"I Love Webseries" (on twitter - @ilovewebseries) is now accepting nominations on the hashtag #webseriesawards.
You can nominate either @iamtimhelsing or @natrt_series for all kinds of categories.
It would be awesome if either of our shows got a nod!
Three words I wish I’d applied to my first ventures into the wide world of web series. The Internet has no attention span. It wants it fast, rough and to be over quickly… arriving at the climax in less than three minutes. If you can do it in one that would be great. Pop the kettle on as you leave.
As it stands, our first web series “I Am Tim” is the length of three early Tom Hanks films. If you hit play on episode one it will take you four hours and thirty minutes to watch every episode, and with season three looking to settle around the two hour mark… in total all three seasons will be almost the length of one recent Peter Jackson film.
Episode 1 of I Am Tim.
To ask an Internet audience to hold that kind of attention is unlikely, if not impossible. Look to the most popular Internet filmmakers, or “YouTubers” as they’re known. Most of their films last three minutes, and are simple, linear stories that are often action sketches with three bullet point moments of story, ending on a witty punchline. Man walks into building, something kicks off, man wins. Four million views. Done.
TomSka, the sickeningly talented shit. I love him a bit.
When I was at Raindance Film Festival last year, a wise man from Channel Flip told me that there are several ways to make your web series land…
1 - Cast a popular YouTuber.
2 - Build an audience first.
3 - Be incredibly lucky.
Even then you’re not going to experience the sort of viral success of Charlie and his finger biting habits. Look to Project Library, a web series from British filmmaker TimH. He built his audience first with excellent sketches and short films, before launching a series he co-wrote with popular YouTuber Jack Howard. It’s swimming in YouTubing talent, yet the views aren’t what they should be. They’re high, certainly, but they deserve to be so much more.
Episode 1 of TimH’s PROJECT LIBRARY. Get it it your life.
So what is it about web series that’s keeping mainstream audiences away? The episodes sit there forever, accessible via Xbox, Playstation, PC, iPad, iPhone, Smart TV. In fact, web series are MORE accessible and easy to watch than most TV shows. Audiences can connect directly to makers via comments, Twitter and Facebook and will almost always get a reply, making the experience engaging in a social way as well as entertaining.
The original plan for I Am Tim was to run for six episodes, killing off the titular character in the finale in quite a dark fashion, but we were having so much fun making the show that we (selfishly) decided to make another series. Then the whole thing got the Lucas treatment and… here we are. Thirty three episodes with very low view counts. It’s always difficult to judge your own work when your world is so saturated with it, but we’re constantly told how good the show is, how interested the audience are, even taking home an award for Best Web Series from The Snobby Robot last year. We’ve kept cast and crew passionate for FOUR YEARS, but still… we have episodes below three hundred views.
Something is keeping the audience away. Something we’re missing. Is it the length of the series? The number of episodes? The prospect of starting a new show with so many episodes to get through? Or is it just a bit terrible? We can’t figure it out.
One thing we’re working on now is building our audience. Bringing people to our channel, and provoking any kind of emotional response in them which causes them to punch the subscribe button.
Our first RedShort of 2014, “The Overreactioneer.”
This month we release “The World’s Most Realistic Zombie Film.” In April “Retro Fury” will explode onto the Internet in a shower of red hot pixels and noise. By the time season three of “I Am Tim” drops in September we want an audience sat waiting. It’s designed as a new entry point for audiences, so anyone new to the show can jump in at episode 3.1 and not feel excluded, hopefully then interested enough to jump back and watch the first two seasons.
Creating for the web is a very strange experience if you’re unknown. It’s unlike any other platform I’ve written for. You have ten seconds at best to grab your audience by the chin and scream “LOOK AT THIS AND DON’T CLICK THAT LAUGHING PENGUIN VIDEO” or you’ve lost them. There they go, clicking and stumbling deeper into YouTube… slurping tea and laughing at a women falling into a hole.
Don’t open with thirty seconds of titles.
Don’t open with a minute of lovely tracking shots through the trees.
Do make your audience feel SOMETHING big within seconds of starting.
Basically, making stuff for the web is a lot like sex.
On my involvement in DotR, creative collaboration in general and some Redshirt history:
I’d really love to write a longer post about this (and probably will), including interviews with the various people involved in this episode since its conception years ago, but right now it’s somewhat more prudent to just get the thing in front of your…