We had the good fortune of connecting with Brit Tobin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brit, every day, we talk about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
My latest venture, Black Market Media, came about from a literal inside joke during quarantine. If you needed or wanted goods or services you ordered it online, had it delivered or obtained it some other way, and a “black market” of sorts blossomed. 2020 brought a lot of things to the table — most notably being stuck inside with a lot of free time, which of course, goes hand in hand with finding new and inventive ways to stay productive. For me, that led to more writing, polishing up some old scripts, producing, and just creating in general. The game changed so we needed a new approach.
Utilizing the resources I had on hand at home: the internet, my phone, and some Halloween props, I put together a short iPhone film called Perry the Bear Gets Scared Vol. 1 — a ‘scary’ comedy, starring Jose Luis “JL” Martinez as the voice of Perry. I was really impressed with his voiceover work right off the hop and immediately knew I wanted to work with him.
I’m here in LA, JL was in Miami. We coordinated over a few time zones and a creative services platform online. Perry became an official selection in six festivals worldwide, both live and virtual, and was my first film with BLK_MKT Media. Perry’s success fueled my excitement keep the hype going, and a couple of weeks ago we began discussing Perry Gets Scared Vol. 2. Never too early to start celebrating Halloween.
The goal with Black Market Media (BLK_MKT Media officially, or B_M_M_ for short) is to launch an entire platform solely dedicated to offbeat adult humor — animation, stop-motion, shorts, and ultimately, live action as well. It’s been compared to Adult Swim, which is a huge compliment, but I emphasize that this channel and our content will to be accessible not only to audiences, but for artists and collaborators as well. B_M_M_ has been a game-changing journey so far, one that thrives outside the box in so many ways and I’d love to keep that theme going.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
While taking mental notes of all the ‘WTF’ moments last year delivered upon, I couldn’t help but wonder: what else can I do with limited resources in quarantine? What other interesting topics did 2020 transpire?
Quite frankly, the first thing that came to mind was ‘garbage’ — and I know I’m not alone in using that term to describe just about everything in recent years. I’m not one to take life terribly seriously, so that idea would be repackaged as ‘happy’ garbage, of course. With everything going on in the world, I felt compelled to do something about it. Garbage with a purpose, intended for humor rather than misery. Something we can all enjoy.
Several years ago, I started putting together this project about discarded food that lived in a dumpster behind a restaurant — Brave Little Toaster for adults, essentially, but what it’s evolved into – Garbage People – has completely taken on a life of its own.
The show is about the madcap adventures of Patches and Peel – a discarded plush bunny and a wily banana peel – in their super wholesome neighborhood in the dumpster community of Trash.
Not everyone thinks about what they’re throwing away, but you should! There’s no question about it, we only have one earth. And thanks to my eternal silliness and highly overactive imagination, I wondered this: if your garbage took sentient form and manifested itself into the things we don’t like about society, we’d have some real problems on our hands, wouldn’t we? Our garbage is a reflection of us and the world today, and a world without comedy is no laughing matter — so I merged those two concepts and out came a stop-motion about trash. Couldn’t imagine a dumpster without a friendly, neighborhood, chaos-loving banana peel or a nihilistic, trash-talking toy rabbit with a Staten Island accent. In our world, they might be considered misfits, but in Trash they’re doing quite well for themselves. It’s 2021, might as well own it right? The rent there is pretty affordable, too, or so I’ve been told..
Peel represents the unfiltered id that exists in everyone. Patches considers himself an everyman of Trash, an avant-garde if you will. But he’s definitely been around the block a few times. They’re our levelheaded guides and the main characters of the show.
We have a pretty catchy electro-swing theme song too if I do say so myself, which ties in the whole 20s feel of right now.
Each episode follows their madcap adventures around town with oddball tags that keep you wondering. The usual takeaways are slight twists on classic lessons like, ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ – Patches and Peel would say, “a friend in need can probably be profited from” – as seen in our latest episode, “P+P Mart”.
When you’re taking such a huge leap of faith with any new project, being your own biggest critic is part of the deal. You have to understand your product inside and out, and as an artist, that usually translates to telling yourself “wow, this is actually trash” (deep breath, pause, laugh about it) then re-do it a thousand times over until you feel you can say aloud, “check this out, you’re gonna love it”… and MEAN it. That’s basically where we’re at with it now. If I’ve learned anything, you just keep going. Eventually you stumble onto some garbage worth sharing.
We’ve had our share of challenges, too. The internet is a pretty unforgiving place these days. Big tech and respectively, YouTube, have mastered the art of adding insult to injury when it comes to sharing and promoting content that isn’t exactly one-size-fits-all. We ran a “Trash Debates” segment that was deemed “sensitive” and “political”. The clip was released right before the elections, but the segment itself had nothing to do with the real-life catastrophe going on at the time. And just as the going was getting good, we were shut down across all platforms and had to rebuild from the ground up. Was it edgy? Perhaps. But definitely not something you’d typically ban a content creator for. I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. At this point, we’ve seen the worst, okay? It’s talking garbage! It’s a cartoon!” That experience just made me want to ramp everything up to an 11, so toeing that line between what’s “safe” and what’s true or funny has been an art form in itself.
What we’re able to release on the big platforms these days gives you the overall message. The website and socials for B_M_M_ and Garbage People are updated regularly which is where you can find updates on new releases, exclusives, and everything else we’ve been working on. We ran a few promos and contests earlier this year, which are super fun and our fans dig it, so there’s a good chance we’ll be doing more again in the near future.
The thought of a boutique studio has been in the works for quite some time and I’m very fortunate to have been met with good timing in my life. Like any artist or entrepreneur, I’ve had my share of learning experiences throughout my career, and 2020 was no different. However, it was a productive and exciting year for me on the business end of things. Perseverance in addition to the accumulated legwork working in Hollywood for 10+ years, cultivating a broad network, and just growing as an individual really helped foster a solid foundation for the beginning stages of Black Market Media. I’m thrilled about everything so far — it’s humble origins, where it’s headed — it’s a creative snowball effect and I just can’t get enough of it. Every hour of every day is filled with creation — something related to production, outreach, or the business side of things — but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.
Last month I put together a pitch “videotape” for Garbage People so as it’s viewed and shopped around we’re also planning to release the special 2-for-1 episode premiering in the next few weeks. Not to mention, every one of the festivals we participated in last year with Perry have reached out and are looking forward to Volume 2, too, which I’m beyond excited about as well. It’s going to be a very busy (and fun) summer!
Black Market Media is a one-stop shop for consumer-friendly content with an irreverent streak. It’s a bit of an ode to the OG classics on late night Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, and modernized with the added benefit/necessity of eco- and societal-consciousness of today’s world. What once felt like a boys club that I was happy to be a part of, now seems like anything is possible. I digress. The best part is, there’s something here for everyone.
There are so so many things to look forward to with Black Market Media and we’re just getting started. Currently, I’m focused on building the brand out more, expanding the channel’s content, paving the way for how we facilitate production in Hollywood and as always, bringing people together. It sounds like a lot of work and it is but there’s no turning back at this point. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of, and still dream of, night and day, I’m livin’ it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If you’re coming to visit LA, and you should, without a doubt my favorite places around town have always been the hole-in-wall dives; anything off the beaten path. The pandemic unfortunately wreaked havoc on quite a few of my favorite places, including the iconic Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. When I moved to LA in 2011, it felt like starting a brand new life, like growing up all over again, and for me, the Arclight in Hollywood was a fond early memory. The improv clubs are always a good time — Groundlings, UCB, Second city. I thoroughly enjoyed taking classes there, too, if that’s something that interests you. It’s a very fun, welcoming and positive environment.
LA has a way of making you reminiscent of places, based how you felt there. Seemingly average moments become a pivotal place in time. My favorite memories are scattered from Long Beach all the way to Ventura County and beyond. I have strange attachments to random diners in the valley, delis, theaters, and a particular eclectic coffee shop on Vine that was put out of business years ago by Starbucks. I guess I’m not the best person to ask this question because to me, Los Angeles is a unique, ever-evolving, and individual experience for everyone. Go exploring, you’ll find out for yourself! If you’re an adventurous spirit, take the road less travelled and go wandering. You never know what discoveries you’ll find — not just geographically but within yourself.
“A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.” – Joan Didion
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
In addition to the variety of artists I’ve had the extreme pleasure of working with on these projects remotely, I’ve been grateful to reconnect and work with a lot of former collaborators. It’s incredible to see how much we’ve changed and grown over the years, yet in a lot of ways have stayed the same, especially in our shared sense of humor and dedication to the arts. When you’re an artist you know how magical it can be to just vibe with likeminded imaginations and just create — it’s everything.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have met and worked with local companies as well, to create and pitch shows or just bounce ideas around, which has been a huge moment for me personally.
My partner Jeff, who’s an absolute gem and mastermind in his own realm as a writer and producer, has been invaluable to me on every level imaginable. We get each other. And that alone fosters a winning environment and positive mindset all around. We’ve been a team in everything we do for four years now and counting. I’m a very lucky gal.