Why Web Series Deserve Your Attention

Earlier this year, I wrote a piece for a New York-based actors' resource web site, Actor's Life, about the do-it yourself-phenomenon of web series. At their best, web series can be for aspiring actors and screenwriters what blogs have become for journalists—a way to eliminate the producer, or editor, from the equation and focus solely on making art for art's sake.  

Of course, while clicking away on a blog platform doesn't involve production costs (aside from coffee breaks and other writer's block remedies), filming and editing one's own series requires more extensive resources and a significant time commitment. For many actors, however, simply the promise of creative freedom and the possibility of attracting a real following are reasons enough to pick up a camera. And, in many cases, producing a web series is cheaper than renting a space for a short-lived stage production with significantly less growth potential. 

Wednesday's Salon.com included a story, titled 'Where The 20-Somethings Are,' that approached the web series movement from a larger cultural angle. These consciously indie productions aren't just opportunities for a new generation of actors and producers, writer Judy Berman said, but they fill a niche that much of network television has neglected: the 20-something character. The crises of teendom and the middle age are exhaustively interpreted on scripted television, but giving a face to the quarterlife struggle is often left—in all its sloppy glory—to reality TV contestants. 

I was happy to note that Berman brought attention to two of the same web series in her article as I had in mine: Successful indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg's 'Young American Bodies' (as you might guess from the title, much nudity is involved) and New York-based Kathleen Grace and Thom Woodley's 'The All-For-Nots' (about a touring pop-rock band). While Young American Bodies stands out for its charming, improvised rambling that simply doesn't have room in scripted network television, The All-For-Nots is a magnetic meta-tribute to web TV in its own right: In December I caught the group in concert at Lower Manhattan's Mercury Lounge, where they shared a lineup with other—but non-scripted—indie musicians. 

Because the musicians were playing characters, their '80s-inspired act immediately came across as better produced than other artists who shared the stage that night. To a viewer there was, of course, something strangely deliberate about their on-stage demeanor. Watching a performer channel self-consciousness through reserved banter and decidedly hipster garb rather than mask it was an unexpectedly magnetic experience. In itself, their live act was a real testament to the power of a well-crafted story. 

See Berman's Salon.com piece here: http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/feature/2008/06/18/internet_series/ 

See my story here: 

http://www.actorslife.com/article.php?id=230

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