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Friday, March 1, 2013

It is not all about you!

You have decided to make a Web series. Cool. You have written your script. Nice. You have a super cast and worked really, really, really, hard on rehearsals. Wonderful. You have lined up a great crew. Excellent. You have figured out all the technical stuff: camera angles, lighting, audio, special effects, make up, logistics, etc. Wow, so much to do! So you are now ready to produce your Web series?

Well, maybe. Maybe not. It all depends on what you actually want to create. If your goal is simply to make a show piece that will demonstrate what you are capable of then perhaps you have what you need. Perhaps you have skillfully targeted a niche community that will adopt and love your series because it fits a niche that conventional TV never filled. But the question most creators should be asking by now is "who is going to watch?"

Many people believe that they can build it (their Web series) and they (the viewer) will come. As stated above this can happen in very special circumstances, but for the vast majority of shows this will not happen. Further it is not easy to "engineer" the "special circumstances" because one thing the Web is very good at figuring out is authenticity.

So where does that leave you? Well, the answer is that in many cases it is quite possible that you started your production at the wrong end. On the Web the key is how you interact and it is through these interactions that you build up your following, support and sustenance for future "growth."

Now a lot of people confuse interactivity with interactions. Interactivity is an extra layer to a Web series where there is an exchange of ideas between the series and viewers participating in the experience. Interactions come in many forms. For example, they can be a clever tweet, or an "RT." They can be a comment exchange, or a FaceBook post. They might be a suggestion on a graphic for your series, or constructive criticism of some aspect of your show. The interaction could even be a creative contribution to your show such as a musical composition. But one thing is certain: interactions are vital, and the more interactions the more your show will grow.

Some creators turn to crowdfunding to make their series. If you have a compelling concept, and a wide circle of friends, a successfully implemented campaign often leads creators to conclude that they are headed in the right direction. Maybe they are, but if you have only paid for your show by dipping into a "friend network" it raises questions about the long term sustainability of the series. Would it not be better to figure out how to make "Web native" content that is self sustaining? To achieve this you need to move beyond personal ego and embed every aspect of the production within the matrix that is the Web.

If you look at the Web as a matrix then you, and your Web series, are just one small element within the fabric of the matrix. Perhaps you need to figure out where you fit in that matrix and how you will interact with other elements within that matrix before you begin to contemplate making a Web series.

So in the end, you and your ideas may well not be enough. By looking at the Web through the classical vision of the producer-audience paradigm you create an impermeable barrier between your production and the matrix. Essentially the creator tries to embed what they have created into the Web, and all too often the environment does not supply the sustenance it needs to survive. Perhaps it is better to embrace the matrix and let your concept evolve from a fundamental understanding of the dynamics that exist within the matrix.

What if we considered making a Web series more like the process of fungal growth. First the mycelium would create a mass of branching, threadlike hyphae throughout the Web and then and only then would the conditions be right for the mycelium to form fruiting bodies, or in our case Web series. In other words the Web series grow out of the Web, rather than being implanted into it.

So before you make a Web series, think about spending a lot of time growing your mycelium throughout the matrix. Invest the time and energy, so that when the time comes for your series to sprout from within the matrix you have an ample supply of nutrients from a preexisting network. Smart things those fungi!

Images from Wikipedia:
The toxic mushroom Amanita muscaria, commonly known as "fly agaric"
Microscopic view of a mycelium.

Discuss on our Community page:


  1. The LA Bubble could definitely stand to learn these lessons.

  2. Great post! And excellent advice!


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