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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lawebfest Did not Disappoint


Last week, 48 webseries took part in the inaugural Lawebfest, a festival dedicated solely to celebrating online video. Festival attendees participated in a number of workshops, panel discussions, and attended packed webseries screenings. All-in-all the festival was a hit with attendees. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with the festival’s founder, Michael Ajakwe.

Approximately 2,400 people attended the three day event, and according to all accounts, the various panels were at maximum capacity. Ajakwe thinks this illustrates that there is a real hunger for webseries content and a desire among those in the industry to learn from others and to improve their own craft. Principally, he mentioned the panel anchored by the Fine Brothers and Glenn Rubenstein as one that received a great deal of attention and positive feedback. In addition to the various panels, 48 individual webseries were screened, selected from the more than 100 series submitted to the festival. Had the organizers had more time, they would have liked to have screened even more series; particular the British drama LOL, which was received after the submission deadline.

Of the 48 series screened, 22 were recognized for outstanding work in a variety of areas. Notable among the winners were the horror comedy Semi-dead, which received eight awards, CTRL, which was named “Comedy of the Year” and the Bannen Way’s Jesse Warren and Mark Gantt, who were given the “Groundbreaker award” for their work on the Sony-backed series. In total, the festival awarded 52 separate honors, often recognizing several winners in a given category. Ajakwe is particularly fond of this aspect of the festival. In addition to given the judging panel latitude to recognize several worthy series in a particular area, it also added a degree of unpredictability to the award ceremony, in that no one was certain who or how many were going to win a particular award. Also, as Ajakwe points out, this was a festival not an award show, the goal was to recognize good work not to pick a winner.

Michael Ajakwe

Ajakwe’s advice to future festival organizers and creators, who are submitting content, is to pay close attention to the technical aspects of the production. Normalizing the sound between the various series proved especially tricky during the Lawebfest. “[People] will watch bad picture, but they won’t watch bad sound,” once stated OzGirl cinematographer Shaun Crawford. Of course picture quality can also be an issue, especially if the original production was not filmed in the right resolution. Attempting to show low resolution video on a film screen, results in a very blurry picture. Lastly, although it may seem obvious, creators should make certain that the DVD they are submitting actually plays, and likewise organizers should double check the DVD. Prior to the screening, Ajakwe discovered more than on DVD that simply would not play. If the content creators can address these issues beforehand, that is one less worry for the already besieged festival workers.

By all accounts the Lawebfest was a success, one which Ajakwe hopes to replicate next year. One change he definitely plans to make next year is to give himself more time to plan the event. Planning for this year’s event began only three months prior to the event and realistically, a first time festival requires a minimum of six months planning. Fortunately, he had a dedicated group of volunteers who pitched in to help. Also, next year he wants to explore the possibility of streaming at least part of the festival online, something that there simply was no time to plan for this year. Lawebfest is dedicated solely to online content, so it stands to reason that it should be available on the web. Lastly, the organizers hope that they will be able to showcase even more webseries next year. Many of the shows screened this year have received very little attention, and it was obvious from the audience reactions that many of them were well received.

Festivals are a good way for webseries to gain attention. Furthermore, they offer networking opportunities, panels and workshops that help participates hone their skills or learn from each other, and exposure to what others in the web TV space are doing. Expect more of these events to either incorporate webseries or for new ones dedicated solely to online video to emerge. If the Lawebfest success is any indication, there is a real desire for them.


  1. Once again I want to thank Michael Ajakwe for taking the time to speak with me. We had a great conversation about the festival and web series in general.

  2. come on...come on...when are you gonna rebrand the site??? Get a new layout, as well...this looks too bloggy.

  3. Interesting article. Nice to see that it went well.

    Anon, there is an old expression. "Content is king". Other things will fall into place over time but one thing we have always done is brought you content worth reading. Nothing has changed there....well except we keep on doing it better..... or hopefully we do:):):)

    Thanks Mathieas for another great article.

  4. Well thank you for the Best Special Effects and Cinematography Awards for Safety Geeks

  5. I haven't seen anything about this on those socalled reputable sites.


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