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The Web Series is a Blooming Sunshine Flower of Love

Oh, people of the web, why must we fight?

I say, let’s fix the web series genre, you say it ain’t broke, I say prove it, and you say, no it is YOU who are bitter!

Barrett Garese — an ex-agent and full time welder  (I don’t know what he actually does now, but I’m pretty sure its welding) and a few employees at Blip.tv have waxed dismissive over my “Let’s Save The Web Series” blog of yestermonth.

I didn’t want to respond too actively or I’d start feeling like I was wildly dueling anyone who came my way. But, I figure the idea was to open up the debate about the industry. Luckily, my blog, to some extent, did — so I thank you all for your commitment to share your thoughts and I’ll lend a hand to row this little boat onward.

So, here we go, row, row, row:

Mr. Garese focused primarily on my “minor leagues” argument. I retracted it in my other blog: Waxing Websodic: Everything is Fine, Nothing is Working — but I’ll reiterate it again: you’re absolutely right, Barrett. That was a flawed argument and I take it back — web shouldn’t aim to be minor leagues, web should aim to be the highest quality possible.

Now that that’s settled, I have a request.

What I ask of you, nay, anyone who reads my blog and yells arguments loudly into this large, democratic space, is this — read and understand my actual points.

Which are:

1. The web series in its current inception is dying.

If it isn’t, then somebody please, please throw us a lifesaver because we’re drownin’ baby and our branded entertainment commercials ain’t paying the bills or massaging the creative arteries.

2. We have to throw around ideas to help evolve the genre. Is it evolving? Sort of, kind of, slowly, I guess. Will it continue to evolve? Of course. Is it failing miserably right now? Yes.

Absolutely. Yes. Yes. Yes. Listen to creators before parading our victories — we’re struggling and the pigtail-twirling-awe of online entertainment is hurting us. We need open dialogue and ideas to push us to the next step and force one another to do something amazing. Every time people plug their ears and shout “everything is fine!” it hurts us. If it was succeeding, we’d all be living off of it (by we I mean more than 10-15 people).

That said, Barrett, my favorite welding ex-agent, I feel like we’re repeating each other’s points.

Barrett says: “We’re still “filming radio” by making short TV shows and short films because no one’s yet developed the genres of web video which will stand apart from film and television, and define the medium in the coming decades.”  While my original post makes suggestions on how to move out of this “filming radio” stage (not in those exact words, of course, but out of its current inception) and asks for others to make their own suggestions on how to evolve the medium.

Okay, sure, I said it with more anger and less gentle fondling of the genre’s privates but still — it’s all there.

So, despite your month cool down hiatus on answering my original post, we are not so different, you and I, Barret. We are not so different at all.

Oh, and, while I’m row, row, rowing:

I appreciate the comments from Mike Hudack, Eric Mortenson and the other Blip.tv guys.  The word “visionary” shouldn’t be tossed around lightly, and if that’s the mantle they’ve given me, I’ll wear it to the very best of my mantle-wearing abilities. So, thank you guys. Really. I honestly think that Blip.tv is one of the only companies who is actually doing what I’m preaching.

I am not, however, bitter disappointed. Break a Leg has been amazing to us and our recent network deal should be, ideally, a huge help in our next project. That’s not it at all.

What I am is irritated at the, “everything is okay” mindset of this community. I think it’s backwards thinking, I think it’s masturbatory, and I think it slows down the evolution of this genre. We’re set in our ways because to each other, we’re just the neatest things ever — but the majority of web shows are still poorly written, acted and directed. The very best web show online completely pales in the face of any number of great TV shows — and if we want to be taken seriously, that can’t be true. Budget or no budget.

The reason for me writing the original article was to get people thinking. To get people to drop “everything is okay” and start thinking, “okay, how do we keep getting better?” It was a call to arms. A demand to break the status quo, a shout to call on artists to continue pushing this art’s boundaries instead of patting one another on the back and politely asking if they’d like another handjob.

Barrett leaves off saying that to save web video, I (though I assume he means we… or maybe he means me) need to create something that no one has ever experienced. You’ve got the right idea, Barrett. I couldn’t agree with you more –let’s stop saying everything is swell and let’s start thinking up some new, groundbreaking projects, hey?

Hell, that’s what we’re doing. In fact, we’re right in the middle of trying to scrounge up funding for a new show made with a new model that, we hope, will blow everyone’s mind.

Want to help?

Until then, let’s keep row, row, rowing.

We’re still “filming radio” by making short TV shows and short films because no one’s yet developed the genres of web video which will stand apart from film and television, and define the medium in the coming decades

Written by

I am a writer, director, producer and co-founder of HLG Studios.

15 thoughts on “The Web Series is a Blooming Sunshine Flower of Love

  1. Be careful, Yuri, you may get blackballed from DC Comics for speaking up about Zuda.

    You are talking about Zuda, right?

  2. Pretty sure “web series” as a format and term will seem antiquated sooner rather than later.

    IMO there will be “shows” – some are long form, some short form. Some will be branded, some will be studio, some will be indie.

    They’re all gonna come through the same platform, though – that big monitor in the living room that does everything, or your mobile device that serves the same purpose.

  3. Hey, so just watched dr horrible… and I know how you feel about the gloss and money that went into that… would it have been as good if we didn’t know the actors and the music was done on a casio? Would it be the kind of Jesus you are looking for if W. hadn’t made it?

  4. Groundbreaking?! Now I have to break ground? I’m already trying to be ingenious and utterly essential and now I have to be groundbreaking as well?

    Damn.

    But, to be clear, we’re only talking about web shows here, right? I mean, as far as the groundbreaking part is concerned? Not television. Because television has really only broken REAL ground about 5 or 6 times since its inception. And the last round of groundbreaking television brought us the “reality show.” (Which, really, is just a more intimate version of a game show, except there aren’t always prizes. Makes me now think that the real groundbreaking here was convincing idiots to appear on them)

    And I think we all agree about reality shows, no?

    I’ve actually been brainstorming this for a while now. I think everyone EXPECTS that the groundbreaking aspect of the definitive future Web Show will be its interactivity. We’re just waiting for someone with the budget to execute it correctly and a willingness to cede creative control to his/her audience (which evidently isn’t as appealing as one might think).

    Predictable. It’s almost passe before it had a real chance to exist.

    I want to make a show that FORCES the audience to watch regardless of their interest. Something BEYOND even what TV has been able to do. The unstoppable, immutable show in the uncloseable browser. People would HAVE to pay attention to that kind of innovation.

    By its very definition.

  5. I LOVE blooming flowers of love! And I love webseries! Ergo, web series MUST be blooming flowers of love! Ergo, Yuri! ERGO!

    Brilliantly written, although I think you may be slightly repressed. There seems to be a particular motif that I find oddly distressing. (Or maybe distressing is not the right word.)

    That said, you’re not actually hoping that people reading your blogs will actually come to understand your main points, do you? The Internet reader (and in particular, the Internet poster) is far too empassioned to listen. And critique is always difficult to take if it changes how we see ourselves.

  6. I don’t think anyone immersed in the ‘web series’ space would disagree that web video has not yet reached its full potential. For a variety of reasons. But let’s face it, most of it is budgetary. Which is one of the reasons I cringe when I see the networks, who have deep pockets (even with poor upfronts this year, and cries of ‘broadcast is dying,’ we all know their pockets are still deep), slapping up info frames around a television show and donning it ‘interactive,’ or spending big production dollars to develop web programming that is either overtly branded, dictated by an antiquated ad model, or the same bland porridge they’ve been spoonfeeding to the masses for decades.

    But the next BIG thing is not just limited to the web. Creativity is stagnating across all forms of media. And while a majority of my business is focused on the web, if you ask me, the groundbreaking idea you’ve implored people to seek out is one that will happen in partnership with MULTIPLE platforms — TV, web, mobile, gaming. It’s not about churning out a better web series. It’s about catalyzing a more compelling, immersive experience. Built around the those who consume the content, and that spans every touch point through which they can access it. On their terms. Within the context of their lives.

    We know that the push method no longer works. Appointment viewing is for the AARP set (sorry, mom). And every content creator knows that ‘if you build it, they will come’ is a misnomer best left in the corn fields. So, if we want to get consumers to pull it, we better make it compelling, and we better deliver it where they are and how they want it.

    Content needs to live and breathe and move with those who consume it, so that they become *part* of the experience. Anything less than that risks being overlooked or never even discovered in the first place.

    Now we just need to figure out how all those components work together seamlessly, make sure the technology is available to support it and get all the players involved to agree. Oh, and a totally original, riveting story with spectacular production value across devices. Simple, right?

    So, it’s a big undertaking, yes, but a worthwhile endeavor and I hope that spirited tête-à-têtes like these kickstart that thinking instead of getting wound around the axle on semantics and finely woven metaphors.

    In other words, let’s not look to the future. Let’s create it.

    Thanks for the discussion!

  7. Everybody seems to be waiting for the next big thing but let me ask this, what if the next big thing were already out there somewhere? Where would it live? How would you find out about it? We place the onus on the content creator but for argument sake let’s say you were an indie self funded production with a kick ass pilot how do you get it funded? Do you release it onto this landscape and hope someone by chance discovers it? Putting aside the fact that money is tight and chances are slim that you get any kind of funding, let’s say you do what is currently the premiere destination site for web series? What would happen if you asked 10 people to name a web series? Then asked them how they found out about it? Then ask them where they watch it? We need to be branding destination sites and trying to get mainstream coverage and reviews so not only will people find out about this next big thing but they’ll know where to find it. I think hulu is an awesome model. They created a single destination site, loaded it with exclusive premiere content and even though that content is a known quantity they still promoted it like crazy. We have very few destination sites, not much exclusive premiere content which is unknown to most everyone.

    I don’t think content creators are dropping the ball here I think many are being held out because they can’t funding or staying on the sidelines until there is a place for them to go. Would you put together a championship caliber football team together only to play on the local sandlot where you have to drag people in to watch you play? Or would you try and be the next expansion franchise of the NFL and play in your own stadium where fans come to see you? Not a perfect analogy because if web series were football teams there is no web equivalent of the NFL, then again that’s sort of the whole point.

    Anyway I think what I want to say is without an environment that they can thrive maybe we are not ready to receive the next big thing(s.)

  8. Anthony —

    Great thoughts, as always, but I think you’re focusing mainly on the discovery/distribution piece, which is definitely important, but I think that as the space matures, ‘web’ series become merely one component of an overall experience. I think the focus needs to be less on an isolated genre of web video and how to monetize it singularly, and more on multi-dimensional content that is a story built, supported — and extended — across platforms. Each of which offers a viable revenue stream as part of a complete experience that has value as a franchise instead of just a web show. The destinations then become the places where viewers choose to pull and consume it, or through which they are expertly lead through a dynamically unfolding series of events and storylines.

    If anything, it’s a market shift that needs to happen, through which web series can find their voice and seamlessly integrate with the wide world of media as a whole. And if IPTV continues to gain steam, the lines between ‘traditional’ tube TV, web TV, mobile TV etc. will start to blur and the overall experience becomes the tangible product.

    But all of this requires a heck of a lot of funding and consensus on the part of multiple players. And it’s not going to evolve overnight. So, for now, I say we keep focusing on creating great content, securing brand partners, and strategizing ways to make it an extendable experience beyond just our little corner of the web so that we’re poised to unleash the property through emerging outlets.

    In an increasingly channel agnostic market, it’s the content itself that has ultimate value, so in that regard, we’d be well served to make it the best it can posibly be through whatever means are available. And the resources, access and exposure that sponsors can provide is a step in the right direction toward building something that has longevity in a space that has no expiration date.

    Media is infinite, so let’s stop thinking in finite terms, and take it to infinity!

    Best,
    Gennefer
    http://www.twitter.com/Gennefer

  9. I must agree with Mister Baranovsky. I’ve still yet to see that show that revolutionizes the genre.

    Enjoy these verbal sparrings—maybe a web show where you guys argue? Maybe those College Humor guys could interspere it with some sketches about what’s going on in the world?

  10. The next big thing has to be a web series, feature film combo! Build an audience with a web series and then, BAM! Release a feature film to critical success and the money will roll in. Did I mention, I’m shooting a Pilot for Beer15? It’s the prequel to the feature film. http://www.beer15.com

    Now, anyone know a beer company looking to sponsor a show?

  11. The more I think about this whole web series thing, I think it goes back to why I started in the first place. The “web” allows free (and sometimes paid) distribution of your content. As directors and actors and musicians what we need more than anything, is exposure. And Fans. To get enough people interested in you that when you put out a mildly entertaining music video, you get millions of views on the first day. Or, maybe you get an agent. Or, maybe you get a network deal. (When are the details on THAT one, Mr. Yuri?)

    It’s really about building a following of people that like your work and will hopefully in the near future pay to see it, or have their eyeballs be worth it to an advertiser.

  12. …and if you really strike it rich, you buy all those loyal fans Thomas talks about some blooming sunshine flowers of love. (Magenta for me, please!)

  13. Pingback: TV vs Web Series vs Indie Film

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    did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking
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    got this from. thanks

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