Fisk (Michael Ashe) tries warning the world of the dangers of sword ownership, and later, decides to fight the problem himself. Created by Drew Hancock.
  • Return to Supermans—A send-up of Turkish versions of American cinema (such as Turkish Star Wars). Created by Aaron Moles. Featured on G4's Attack of the Show
  • Ultraforce—3 episode science fiction action spectacular created by Jeremy Carter and Matt Gourley of the Superego Podcast. It featured Derek Mears, Jeff Davis and Chris Tallman.
  • Planet Unicorn - Fictional stories revolve around three talking unicorns - Feathers, Cadillac and Tom Cruise - who were created by an 8 year-old gay boy named Shannon.
  • Ikea Heights - A melodrama shot entirely in the Burbank California Ikea Store without the store knowing. Featured in the LA Times.

Notable personalities

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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