GADZOOK FILMS Producing independent film in Seattle, Los Angeles and beyond.


Why Do (Most) Webseries Suck? part 2

Hey, welcome back! This is Part 2 of this multi-part series where I'll go into some of the roadblocks facing webseries producers and how they can improve their idea to get an audience and have a successful show.

2) Producers don't know what's wrong with their own shows.

There's a favorite argument amongst web-producers over the word "webseries". Many believe the word itself is the factor preventing audiences from finding or watching their work.

In last week's post I went on and on about the standard, blah, unimaginative "traditional" webseries. Some producers believe now that the term "webseries" connotes bad quality because it is overwhelmingly associated with this content. This isn't an entirely false assumption, but it's scapegoating the very thing that sets us apart.

We need the word webseries because we produce shows for the web. If we produced shows for TV then they'd be TV series. It's very simple and silly to want to change the term for what we do. But I'm getting off the topic at hand...

Still other producers choose to blame their own AUDIENCE as the reason their show isn't more popular. For some reason they call out their audience for not sharing the show with their friends, or for not "getting the premise" when they lambast the show on YouTube. Protip: If the people watching your show don't get it or in anyway don't like it - you're doing something wrong. Not cool, dude, not cool.

It's not what we call what we do, and it's not who watches our show - clearly it's the content that's king. A great idea does not a great show make. Beyond simple technical issues like bad sound or a shaky camera there's still the story and the performances - the things that audiences truly, passionately care about.

If you're not getting an audience to watch your show it's likely not what camera you shoot on or what editing system you use to cut it. It's what your show is about and how you tell your story. Filmmakers are often trying to shift the blame - I've certainly been guilty of this. "Oh," they say (I've said), "we'd have more fans if we shot in HD and bought a better mic." While technical skill is impressive, it cannot hide a shoddy or, more appropriately, uninteresting story.

Sure, not all people will get your show. That's not the point. The point is that you're squandering what small reach you have by alienating the people who are seeking your show out. In marketing, well, I'm sure there's a term for it in marketing... let's just call it "word of mouth." What? That's the term? Nice. Anyway, webseries need word of mouth advertising. We don't have the vast ad dollars of movies studios to plaster banner ads all over Facebook. If you think word of mouth didn't help nobody, I invite you to check out The Guild.

As a 7 year veteran of the 48-Hour Film Project I've seen my share of winners and losers. The winners tend to have a healthy mix of story and technical savvy. Fancy camerawork is impressive, and special effects (done well) can bring an audience to its knees - once. But if there's no story to back it up the audience doesn't have anything to latch on to.

When writing/producing your webseries think to the story - what makes it better? What makes it stirring? Funnier? Who you cast, how you shoot and what music you use. Every decision you make for your show should be for the betterment the story. That's what's wrong with your show... fix it.

Next week I'll berate those of you who think none of this applies to you. Naw, don't worry... it'll be fun!

Posted by Dom

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  1. Content may be king – but PR/marketing is the emperor. Your project may have a great story, sharp editing, and good music, but if you can’t even “get the word out”, you’ll never have an audience to appropriately blame. I think most people who are serious about producing content get the notion that the story and the style are important, but what most people, (me included), just can’t leap those marketing hurdles in order to get a broader audience, (which then lends itself to “word of mouth”). The Guild benefited from a very broad audience of players and that’s great if you want to create super niche media – however, if you plan on making great serials that don’t have an automatic plug-in, (or pander to an audience…), the challenge becomes much harder. Are you planning on discussing marketing blunders/tips in the next installment? [Nice couple of articles btw.]

  2. Yeah! Marketing is definitely key. I’m going to talk a bit about it for #3. So many producers make the assumption that a unique idea (or even one very similar to another, more popular idea) won’t need any sort of marketing. So wrong.

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