When asked about my work with Melbourne WebFest, the first thing that usually comes into question is: what is a web series?
To answer that question, I’ll need more than one sentence.
Yes, I can tell you that web series are made up of episodes and produced like a television series would in an episodic/serialised fashion. But what separates the two forms from each other and how are they different?
One of the main differences is that these series are mainly produced for the web. Creating a web series allows filmmakers to share their work on an online platform. With the growing demand of online streaming and the foreseeable digital age, the platform for these series has developed over the years, making web series more noticeable in 2018.
But why am I telling you all of this?
Fortunately enough, I have been exposed to the wonderful and inspiring web series community that continues to grow and expand in all parts of the globe. Not only are web series important in today’s evolutionising media industry, it continues to be a thriving community which allows creators to explore their tastes in genres and filmmaking.
My time at Melbourne WebFest began in early March of 2017 as an intern, and although my experience has been short and sweet so far, I have witnessed the wonderful community that web series creators have established. The company of others in a safe, social and creative environment makes the weekend so important for filmmakers, and over the past six years, MWF has flourished into something more than just a film festival – but an aura of gifted and innovative people all in one place.
You could say I was pretty mind-blown when I discovered the amount of web series available out there. In 2017 alone, MWF received a record number of 250 submissions from over 50 countries around the world. With genres ranging from comedy to horror and budgets spanning from $500 to over a million, the diverse display of web series is outstanding to see.
This year the MWF celebrated its sixth anniversary festival from 28 June to 1 July and welcomed a large amount of web series creators and film fanatics from around the globe. Over four days, the festival screened a total of 85 web series across the Official Selection, an Australian and International Spotlight showcase, and a Student showcase. Acknowledging the growth of web series in the thriving digital age, the weekend was accompanied by a range of industry professional panels, workshops and a live pitching competition presented in partnership with ABC iview.
Meeting and greeting web series creators and professionals from the media industry continues to be a highlight of the festival. The awards night at Deakin Edge, Federation Square was hosted by the comedic Dean Haglund from The X Files, and accompanied by a range of special guests. The prestigious Grand Jury Award, awarded to the best of the Official Selection (along with a $1, 500 cash prize) was presented to Australian animated series This is Desmondo Ray!, who also took home trophies for Best Animation and Best Visual Special Effects. Let’s just be clear – I’m a big fan of Desmondo Ray.
I left the MWF weekend feeling nostalgic, enlightened and over-the-moon. It reminded me why I first signed up as a intern in 2017, and why I agreed to stay on as part of the committee in 2018. Working alongside creators, producers, writers, and open-minded and aspiring filmmakers continues to make my experience at MWF so rewarding. You could say that I’ve been inspired by the talent and wisdom of each web series creator I encountered over the duration of my time at MWF – and it’s only made me want to push myself harder to achieve my goals.
Kristen’s web series picks:
This is Desmondo Ray! (AUS)
By Steve Baker
A peculiar man searches for love in a dark and troubling world. One of my favourites – always brings me a mix of joy, happiness and sadness. If you’re a sob like me, you’ll probably cry too.
Amy Street (NZ)
By Kirsty Griffin and Viv Kernick
Amy Street is a series of 8 short form documentaries of the residents that live in this supported community, dotted among ‘normal’ households within the greater community of Thames NZ. The series showcases that “diversity is the spice of life,” and melts my heart.
Supa Supa (FRA)
By Steven Briand and Julien Jourdain de Muizon
Influenced by video games and animation, Supa Supa follows a character who discovers he has powers and uses them to gain attention from the girl of his dreams. However the path to retrieving his lover isn’t easy when he is constantly faced by arch nemesis MEGA MEGA. You’ll be craving more jumps and clean cuts by the end of it.
Fighting’ Isis (AUS)
By Sebastian Peart, Mark Nicholson and Pete Corrigan
This animation series follows four middle-aged Australian men as they make their way to the Middle East to take down the world’s most notorious terrorist organisation. It sounds serious right? Grab a VB and sit down with the boys as their adventure meets some tough boundaries – starting from getting passports.
Words by Kristen Settinelli