And now for the slightly more esoteric and thoughtful conclusion to my three-part look at making web series … The “Whys.” So Why Make a Web Series?
Because it’s cheaper. Web series cost a lot less than a TV show. Right now Brent Spiner is doing his own web series called “Fresh Hell.” If you don’t have a TV show, if you don’t have the money to do an indie feature, but dang it all you just gotta dance and sing (er…I mean…film something) then web series is a great way to keep working.
To Tell Stories. Some of us are born storytellers. We don’t feel right unless we’re inventing worlds or characters to share with everyone. It’s a long enduring human tradition. Sure, it’s fun to do a short film, but the challenge of doing series lets you develop these characters in a longer form. It’s a meatier and much more in-depth process. You get to tell story arcs and character development. You have episode arcs, season arcs, and series arcs.
For the mad “XP.” Is making ten episode season of web series kinda like making ten short films? Yeah, it kinda is. It is not to be taken lightly. This endeavor will test your endurance, creativity, and skill. Plus with a short film you can get by on five minutes of flash, with very little substance, as long as it looks cool. That don’t fly with a web series, TV, or a feature. If there isn’t a solid character or story to hook into, you’ll lose your audience. A web series really puts you on the spot to have well developed characters and a story that continues to keep you involved. You really have to up your game to meet these challenges.
To Create a Fanbase. Okay, so there’s little or no money to be made with web series … it’s a difficult and exhausting experience … so why does any sane person want to make one? The biggest reason I can think of, and it’s the reason why I’m making web series, is to create and grow your audience. To put your stories out there, constantly putting out regular new content, and to make a name for yourself and your work. As you continue to do good work that fan base will follow and support you on your future endeavors.
And lastly, some parting tips:
Get a haircut before your shoot. You’ll be looking at those behind the scenes photos for a year. Trust me, you’ll thank me.
Feed your crew right. You’re too cheap to pay them, feeding them a good lunch keeps the machine running and shows that you appreciate their work. Also, try to plan a special treat every so often. Spring for cupcakes or something fun every once and a while.
Make your website now. There may not be anything to show, but now you’ve official planted your flag. Preproduction is a great time to build hype, with photos, sketches, storyboards, and blogs.
Find time to shoot behind the scenes material. You’ll be counting on this stuff in a few months, and it’s all gold when you’re publicizing your project. Get behind the scenes video, interviews of the cast and key crew members, and do a photo shoot of the actors in their costumes for posters. Also, most still photographers at film school shoot a film set like it’s a scrap book of the event. That’s great for remembering the experience but the press doesn’t want to see photos of your crew. What you need are still shots that look like they’re screen grabs of the show but are in fact higher resolution photos.
Over come your shyness and get the word out. This is a tough one for me. Over the last few years I’ve learned to be a spokesman for my projects, but I am inherently very shy and reserved. It’s difficult for me to contact people I don’t know on the internet to spread the word about my shows. But if I don’t get out there and press the flesh no one’s going to know it exists.
Well thanks for reading. Hopefully I said something useful. As I said before, I’m no expert, and I’m learning this all as I go. If you have any additional questions feel free to leave a comment!
And now the moment of shameless promotion (get over that shyness!) … you can learn more about our two web series “Normally This Weird” and “Voyage Trekkers” here at our Squishy Studios website. “Voyage Trekkers” hits July 18, 2011 — be sure to check it out!