THE BLOG
23/10/2013 11:02 BST | Updated 24/01/2014 05:59 GMT

London YouTube Series Set for Mainstream Television

The show, scripted and produced by Samuel Benta, follows the life and times of the McKenzies, a nuclear family living London. Benta plays Samuell McKenzie, the eldest sibling, who wants to be a star.

Jamal Edwards, 22, the founder of SB.TV, a youth YouTube channel, has recently acquired private equity investment from Miroma Ventures, a media investment company.

Edwards, who was featured on the Sunday Times Young Rich List and released his motivational book Self Belief: The Vision with Virgin Media's Sir Richard Branson this summer, is often seen as the face of Britain's new media age, but another young YouTube creative is on his way into the public eye.

Last month, London web producer, Samuell Benta, 26, successfully sold his award-winning YouTube comedy series All About the McKenzies to London Live, the 24-hour television channel owned by the Evening Standard, set for launch in March 2014.

The show, scripted and produced by Benta, follows the life and times of the McKenzies, a nuclear family living London. Benta plays Samuell McKenzie, the eldest sibling, who wants to be a star.

I spoke to him in May 2013 at the premiere of the second series, so I decided to catch up with him to talk about his first television deal.

What are you doing at the moment?

I'm busy writing my next series right now!

You're the first signing for London Live, please can you explain what that is for people who don't know?

The Evening Standard is the backer for London Live. London Live are basically, a television channel dedicated to the capital of London, to create content by Londoners, for Londoners.

Can you describe the process from pitching, to finalising the deal with London Live?

In May 2013, I got a phone call from Susana Giner from the Youth Media Agency and she was telling me about a woman who was seeking content, Jane Mote, I had no idea who this woman was, I went and googled her. I saw that she had done stuff for other networks and I thought "OK, we might be onto something." I had a phone call with her and she gave me a breakdown of what she was looking for and I arranged a meeting.

At this time, the second series was not online, so I sent her private links, she really loved it, she said the production value was of TV broadcast quality, better than she had expected, she thought it would really be great for London Live.

From May to the beginning of September, it was just a back and forth process between her and my lawyer and on the September 20 2013 the deal was signed.

In fact, they have acquisitioned the show, which means they have bought the series I have just done (series two of All About the McKenzies), but there is the option for another series.

It depends if I want another series with London Live and it depends how the series goes with them.

Series one is still online, they are basically buying the second series made up of 22 minute episodes, six episodes in total.The filming is all done!

Did you intentionally make your web series ready for television?

Yes, I did. When I did the first series, you should read the eBook, it explains the whole process my whole story. My intention was to make the second series, TV-broadcast-ready, after the first series I sent out emails but I had feedback from a particular company, that if I were to submit anything to TV, that I should make sure that it is 22 minutes in length, which would make it ready for TV, after I had that advice I set out to do it and hey, look what's happened!

You've worked for a few years on your web series, what made you think there was light at the end of the tunnel?

I had already seen the light at the end of the tunnel when I started the show, because I believed in it, being a guy who didn't really have any writer-producer- director credits, someone who hadn't gone to film school, I knew there would be some struggle to get it off the ground.

I learnt how to write, produce, up until now it was training and the journey is not finished yet, for me getting to London Live was the beginning.

I sowed my seeds and now people are going to see something shoot through the soil.

What cultural role do you hope All About the McKenzies will play, given that London Live will be such a significant regional platform?

Well I mean it is a black British Caribbean family, I think it's very important, you have to ask the question what people think of black people nowadays? Top Boy (gang drama set in London on Channel 4) is what is out there, the only show with a predominantly black cast is Top Boy, which was advertised heavily this year- we've never seen something like that before,it projects negative images which keep black people in a box.

There has been a degeneration of the youth. If you're going to be feeding them visual food, clearly it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, what you consistently put to an audience they will believe, thoughts create reality.

However, I've seen and experienced different types of black people, a lot more uplifting, educated kind than what is put on the box. I'm projecting a totally different idea with All About the McKenzies, my content is actually good for the public, getting people to project, question their relationships, the whole point of my show is to heal families.

Do you have any more updates on the progress of All About the McKenzies?

I've had interest from Japan, they're currently subtitling the series and I've had interest from America. My vision is becoming a reality, it will become an international global television show, it's not a matter of if, it's when.

London Live will launch in March 2014, on Freeview, channel 8.

For more about Samuell Benta, check out his profile:

Follow Samuell Benta on Twitter: @SBENTA

For more updates on All About the Mckenzies follow their Twitter account: @AAKMckenzies

For more hidden narratives, check out my blog on @creolitaculture or www.creolitaculture.com

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