THE WEB SERIES IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE WEB SERIES
by Leesa Dean
Recently there was an article in The Guardian about the future of web series that’s been causing a bit of an uproar in the indie web series community.
It says that web series are in decline because Hollywood has stepped in and indie creators can’t compete with the big guns: Netflix and Amazon. It goes as far as saying that aside from a few established talents/series that have managed to sustain themselves, everyone else seems to have “packed their bags and gone home.”
Wow. Harsh! I agree. And disagree.
Yes, it’s now nearly impossible to get big name producers to invest in your series. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, those days ended before I even entered the game end of 2012/beginning of 2013 (which seems like billions of years ago.) Yes, you probably won’t make a dime from your series. I learned that hard way. Yes, a lot of people who did web series are no longer in it. Why? Cause it didn’t generate the big publicity/cash they were hoping for. It also sucks to be the butt of endless jokes about how saying you have a web series equals saying, “May I please have your attention?!? I can’t get a real gig.”
And yes, it’s true that there has been a paradigm shift. Way way back in 2013, if you said you were doing a web series, it really meant something. You were the bright and shiny ingenue. You were the future of entertainment and everybody was on your jock. A year later? You’re just part of the glut of everybody and their mama who throws something up on YouTube and hopes for the best.
So why do I disagree? Cause it still remains the single best way for people to get to know your work. And you know what? If you stick with it and you’re good, it will lead to real paying work. And real opportunity. If you want to succeed as a writer in Hollywood, I believe you have to have a web series or, at least, some scripted content online. The sad story of Hollywood is, nobody wants to be involved with people who are just sitting around hoping something will happen. You have to MAKE something happen. And as far as I’m concerned, web series are a part of that equation.
Not only that, there always will be people searching for niche content and if you stay relatively active on social media, ultimately people will find you. I’ve made indispensable contacts by having content out there. Does it mean I’ve stopped writing/generating new ideas/scripts? No. It’s just a de rigueur part of the game now. Plus, you never know who’s watching.
Before I go, I wanna take a moment to pay respects to Earl Patrick McNease, aka Praverb. He was well known in the indie hip-hop world. A lyricist, a blogger (he wrote for one of the biggest blogs in the hip-hop world, Kevin Nottingham), and a tireless connector, he had lists of indie music friendly blogs and gave interviews to people who needed more exposure. I was one of those people.
I had written to him, thanking him for the blog lists (I had successfully written to a number of blogs who featured my web series), he fell in love with Chilltown and was so supportive. When he interviewed me, it brought a ton of eyeballs to my work and I’ll always be grateful for that. During the pre-interview, we spoke at length on the phone and I heard his little son in background. He was a devoted family man. His son isn’t even two years old yet.
We stayed in touch–I heard from him about a month ago, just checking in–so it was shock to hear he suddenly passed away on Sept. 17th. I don’t know how old he was–I’m assuming late 20’s, early 30’s–but either way, he’s gone way way too soon. My condolences to his wife and family. R.I.P. Praverb.