Welcome to the first installment of “The IndieNet and Beyond,” where I talk about the growing way we are getting our entertainment fix. Whether it is on your desktop computer, laptop, iphone, ipad, or whatever gadget you use, we are getting more and more of our entertainment from the Internet. For many years now, I have believed that it is not only the inevitable replacement of many traditional forms of media outlets, but it is also the future for independent creators to distribute their content.
And that is truly what this new column is about: the future of independent creators. Primarily indie filmmaking, since I have the most experience in that area, but really anything creative and uploaded to the web is open to discussion—web series, webcomics, and more. I’ll find it and tell you about it and I’ll also interview the creators so we get into the minds of those who are pioneering unexplored ideas on the Internet.
Since this is ScifiPulse, I’ll be focusing more on science fiction/fantasy/horror type genres, but honestly, I’m a “no box” kinda guy. I’ll break these rules from time-to-time, but no matter what, it’ll be a fun time of edutainment for all.
First, since this is the beginning, we need… an origin story! So here we go, my name is Marx Pyle and I’m a story addict. I tend to venture more in the scifi/fantasy side of things, but any good story can hook me. Since I was a kid I watched (probably too much) TV, movies, and read all sorts of books, including a fair share of the graphic novel kind. I’ve been scribbling down stories since I can remember and I started writing scripts years ago.
A few years ago, I got more serious about it by going to film school in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was there that I started writing more for various entertainment news websites and I had a chance to interview Damian Kindler. He had made this cool web series called Sanctuary, one of the first original web series and by far one of the most expensive with all of its elaborate green screen effects. Luckily, Kindler’s office was just blocks away from my school. So after a little walk, I spoke with him about Sanctuary, his career, and his vision of the future of web series. Now, Sanctuary‘s vision shifted when it was picked up by SyFy Channel (something he hinted to as a possibility while we were talking) but if the worse outcome for a web series is getting picked up for multiple seasons by a major cable channel, then sign me up!
I was so inspired by his ideas and the other ideas from other web series creators (such as John Kenneth Muir, creator of The House Between), that I instantly started creating ideas for my own web series. I have yet to produce one (big emphasis on “yet”)– sticking so far to the traditional indie fare of short films, low budget feature lengths, and documentaries–but it has made me keep an eye on the fast-growing market of web series. And it led me to writing this very column.
Kindler was probably a little too ambitious with his economic model by creating a web series of eight-webisodes on nearly 4 million dollars back in 2007, but that gap between profits and expense in the web series market is quickly shrinking. In fact, there are a growing number of success stories: The Guild, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Fred, Red vs. Blue, The LXD, The Bannen Way, The Annoying Orange, The Legend of Neil, Lonelygirl15, Ask a Ninja …. All of which are finding ways to make more profits every year. How much are they really making is usually kept ultra secret, but Blip.tv announced this last quarter that they actually paid one web show $143,000 and reportedly it made a similar amount last quarter. Not bad for something likely made on a very low budget that doesn’t have nearly as many middlemen to pay compared to traditional TV network or movie studio models. And if that web series is smart, they are making money from other means besides just Blip.tv ads.
I’ll talk more about the future of web series and so much more in future installments, so I hope you tune in. If you are working on a web series, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are a reader and want to recommend one of your favorite web series (or web comic, etc), please send me an email, as well.
But wait!!! Before you click away… Halloween is quickly approaching and so are a number of web series premieres with a horror edge. Here are a few I’m eager to see:
Asylum: The Series will premiere this September. The web series, brought to us by the Streamy Award-nominated director Scott Brown (Blue Movies), follows a team of doctors treating patients with bizarre mental illnesses in a hospital for the criminally insane. An agent from the Department of Mental Health is sent to investigate after an outbreak of violence and discovers this Asylum is full of dark secrets and mystery.
Western X is “a genre bending gritty supernatural western” that follows a man named X who awakens in a desert to find he is missing his memories and is being hunted by enemies.
Cyphers, premiering on Halloween, is a new scifi web series. It is described as a character drama about a group of outsiders who discover unexplained phenomenon. While searching for the catalyst to these appearances, they uncover a treacherous organization obsessed with controlling food and water supplies.
And before I go, did you watch the SyFy.com premiere of Riese: Kingdom Falling on October 26th? It’s the relaunch of the Canadian steampunk web series that got snatched up by SyFy after first premiering online in fall 2009. Now it’s back and this time being narrated by Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary, Stargate SG-1).
Want to know more about this web series? ScifiPulse’s founder Ian M. Cullen interviewed Riese creator Ryan Copple back in May.
That’s all for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first installment. Until next time… Marx out.