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Sunday, April 14, 2013

♥Hollyweb Festival 2013 Review♥

There are many Indie Festivals out there now that the creative freedom online provides is being recognized, but one stands above the rest- Hollyweb!  Last weekend the Indie community came out in droves for the 3 day screening event which ended with a blue carpet event and awards show.

Jennifer and Daniel Doherty really out did themselves for their 2nd annual festival, which was very organized and everyone I spoke to was impressed.  Screenings of 105 Official Hollyweb Picks were done at Raleigh Studios, Chaplin Theatre in Hollywood, beginning Friday April 5 through Sunday April 7.  I have to admit that I had no idea how many great webseries were out there.  The picks selected were definitely worthy of the honor, though my favorite of course was seeing DeVanity's season two Christmas episode on the big screen!  Catfights never looked so good!

Saturday creators, writers, producers and actors from all over the U.S. and surprisingly a ton from Canada,  came together for a panel discussion, led by Hollyweb winner Ed Robinson of the hit series Pairings.  

Distribution and how to build your audience appears to be a major hurdle- how can people find your series?  Ultimately it's about referring each others' series, especially within your own genre  There are several online sites that host web series including Koldcast TV, Blip.tv,  Funny or Die, New YouTube where you can have your own channel, Yahoo, Google Analytics, Daily Motion, WonderCon and Comic Con to name a few.  Frostbite is a new medium that is creating similar style series.

Knowing your target audience is key.  What genre is your series and what groups would watch it?  Get to know the bloggers, blogtalk radio shows and read magazines your audience do.  Write a schedule how you want to address your target audience in your press releases.  Respect your audience!  I agree with this whole-heartily  If you're not a soap fan but your show is similar, those are the people you're going to want to target.  What I've noticed is interaction with your audience is a must!  Twitter is probably the fastest and easiest way to do this.  Of all the social media outlets, this is my number 1.  While Facebook is good, I find myself on twitter numerous times a day and sometimes forget to check my FB.  Another key is putting a link to your show on other websites that have like content.  The more you get your link out there, the easier audiences will find your series.

A great source for chatting with other creators is via Facebook Community Groups.  One of the big ones is Toronto Web Series Community, for those in and outside of Canada.  Questions are answered and there are a lot of great ways to touch base with other series creators.

Another major hurdle talked about was how to analyze your audience.  Ultimately this is still in development, those currently climbing their way up the Indie ladder are pioneers and it will take a couple more years for everything to fall into place.  

To listen to the full discussion: Panel Discussion

Many webseries stood out for me and I would suggest anyone who loves great writing, incredible cinematography and talented actors, to check out a few of my favorite picks:

1. DeVanity- created by and stars Michael Caruso.  The series follows Jason DeVanity and his dysfunctional family, who are jewelry moguls in competition with rival Regis Jewelry.  A throw back to Dynasty and 1980's  primetime soaps, you will immediately fall in love with the crazy lives of the DeVanity family!  Season 3 guest starred Gordon Thomson (Adam Carrington, Dynasty), Robin Riker, Charlene Tilton (Dallas), Kyle Lowder (Days of Our Lives), Ari Zucker (Days of Our Lives).  Watch DeVanity

2. Milgram & the Fastwalkers- created by and stars Richard Cutting.  Based on facts involving alien abductions, this smart soap-like series
focuses on UFO phenomena.  It's beautifully crafted, written and acted.  A psychologist (Richard Cutting) gets sucked into the subject of alien abductions when several abductees approach him for therapy.  Is there an underlying reason they want him to help them? Can he trust those surrounding him?  
Watch Milgram & the Fastwalkers

3. Fumbling Thru The Pieces- created by Julie Smith, stars Hillary B. Smith, Robert Mafia, Diane Delano, Kelsey Robinson, Tara Chocol-Joyce and Kitty Swank.  This is a soap comedy and season two was incredible, with icons Michele Lee (Knots Landing) and Bobbie Eakes (The Bold & the Beautiful) guest starring.  Stellar cast and amazing writing, if you're a soap fan you'll love this web series! Season 3 is coming soon! 
Watch Fumbling Thru The Pieces

3. InSayshable- created and stars the talented Amy Matysio.  It's a comedy about a very quirky character Saysha, and her crazy daily antics.  She won 2 Hollyweb awards, well-deserved for Best Comedy and Best Actress in a Comedy- Congratulations!  Watch Insayshable

4. Golden California- stars Ron Hanks who is masterful in the art of improv.  This series follows the wacky Arkansas pure-bred travel correspondent on his crazy adventures.  The premise is hilarious- Herb Hendricks thinks he's a great show host, traveling to locations all over California.  All I can say is I could not stop laughing during the screening!  It's a must see! Watch Golden California

5. Dark Pool- this is a SciFi series with a twist of Twilight Zone thrown in.  Who are the people behind 'Dark Pool' and why doesn't anyone care or remember that a 6 year old has been kidnapped?  This series has everything for the SciFi enthusiast- time travel, DNA manipulation, alternate universes...it's a really interesting series I know you'll be scratching you head wondering what is going on like I am! 
Watch Dark Pool

6. Manigances- won for Best Action/Thriller/Horror and I agree!  This is a murder mystery, involving pretty shady characters and is beautifully filmed, written and acted.  It's in French, so look for subtitles. 
Watch Manigances

7. Old Dogs New Tricks- I love this webseries about 4 gay men, muddling through mid-life crises as they approach the big 5-0!  Stars Leon Acord who plays a talent agent, Curt Bonnem plays an online dating fanatic, Jeffrey Patrick Olson is an aging personal trainer looking for Mr. Right and David Pevsner plays the only married character, though married life isn't exactly what it's cracked up to be.  It's a fun, dramedy about life in West Hollywood! 
Watch Old Dogs New Tricks

8. Pairings- created and stars Ed Robinson, who combines his talents as a Chef and actor in this touching series.  Each week his siblings gather to cook dinner as a way of honoring their father, whom they recently lost.  It's a well scripted and acted series I highly recommend.  Congratulations to Ed on his Best Actor win!  
Watch Pairings

9. Love On The Line- created and stars Fiona Bates as a frustrated women who is fed up with the dating scene!  With her graveyard of boyfriend mishaps, she decides to create an online dating service mostly to help her find Mr. Right!  This show is hilarious and one not to be missed!

Watch Love On The Line

These webseries were not included in this years' official picks, but I suggest you check them out too:

10. Ragged Isle- what's lurking in the forbidden north end of the Isle and why are residents dropping like flies? This webseries will be releasing their final season in June, but if you liked the X-Files you'll love Ragged Isle! Catch up before the final season:  Watch Ragged Isle  

11. Pretty The Series- "There is a unicorn, his name is Gumdrop!"  Created by talented Steve Silverman, this comedy was one of the first I immediately fell in love with! It follows pageant father Michael Champagne's quest to have his daughter Annette 'Dakota' Champagne win a kiddie pageant.  Season 2 ended with iconic Joan Van Ark as an older Annette in the documentary-style interview and Season 3 was chock full of daytime legends including Genie Francis, Denise Alexander, Martha Byrne and more!  Watch Pretty

12. The Inn Series- this was also created by Steve Silverman, his homage to Alfred Hitchcock, it's a thriller starring pioneer of the web series genre Crystal Chappell, Denise Alexander and Kyle David Pierce.  It centers around a woman who's car breaks down in this little town and in order to get it fixed, she ends up working the only cafe in town, run by Lola (Alexander).  She has to stay at THE INN where strange things are happening.  A psychological thriller, Season 2 is set to begin in June, but catch up now! Watch THE INN  

Ultimately the web series genre is like television was to radio so many years ago and with so many amazing stories being told on the net, all involved are pioneers.  RHeart Network, the Fan's Voice will premiere our new blogtalk radio show, 'Storytellers On The Net' April 25 at 10pm (ET), a weekly chat highlighting the best on the web!  

Until then, never give up on your creative visions and keep at it!  The industry will realize how valuable these series are and will be the next step in television evolution!

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