Let me ask you a quick question. Do you recognize any of the following titles?
|If you've never watched|
Burning Love, you're
We all know the magic of YouTube, where anyone can record anything and slap it up there for the world to see. But did you know there's money to made out there if you're interested in writing webisodes? There are many online companies getting in on the deal -- Hulu, L. Studio, AOL, Fear Net, Yahoo, etc. This year was even the first year that a series not found on regular network television or cable was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Awards. I'm talking about Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright's show House of Cards that's found on Netflix. Yes, Netflix.
|Kevin Spacey looking regal|
and dastardly in his award-nominated
To understand how the idea of webisodes became big, I think one needs to first see why it's exploded over the past few years. With the use of the Internet and the ability to move content onto an online platform, the viewing public has been drifting away from traditional television viewing in this post-broadcast era. Gone are the days of having to catch your favorite show just as it airs (VHS, DVDs, TiVo, and DVRs have all gradually done away with that). Gone are the days of limited availability when it comes to what you want to watch on television (cable fixed that). And gone are the days when you have to wait until the next morning to gather around the watercooler and chat about that big ending on The Bachelorette (social media has done away with this). We live in an age where even the number of televisions in American households has decreased for the the second straight year according to the Nielsen Company reports.
I don't know about you, but I don't find this information overly surprising.
People today are using technology in a whole different way than they were doing thirty, twenty, even ten years ago. Going back to YouTube, see if you can answer this question: Have you ever used that site to watch a video of some sort? I know I have. I even watched a whole silent black and white movie there once, surprised that I was able to find it so easily. But this is exactly why the creation of webisodes have become so huge. Storytelling has been taken to a whole different level.
Even cats have gotten in on the action.
Webisodes allow for any and all to become their own filmmaker. It's a cheap arena for someone just starting out. Instead of writing a screenplay, moving out to California, schlepping around that screenplay in hopes that somebody will take an interest in it, the writer can consolidate his/her efforts and go straight to the web. Online, things can be done on an almost nonexistent budget with limited locations and local actors. There's no bigwig in Hollywood lording over them, telling them how to put the story together. And once they've finished? Voila! That simply shot footage can instantly be loaded online.
Of course, there is a bit of a catch.
Shows like House of Cards or Arrested Development aren't shows you'll find in those simple beginning stages created by amateur writers and directors. Like any form of entertainment, webisodes have evolved as well. Yes, they started out as a fuzzy video some guy shot in his mother's basement, but with the ever-increasing popularity of webisodes, they have taken on a form of sophistication. You're not going to make a lot of money nowadays slapping something up on YouTube (although there have been webisodes that have managed to grow beyond their YouTube viewing public), but it provides a stepping stone to something bigger. If you're able to garner an audience off of your simple videos online, chances are you might be able to snag the attention of someone higher up in the Hollywood food chain. And that could mean great things for you (perhaps not for your show exactly) and you may have the opportunity to move onto bigger and better things.
Looking back at the history of webisodes, I kind of compare it to the birth and growth of cinema. In the beginning, many films were made quickly and were of poor quality since the technology of the day was very limited. Anybody could be a filmmaker in the beginning, if they had some sort of means to pay for the equipment. Talent was local and cheap. Sets were pretty rudimentary and not shot in exotic locales. But as time went by and the technology, the writing, and the talent improved, a whole new industry exploded and stars were born.
Have you ever considered creating and writing your own webisode? Are there any that you watch on a regular basis and would recommend?
Here's one last question before I go: How many of you watched that cat video? Yeah, I thought so!