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Friday, June 7, 2013

Interview With Streamy Award Winner Mark Gantt

Awhile back I had the opportunity to interview Mark Gantt who is the executive producer and lead actor of the web series "The Bannen Way". The Bannen Way killed it at the Streamy Awards and went on to win four awards, and has attracted over 14 million views. Mark is now passing down his knowledge of the web series business as a teacher through his workshop, so if you're looking to learn from one of the best in the web series space be sure to check that out.

Enough of kissing Mark's butt, below is our interview.

1. Did you create your web series workshop to pass on the information and knowledge you gained from creating and producing "The Bannen Way" to other aspiring video creators and filmmakers?
Yes. I have met over thirty people for coffee to discuss my experience with The Bannen Way and have done over twenty panels in the last five months and realized that with the limited time available, there was little 'nuts and bolts' being talked about. One attendee of the NATPE panel I was doing called "Anatomy of a Hit Web Series" was very frustrated afterwards and I overheard her saying, "I still don't know how to make a $#&@ web series!" I heard that, I heard that from several people. In the workshops, or on a panel, or at coffee, I explain that creating a web series isn't brain surgery but it feels like that if you don't have all the tools. You don't need to be able to do everything, you just need to be able to work very hard, research like crazy, and build a team to help you with your vision.

2. Do you expect any of your students to go out and create a hit web series like you did?
Absolutely. I want them to create something that will empower them as artists, and give them a little extra leg up in the industry. It's really about giving people a jumping off point. Enough information to get in trouble as I always say.

3. What's the best book you're read, or video you've watched that inspired you to create entertainment at a high level?
LOL. uh... I'm not really a book guy, everything is from experience. I have just worked on a lot of sets, so if people were doing a project I was there listening and learning... for free.

4. What do you think of web series creators and producers turning to crowdsourcing platforms like KickStarter and IndieGoGo to raise funds for their production projects?
I think it's a HUGE resource. It's an interesting model for a couple reasons. I think it allows the investors (ie: mom, dad, uncles, dentists, viewers, etc.) to feel that their money is actually going into a production, and helps force the filmmaker to FIGURE OUT how they are going to make it. It's a great pressure on you to get things made.

5. What advantages do web series creators have over TV producers?
There are about 30 people that have to approve of you doing a TV series, not including agents, managers, and lawyers. To create and distribute a web series... you can be the boss. We worked with Sony (on The Bannen Way) so it wasn't just us, but it was a lot easier than working with a studio AND a Network.

6. How is collaboration benefiting the new media production landscape?
Filmmaking by definition is a collaborative art. I love that you get a chance to work with a group of people with different talents to complete a common goal. People want to create. A director of photography wants to shoot, actors want to act and with technology improving, you can now actually shoot for very cheap. So instead of talented people without the money to shoot on film, they can now shoot on the Cannon 7D or rent the RED camera and end up with a great looking project in the end.

The explosive trailer for Mark's hit web series, The Bannen Way.



  1. A couple of things:

    1. Bannen was never really a web series, it was a movie first and foremost and that is how Sony attempted to sell it outside of a small window period in 2009 to win awards it would not have gotten otherwise. (Tubefilter's sponsorship deal with Crackle probably had a LOT to do with the volume of wins it had considering the fact that few to nobody watched it.)

    2. Their viewcounts were exposed as a fraud by Liz Miller of Gigaom in 2010. (Autoplay, autoplay, autoplay.) There are a handful of "studio" shows that have gotten views, engagement and more importantly, a fanbase but Bannen is not one of them. This project was more of a mirage than anything else.

    3. Going the pitch meeting route is a recipe for failure. With maybe 2-3 exceptions, nobody gets anywhere by waiting for someone to "greenlight" their project on the web.

  2. Is Bannen back on the Web anywhere? I know it was taken down on Crackle for a while. This is never a good idea for any Web series, no matter what the reason. It is the surest way possible to piss of any fan base loyalty you might have established.

  3. @ModelMotion Not only that but everytime it has returned to the web, it has been 100% geoblocked. Sony ultimately gave it away to Paramount in a content exchange because nobody, even internationally, wanted it.

  4. It is always disappointing to see geoblocking. This is 2013 after all. Is it not time Hollywood realized that? There are pple in Europe who would just love to see USA content but they are limited by a system that is just out of date. Yet the studios hold on thinking they can squeeze more money out of content. Yet, all the time they are just failing to build the future.

  5. Geo-blocking does really suck, I've never even seen this series because of it's lack of online view-ability. I heard about the fraudulent view count controversy, not really sure what happened after and if Mark responded to it or not, or if he was directly involved.

    1. The view issue arose because Crackle promoted it on their front page with auto play. Now based on social media interactions and the almost non existent comments on the videos it is fair to say that the real view count was nothing like the claimed view count. That is unfortunate, because the series might have had more traction if it had been constructed as a Web native property and been marketed accordingly. The production value was there but there were no real social hooks.

      The rational for geoblocking also seems rather backward thinking. In an age when you can geoblock you can use the same tech to target regional ads on a globally release property. So, people need to get with the program and stop living in the past.


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