Four years ago, five film enthusiasts met at Long Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge. It sounds innocuous enough, but it was the basis for what has now become an international internet hit — Cakebomb.
Today, Cakebomb comprises of founder members Tom ‘TomSka’ Ridgewell and Chris ‘Bing’ Bingham, who both study media at the University of Lincoln. Together, they have gone from making films for college projects to running their own website, taking commissions, and being recognised by fans. Now, they are taking their first steps into the business world and registering Cakebomb as a company.
Initially starting the website as a forum with which the pair could showcase their films and comedy, it has become a cult hit, attracting nearly seven million hits on their most popular videos. That success has attracted advertisers and commissions, and so what started out as a group of friends making comedy skits gradually became a productive partnership.
“Tom was studying film and media studies alongside English, I think,” Chris recalls. “I was studying fine art, media studies, and psychology. We came together as friends, but also as creatives who liked making things outside our course.”
For Chris and Tom, becoming a business is not only a big step forward, but a natural progression. The pair now operate from their office in Lincoln, a far cry from writing and editing in their bedrooms.
“We use the office a lot,” says Tom, “mainly to do editing and voice acting, etc. It’s a lot better than if we’re at home where we can get distracted. I’m quite susceptible to saying ‘oh look, there’s my XBox!’ and all of a sudden, it’s tomorrow.
“So we use the office, and our production rate has increased, and so has the quality of our work.”
Chris says: “It’s baby steps really, and it’s all about learning how to conduct yourself. When you start working on a new business, you start doing things in a different way, particularly where money is involved. You have to keep better records, and we’re doing research about getting a business bank account and legally sorting out our partnership.”
“We’re both making money through advertising and commissions. Tom was recently hired by a firm representing Marmite as part of a national campaign, and I was commissioned by EMI to produce a video featuring The Japanese Popstars. We also work on music videos, particularly with local acts like Elliott Morris, which I really enjoy and I continue to help him with promotional material.
“It’s interesting,” Tom adds, “when it comes to commissions, the amount of freedom we get varies. If it’s something artistic like a music video, I think we’re given almost total control, but if it’s something else like the NPIA [National Police Improvement Agency], then I’m pretty restricted really.”
Cakebomb are perhaps best known for “asdfmovie“, a short film series of surreal animated sketches. After Tom released it on 10 August 2008, it quickly became an internet phenomenon. It was made YouTube’s featured video and within two days of its release had hit 2 million views. It now boasts over 6.6 million hits, and its sequel, the aptly named “asdfmovie 2″ – released on January 1st this year – had a similar effect, drawing some 5.3 million views to date.
Tom says that “asdfmovie” originally drew in the bulk of his fanbase.
He said: “The benefit originally was that I put that film out so that everyone would watch my other stuff because there are brilliant people on YouTube who put out great, high quality sketches, and no one is watching them because they have nothing boosting their channel. No one wants to watch it or invest their time. So, ‘asdfmovie’ gave my channel that boost and people watched my output by association.
“It is restrictive, though, because a lot of fans just want to see more ‘asdfmovie’ and are very impatient. It’s a double-edged sword.”
The next stage for Tom and Chris is a dramatic overhaul of the Cakebomb website, which they will soon be relaunching with various new features.
Tom says: “When we started the website, Bing made it very clear that it was a portfolio site, a sort-of digital CV. I’ve always liked the idea of a community, though, and we’ve never had the resources to do it, until now. This will be the first version of Cakebomb that is actually interactive, with user profiles and everything. All the previous versions have sort-of been a bit like ‘My First Website’. Currently, we offer a product, but soon we’ll be offering a service.”Tweet