In the entertainment business, it all starts with a story. It’s like the foundation of a house. If you don’t choose the right materials or shape and size of your foundation for that house, that house will fall down. Think of web series as TV for the internet.
What Story Are You Trying to Tell?
If you’re going to make a web series, the first and foremost question should be, “What story are you telling?” If you don’t really understand the story, if that story doesn’t make your heart sing, if that story doesn’t make you get out of bed while you’re throwing up to make that phone call or type that document that you have to do, it’s not the story for you to tell.
How are you going to tell your story?
Are you going to tell that story in animation? An 8mm app on a cell phone? A red camera, DSLR or Instamatic? Will your story be mainstream or indie? Choose your technology wisely.
All elements have to play well together during the process — from development (thinking of making something) to pre-production (preparing to) to production (filming) to post-production (edits, sound, effects). Since creation takes time, money and energy, choose your team wisely. Keep in mind, you could have the most advanced people in their fields on your project, but if they don’t serve your story, they do not serve your web series.
What’s Your Signature Story?
I was at a party recently and a first-time web series creator told me he had four budgets and they were all over the place. When I asked who his line producer was, he told me he was a student trying to do his thesis project. I told him to instead take a line-item budget, which includes every crew position and everything you’ll need, even including food and wardrobe. You can get a rough idea of all that by going to the end of a film or TV show. And then what in that line-item budget can somebody bring to a shoot?
Your first project is your signature piece. Your signature piece is how you’re queued in the world of entertainment. You get known for a sector. For example, it is very hard for me to fund a project for a director known in short form content on a feature film. If you make a children’s animation and it wins awards and does well, do you really think the same clients and that same audience are going to like horror?
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Years ago, we had web series superstars on our film festival panels, including Dane Boe, who is well-known for his YouTube animated web series “Annoying Orange.” His web series was based out of his apartment using a green screen, his kitchen and these little animations of fruit that would speak. I didn’t know at the time, but he was signing a merchandising rights deal for “Annoying Orange” merch (think tote bags, lunchboxes, T-shirts, etc). This shows the numerous possibilities with a web series.
Your web series can go in amazing directions. Tell the story you want to share with the world.