WRITERS ON THE WEB: Getting a Web Series in Festivals, Part 1

Rebecca Norris is a writer, producer, web enthusiast, and creator of the award-winning web series Split with her production company, Freebird Entertainment. Follow Rebecca on Twitter at @beckaroohoo.

Click to tweet this article to your friends and followers!

fake oscarNow that you’ve worked your butt off to finish your web series and get some press coverage on it, it’s time to get it in front of the web series community at festivals, so you can have the chance to be recognized for your work and maybe even win some awards!

You might be wondering: if I can showcase my web series online for free, why even bother with the cost and effort of submitting to festivals? Well, for one, if you get accepted to festivals and are nominated for and win awards, it further legitimizes your work and sets you apart from the millions of other web series out there. And after all, don’t you want to be an award-winning writer, director, actor, or filmmaker? Give yourself the gift of having your hard work recognized and rewarded.

Secondly, web series festivals give you a way to reach out to audiences you might not normally have the chance to connect with.  For instance, my web series Split will be screening at KWebfest in Seoul, South Korea this summer, opening the series up to an entirely new audience overseas that may not have had the impetus to check it out before.

Lastly, for me, the best part about having work in festivals has been meeting other web series creators and connecting with audiences in person. I’ve made some great connections and friendships from attending festivals and also got introduced to fantastic series I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Plus, attending festivals gives you the opportunity to walk a red carpet and get valuable press photos taken, which are great for social media marketing and for your series’ website.

So how do you go about getting a web series in festivals? We’ll be on this topic for the next few posts, so let’s dive in at the very beginning…a very good place to start.

mapSTEP ONE: FORMULATE A STRATEGY

If you recall my article from a couple of years back about mapping your destination before you begin, you might remember me talking about figuring out where you want to go and plotting how to get there. Having a festival plan going forward is imperative, so you don’t waste valuable time and money on endeavors (paying for submissions) that aren’t going to steer your career in the direction you want it to go.

You’ll want to research every web festival (and every film festival that has a web series category) and find out what type of projects each one accepts.  For instance, if you have a blood-soaked zombie horror series, it’s not wise to submit to a light feel-good or spiritual festival. Take a look at the official selections from previous years and see if your series fits in with any of them.  If there are no films like yours in a particular festival, I’d put that festival at the bottom of your list and move on to festivals who like to showcase films in your genre.

The most commonly used site for festival research research and submissions is WithoutABox, which is owned by Amazon.com and linked up with IMDb, also owned by Amazon. Also Google “web festivals” or “web series festivals” and you’ll find current lists of festivals (new ones pop up all the time). Popular web fests and awards shows include ITV Fest, LA WebFest, TO WebFest, Vancouver WebFest, HollyWeb, Marseille WebFest, the Indie Series Awards, IAWTV Awards, and the New York Television Festival. Mainstream film festivals have been jumping on the new media bandwagon lately, with the Austin Film Festival even introducing new categories for scripted digital series this year.

Once you’ve put together a list, whittle it down a bit.

STEP TWO: PUT TOGETHER AN EPK (Electronic Press Kit) FOR FESTIVAL SUBMISSIONS

This is where all of your Do-It-Yourself PR work really pays off.  Your EPK should consist of photos and bios of the key creative forces behind the project and main cast, as well as behind-the-scenes production stills (photos), a synopsis or one-sheet on your series, a press release, and ideally, press articles and reviews of the series. You can also include interesting anecdotes or stories from set, and a director’s or creator’s statement, since WithoutABox has a space for those if you set up your online press kit on the site.

Also, once you’ve submitted to a festival through WithoutABox, you will be given the opportunity to create an IMDb page for your project, which is something your actors and crew will surely be requesting.

Just remember, not all festivals use WithoutaBox, so have a kit full of the above documents in PDF format compressed into a ZIP file, so you can easily email it or burn it to a CD (a surprising number of festivals still require DVDs and CDs, so have those handy to burn when need be.)

More steps to web and film festival success coming next month!

ws_webseries_smallGet more web series advice in Rebecca Norris’ webinar
Writing the Web Series

COMMENT