By Darren Chadwick-Hussein, creator of The Bloody Mary Show

Why make a short film when you can make a web series? With the increasing worldwide recognition, including the Daytime Emmys; interest from the major networks and even the big studios wading into the online TV world, savvy filmmakers are now using the net as their distribution medium of choice. However, with the wealth of talent out there it is often difficult to get yourself noticed. Luckily, Raindance can help you with this!

A more recent development is that of festivals dedicated to showing the best of what the web has to offer. These web festivals are a great way for creators from over the world to congregate, to network and to even shoot crossover episodes with their favourite shows. This sense of community is infectious, as dozens of countries, from Korea to Ireland, from Australia to Canada, now have a web festival of their own.

However, the explosion of webfests and award shows around the world comes at a cost and multiple submission fees can often be restrictive to the indie showrunner. It is important to do your research and be selective. Here we have some of our favourite webseries creators share their experiences of festivals across the world.

I can’t wait to go back. Again. And Again

dareleneVANCOUVER WEB FEST (March)

By Darlene Sellers, creator of Chop Socky Boom

“I was lucky enough to attend Vancouver Web Fest last year, and I can’t wait to go back. Again. And Again. Not only is Vancouver Web Fest extremely organized and efficiently run, but it’s an absolute hoot and a half to attend. (And for the record, I don’t use the term hoot and a half lightly.) Van Web Fest is ridiculously easy to submit to, communicates clearly with show runners, masters the art of keeping folks updated through social media, and provides scheduling intel in a timely manner. Van Web Fest strikes a fantastic balance between screenings, panels, workshops, entertainment and networking opportunities. The screenings are handled deftly including great picture and sound in a comfortable theater. Last year, some folks claimed their seats during the first screening block and stayed all day. (As in 10+ hrs of screening in one day. The seats were THAT comfortable.) The panels were all filled with experts in the field, well attended and worth the price of admission. The fest is manned by an army of seriously friendly (is it a law in Canada that you have to be nice to visitors?) staff, volunteers and partners. And the festival co-creators are quite possibly the sweetest, most energetic ladies on the circuit. I’ll confess – my favorite thing about most web fests are the show creators and the oportunity to network. And Van Web has show creators and networking opportunities in spades. In addition to being filmmaker friendly, Van Web also excels at engaging the Vancouver Community at large. Last year, our show screened in one of the first blocks of the Fest. (Traditionally a time slot with not too many people in the audience. ) VWF still managed to draw a crowd and put people in the seats. In fact, there was a decent to full audience for ALL of the screenings. Granted there are several well done web festivals, and given they all have their strengths and their charms, but if you have the chance to Web Fest with Vancouver, I HIGHLY recommend you go.”

A true Hollywood experience

edHOLLYWEB FESTIVAL (March)
By Ed Robinson, creator of Pairings

“Jen and Dan Doherty, the founders of Hollywebfest, are committed to supporting content creators by providing a festival that truly honors their work. Hollyweb makes sure to get every detail right as they add new layers to the festival every year. You immediately feel welcome when you are greeted at the doors to the festival and there is always a staff member nearby to answer any questions. The screenings take place in the Charlie Chaplin Theatre in the middle of the active Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. Dan takes the time to screen every block and mix the sound to provide the perfect screening experience. It is not often that web series creators get to experience their shows so cinematically. They provide question and answer sessions with creators after every screening block as well as a few educational panels. And, finally, they throw an amazing finale party at the Avalon Club in Hollywood with a full ‘blue’ carpet experience at which they announce their awards. The awards honor the best of festival, but the celebration at one of the premiere clubs in Hollywood truly honors all of the creators. Hollyweb Festival is a true Hollywood experience with grace and hospitality.”

It was a game-changer for us

lisa squareINDIE SERIES AWARDS (April)
By Lisa Gifford, creator of 3some

“If you’re serious about creating a web series, then I think the Indie Series Awards is a ‘must attend’.  If you have a show to submit, then you have the opportunity to get your work seen among the cream of the international web series community. A nomination for the ISAs actually means something in the industry, and winning an award could take your work to the next level. When 3some won two ISAs in 2014, it was a game-changer for us in terms of mainstream publicity and people sitting up to take notice of what we were doing.  The awards ceremony is as high class as they come; from the venue, to walking the red carpet and the fun of the media interviews (very Oscars), to the pre-show cocktails, and the event itself (which is broadcast live).  Roger and the ISAs team work their socks off to make the whole event something very special.
     “Even if you’re not a nominee, attending the awards means a chance to network with some of the key players in the industry, as well as joining part of a wonderful, supportive community, who will be only too happy to offer their support and guidance, as well as any practical help, to make sure your show is up there winning awards next time.”

An inspirational experience

tinaIAWTV AWARDS (April)
By Tina Cesa Ward, writer and director of Producing Juliet and Anyone But Me
“I’ve been a part of the International Academy of Web Television since its inception. Hopefully that gives me some insight to speak to the importance of the IAWTV Awards, which has awarded me the privilege of hoisting that rather large trophy a couple of times. Putting away that potential bias, the IAWTV Awards continues to be the opportunity we need to celebrate and more important, illustrate the value of the work we do on the web. And maybe that seems like a simple statement of importance, but really what better reason is there? This industry is growing beyond us independents fast, and the IAWTV Awards provides indies the chance to compete along side bigger supported shows, giving us the chance to be seen so that someday we too can produce on bigger budgets for bigger markets. Also, I’ve always felt this industry’s greatest asset is its community, and the IAWTV Awards seems to support that concept not just for those that win the awards but also for the whole community. Attending the IAWTV Awards and hanging with your peers is an inspirational experience which excites you to continue to do the hard work, against the odds, to get your stories out into the world.”

A highly enjoyable and fruitful weekend

rochelle-dancelTO WEBFEST (May)
By Rochelle Dancel, producer of Producing Juliet

“I attended TOWebFest 2014 and, as an experienced web series producer, it did not disappoint. Festival organisers Regan Latimer and Carrie Cutforth did an amazing job at curating two days of screenings that combined the best of the web’s established shows with some unexpected up and coming talent, and a programme of panels that provided industry insights and learning points at whatever stage you’re at in your web series career delivered by industry business leaders and creators that have actually walked the walk. As an additional note, my fellow panellists and I enjoyed a very well organised and thought out briefing and joining process before, during and after the event, alongside some great hospitality. The festival also proactively connected people during the event, and the social gatherings and wraparound mentoring sessions were very inclusive, laid back, and provided an invaluable backdrop against which to meet and chat with other creators. It was a highly enjoyable and fruitful weekend – that has since provided me and my shows with some great opportunities – and I look forward to participating in future TOWebFests!”

We all received certificates to commemorate the experience

anthonyDC WEB FEST (June)
By Anthony Anderson, creator of Anacostia

“I had the pleasure to attend the DC Web Festival both years. The first year as a participant for my series Anacostia and the next year I participated in a panel discussion. The first year it was held at the Arlington Draft House in Virginia which you can partake in two of my favorite activities..watching movies and drinking beers. My cast and I met many content creators and it was a wonderful experience to have a festival in our area. Otessa Ghadar the festival creator was very hands on and assured that everyone was comfortable and their needs met. At the end of the festival we all received certificates to commemorate the experience. The second year I was asked to be on a panel with fellow creators Paul Awad and Katherine O’Sullivan of Thurston the series. The event was held on the campus of prestigious American University and again Otessa made sure that the event ran smoothly and quickly. The festival is still growing and is sure to be very formidable in the coming years. I would recommend the DC Web Festival to any and all content creators.”

I definitely geeked out

THE STREAMY AWARDS (September)
By Leah McKendrick, creator of Destroy The Alpha Gammas

“I’ve heard The Streamy‘s referred to as the “Oscars of the Web,” which is pretty funny considering it’s only four years old. Still, as far as the internet goes, The Streamy’s are the ticket to get. Here’s what you’ll have to look forward to when you are nominated: Sitting in a comfy seat at the Beverly Hilton (yep, home of the Golden Globes), munching on a pretty impressive array of edible delicacies, rubbing elbows with your fave web stars and other content creators (I definitely geeked out while standing behind Pentatonix in line for champagne- yep, open bar), a pretty entertaining show with cool performances and touching video montages, and an excuse to get all gussied up! In fact, I was contacted by a PR company after our nomination who gave me permission to pull jewelry, clothes and purses for myself and my friends to wear to the event. I did NOT complain.”

Screenings were packed and panels had very engaged audiences

ryanRAINDANCE WEB FEST & THE BRITISH INDEPENDENT SERIES AWARDS (September)
By Ryan Lynch, creator of SanFranLand

“When we heard that our series, SanFranLand had been accepted to the Raindance Web Fest we were so ecstatic! It was such an honor to be part of this international festival. From the panels to the screenings, I was throughly impressed with the amount of professionalism and community built by the programmers and the other web series creators. I was fully inspired. I spoke on a panel about Low Budget Web Series Production and the audience seemed so engaged as well as the panelists that I knew this festival was going to be a clear winner in my book. It truly is a place where we are making the rules and they can bend each day, and the best part is that it is up to us as creators. I felt so welcomed by the festival directors and the community, even though we are all so virtual. It is wonderful to know that we have each other to bounce ideas and processes off of, so you don’t feel like you are making a web series in a vacuum. I enjoyed how the screenings and panels weren’t at the same time and alternated throughout the day, giving time for one to ‘see it all!’ The venue was all encompassing, the screening rooms were very high-end and our show looked great and sounded great. Things ran smoothly and on time. It was very professional. Loved that there was room for networking or getting some work done in the filmmaker lounge upstairs. Also, screenings were packed and panels had very engaged audiences, I’d even heard that the web festival was sold out! I had a great time representing SanFranLand at Raindance and would gladly return with bells on. Thank you, Raindance!”

Actual potential buyers were in attendance

ITVFEST (September)
By Philip Cook, creator of Malice: Metamorposis

ITVFest takes place in the height of fall glory in beautiful Dover Vermont. Simply put, it’s a class act web festival. The venue is gorgeous. The panels are intelligent and populated by industry insiders across the whole spectrum of online content creation.  ITVFest is well-organized and seeks to explore, nurture, develop, and promote the ever-changing world of online entertainment with frank and honest discussions. Dover is a surprisingly wonderful place to meet, hob-nob, encounter, and hang out with other web-show creators at numerous pubs and local restaurants. The awards ceremony is efficient and beautifully mounted, giving respect to all the hard efforts of those shows that have been accepted to the festival.

“This is the first festival I’ve attended where actual potential buyers were in attendance, making an effort to meet creators, and expressing interest in acquiring content for actual sales and business.”

 

THE NEW WAVE OF FESTIVALS COMING IN 2015:

2015 will see the debut of several new events.  We can’t list them all here but they are all hoping to be a part of your web series calendar in 2015 and beyond. If you are a creator who plans to attend any of them do get in touch and let us know your experience.

SEATTLE WEB FEST (March)
Seattle Web Fest is very much a web series festival for creators by creators.  This intimate festival, organised by members of Seattle’s thriving web series community, is set to be truly interactive with the filmmakers and creators attending by allowing them to suggest topics on the Seattle Web Fest website for panels they are interested in. Raindance Members receive a 20% discount to submit.

MONTREAL WEBFEST (May)
An international web series festival running in May, the Montreal Webfest was developed by a group of independent web content creators who wanted a space to showcase the talent coming out of the Montreal community. Raindance Members receive a 15% discount on submissions.

SF WEB FEST (June)
A web fest in San Francisco means they are stone’s throw from the bigwigs in Silicon Valley.  This can only mean a chance to network with some power players in the technology sector of online video platforms.  Look out for some impressive line of speakers at SF Web Fest from companies such as Lucasfilm, Pixar and ILM to name just a few to attend.  Raindance Members receive a 20% discount to submit.

 

Submissions are open for the 2015 Raindance Web Fest and the British Independent Series Awards.  To submit go to FilmFreeway here.

Earlybird Passes are now on sale for the Raindance Web Fest.   Get a Pass for all 3 days with access to every screening and every industry event and seminar.