Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why I Love Webisodes

As big of a TV buff as I may be, I absolutely have this hot hot not so secret super crush on quite a few web series that are out there right now. I'm not talking about those flash in the pan "Chocolate Rain" or "Dancing Around the World" videos- I mean, I dig those too, and they're good for a quick laugh. What I'm talking about is a nice, meaty, interesting series with a real story to tell and real characters that are telling it.

My favorite for the last few months has been a little gem called Merri Me, starring a bunch of kids I went to college with (and somehow couldn't figure out why they all looked familiar until almost episode 5!) The production value on this mini-show really ups the ante for all other web videos out there. And it's like, you've got a group of kids that have an option- they can keep trying to get parts in other people's films, they can spend a lot of money and create their own film and then try really really really hard to get it into a film festival or two, or they can spend just about the same amount that they would on a student thesis film for an entire season of episodes, put it online, and let millions of potential viewers (instead of a very limited selection panel) decide whether or not they've got what it takes. The latter is exactly what they did, and I am pretty much obsessed with this show:

Now I'm not saying you need 100k in the bank and the Hollywood hookup for locations and actors- this is certainly not what the internet is about by any means! And yeah, Merri Me sets the bar pretty darn high, but that's not stopping the rest of us from telling our own stories. Like I touched on yesterday, having the right equipment does often make things easier, but more importantly, having the right story that you are excited and passionate about is sometimes, no always, what matters the most.

At the total opposite end of the spectrum is another series I recently discovered: Ikea Heights, a guerrilla soap-opera set in everyone's favorite self-assembled furniture store. There are no fancy lights, or cameras, or hair or makeup people, and no big name actors... and yet, for some crazy reason, I am completely hooked on this insane show. I'd venture to say that it was potentially shot on a Flip HD or a similar consumer hand-held, but in this case, none of that matters- concept is key. (And really, there's nothing better than the actual shoppers' reactions wondering what the heck is going on as they unknowingly walk into the scenes.)

IKEA Heights from DaveAOK on Vimeo.

See? Nothing super fancy. Still telling their story. Still getting laughs and hits and links and retweets and embeds and I'm still talking about them a few paragraphs later so they must be doing something right! So like I said yesterday, if you want to make something happen, get out there and do it. Don't wait for budget, or all the pieces to fall into place. After all, once the e-dust settles, the constraints may tighten around this wild wild west of a cyberspace. BUT- until then, it is the perfect time for experimentation, no holds barred. (Did I mention I'm a mad scientist? Muhaha.)

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