Independent Filmmaking – To Webisode, or not to Webisode…

The Web series

Choosing to make a web series is a very big subject and as such I have decided to write about it over the span of two articles, so you don’t get bored, and I don’t get lost…

52Films/52 Weeks, The Robbery, 2011

As a filmmaker and a storyteller, its well worth considering the different types of delivery for your fabulous creations before you begin the production process. If you plan well enough you really could, even on a very low budget, make a feature length film, or a short films, TV series, or a web series.

Choosing the best way to present your truly original ideas can be tricky, and deciding on a web series is a completely different approach to a feature or a short film thats for sure.

But, in the world of very independent filmmaking, where the burden of the budget falls mostly upon the filmmakers themselves, it can offer a less pressured and stressful way of affording to make something more than a couple of minutes long.

Spreading the costs, however small, over a period of time, is like movie making lay-away, and what’s more, it can make your ‘big idea‘ truly attainable.

So what do you need to think about when considering a web series rather than a film.

Well, story is obviously the first thing to consider, it always should be.
But in the case of a web series, or any series really, the story you tell can be much longer and evolve more and therefore could have several other stories within it, ‘sub plots’ and they can vary from the characters relationships with each other, while they are stranded on the spaceship that is rapidly deteriorating while they are running out of….whatever, to illnesses, struggles with hair loss, finding a new religion, loosing it again, to pretty much anything that can add flavor without distracting us from the main story line.

Since this medium is still growing it is extremely open to a broad variety of content, so if you have original stories to tell, that are outside the mainstream, then the Web is your place to shine!

But just because its ‘web’ doesnt mean you can be lazy when it comes to being creative in your story telling, the story has to ‘move’, it has to have a traditional three act structure, beginning, middle and end, and every scene must mean something and move the story forward….if its not about anything, regardless of how great it looks, you wont be taking your audience anywhere but back to endless repeats of ‘Friends’ and ‘Bones’ marathons on ‘Netflix’.

Its also important to know what you want to say, which also applies to anything you make.
It can be very tempting and dangerous to start shooting without really thinking ahead. When you embark on a web series its even more critical to have everything planned out perfectly, your beginning middle and end will span several months of filmmaking, and will add up to maybe a feature length amount of footage, the break down of every episode should be fluid from show to show, but also self contained, just like the best made TV series.

The other extremely important thing you need to think about well before shooting is finding your audience.

You may well have the best and most hilarious/scary/dramatic and original piece of work, but if no one ever sees it, then, although it may well be meaningful to you, it might not make much difference when you want to use this project as traction into the business and other projects.

Not that its all about the numbers, but if you want to get it ‘out there’, numbers do matter.
So when you consider what you are going to make, consider your audience.

Who are they?

What age group?

What are their interests?

Where do they go online so you might lure them into your series ‘web’ for the duration of your show…

All good places to begin.

Once you have ‘found’ your people, then go to them, their sites, their forums, their conversations and tell them about your amazing web series, you could even take out paid advertising, google ads are ridiculously cheap….

But thats marketing, and thats something we can talk about in the next article, amongst other things.

Remember this….no one still knows what they are doing in this business really…

No one knows where its all going and where and when the people will finally go permanently on line and off network, but its coming, and soon.

It’s the wild wild west out there!

So go out there and stake your claim!!