You have an idea for a brand new webseries and you can’t wait to start making it. You’re feeling inspired, excited and maybe a little overwhelmed. Creating a solid webseries isn’t easy just because its a short form media for the small screen - or at least, it shouldn’t be. True, it can feel like you’re competing with everybody you know on the vast landscape of the internet. However, you’re a creative individual with your own unique outlook on the world and chances are, your writing will reflect that. These are some things to consider that will help give your series the best chance it has of standing out.
1. Be Patient, Collaborate
If you have access to a camera, editing software and know how to act, you may think you can take on this endeavor all by yourself. The most important aspect of filmmaking is collaboration, and this should translate to smaller undertakings such as shorts and webseries. You may be great at camerawork, directing and everything else - but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to give each job 100% all the time. Yes, it will take a bit of time to build this crew, but you’ll learn a whole lot more from an experienced DP than you would if you shot it yourself. This series is both a showcase of your abilities and a training ground for working in the larger industry, where you’ll likely be hired to do just one thing that you excel at.
2. Stay Organized
Your first day of shooting may only require one location and two actors, but that doesn’t mean you will remember that Lily is arriving at 12 and Liza at 12.30, or that the location is only available until 2, or that wardrobes have to be changed halfway through for continuity. Put together (and print!) call sheets with all the information: call times, props, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, shotlists and so on. Once you get busy shooting, your producers and production assistants should have access to that information to help you sail smoothly through the chaos that is production while you focus on directing the hell out of that scene.
3. Creative Preparation
You have to know exactly what you want out of the shoot before you go in. Discuss a shotlist with your DP, make sure they’ve seen the location and know about the blocking and light sources. Go over angles, framing and lenses you want to use. You don’t want to be squabbling over shots in front of your cast because you didn’t effectively communicate your vision beforehand. A director who knows exactly what they’re talking about will make everyone else less stressed and more cooperative.
If you’ve followed the above tip and done extensive pre-production, then by the time you’re on set, you’ve probably solidified the exact beats and shots you want to get. Know what you want, but keep your mind open. Some of the funniest and most original moments I’ve captured on tape have come from actors improvising and contributing their own ideas, not from lines that have been sitting on a script for the past month. You’ve been wrapped up with every written word, but their perspectives are fresh. Your DP may have a cool camera technique up their sleeve that you couldn’t have pictured when storyboarding. It is a team effort, and if you’re working with the right people, their every intention will only be to better service your vision.
Don’t be put off by the fact that you don’t have a marketing degree or background in PR, but, keep in mind that the work isn’t over yet. You’ve shot and edited your webseries, the idea you loved so much that you went through this whole process in the first place. Anyone can make a simple website, a social media page and a list of festivals or publications that cover webseries. If your series has its own voice then it can translate into this next step and it can be just as fun creating an online presence for your show. Afterall, this is the very outlet you created your series for: the internet. You’ve put in a lot of work to make this series. Now take the time into building it an online nest that will help it get the attention and views that it deserves.