Web Series – Right Way Wrong Way?

Posted: November 2, 2012 in Film Review
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have subscribed to several web series over the years, and I found that some things work well, while other not so much. And I know we are all waiting to see what the big breakout series will be – you know, the one that has millions of viewers for every episode, millions of subscribers, and makes millions of dollars (and several people famous). I don’t think it’s happened yet. Do we even know what this looks like? (Know of any possibilities? Have any to recommend?)
Besides the obvious necessary items (good writing, good acting, good directing, etc etc), a couple things I’ve noticed and aprreciate:

1/ Keep each webisode short. When I click to watch something online, I’m generally not prepared to invest too much time, like I am when I sit down to watch a movie in the easy chair with a drink and a bowl of popcorn – even though at times this is online – but I save film choices and TV shows for these occasions, and generally not YouTube videos and webisodes. (Am I typical in this regard, or an anomaly? What do you do?) When I watch webisodes, I am on the run or usually waiting somewhere, maybe involved in something else at the same time, and it’s on my phone, laptop or iPad. So I would suggest keeping each webisode less than 10 minutes, while 7 is even better. (Side note: R-rated language can get me into trouble here, so keep that in mind when producing and use with discretion.)

2/ Make sure you release a new webisode regularly. On more than one occasion, I have gotten involved in a web series and there are three or four initial webisodes that I have liked, and then all of a sudden – nothing. No more webisodes are released and I’m left wondering how this thing ends. Or one comes out a month later, and then another a couple of months after that. I have to say my attention has waned by then. So either keep on producing until you reach the conclusion, or produce the whole enchilada and then begin releasing them. The second scenario is probably the best, albeit challenging, but please takes us to the end of the story without having to wait forever. And DO have an end in mind. If nothing else, break it up into seasons, with some kind of conclusion at the end of each one. (Unless you are doing soap operas, but I’m not talking about these here.) One webisode a week is perfect for me. Two can get a little much (three definitely), and releasing one every two weeks gets a little old (and again, three weeks and beyond is too long). What are your thoughts about how long and how frequent?

The latest web series I have been watching is a Christian series based on the classic best-selling book written by Charles Monroe Sheldon called “In His Steps.” The web series is a modernization of the tale. “In His Steps: The Series” is produced, written, and directed by Zack Lawrence, and he has done a stellar job with this undertaking. He does it right with under ten-minute episodes, and he has released one webisode per week since its debut several weeks ago. Currently at Episode 9, you can easily get caught up and become a new subscriber. Understanding the rule to keep each episode short, you may have an episode here or there where not a whole lot of the story action takes place, but I appreciate Mr. Lawrence keeping to this time limit, and it only makes me look forward to next week’s show that much more. He also shows a short clip of what is “coming next week,” so that keeps things interesting, too.
I know the original story, and I like how Lawrence has modernized it and given it a fresh approach with “In His Steps: The Series.” It will be interesting to see where this leads. The cinematography is topnotch, and one can notice the attention and care behind each of the shots. He has a large cast, and I assume mainly of amateur actors, so some of the acting is hit-and-miss, but I’ll allow him that because I do know people who in real life have similar reactions. I think you’ll find it fun, none-the-less. A couple of shout-outs to some of the acting I enjoy: Laura Seabrook is providing a nice portrayal of Rachel Winslow, and Cesar Marquez is excellent as Jack Manning.
So that is my latest recommendation for a web series. There was another that I was enjoying, but it seems to have reached the end-of-the-line before getting to the end-of-the-story. I have not seen a new episode in a couple of months, and that is too bad, because it was very fun. I was looking forward to seeing how it ended, but it was still setting the stage during the last episode I saw. I just hate that about amateur web series.
What are some good web series that you have seen that you would recommend? Be sure to post and let us know.

  1. danfanmac says:

    Forward Until Dawn…A 5 episode webseries promoting the new Halo 4 game has actually been pretty stellar. Featuring amazing cinematography, special effects, and acting (and featuring a familiar face: Anna Popplewell who plays Susan in the recent Chronicles of Narina movies.).

    Each episode has already surpassed a million hits as it wraps up on the series. This is, I think due to a few things:
    1. The audience…let’s face it, most of the internet is made up of gamers and nerds. And Halo is a massive gamer franchise with millions upon millions of fans so…
    2. The production values…I feel like I’m watching an actual professional movie when I’m watching this. Sure, each episode surpasses 10 minutes in length, but they do such an awesome job, that you don’t want them to stop…

    Be warned…There is some language and lots of war violence (remember, this is Halo after all)

  2. daleward1 says:

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to check it out.

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