Peter Himmelman's Furious World: Streaming Spotlight
Creating a live, weekly online program is hard work, something Peter Himmelman has discovered by doing his own web show, Furious World for the past 2 years. It’s exhausting. It’s draining. But does making it satisfy a creative urge? Himmelman chooses to answer twice.
“Absolutely. I mean, I am pumped up for this. What I am doing is amazing stuff for the public: I’m sending my art, my images, my film over the mystical web, touching people’s hearts and minds, getting feedback. It is the best possible thing in the entire world,” he says, his over-the-top delivery matching his message.
Then, softer: “OK, ask me again.”
Does doing the show satisfy a creative urge?
“You know, sometimes it just gets boring, and I get really frustrated and challenged by it. I just don’t even want to do it,” he says.
Himmelman’s Furious World
While we’re surrounded by celebrated online shows that find millions of viewers and lead to major advertising and syndication deals, Peter Himmelman is a reminder that success takes time. The trick is to not run out of money or enthusiasm before you get there.
While Himmelman is a musician, his online show began with his experiments in video. He takes mundane experiences and “re-mystifies” them.
“Furious World was an outgrowth of making these short films: I needed some vehicle to show them. I had it in mind to make these semi-absurdist films, things I would enjoy,” he says. His videos combine new footage, black and white archival footage, and voiceover.
His first attempts at syndication involved emailing his videos to his mother. Naturally, she had trouble opening them. He moved on to posting videos on Facebook.
“I’ve been into visual art a lot. I started ramping that up a couple years ago. I think the film thing is kind of an outgrowth of that,” Himmelman says.
He showed some of his films before performing a concert in Chicago. Soon after, his tech-minded hourly employee Marc Jacobs suggested posting them to YouTube and other user-generated content sites. Once that was done, Jacobs suggested using a streaming service to broadcast live shows. Getting the audio quality up to par took some work, but once everything was set, Himmelman was thrilled with the results. Also thrilling was the fact that he could perform for fans from the comfort of his house. The live feed even came with a chat feature, so fans could talk to each other during the show.
“I’ve always had this dream—because I have kids and it’s really difficult to leave home—I’ve had this dream that I’d perform for a bunch of fans via hologram or something from my backyard,” Himmelman says.
Two years in, however, that dream isn’t quite so bright: Furious World has its fans, but it’s a financial sinkhole. It is “non-remunerative,” as Himmelman says. While he’s tried, he can’t find sponsors for the show.
“I know they exist. It’s just not in my skill set. I cannot play tennis and I cannot find these sponsors,” he says.
That’s why Furious World in on hiatus. The last show was in December.
“I put out a ton of cash and nothing’s coming back. In the interest of sanity, there’s a time limit on how long you can keep feeding a thing,” Himmelman says.
Himmelman isn’t sitting at his Los Angeles home worrying about his next project, though. Even without a weekly show, he has more than enough work going to occupy his time. He’s creating a record, developing a children’s radio show (which might make the jump to Sirius XM), and writing a book of short stories. He also creates music for a commercial agency in Chicago and has started writing music for a new Nickelodeon show.
“Any one of them that’s in full tilt might almost be enough. I think I work best—I think they once called it ADD—I think I function best doing many things at once. I give intense concentration to whatever it is I’m doing at the time. In truth, I’m never doing many things at once,” Himmelman says. “There’s a sense of restlessness that it satisfies, of curiosity.”
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