Tuesday, March 19, 2013

ECCC 2013: Spending Spree Sunday--Women in Webseries

(Image:  Legend of the Shadow Clans, ECCC 2013 Special Edition Print)
Before I spent money on items I couldn't live without, my fiance and I attended two more seminars on the final day of ECCC 2013
The first was the Women in Webseries panel discussion, hosted by Trin Miller.
 (Image:  Trin Miller, drafted at the last minute to moderate, is about to open the panel discussion)
I went to a similar seminar two years ago at GeekGirlCon, which the panelists jokingly subtitled "Women in Webseries--other than The Guild" and where I initially met some of the panelists
While not producing--let alone staring--in a webseries (not to mention being a guy to boot), I do make YouTube movies of some of the games I've played.  I felt these activities were similar enough to justify attending this panel discussion in the hopes of improving my own craft.
In case you're wondering what a "webseries" is, here's a decent definition, according to Wikipedia
The panel consisted of the following producers (as near as I can remember) and their webseries:
Joanna Gaskell of Standard Action, now in it's Second Season.
Jen Page of Geek Seekers and Clockwork Infinity (currently in production by 1947 Entertainment).
I can't recall if Glynis Mitchell of Causality was part of the panel, or I merely snagged her business card afterwards.  (Later in the day, there was a panel discussion titled Causality:  How to Make a Webseries and Not Lose Your Mind," which I didn't attend). 
Also mentioned was the fantasy web comedy Journey Quest
 Amy Lillard of Washington Filmworks was on hand to discuss her agency's support for what she called local story telling.
And there were plenty of stories about the pleasures and pitfalls of being involved with a webseries...
First, what is the benefit of a webseries format?
It is accessible to anyone, not just women.  There are no "gatekeepers," as there are in the major studios.
You are in control of your content and production.
Webseries opens the story-telling world to everyone and is the perfect opportunity to become a creator.
The film crew is small and therefore, very nimble.  That is they can pick up and move, or change locations on a much shorter notice.
As a comparison, for women working in the studio-system; more often than not, play support roles in marketing and production.  Also, according to Amy Lillard, the Top-Ten grossing movies in the US have all been sci-fi flicks--none of which were produced by women.
Of course, webseries aren't in the same league as the big box office hits. 
So you have to define your own measure of success.
Any project made and completed can be considered a major achievement.
This shouldn't be a financial measure.
Having the creative freedom not found by working in the major studios and therefore providing great content for your fans.
The caveat to all this is (yes, there's always a downside):  You have to support yourself financially via other means.
Even with an abundance of creative synergy, without living as a starving artist, how do you attract fans?
Word of mouth. 
Promote with other webseries.
Connect with bloggers.
Become active on social media sites like Facebook.
Utilize YouTube.
However, you still have to know your audience.  Be clear on what genre you're working under and write/produce for the fans within this field.
Also if you're seeking funding, know how to communicate what you intend to do.  Know your Elevator Pitch
Speaking of fundraising, Washington Filmworks has, at the time of this post, a $175,000 budget to divvy out in support of local film-making.  This is a jurried award, with a minimum threshold of $25,000, based on the merit of the project.  While the deadline for this year's submissions was March 8th, .
(Joanna Gaskell, Darlene Sellers and Trin Miller at the Zombie Orpheus Entertainment booth)
Like most stories, this seminar came with a couple of plot twists:  In the form of a couple of "surprise guests" from the audience. 
The first was a young lady, (I forgot her name), introduced the webseries she was involved with:  Epic Heroes, a dramedy about disabled children with super powers.
While the next surprise guest, was none other than Steve Jackson, Professor of Film at Central Washington University (CWU).  He asked about the possibility of providing mentorship for those involved in webseries.
These revelations were followed by a flurry of business card swaps.
Later that day, when my fiance and I were touring the booths, I picked up fliers for these two webseries:
Well it looks like I have a lot of catching up to do...


DeanM said...

Interesting social groups you run with, Ted.

Ted Henkle said...

Thanks Dean. I like webseries, not just for the entertainment, but I really like the media and format. I don't know if I'll ever become involved in one, but I figure my gaming movies are similar in concept.

Ted Henkle said...

PS: I forgot to mention another reason why I like webseries (a problem with being one's own editor). The cast and crew of these series are friends, or at least a close-knit group that works well together. Everyone seems to enjoy what they're doing and I admire what cohesive teams can accomplish.

KVO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KVO said...

Hello, thought I'd just wave hi and say thanks for posting a recap. And I'm going to reclaim my quote from Amy - many of the top ten grossing films of all time (in the US) are science fiction, and as far as I know, none of them were directed by women. - Kat Ogden

Ted Henkle said...

Thank you for the clarification Kat. Best wishes in all your endeavors.