With the IAWTV awards tonight we’ve been taking a closer look at some of the nominees to try and get a better idea of what makes their work stand out. Here we have a chance to chat with a few of the nominees up for acting.

As writers we often wrack our brains, trying to come up with that one brilliant concept or the perfect character that will really resonate with audiences. More often than not the basic rule of hand ‘write what you know’ is the way to go. Personal stories and characters was a common theme with our Best Actor nominees.

Ed Robinson, the writer and star of the multiple Snobby Robot Award winning series ‘Pairings,’ had this insight on his show’s success. “It’s easy when you get to write yourself the perfect role. While I am actually a very different person from Alan, so many of his life experiences were drawn from my life, so it was easy to embrace his emotions.”

Even more to the point is the background on Richard Cutting’s experiences leading to the creation of Milgram and the Fastwalkers. “I wrote it, and have been studying UFOs for over 25 years. So you might say a lot of my actor’s research was completed over a long time,” Cutting says. ‘Milgram’ follows the story of a hyper rational psychiatrist confronted with hard evidence of alien visitation. “Milgram is a man going down a well on a rope, and the further he goes down, the less light he sees above him. That’s in my mind a lot.”

Of course simply writing yourself characters that mirror your life experiences and your interests alone isn’t enough. It’s not enough to simply be good, and authentic; to really stand out a performance has to rise above such things. I really love the point Connor Russel made about his IAWTV nominated role in ‘The Hinterlands.’ “The character I was lucky enough to play has a real story to tell. The issues that are dealt with in The Hinterlands are issues that are really important today among teens, not only in the LGBTQ community, but with high school kids everywhere. I think it’s a meaningful character for people to know, and significant story to tell.“

Another subject came up that might be an interesting factor. All our nominees brought up some rather unique aspects of web production that they felt contributed to their show. The web is the place to be for stories and characters that don’t fit into the mold of TV networks.

Ed Robinson shared his perspective. “There are so many more unique opportunities on the web. With no networks being afraid of ‘too edgy’ characters, there are so many great roles to play. For example, the two lead actors of ‘Husbands’ were told that America wasn’t ready for a married gay couple on television.”

One of those shows that wouldn’t seem to fit into the traditional mold was The Hinterlands. The shows producer Michelle Elliot had this to say, “The Hinterlands is a dramatic musical, a medium that isn’t created very much for the web, the nominations help bring validity to the show and demonstrate that musicals, even those that aren’t comedies, can and should be enjoyed online.”

While having the ability to tell stories that don’t fit into the typical Hollywood, or television mold online is big, Richard Cutting has fallen in love with the creative process he’s encountered while working on several different web series. “In web series almost anything can happen, stories organically spring to life, wild storyline and acting choices can be made without certain pressure influences. The actor has access to the writer very often, the directors are game to take risks, and the producers are half crazy trying to make a show on a bag of donuts and four paper clips.”

Without big budgets and all the money involved, these actors have found a collaborative environment that is encouraging taking risks, and promoting greater communication between all the components of the production. According to Cutting, “So it couldn’t be a more fun and creatively energetic environment. It’s like the old radio series days, with a dash of Vaudeville and some avante gard cinema rolled into one. I often think Rod Serling and Paddy Chayevsky would be having a ball doing web series were they with us today.” If that quote doesn’t sum up the importance of the web series movement for creative types then nothing will!

Connor Russell also had an interesting take on the medium. “I think acting in the web format is so important because it is a medium that can be accessed universally. In the case of The Hinterlands, we wanted the content to be accessible in any part of the country, especially those locations where young people may feel more isolated, and having the material online allows you to be able to connect in that way.” The internet is creating an opportunity for more significant content – transmedia projects have the ability to reach audiences world wide in ways television never dreamed of. A niche program like ‘The Hinterlands’ that likely never would be picked up for television has the ability to touch an individual in a rural, isolated part of the country right when they might need it the most.

While the nominees all had their own opinions on why their performances were nominated – Ed believes it was because the judges must have tried his delicious Madeleines – ultimately all of them were simply happy to be included and feel the medium is being elevated by a huge influx of talent. This year’s nominees includes an expanding list of talent known outside of our small community. Ed Robinson comments, “My name alongside that of actors I not only admire, but am a fan of, like Brad Bell, Jeff Lewis, Sam Hemeon and Ron Hanks is amazing. They are all doing work that raises the level of web entertainment, which is important to me as an actor and a content creator.”

And those aren’t the only names, as Richard Cutting’s nearly identical comment displays. “I also think the prestigious company in all the categories tells us that web series have hit the next evolution. Having the likes of guys like David Arquette, Walt Willey, Connor Russell and Milo Ventimiglia tell you that web series are now a completely acceptable environment for fine actors who love a good script, the thrill of the indie edge, making things happen in a streamlined way and going worldwide.”

As more and more talent finds web series to be not just a viable format but the best format for them, it’s only logical that we are seeing a lot of growth in the overall quality of our communities output. “What I am finding, as the form develops, is that they are feeling a lot more now like longer-form formats. Half-hour TV or even miniseries. The arcs and stories are getting longer, and the writing is getting better. That’s interesting, of course, as an actor,” Richard says. I’m inclined to agree and it’s a factor that is also encouraging that talent back into the community. “Web series are an incredible hothouse of creativity, worldwide networking among creators and the place where new ideas will be most rapid and prolific moving forward.”