Austin, Texas has long enjoyed a reputation as being a prime destination for indie musicians and filmmakers through events like the South By Southwest music and film festivals, plus the Austin City Limits music fest. While those events have grown to become higher in profile over the years, they’ve also become more commercialized while attracting the mainstream side of music and film. This June, one new event seeks to benefit an aspect of independent film that’s growing every day: web series.

The inaugural Austin Web Fest will be held from June 26-28th in downtown Austin, and is the first event of its kind in Texas devoted solely to web series. Beginning with its launch party at the Handlebar in Austin on Thursday, June 26th, and continuing with panels and screenings throughout the weekend, Austin Web Fest will provide web series creators from all over the world with ample opportunities to gain knowledge, to promote their shows, to network with fellow filmmakers and to gain new insight into various aspects of web series production.

Registration will take place at the Omni Hotel Downtown Austin on June 26th from 3 PM-9 PM. In addition, all panel discussions and the closing night awards ceremony will be held at the same location.

For those who’d like to attend either or all three days of Austin Web Fest, there are several pricing plans available. All access passes run $80, and are good for panels, screenings, award ceremony, cocktail hour, and parties (only the parties are free to the public). A full listing of events and venues, plus information on the shows to be screened, featured panelists and driving directions to each venue can be found at the event’s official web site (see link below).

Recently, I spoke with Eric Robbins, CEO of Austin Web Fest and co-organizer of the event, about his hopes for the success of the first annual festival and how it will help current and aspiring web series creators over the course of the weekend.

What is the overall mission of Austin Web Fest, and how does it benefit both web series creators (and creators to be)? 

To provide a cultural alternative to the commercial film experience, and to celebrate and promote the artistic elements of the medium and related ones, and to nurture and promote the art of filmmaking itself. To be a platform base for media creators to utilize, enjoy, learn, discover, and be discovered.

In what ways will Austin WebFest benefit web series creators? 

We benefit web series creators in multiple ways. First we are working on a grand prize that will actually help the filmmakers progress in their endeavor. As well, we are planning panels with already established web series creators, and networking events to bring the filmmakers together into one room.

How will it benefit fans of those shows who attend the event?

Our hope is that this will allow for the attendees to see what their peers are doing with regard to film and this new medium and inspire people to create something of their own and do it on virtually any budget.

What (or who) inspired you to create Austin WebFest?

Our inspiration began as attendees of LAWeb Fest in 2012, as well as some other festivals. We knew a web series festival was something that Austin could not do without. So we went to work on developing a business plan in July 2013, and here we are less than a year later getting ready to kickoff our inaugural fest.

Who’s in charge of organizing the event?

The Austin Web Fest board is in charge of organizing the event. The board is comprised of Eric Robbins (CEO), Joe Barajas (CFO), Monique Barajas (Chief Marketing Officer), Rain Chavez (Chief Design Officer), Danny Trevino (Chief Promotions Officer), David Carter (Chief Information Officer).

What web series will be in competition at the fest, what awards will be handed out and in which categories?

We have fifty finalists who made it to our Official Selection round. There was some very tough competition. The awards are not going to be given out by genre this year. With an overwhelming amount of submissions in one particular category we decided it best to structure the awards as follows:

Best Overall Series

Best Animated Series

Best Director

Best Writing

Best Actor – Lead

Best Actress – Lead

Best Actor – Supporting

Best Actress – Supporting

Best Cinematography

Best Editing

Best Sound

Best Score

Will there be any special events (screenings, networking opportunities, lectures, etc.) taking place at the fest, and how can people attend?

We will have several networking opportunities for our attendees, as well as the local film community. Our first night begins with a networking party as well as our last night after the awards ceremony. We have left friday evening open for screenings and after that attendees can explore the local Austin scene. We will also host live music as well as panels and screenings.

Do you see Austin WebFest as an annual event? 

We are the first in Texas and we are here to stay.

What do you hope to accomplish overall with this event, in terms of making people aware of web series, and also in terms of helping web series creators have greater success with their shows?

We want to accomplish what we think every filmmaker wants to accomplish and that is to get the work in front of the people that are going to help make those filmmakers successful. As filmmakers ourselves (and our entire board is) we have not seen enough forward momentum for this type of new media. If we can help launch some careers with this then our jobs are done.

Overall, how would you describe Austin Web Fest as an event itself?

This is going to be an event you will not want to miss. We are all excited, nervous, ecstatic, anxious, and ready for this to happen.

For more information on Austin Web Fest, visit its official web site at: