Film schools have long served as launching pads for film and television careers, and now most major universities offer at least some sort of filmmaking courses, even for those not looking to jump into entertainment. A number of schools have begun looking academically at the impacts of new media on culture and the future of entertainment, but so far the more practical nuts and bolts of web series production and distribution have yet to make it onto into the university course lists.
In Los Angeles, two new Web TV education programs have launched this month looking to fill that gap —and at a fraction of a film school tuition. NewMedialocity and Web TV Workshop both offer four-week intro courses for creative types looking to learn how to get an original web series project off the ground. Both take the approach of teaching through experienced guest teachers—those brave souls who for better or worse have learned some of the internet’s unique lessons and opportunities over the past few years.
Web TV Workshop, founded by Damian Pelliccione and Diahnna Nicole Baxter, bills its flagship offering as a “crash course” in Web TV, covering everything from script development, production, distribution and marketing. Pelliccione has produced a range of web series projects of his own including Cartera and Taylor Negron’s comedy The Foreclosure, while Baxter produced and starred in the Emmy-winning sci-fi thriller Satacracy 88.
Students for these courses are coming from all sides of experience, some the eager young internet users looking to add some production skills to their list, and some on the other end of the spectrum. “We’re also getting a lot of professionals in TV and film that are interested in learning more about social media and web production,” said Baxter about Web TV Workshop’s enrollment. “A lot of people know how to shoot, they just don’t know how to monetize it.”
While it’s not likely anyone has the magical crash course answer to the monetization question, it does help to have some guest teachers that have successfully shaken the money trees themselves. Streamy-winners Mark Gantt and Jesse Warren, creators of The Bannen Way, are part of the program’s “Pro Panel” sessions, along with Steven J. Wolfe of Sneak Preview Entertainment, Bernie Su (Compulsions) and Elizabeth Flack (WGA) amongst others. For those outside of LA, Pelliccione added that the course itself will be available on DVD and the pro panels will be streamed free online through MingleMediaTV and Stickam. The first session of their course begins May 3.
Brian Rodda and Matthew Arevalo founded NewMedialocity as a “new media academy,” a nod to their goal of forming long term relationship with their students. “Our focus is education, said Arevalo, “and we’re trying to have a home and place for our students to come back to.” He noted that their monthly screening mixers, the first of which will feature 1150Project creator Leslie Morgan, aim to be a regular opportunity for sharing their work.
Where I see this school fitting in,” said Rodda, who was part of the found team of WGA writer-backed Strike.TV, “is that it’s taking that younger generation that understand the technical side, but not necessarily the professional storytelling skills.” The first week of the intro course will focus on storytelling and creative development, with following weeks hitting production, post-production and eventually sponsorship and social media marketing. Future course offerings are expected to go into more detail in each of those areas, with the current one being what they call their “101 course.”
“Not every single stoyteller needs to be a technical guru,” added Arevalo, a bit of technical guru himself, “but you need to have a certain amount of technical and social media savvy to tell your story online.”
NewMedialocity’s speaker roster shares a number of the same names as Web TV Workshop, with Gantt, Warren, Su and Flack all appearing on both. Tubefilter News’ Jenni Powell will be speaking at NewMedialocity as well as Derek Housman (This Week In producer), Sandra Payne (The Web.Files producer), Matt Enlow (Atom.com), Dana Block (mPRm) and Liz Miller (NewTeeVee).
Not surprisingly, both NewMedialocity and Web TV Workshop have gone out with the $199 tuition price for their month-long courses. This may be a nod to their shared origins with both Rodda and Pelliccione pairing up to start Web TV Prep earlier this year. While the two have now ventured out separately with their own programs, they no doubt share some lessons learned from their first go round.
For those in the LA area, NewMedialocity is having an open house in Marina Del Rey tonight at Dogma Studios, before their debut course begins May 8.