Original Web Series, Added By You!
Today i had a realization... If you go on Hulu and see all the available content to watch, what is the difference between Modern Family and Your Web series. They look the same, you can view them the same, so moving forward does it make any sense to your viewer to call it a "Web Series".
This spawned a second question the success of a series and the talent attached to the project. It seems like you would get more viewers if you had a recognizable face that has a built in fan audience. So how do you get talent to attach to your series meant for the web when your running on such a low budget? The competition is fierce so getting names would make most sense. It seems like the web series community could face this problem in the upcoming years as the emerging internet market increases. The suits will come in and oust the little guys yet again. How do we stay afloat? Any thoughts?
We already face this problem. If you were an musician that was unknown, are you more likely to sell cds on your own or if you have a single featuring someone from Metallica or Katy Perry or The Smashing Pumpkins?
I think we stay afloat by remembering what the purpose of our series is.
If you are doing this to compete with a site like Hulu you need a radically different action plan compared to someone who is doing this for a reel or as a tie in for a transmedia game, etc. The suits are already on and the little guys are already being evicted. The good news is that with a plan you can find a way around it... But you do need a plan.
Yeah i definitely am not doing this for a reel to sell myself, i am looking at this as a long term career in producing media and eventually maybe be a consultant. I actually have something to say that is relevant and needs to be addressed in our time. I find the market to be saturated with actors just making web series to promote their careers. Countless projects on Kickstarter are actors with that mentality and they dont understand that producing a Series is like running your own studio. Do you have suggestions for a newbie like myself to get around the suits? What are you doing if you dont mind sharing?
There are people like Rich (founder of this site) who go by different titles. They can save you a lot of heartache and heartbreak because they know the industry, they know what's coming, and they can sit down and come up with solutions specific to your series.
I met with such a person who develops digital strategies for small content creators like you and I as well as international corporations (I'm talking BIG business). She changed the way I think about online content and what our role as content creators actually is. Of course I had to pay as nothing is for free but the info I got was worth every single penny and prepped me for the work I have to do to give my next series a shot.
I don't know what stage you are at with your series but if you have not started yet I strongly suggest the following: If you can afford it meet with a digital strategist or go to a digital strategy workshop. If you can't afford it, read everything you possibly can on digital strategy because that is what will give you the edge you need.
And remember its not always about having a ridiculous amount of views. It is about having loyal, quality viewers. Develop an loyal audience that pays attention and is active and that is worth more than a viral video that gets millions of views.
Best of luck! If you are interested in the person I met with I can forward you her info in a private message. She specializes in creating pockets of opportunity without you becoming a slave to advertisers, big name talent, or anyone/thing else that could steal the soul of your series.
yes i would like to have you make the introduction. You have been very helpful!! So what are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I started the second season of my very first web series, The Plastizine Verses. Its crazy that with each episode you can clearly see my progress. I went from not knowing what I'm doing to kinda knowing what I'm doing. I still have so much more to learn. The story is about three real rockers in L.A. who seek to complete their album before the end of the world. They have very dark humor but they are also very talented.
The next series I'm working on is fiction based with very strong supernatural elements. It was this series that I sought an expert for because I knew that I really wanted to give it a chance. I learned that before I even entertain the idea of shooting it I have to first build up a structure of support for it. What I'm doing right now is laying down fertilizer before planting a seed. Starting a college fund before the baby grows up. LOL I hope what I'm saying makes sense.
But in a nutshell if you can't figure out the physical and digital flow of your series - before you even shoot it, you might be in some serious trouble if one of the goals of your series is build an audience.
By flow I don't mean storyline I mean the "how and the where" of people finding your series.
I would definitely agree positioning your series in the market is key and potentially riding the wave of some social phenomenon would really be a great strategic move. Thats kind of what i am doing with my series i took a relevant topic that needed to be addressed and put my own comedic spin on it. If there was a way to get vloggers and youtubers that fit your market with lots of subscribers to post and talk about your series it would probably help out. Ive emailed these people but never seem to get responses.
Don't give up! But I have to warn you that if the youtubers you are emailing have significantly high numbers of subscribers, more likely than not they probably are represented by agencies and if that's the case then unless you are a major brand you probably won't get noticed.
A lot of successful youtube personalities might as well be seen as actors being used by brands. You can pick up on this most clearly with the fashion and beauty gurus but sometimes with the other genres its not as easy to figure out who is genuine and who is not.
There still a few honest ones but money makes people funny very easily. :(
what agencies are representing these Youtubers?
The same kinds that represent actors, producers, and designers. Yeah its THAT kind of a game now.
Ray William Johnson made news because he actually got signed by a huge one - WME
But there are smaller agencies that are just scooping youtubers up. There's even one for one hit wonder viral vids. Because I follow a lot of fashion I'm more familiar with some of the agencies that represent those women. Elle and Blair are with APA. Michelle Phan is with Mighty Fresh which was launched by a guy who used to work at APA.
And then you got the "suits" people always speak of, mostly middle men between creators and brands. A big suit is this company called EQAL. If you look at them suddenly what you thought youtube was will totally change. You will start to question reality itself. Ok maybe not that far but you'll realize that what you thought of as enjoyment was really a cleverly marketed ad this entire time. Nothing wrong with that but I think most people don't realize that.
I would love to have the name and contact number of your digital strategist if you would please send it to me at email@example.com
I too am producing a web series called Horror Hotel and am looking for ways to distribute. Thanks for the info.
Wow. This was a very good question. I'm a noobie like yourself. Good luck with your series.
Hulu is a distribution platform. When you go to a grocery store (another distribution platform) you find apples, oranges and a zillion other variants of the types of food consumers want. Distribution platforms play the role of allowing products with certain common features to reach the consumer via a common venue. So, to say that because a Web series uses the same distribution platform as a TV series means they should both be called TV is like saying a can of coke and a loaf of bread should be called the same thing because they are both sold in a grocery store.
Perhaps you should spend a little time reading up on the history of Web series and their evolution. Ask your self, where does their competitive advantage lie? What makes them different? What makes them powerful. What allows them to organically grow an audience without the huge marketing budgets that TV shows have? What allows them to engage more deeply with their audience? If you answer these questions, you will understand how Web series are different from TV. Many of these topics have already been extensively discussed here on WSN, and elsewhere, so take advantage of the resources available to you.
On Web Series Today we needed a category system to aid in the discovery of content that would appeal to specific audiences. To accomplish this we broke the space down into 4 subcategories: Web Series (serialized scripted narrative: think Video Game High School, etc.), Web Shows (episodic series such as scripted comedy shows: think Shane Dawson, Annoying Orange, Kids React), Web News (current events, technology news, entertainment news series etc.: think Philip DeFranco, The Young Turks), Community video (life streaming, vlogs, short films, music video etc. from members of the community: think Shay Carl, Charles Trippy, Vlogbrothers, Lindsey Stirling, etc.). All of these can be considered Web series in the larger context but the breakdown into subcategories has been useful. These are not intended to be definitions because it is best not to limit the potential of any video series but the categories allowed us to create story streams of content that had some features in common. One could of course lnclude other categories such as transmedia or alternate reality games to meet specific needs. The point is that the entire space is wide and deep and is currently packed with creative potential that has yet to be unleashed.
If you want to make TV content that is your prerogative. Go do it! Just remember that the viewer has certain expectations of what TV content "feels like." Look at the fashion sensibility of Gossip Girl. Look at the power of the action sequences on Arrow. Look at the quality of the story arcs and acting on Supernatural. The Carrie Diaries builds on the epic Sex and the City brand. Vampire Diaries expands on a well known book brand with its own TV-friendly eye candy (just look at their popularity on Pinterest if you doubt it). Any less and the content will probably fail to compete in the TV playing field, even on the Web. In other words content that made it to TV has been built to take full advantage of the TV medium.
When Strike.TV was formed many experienced TV writers failed miserably on the Web with only a few exceptions. Those exceptions had specific traits that made them Web friendly. The point is that TV is very good at doing what it does and they will continue to do what they do, even on the Web. Web series on the other hand are native to the Web and need to fully embrace what that entails rather than merely mimicking TV.
All this is not to say that "Web series" cannot bridge both Worlds. We have seen Annoying Orange, and a few others attempt that. However, note that they did not simply try to port the Web series to TV. They actually attempted to script a show that was appropriate for the medium.
What is interesting is that companies that make traditional TV are now experimenting by making their own Web series (think Talent, or Wendy from Alloy). Their content is solid from a production point of view, but they still have a lot to learn about the Web. However, they are learning fast (very, very fast), so rather than trying to "ape" TV, Web series creators should take advantage of the potential the space offers them, before the competition in Web series increases exponentially from more established studios.
There are probably many who will agree with your position. These same people want to create standards and barriers to entry within the space. They want to become the gate keepers that control access to the space. This would be a tragic future and one we should reject. The Web needs to remain open and we need to allow Web series to continue on their evolutionary path to see what they become. If you produce a Web series you might want to be proud of the brand because it is a brand that is as great as your own creativity.
Many of us want to watch Web series because they offer something different. If we want TV on the Web, there is plenty of very professionally produced TV shows to pick from. Is there room for more? Sure, but they will be judged by the same visor we use to watch TV (script, music, lighting, talent, special effects, etc.). Our expectations are extremely high because that is where the bar has been set by years of tradition and evolution. If you are up to the challenge then go for it.
When it comes to Web series, however, many of us are much more open because we are looking for content that engages in a unique and interesting way. This is something TV would love to do but because of the nature of the TV medium it is doubtful they will ever be able to take full advantage of it.
That is not to say our expectations from Web series are not extremely high, but they are very different and that is the point. That is the opportunity creators need to take advantage of, but first they need to understand what the viewer really wants in the form of engagement. Web series, when sculpted from the right DNA, can provide a level of entertainment that mobilizes entire communities; something that was perhaps best demonstrated by the lonelygirl15 phenomena.
So decide what you actually want to make: a Web series or a TV show; and go for it. But do it right and use each medium to their fullest potential. But if you do want to produce a Web series you should not forget our heritage or take a step back into a history that knew nothing of this great platform we call the World Wide Web which is honored within the Web series brand.
The fact you just read this is one clear demonstration of how radically different from TV the Web series space is. We need to embrace our differences and move forward to develop the type of content that truly feels at home on the Web and feels totally organic to those that participate in the experiences we know as Web series.