Saturday, October 17, 2009

What I've Learned About Making Web Series

A year or so ago I heard that USC is now offering a web video class, which I thought was ridiculous. Nobody knows how to guarantee success in web video; big media companies like HBO and Warner Brothers are throwing money at it and failing all the time. Why pay tuition to take a class in it? There are no rules. We are all inventing them right now.

Having made a total of three seasons of two different web series, I think I have learned a few things about the form. The first one is that nobody cares about web series. I'm not just saying that because nobody cares about my web series; I know that's just because they're not very entertaining. But I have a sneaking suspicion that nobody cares about any web series, really, except for people who are making their own web series, watching each other's shows to see what works and hoping against hope that there is a market for this format.

If you look at the views of even the more successful web shows, they pale in comparison to the views of random one-offs, quirky vloggers and internet curiosities. So, you could let an unselfconscious nineteen-year-old vamp on a webcam for five minutes of jump-cutting and get five million views, or you can spend ten thousand dollars on actors, locations, equipment and crew and get ten thousand views if you're lucky. Who wouldn't want to make a web show?

Has any web series ever even gone viral? When the pinnacle of the form is French Maid TV, it's time to question whether that form is worth making viable. Congratulations, you've leveraged T&A against product placement, now just make something that a person would want to watch a second time.

There are exceptions, of course--as I've mentioned, Jake & Amir is both popular and entertaining. But that show aside, I've never heard a real person in real life say how much they love a web series, or even that they have watched one. Does mainstream America even know they exist?


Steven Cerritos said...

Very true. I think the root of the problem is simple: over all bad/uninspired content and setting unrealistic goals.

crystal! said...

i have friends who were hooked on dr. horrible but it has stars behind it.