Why you need to create a web series…
The year is 1940 and three boys are adventuring through the forests of south France. There was a legend of a secret passage that lead to a hidden treasure. As the boys ventured further into the woods their canine companion drew their attention to a small opening in the ground. The boys, nervous and excited, climbed down, one by one, into the darkness.
Upon safely reaching the bottom, the boys turned on a small oil lamp stashed inside one of their coats. The light illuminated a cavern littered with paintings of animals. The discovery of the cave paintings of Lascaux would go down as one of the most significant archeological discoveries of all time.
The paintings on the walls, horses, bulls, people, and many more, numbered in the thousands. Scientists would later date the works as being as old as 17,000 years – the abstract nature of the paintings attributed to humanities fledgling artistic ability.
Recently some scientists have challenged that last idea, citing studies arguing that humans are naturally drawn to abstract visuals. Maybe early human’s were better artists than we think. What we see as flawed attempts at accurate representation might have been seen by early human cultures as art…
Human cultures throughout time are defined by their art; ancient Egyptians and their hieroglyphics, Chinese and their architecture, the Myans and their pyramids. As common as art is throughout human history, it is strange to realize that no other species of humans ever painted pictures on walls or made flutes out of animal bones.
Art and creation is something uniquely human, something that must have arisen out of our uncanny sense of time and place in the world. Art fuels our desire to shout out to one another through space and time – to tell the world “I was here” and “my experience was important.”
This is a story told over and over again. Every era finds a new way to share with each other, from paintings on cave walls to writing in books, to images on celluloid. Everyone tries to share their story somehow. Everyone feels the need to live on long past their actual time here on this planet.
The ancients built grand structures out of limestone, so massive that the elements, and maybe even time itself could not erode them. An amazing feat of course, but not something attainable by the common man.
Thousands of years later man has built a communications network designed to survive a nuclear attack. This network of computers uses information stored digitally. Digital information does not wither, it does not fade or erode – and it is always accessible.
With this new medium we all have a voice that can last, but with that now comes the challenge of being heard among the crowd.
For the last year I have been closely following the creators of web series, trying to figure out that magic secret to success. While the secret of how to rise above the noise still eludes me I learned a lot more about the why of web series creation than anything else.
Every project is born with a set of goals, a bar we all set. Every person’s story is unique, every journey and destination their own. Still there is something that ties them all together – some common fabric that sews together every creator. Ultimately every individual story seems to come back to the following four core ideas – the true reasons we create.
We Seek Creative Freedom
No collaborative project is ever completely the culmination of a singular vision. Creators are always in debt to those who provide favors. Ultimately the biggest ‘favors’ are financial, and unless you are providing all of the funding yourself, someone is going to have a say in how their money or time is used.
The great thing about web series is their ability to attract people driven by the craft, not a financial return, and in turn allow for the creation of projects on reasonable budgets. These are projects that people believe in, not projects taken on to pay bills.
According to British actress Amelia Tyler,
“indie work gives me so much freedom. I get to make something I love and connect with an audience without any red tape.”
That ‘red tape’ Ms. Tyler refers to is money specifically. No one wants to lose money, and the more money on the line, the more fear investors have of losing it.
This is where your creative freedom dies.
Decisions are made based on their ability to mitigate financial risk – scripts are chosen based on mass appeal, actors are cast based on the people they can put in the seats. Doors that your talent and creativity opened are closed by financial realities.
“Being creative is hard when people are always telling you no. We solved it by making our own stuff.” – Jordan McArthur – Creator of ‘The Digressions’
This quote perfectly states the web series mantra of creative freedom. When you cut out that red tape, and find a group of people that share your passions and desires, then there is no one left to tell you no – only yourself.
We Are Trailblazing A New Medium
The history of mass communication is littered with one way transmission. As amazing as it would be, there is no way for us to speak to the painters at Lascaux. We are left to ponder the meanings of Dickens and Hemingway on our own. Even today’s great film directors put out their products and disappear behind the veil of publicity and celebrity – visible but seemingly out of reach.
Where film merged all of the major arts under one umbrella the web has added the information layer. Projects on the web are instantly accessible, capable of being influenced by the user, and ever evolving.
There is no longer a single, one way product. The product grows and evolves as the audience affects it.
Most are still stick in the old ways of film, but we are experimenting everyday with this new format, learning as we go, and that is exciting all on its own. These are the early days, and we are getting in on the ground floor. These shows may have a lot of rough edges but that is not the point.
Alice Venessa Bever chimed in on that subject,
“it comes down to authenticity and the drive to share with the world. Not perfection. ‘perfection’ is Hollywood.”
These shows represent the modern voice of the people – a look into the lives we lead, not the commercialized ideal of what life is supposed to be, as purveyed by Hollywood for generations.
We Need To Satisfy A Deeply Ingrained Human Desire For Creation
Most creators will tell you that they create because there is no other option but to, or as Michael Jonathan Smith, creator of ‘Mermates’ and ‘The Common Cult’ put it, “I’m not good at much else.”
Creation is what we do as a species. So many creator stories center around finally being able to scratch an itch they have had all their lives.
One of my favorite quotes came from Karolina Sivas, who recently finished releasing her series ‘Broken At Love’ who said,
“sometimes there’s a story in your heart that needs to be told.”
We all have a story that needs to be told. The heart can only live so long in silence, and creation seems to offer some sort of catharsis. It’s that desire to be heard, to feel that your existence mattered, and to leave something behind when we are gone.
It’s a strange human characteristic, but it makes sense. We all find happiness in making the lives of others better – of spreading cheer and squelching loneliness. It makes us happy because it makes the world a better place to live in.
We are fulfilling lifelong dreams of opening doors that have long been locked
Getting discovered is hard, making dreams a sustained reality is even harder. That red tape will always get in the way. For some the simple act of creation is enough, for others it has to be the only thing they do.
That road is hard but it has to begin somewhere, for now web series are that start. Some day soon – a day which may have already passed – every filmmaker will have gotten their start creating and distributing a web series.
This is the arena where people are given their chance to show their stuff.
“We create because we have all these stories to tell and have no connections in the world of movies/tv to get them out there!” – Marley Malloy – Creator of ‘Devine Intervention’
No longer is it possible to make an ‘indie movie’ and show it at Sundance. You need millions now. Today we have to start building our audiences and making our connections. This is something we cannot do stocking shelves, creating spread sheets or selling Tupperware door to door.
Dreams take time, and they take hard work. Web series creators are going for it.