Welcome to another fun-filled episode of… The IndieNet and Beyond! It’s news and web series episodes. Plus, this time we chat with Jenni Powell, a board member of the International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) and co-creator of Celebrate The Web.
Jenni Powell is a veteran of web television (which sounds odd considering how new it is) but she became involved early on. Eventually, she joined the board of the International Academy of Web Television and co-created a successful series of web television events called Celebrate The Web. The event is back and you can join the contest in creating a web TV pilot… more on that in a bit.
Powell was a central figure in the fan community surrounding one of the earliest web TV hits, lonelygirl15. She even created her own parody of the series called lonelyJew15, which lead to a series of jobs such as The Guild, The Legend of Neil, The Crew, With the Angels, and more. She freelances on popular web entertainment websites and consults and produces a wide range of transmedia projects. She is also currently a board member of the IAWTV. But what lead her to co-create the Celebrate The Web festival?
“I started Celebrate The Web with Kim Evey, who’s the producer of the web series The Guild. It came about [after the controversy with the second Streamy Awards],” said Powell. “I was writing for Tubefilter at the time and was in a very difficult position of being the journalist that had to cover the Streamy Awards for Tubefilter, because the guys who run Tubefilter also put on the Streamy Awards.”
Powell approached the web community to see how they felt about how the Streamy Awards turned out and get their feedback on how they would like to make it better for next time.
“Kim was one of the people that called me. We were talking about it and she said, ‘I wish we could just do it over… I feel like the winners didn’t really get a chance to give the speeches they really wanted to give because of all of the craziness around the show.’ Through that… we put the word out to all of the winners,” said Powell.
They used some theater space that Kim had access to and contacted the winners asking if they would like to all get together and share why they like working on the web versus TV or film. And for the people who couldn’t physically be there, they asked them to put together two minute videos that demonstrated why they like working on the web. This was the first Celebrate the Web.
However, it has evolved over time.
“I never wanted it to be the same format every time. I think that’s kind of what is really neat about the web as it, because you can play around with different ideas and different ways of doing things,” said Powell. “So, why would we pigeon hole our event that is celebrating the fact that is what the web is for.”
They weren’t sure if they would continue it, but they were approached by Taryn O’Neil and Stephanie Thorpe, who said they had space at a hotel in the Comic Con area and wanted to team up with them for panels on scifi web series and fantasy/gaming web series and then had a party, which was the second Celebrate the Web.
The third was a partnership with the Anaheim Film Festival where the festival gave web series space to show off their series and play episodes in a theater in a loop, so festival goers could check out the shows.
“And then we come to where Celebrate the Web has kind of grown into… I’ve done a lot of 48 hour films, like a lot of them. I really like the format… you don’t have time to stop and think and you just have to create. And you just have to make it work and you have two days to do it. So I wanted to take the 48 hour film format and adapt it for web series. So what we came up with is a seven day web pilot film festival,” explained Powell. “We give them three elements in the beginning… that have to appear in the pilot. And the difference between this and a 48 hour film is that it needs to be the first episode of a series and with the pilot you have to deliver a one-sheet outlining where you want the series to go. So they have seven days to put together a crew, hire actors, shoot it, write it, produce it, and upload it.”
Now, Celebrate the Web is back and number 5 is also a web series pilot film festival, but there are a few differences. There is a limit to how many teams there can be, some really nice prizes to win, and a small entry fee, because they learned quickly that if there is no money up front, then web series creators tend not to finish. (With no entry fee they found that 60 teams ended up being just 13 who actually finished their pilot.)
“There was that huge drop-off. What we theorized that probably was, was the fact we didn’t charge any entry fee… so they weren’t invested. So for this one we definitely knew we wanted to charge an entry fee of some kind, but it was really important to me that if we were going to charge an entry fee we needed to be really clear about what we were going to then do with that money. I’m on board of the directors for the International Academy of Web Television and I proposed to create a fellowship in the IAWTV, which we are calling the Creatives Fellowship,” said Powell. “What that is designed to do is create opportunities for web content creators, whether that be using the funds for creating educational programs (like classes on how to edit for the web) or actual physical grants for actual projects. It’s specially for things that will directly benefit creators. So, the entry fees of CTW5 will be the first funds that go into that fellowship and that fellowship will live on after the event is over.”
There are a number of things to win in the CTW5: The Judge’s Prize and Audience Choice Awards winners will be awarded a cash grant of the Creatives Fellowship, My Damn Channel has offered a development meeting with option to take the show to series for the Judge’s Prize, and the Audience Choice Award will be offered a 30 Day Spotlight on Tubefilter.
The winners for Celebrate The Web 4 were:
- Best Use of Numerical Element: Life’s Little Ultimatum
- Best Use of Graphic Element: Happy Hunting, Target Kill
- Best Use of Quotation Element: Group: The Web Series
- Judges’ Choice: The Silverlake Badminton and Adventurers Club
- Audience Choice: Relapse
The web pilot format may just catch on beyond Celebrate the Web. Raindance Film Festival, in the United Kingdom, created a web series pilot festival based on Celebrate the Web.
“If there are creators in other states or other countries that want to do a Celebrate the Web event, totally come to me. There’s no reason we can’t… I don’t know… franchise out the brand,” said Powell. “It shouldn’t be all about just the LA based people. [Raindance Film Festival] actually did.. they didn’t call it Celebrate The Web, but they used the same format, which I actually spoke to them about. They did a web pilot festival there as well.”
I put Powell on the spot and had her spotlight some of her favorites from the last round of web pilots.
Powell begged one of her favorite web creators, NY-based creator Terence Krey (Rainbow Bridge; Oh, Inverted World) to submit a pilot. He said yes, and the result was Group: The Web Series which includes a guy trying to build a time machine, two elf sisters, a speaking puppet attached to a human, and a cult.
“He packs a lot into a little pilot. He has this really cool way of taking these outrageous situations, but at the core of them are these amazing human characters that are just trying to live their lives,” said Powell.
“One of my other favorites is Life’s Little Ultimatum. It is a series that explores a couple that is in their mid-30s and is struggling with the idea of whether they are going to have children or not,” described Powell.
If you read my interview with the cast and crew of Vampire Zombie Werewolf, then you’ll recognize the cast of Life’s Little Ultimatum as the same talented folks that brought us VZW.
If you are interested in forming a team and making your own web pilot to submit to Celebrate the Web 5, then click on over to – http://www.celebratetheweb.com/
Attack Of The Trailers!
Dragon Age: Redemption Trailer
Felicia Day (The Guild) puts on elf ears to play an Elf assassin, named Tallis, in this upcoming fantasy web series that ties into ties into Bioware’s game Dragon Age 2. Another name scifi fans may recognize is her co-star on the series, Doug Jones (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth).
Transolar Galactica: The Trailer
A fun new scifi comedy web series.
“In deep space one man flies alone… with his crew. Witness adventure, feel excitement, taste destiny, blast off, and hang on… It’s Transolar Galactica.”
Elsewhere On The Web
Thanks to the Internet, Kevin Tancharoen will finally see his dream come true: directing a new Mortal Kombat feature film. It started when Tancharoen directed a short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth as a proof of concept for his proposed feature film. That lead to him being asked to direct a 10-episode web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy (which has 15 million views). According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tancharoen has now been offered a new Mortal Kombat feature film. No details yet about story or cast.
What I’m Watching… Are You?
I’ve been scouring the web in search of new web series episodes to watch and share with you. Enjoy!
Aidan 5 – Episode 12 “Inferno”
One of my favorite web series, the sci-noir series Aidan 5, is back with another episode for the second half of season one.
“Aidan and Riley descend into the criminal underground looking for the illegal cloning stations.”
BlackBoxTV: The Boy, The Cat and the Zombie!!!
I’m really enjoying this triple feature idea, where BlackBoxTV spotlights three shorts from different creators that you can check out.
- “T is for Tantrum” from SomeGuyWhoKills
- “The Cat With Hands” from MrMorgansOrgans
- “Zombie’s Day Out” from TheReceptionist
Blood and Bones China Chapter 11 – “The Silver Lining”
Blood and Bones China is a 12-part Victorian vampire web series that quickly became one of my favorites. It’s filmed and set in Stoke-on-Trent. Only one episode left.
The Guild: Season 5 – Episode 10 – “Strategy Timez”
This is one of the first web series to be a hit, and it’s still making us gamers laugh like it was the first season. Felicia Day and her talented cast are back with everyone’s favorite dysfunctional gamer guild. This season has been great with its fan convention storyline and special guest stars.
“The crowded hotel room hosts a war summit as the Guild regroups to head off the breakup of their game.”
Haywire – Episode 12 “Convergence”
Haywire was one of the first web series for which we did an interview for this column. Now, we have reached the last episode of season one.
The LXD, Season Three – Episode 9 “Alliance of the Dark”
Back for a third season, The League of Extraordinary Dancers is part superhero, part music (and crazy dance) video. This series has an original story packed with beautiful cinematography and choreography. Check out episode 9 and 10 of the new season. Sorry to our non-United States readers—Hulu has it geoblocked. (Don’t look at me, I didn’t do it!)
“The Dark Doctor forges an alliance with Karey to destroy the LXD, once and for all.”
The LXD, Season Three – Episode 10 “Rise of the Drifts”
“For the LXD, one moment changes everything: the promise of eternal love, the legacy of family bonds, and the destiny of two brothers.”
The Walking Dead
And to end the column is a web series of one of my favorite shows on TV, The Walking Dead. We get a new web series in the world of The Walking Dead to hold us over until season two premieres. Enjoy!
That’s A Wrap
Got a web series, web comic, web… whatever? Then I want to know about it. Contact me at: [email protected]
That’s a wrap for now. Join me next time for more news and interviews coming to a Wednesday near you. Take care my virtual friends. Until next time… marX out.
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Marx H. Pyle is a writer, martial artist and American independent filmmaker. A graduate of Vancouver Film School, he has worked on a number of projects including the short film he wrote and directed, Silence of the Belle. He is currently in post-production of his scifi web series Reality On Demand.
Julie Seaton Pyle was born and raised in Indiana, where she attended the University of Southern Indiana. She majored in Print Journalism/Computer Publishing, while also dabbling in creative writing, literature and languages. This is also where she met Marx, the man with whom she would take the plunge into marriage and, years later, into another passion: filmmaking. She is co-producer, co-writer, and lead actress in the scifi web series Reality On Demand.