Web Series Festivals – What’s the story?

A post for the TO WebFest 2014 Blog by Regan Latimer (Producer/Director of Programming for TO WebFest), leading up to the May 2014 event.

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There was an article recently posted by Visionaryweb entitled ‘Around the world in 24 WebFests‘. 24 web series festivals! Amazing! I didn’t know all of them, but was familiar with quite a few, and quite pleased to acquaint myself with the rest. When I created my first web series at the end of 2007, not only were there no web series festivals that I was aware of, but the thought of one wasn’t even on the radar. In fact, I’ve only just recently in the past couple of years found myself not having to field the question, “What is a web series?”, as much as I used to. Times, they are definitely a-changing!

This industry has grown exponentially in the past few years and to go from the pioneering festivals like LAWEBFEST and HollywWeb to 24 festivals worldwide – Atlanta, Marseilles, Melbourne, and London to name but a few – is quite phenomenal. Canada will be ushering in it’s first web series festival this May with Vancouver Web Fest. I am proud to be producing TO Webfest which will light up Toronto the following weekend. All of these festivals provide a forum to celebrate both local and worldwide accomplishments in this industry.

What’s in it for creators?

These events go far beyond just audience building. I don’t think anyone would debate the point that an audience is more effectively built online than in one city’s web series festival screening. Is that the sole point of these festivals? Of course not. There are panels, pitch sessions, networking events and other opportunities for creators to come together, learn, and share ideas.

These panels and events discuss key topics like audience development and distribution platforms, help you to expand your own skills, and introduce attendees to new ideas and options. The web series community is comprised of creators with experience from across the spectrum. There are those that have been around the proverbial web series block for years now, those that have a season or two under their belts, and those that are just starting out. Web series Festivals for the most part, and what we are hoping to achieve here in Toronto, are a great opportunity for creators and industry members of all backgrounds to come together, share ideas and experiences, learn from one another, make connections, and celebrate each others achievements. You don’t have to submit to attend. Any creator, audience member, enthusiast, or established professional can be a part of these events. That’s one of the truly great things about them. Screenings are just one aspect in an overall festival. And really, from my experience, working in the web series world can be quite a solitary journey at times. Just getting to sit in a theatre with strangers all experiencing your show together can be thrilling!

Speaking for TO Webfest (though I suspect many festivals are the same), these events are being established, coordinated and produced by creators and supporters themselves, volunteering their time to create a dedicated event for the community to come together and celebrate all things web series. So, I invite you to submit, attend, participate, or volunteer in ours or any of the festivals that are out there. Web series have clearly established themselves as a creative, unrestricted, and accessible medium for storytelling. And that, above all, is a wonderful thing!

– Regan Latimer, Producer & Director of Programming – TO WebFest