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Web Series: The New Wave in Storytelling

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Network Television has been in our lives for more than 70 years, growing as our lifestyles and tastes evolve. The days of only three major networks are long since gone, and with cable offering hundreds of programming choices, where does that leave artists? Through the years, the canvas of control has rapidly diminished, leaving the almighty dollar as the force behind scripted television. Networks more interested in the bottom line over quality and artistry has stifled the voice of the creative. The genre arguably hit the hardest is daytime scripted serials. Question is, how can the arts survive in the current structure of greed vs expression?

Over the past five years, many within the entertainment industry have begun to migrate to the web. The Internet is rich with talent able to put their vision online without pesky network executives demanding they curttail their creations for content or lack of time. There has been an explosion of talented writers, producers, actors and veterans who have made the jump, realizing the net is untapped and slowly rising as the place to be! What makes creating online serials appealing is complete control and 100% freedom to do whatever you want without restrictions. It has become a mecca for those in the entertainment industry and also serves as a platform for all genres, be it a soap opera, comedy, drama, supernatural, scifi or reality series. The variety is endless.

The Indie community has really benefited from the escalating popularity and We Love Soaps, as well as sites like Indie Intertube are popping up everywhere. Web programming is in its infancy just as network television was back in the ’50s, but look at how far it has come in 70 years. In my opinion, the online arena will double what television did, within the next 10 years. With award ceremonies specifically tailored to web content such as The Shorty Awards, International Television Festival, Hollyweband other indie film festivals, the best of the best are being recognized.

I think one of the most important apsects that separates web series from network television is the interaction between creators and fans.

Audiences have a voice within the web arena, but most network executives have failed to see the advantage in that sort of engagement. Social media have played a huge part in the evolution of the genre, and I believe will remain a major component in the years to come. Twitter is probably the most effective means I’ve observed by following several A-list online serials. It makes a difference when creators, as well as actors take the time to develop a relationship with their audience.

Over the past few years, most top entertainers, as well as those within the industry have come to learn the exposure really is a must as they strive to build a following on the net. Facebook, while initally a leader connecting audiences, has begun to fall to the wayside as finding ways to instantly continue the exchange consistently has suffered due to their lastest, not-so-tech friendly format. Web series creators know the key is visibility, constantly engaging their audiences and many have found Blogtalk Radio to be a great source and sounding board to build viewership.

As a fan of the soap genre and the host of my own blogtalk radio show, I have had the priviledge of meeting and talking with many of the top web series creators and writers. I’ve learned the major obstacle for most is raising money to fund a project.

Unlike networks, web series producers don’t have the luxury of a budget. While some have very successfully reached their goals, others struggle. There is a misconception that if you’re an actor, writer or producer money is not an issue. This is not the case most of the time.

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the top two fundraising websites, that for a small fee, creators can directly go to fans to campaign for their support. Both can be highly effective, but with so many vying for funding, the compeition is fierce.

One of the reasons I have donated to a few of my favorite web serials is for the chance to be a part of it. Fans actually see where their money goes and it makes them more invested, unlike audiences of network programming that will never have that connection. It’s unique, and is another clue as to why online scripted serials are becoming so popular.

As access to our favorite shows increases, becoming immediately available online, it won’t be long before cable companies are forced to include online serials to keep up with the demand. Instant Internet feeds to web series via cable could be the next wave in the evolution of online serials sooner than we think. Several websites that offer television online, specifically catering to web content is growing at an unprecedented rate. TV Lounges are the “in” thing, which only helps to boost the online serial genre.

Ultimately my feeling is the net will be the source that saves the arts, the place where writers, producers, actors, muscians, artists can express themselves. The web series trend is the new way of telling stories and will continue attract the best in the industry as long as freedom reigns. This is just the beginning. Who knows what the future holds for scripted serials, whether it’s on network television or online. I believe web series are here to stay and I am convinced it is an amazing opportunity for all who seek to keep the legacy of Arts alive!

Want to see what web series are about? Check out a few of my top picks, then leave a comment and tell me what you’re thoughts are. We’ll use your voice in an upcoming RHeart Radio, the Fan’s Voice show.

1. DeVanity, by Michael Caruso; What happens when a rich family adopts 4 orphans and builds a jewelry empire? All hell breaks loose! Sex, lies, backstabbing and blackmailng never looked so good. If you liked Dynasty, you’ll love DeVanity! Season 3 begins January 10, 2013, but catch up on S1 and S2 now at: DeVanity Website ;Also be sure to join the first Official DeVanity Fan Club before the new season begins! It’ll be the place to be on Thursday nights!

2. Fumbling Thru The Pieces, by Julie A. Smith; This quirky dramedy stars soap veteran Hillary B. Smith as business woman turned psychic, who takes in her little sister after she leaves her cheating husband. It’s a fun, off-beat series that I can’t get enough of! Michelle Lee (Knots Landing) and Bobbie Eakes (All My Children) both were special guests in Season 2 and if you’re a soap fan, this is a MUST SEE SERIES! Catch up: Fumbling Website

3. Pretty The Series, by Steve Silverman; “There is a unicorn, his name is gumdrop.” This series is Steve’s homage to kiddie pagents. It centers around 6 year old Annette “Dakota” Champagne and her obsessed father Michael Champagne’s quest to win a pagent whether his daughter is on board or not! The cast is stellar and has quickly gained a loyal following. Season 4 is coming soon, but catch up with previous seasons at  Pretty The Series Website

4. Ragged Isle, by Barry Dodd; What lies at the forbidden north end of Ragged Isle and why are residents dropping like flies? Season 3 begins in May, 2013, but you can catch up on the first two seasons. If you like The X-Files, this amazing sci-fi series is for you! Ragged Isle

5. Revenge of the Sock, by Micah Delhauer; If you’ve got a morbid sense of humor, you will love this series. The Sock has a plan to take over the world, even if his schemes are far fetched and he has a bad habit of killing those who get in his way! Check out season one: Revenge of the Sock

6. Milgram and the Fastwalkers, by Richard Cutting; If you like sci-fi mysteries involving UFO phenomena, this smart web series will be your cup of tea. Dr. Milgram slowly begins to treat patients that claim they’ve been abducted by aliens, but is there an underlying reason he’s been sucked in to this? Watch how the first season unfolds now: The Fastwalkers Website

7. Husbands, by Jane Espenson and Brad ‘Cheeks’ Bell; This comedy stars adorable Brad Bell and Sean Hemeon, who drunkenly got married in Las Vegas after they gained the right to, but what happens next? This series is brilliantly written and reminds me of a modern day ‘I Love Lucy’. 

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About Chrissy Piccolo

Chrissy Piccolo the founder of RHeart Network, the Fan's Voice, the #1 Fan Connection Destination, supporting daytime, prime-time and online scripted digital content. Currently the host of RHeart Radio, the Fan's Voice, as well as Storytellers On The Net, and Sleepy Hollow Addicts on Blogtalk radio. In addition to writing for Blogcritics, she is also an author on Examiner.com. Web Series Today and currently co-hosts with Barbara Barnett and Jerome Wetzel on 'Let's Talk TV' on Blogtalk. She is also working on adapting her her first novel in The Kirsten Kelly Chronicles series into a webseries. Passionate about keeping scripted content alive, she continues to be an advocate for all forms. When she’s not working managing several websites or writing, one of her hobbies is investigating the paranormal with other enthusiasts and searching out possible cases through historic sites in the Northwest. Chrissy believes in being a positive influence in such a vast medium as the Internet.
  • http://www.raggedisle.com Greg Tulonen

    Thank you for including Ragged Isle in such fine company! It’s great to see web series getting attention.

    Greg Tulonen
    Head Writer, Ragged Isle

  • Richard Cutting

    Thank you for this intelligent piece on the state of play in the scripted serials world. We are honored to be recognized among such great creative teams !

    Cheers,
    Richard Cutting
    EP/Creator, Milgram And The Fastwalkers

  • Chrissy

    Hi there! Well, I say it like it is! I really do enjoy your web shows. Thank you for all your hard work and giving us fun, interesting series to sink our teeth into! ?

  • Barry Dodd

    Thanks so much for including Ragged Isle, Chrissy. This is a truly well written analysis of what we’re all about as an arts community. You are such a wonderful advocate for what we do as artists and storytellers. Keep up the great work!