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


Why Do (Most) Webseries Suck, part 4

Welcome to this final installment in what internet wags are calling "insufferable" and "fucktard-tastic!"

I missed my Tuesday deadline (by a lot now) because I've been sick... but really I've hit a bit of writer's block for this final chapter. I've been realizing that my points amounted to little more than a very general Filmmaking 101 revisitation. Is that really all that's wrong with webseries these days? Just bad filmmaking? Pretty much. But, like all things, there's a little bit more to it than that.

Webseries production is very much like the indie film fad of the '90s. The cost of equipment combined with the ease of mass distribution through the proliferation of indie-geared festivals made for an easy way to get your work seen by thousands of people. The difference with webseries is that now you have the opportunity to be seen by MILLIONS of people very easily and with little cost to you.

And it's easy to see why so many want to get into the web game. We see the proliferation of LOLCat videos or inept video blogs where a teenager racks up millions of views simply by talking about Justin Beiber for 20 minutes. As storytellers it's natural for us to think "if you think that's good, imagine what a video with a STORY can do!" And so we post our interpretations of the world, of the fantastic, of our imagination.... and we wait.

For a good many of these projects - I'd say probably 90% of them - the problems stem from one of the issues I spoke of in the previous 3 blogs (links 1, 2, & 3 here). To wit, poor storytelling resulting from a lack of accountability.

One of the things I think would benefit filmmakers in general, but webseries producers specifically, is a peer-to-peer system for reviewing and developing scripts. The International Academy of Web Television has some writing programs in place in both LA and NYC, and I hope more will be established around the world. But you don't need a sanctioned group to get your scripts read. Loan them to a trusted friend, someone who'll tell you when your shit stinks but can offer constructive advice to improve things.

As we've been developing our Lovecraftian webseries (more details soon, I promise!!) we made a point to hand the script off to talented writer friends who also weren't super familiar with Lovecraft's work. This gave us an insight into how the casual viewer may see our show. Would it be an uphill climb to understand the premise? Are references flying over heads? We received great feedback and began implementing changes without sacrificing our initial vision.

This isn't new info. This same advice has been handed to me through countless independent filmmakers. Find a partner, whether you work on separate projects or one project together, and share with them. Collaborate. While this isn't new information it's something webseries producers should, nay, NEED to be attuned to.

Producing for the web is vastly different from producing for film or TV. There are no gatekeepers to promotion or advertising or theater space. As good as that is for getting into the business it also means we need to be more vigilant about the quality we're putting out there. Not that the networks really care about their own shows (Whitney, anyone?) but we're not networks. This isn't about us vs. them, this is about doing the best we can with what we've got.

Any comments? Additions? Questions? Let me know in the comments!


Posted by Dom

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