Back in March 2017, the YouTube channel known as SourceFed came to an end shortly after the merger of Group Nine Media. The hosts and staff all went in various directions following the cancelation, but one of the biggest standouts from that fallout was Steven Suptic. His channel started as a pseudo-documentary of his life afterward, which grew and morphed into what is now Sugar Pine 7, which is now part of the Rooster Teeth family and won “Best Show” at the Streamys this year. Today, they released their Season 2 finale before going on a short break and continuing Season 3 in 2018. We had a chance to chat with Suptic about his career, the content, and everything behind-the-scenes for one of 2017’s fastest growing channels.
BC: Hey Steven! First thing, for those who may not know you, tell us about yourself.
SS: Howdy! I’m Steve and I run a YouTube channel called Sugar Pine 7. We make parody vlogs centered around a group of inane friends experiencing each other and the world around them. We stole every idea from Arrested Development also.
How did you all meet everyone before Sugar Pine 7 started?
Cib and I knew each other for quite a while, five years almost. We met when I entered an Airbnb room for a convention and he was naked and sweating. We were best friends ever since. Years later, James Deangelis, Autumn Farrell, and I all worked for a channel called SourceFed. Autumn was a brand new editor, fresh out of Arizona, barely breaching YouTube’s womb when I snatched her from the clutches of a corporation and gave her an even worse salary. She actually was interviewing at Rooster Teeth at the time, (the company we’re partnered with, also the company who pays me) and I offered her a job at SP7 using the money Rooster Teeth paid me. She ended up taking the job with SP7 so I think RT really shot themselves in the foot by partnering with us. James was a PA at SourceFed, and nobody talked to him. He was sort of the black sheep because he had eighty-four ingrown hairs and couldn’t even speak until spoken to. The first words he ever said to me were: “water…”. It turns out he hadn’t had anything to drink for upwards of three months because he thought he didn’t deserve it.
I know you’ve somewhat documented it, but what were your thoughts about what you wanted to do when you learned SourceFed was ending?
I always felt like SourceFed was going to end. The original hosts were the only thing keeping it together. The new hosts, myself included, could never compare, and that was identifiable in office and through the content. The question wasn’t “if” Sourcefed was going to end, but “when”, and when it did, I had my personal channel to fall back on. At the time I was doing uninspired reaction and challenge videos to earn extra money to keep an audience while working at Sourcefed, but with two jobs, I could never really commit to anything more serious. I made a few videos in the past, based off of “Nathan For You” and I really enjoyed freeze frame narrated content. I remember seeing a comment in one of the videos saying “Hey I would actually watch a lot more of this kind of stuff”, and I took that to heart. I could never have guessed those freeze-frame narrated videos would mean so much to my career and livelihood.
How did the concept come about to expand what you were already doing on your own channel into an ongoing series?
Above all else, my passion is story-telling. I get my rocks off by making people feel things, and I felt like I was working with a group of people who could make a great story. When viewership didn’t plateau like Cib and I thought it would, we slowly realized there was something more to these videos. We loved making them and people seemed to enjoy watching them, and it was as simple as that. We couldn’t see ourselves doing anything else.
Was there any planning behind what you would do for each episode? Or was it more experimentation and seeing if certain things worked?
We used to start off with an idea, just in one sentence, then run around Los Angeles filming miscellaneous happenings. Afterwards, I’d piece it together with narration and find the story there. Now, we try to bullet point certain gags. We had to become more organized in order to continue making videos because there’s only so much “here’s a brief idea, let’s go out and see what happens”, you can do before you start having to scrap videos because they didn’t work out.
What was it like transitioning from being a host within a group to being a leading personality with friends who became leading roles themselves?
I loved hosting at SourceFed, and I loved not being the center of attention there, watching while much funnier people did much funnier things. Now, I get to sit back and listen to Cib, James, and Autumn pull offensive and inaccurate jargon from the depths of their minds while I have my own comfort in narrating. It’s a great system that allows for real catharsis and growth with each other
What was the initial reaction from people when they started seeing the new content back in March and April?
Overwhelmingly positive! There were few people who missed the old content, and I totally understand why. You could get the videos I was making before on countless other channels.
How was it for each of you to adapt your own personalities and humor into the on-camera personas you were creating?
There are times where it’s easy and still to this day, there are times where we just don’t know what we want to do. Everyone at SP7 struggles with who they want their character to be, and there are positives and negatives to that. On one side, it’s amazing that we have a platform and content schedule, unlike TV where if something goes wrong, we haven’t already filmed the whole season and we’re screwed, on the other hand… it’s dangerous to play with a character too much. You start changing their dynamic too often and people will give up on them. It’s a difficult line to cross sometimes.
What led to getting involved with Rooster Teeth and what’s it been like working with them?
I’ve been a longtime fan of Rooster Teeth, and I knew some contacts there from a previous partnership deal that fell through. I appreciate Rooster Teeth because they advise without overstepping, yet the advice they give is invaluable. There are great minds working at RT, and I hope to learn as much as I can with them.
What’s the interaction been like with all the properties? I’ve seen videos with Funhaus, Cow Chop, and invading On The Spot. But how have things been with other properties?
Our appearances on other shows tend to be polarizing. We’re usually in character, which makes people happy who can relate our cadence and quips to gags from the show, but to outsiders, we are super fucking annoying.
How has it been changing the dynamic of the group to bringing Autumn in as a regular member, to Parker leaving and coming back, to adding in all the people who make up Sugar Pine 7 these days?
The group dynamic absolutely changes with additions and departures. Sometimes, you lose a little bit of what you used to be. That’s pretty tough when you have to make episodes almost every day. The biggest change was definitely Parker. We lost a lot of the “happy go lucky” nature of the show, which I don’t think was necessarily a bad thing. Change happens, and the heart of our show is seeing how the characters change.
It seems like everything you shoot if half scripted and half improv on the spot. How hard does it make for creating a single episode when you’re trying to find what you want on the fly?
It’s a good mental exercise, I’ll tell you that. Keeps us on our feet. The plus side of improv is that it feels more real than scripted content, but there are a lot of bad, lazy days, where we just can’t think of a single thing, or we shoot something that we’re not fond of and have to scrap it
How has life been for everyone in the new office? What plans do you have for the rest of the space?
Life is comfortable, which creates a sense of complacency, unfortunately. It’s nice to have a location that we all show up at, instead of whoever’s house day-of, but we try to shoot outside of the office as often as we can to freshen up the videos.
You ended Season 1 a few months ago, and it seems like there’s kind of a plan for how things are going in Season 2. Do you have an idea of where you want to take things yet?
We’re releasing the Season 2 finale within the next week or so, and we’re still ironing out final details. We have the ending done, but a lot of content leading up to it needs to be finalized. That’s the best part of working on this show though. It’s a living, breathing piece that can change at a moments notice.
Outside of the channel, what other projects are you working on?
I’m working on a novel right now, not like a YouTuber novel, but like an actual one. I don’t know if it will be good yet, but so far I’m proud of what I’ve written. I like Riverdale, so my opinion on writing might not be worth considering. I know James and Cib are working on songs they plan to release soon as well. We’re all about to put out an acoustic version of “Just a Couple Friends”, which is what I think people wanted from us in the first place. Autumn is working on getting a job at Funhaus.
Any thoughts you want to send out to the fans who have supported you, or to people who haven’t checked you out yet?
To anyone who watches our videos, I speak for everyone at SP7 by saying the most joy we can possibly get in our lives is you feeling something from our content. You could even hate what we do, but as long as it isn’t indifference, you are the reason we make these videos. To someone who’s never watched a video from us before, I recommend starting from Season 1 Episode 1, otherwise holy shit you will not understand a damn thing and that is probably not a good sign of our approachability.