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Its kind of a broad question, but when you look at the entire spectrum of web series, what do you feel is missing? What has worked? What has failed miserably?
Good topic Jason.
What's missing: The marketing push to get the medium in front of the casual public, especially offline. Would love to see billboard, bus wraps, radio and television campaigns advertising web shows. The casual public needs to be aware of web series for this industry to really take off. Sponsors need better education on how investing in web shows produced by indie creators could benefit their brand and products.
What has worked working: Creators making broadcast quality web shows, Google After The Beast, Inner Demons and Western X.
What has failed: Creators not fully embracing and learning the business aspect of web series producing.
And agreed, the business side is overlooked too much. (Guilty as charged : )
You're welcome. :)
For me, perhaps the biggest disappointment with original fictional web series is that the collapse of many of the old financial, technical and logistical barriers to production and distribution hasn’t been followed by an explosion of truly original new content and style. Yes, legions of people are making web series these days. No doubt about that, and that’s a great thing. But (and maybe I’m alone here) I’m not seeing much out there that isn’t basically a cheaper more stripped down version of the kind of material already being picked up and produced by traditional entertainment outlets – and I’m referring to the good series out there.
Europe in the 50’s and 60’s and America in the 60’s and 70’s both saw eruptions of cinematic creativity and exploration. In both cases, the eruption occurred immediately following events and innovations that both brought down the cost of production and opened doors to greater avenues of distribution. This resulted in some of the greatest films and filmmakers of all time. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an even greater sea change in the cost and availability of high-level production equipment as well as total reformation of traditional distribution hierarchies. Yet, what do we have to show for it so far?
I don’t mean to sentimentalize the past or take cheap shots at other web series creators (I’ve helped develop my fair share of uninspired content), but I do feel that the overwhelming majority of us (myself included) are squandering this immense opportunity by not reaching out past the limits of what’s currently considered acceptable in both content and style and exploring some new ground. Again, perhaps I’m alone in my views, but I think if you take a hard look at the original work being presented on most video sites, it’s essentially Hollywood lite. One expects this from, say, AOL and Crackle, but what about Joe or Jane indie filmmaker shooting their series on weekends with no money and no permits?
If you don’t agree with me, ask yourself this: when was the last time you watched a webisode and thought, “Holy F**K! That was waayy too ____ for Hollywood!” and filled in the blank with an adjective like surprising, thrilling, beautiful, sexy, disgusting, disturbing, or thought-provoking?
Timothy, this all comes down to money and resources. Creators are more than capable of delivering broadcast-quality material with the right budget and resources. With appropriate backing, indie content creators are right up there with established filmmakers as far as talent goes. I think you're paying too much attention to the wrong things in my opinion. :)
I'm going to stand firm and disagree with you, Rich. In fact, my argument is basically that it does not come down to money and resources.
My problem with a lot of the web series I see has very little to do with whether they are broadcast quality. There are plenty of web series being shot using the RED and the Alexa. The issue is one of, I think, some kind of unique artistic vision.
To revisit the example I gave in my previous comment, a lot of the young filmmakers working in the late 60's and early 70's were working with budgets that would have seemed absurdly low by traditional standards. Yet, you take a film like Easy Rider, and it succeeded, despite a tiny budget and a green director, precisely because it offered people something they couldn't get from the big budget movies of the time - namely depictions of counter culture anti-heroes, and plenty of sex, drugs and rocknroll. Of course, sex, drugs and rocknroll never hurt a marketing campaign either, but maybe that's best left for a different thread.
OK Timothy. You've highlighted what you think is the problem. Please expand on solutions. What are solutions to the problem you've highlighted?
I think the obvious first step in the right direction is a renewed interest in content, story itself. The best marketing tool is a good product. When people complain about bad Hollywood movies or dumb TV shows, they usually aren't upset that the image quality wasn't good enough; they're pissed that the story being told had no heart or originality. Concentrating on well-crafted, nuanced, human-oriented stories is the best way, in my mind, to move ahead for creators on a fixed budget.
Noted. So you're minimizing marketing?
Oh, not at all. I totally agree with what you and others have said countless times on this forum, which is that far too many creators just aren't taking marketing, our business for that matter, seriously enough. I don't think, however, that this is an immense problem for web series, broadly speaking.
Plenty of series could use marketing help, and we're already we're seeing companies appearing on the scene to try and satisfy those needs. You're right in that more money would speed that process along, but things are evolving rapidly as it is. Many established soaps are now transforming into web series while retaining their casts and crews.
The money's coming, but that'll only make it harder for indie web series producers to compete for views, unless they're offering content that is bold, appealing, and breaking some kind of new cinematic ground (i.e. - is Web-tailored, not just a shortened TV show).
I hear ya. My argument is that quality and a strong marketing push go hand in hand. Personally, I think awareness is more important than quality. You can create the best content around, in your own right, but if no one knows it exists, you've failed. Show me a successful web series without some sort of aggressive marketing campaign? Marketing is the biggest challenge in web series in my opinion. But you disagree. So I'll put to this way... we can agree to both be right. :)