Celebrate the Web panel

Celebrate the Web 2On the heaviest day of Comic-Con, one might think that having a major off-site event, to be held in the midst of some heavy hitting panels, might not be the strongest plan ever conceived. Showing up early to the event at the Bristol Hotel, I watched as some of the finishing touches were applied to the set-up. This was not the last-minute, throw-something-together-in-four-days event from this past April. Nor was it the end-all, be-all of panels.

This was simply the next logical step for the web series industry, in a long road to having an entire section of the convention marked out for us.

Run by Jenni Powell, Taryn O’Neill and Stephanie Thorpe, Celebrate the Web 2 came together with a different tone from the previous outing. Where the original event did so out of a need to heal some wounds, this time around the tone was stronger: “We’re here to stay, so strap in.”

With sponsors like blip.tv, The Flick Cast, Fig St. Marketing and, of course, us, the show was ready for a serious outing, and by the time it started, we had a packed house. Despite the multitude of events, panels, and simply the exhausting Bataan Death March of the convention floor, hundreds showed up and sectioned off a large chunk of Comic-Con time to be apart of this event. Rolling out the premiere of new trailers at the onset, we got a sneak peek of some web series that’re in various stages of completion and sales.

Here are the quick hits of some of the trailers that caught my eye:

  • Apocalypse Wow, starring Craig Frank — well, if you’ve got Craig Frank starring in a web series, congrats, you’re in an exlusive group of everyone — and Melanie Merkosky (lonelgirl15, Continuum, Harper’s Globe), kicked it off. A very comedic approach to the end of the world, the potential for this one is high. The talent’s right, and the moments shown brought plenty of laughs.
  • Fury of Solace: Some interesting superhero work going on. I wrote in my notes, “I’m hoping it’s more Fight Club than Watchmen,” but that pretty much applies to just about everything ever. Doing superhero work on the web – even the non-powered, Kick Ass kind – is always a risky proposition, but a successful execution will pay off in spades.
  • Asylum: The bar for slower-paced and thought-provoking shows on the web has been raised to a high level with Anyone But Me (are you ready for the Web-A-Thon? You can spare a buck.). While the two shows don’t have anything in common, that level of competence and confident execution is rapidly becoming a pre-requisite for a legitimate outing.
  • We Break Hearts: Craig Frank (see?), Maxwell Glick (who’s also everywhere), and Jessica Rose head up the cast for Brett Register’s first completely dramatic project. It’s definitely trying to increase the temperature (and Jessica Rose is already hot, as suns are hot) around here.

Following that, we began the Sci-Fi Horror Forum, starting with a reel of shows from people on the panel. Mercury Men, Universal Dead, Riese, After Judgment and Continuum were screened, along with a sneak-preview of our own Jenni Powell’s work with the Bui Brothers and Taryn O’Neill, Pryce.

The panels, moderated by Sam Proof, had a lot going on throughout, so I’ll try to condense it down to the bits I thought were significant:

  • Mercury Men, according to Christopher Preksta and Curt Wootten, was “built from the ground up” for Web, as opposed to shoehorning a film and cutting it up.
  • Ryan Robbin and Ryan Copple of Riese were inspired greatly by City of Lost Children, and felt steampunk wasn’t represented yet in the mainstream when they set out to create the show.
  • Kelly Parks of Universal Dead Is firmly in the camp of the web as a medium to get noticed by larger studios, potentially in other mediums.
  • Lan Bui speaking about Pryce: “We want everyone to succeed,” and are building a plan that can be followed by others to achieve (hopefully) similar success. “If you’re good enough, people would pay to see it.”
  • Melanie Merkosky noted that Continuum was written and shot like a feature film, and broken into about 20 five-minute episodes.

After that came the Fantasy Forum. Bits I particularly took notice from the reel:

  • I (Heart) Vampires: It’s a vampire show, yeah. There was plenty of laughter in the crowd, and it’s got a good polish to its look. Probably won’t be my personal cup of tea, but some of y’all should know about it.
  • Escapist Magazine has A Good Knight’s Quest, a combo comedy/fantasy show, wherein fantasy characters can be found in our modern world. For some reason, I wrote: “I want to see an FBI agent get stabbed with a sword and say ‘we don’t negotiate with terrorists.'” There are equal portions of cringe-y moments and hilarious ones. We’ll just have to see which way it goes on that one.
  • GOLD/GOLD:Night of the Zombie King – these are really those types of shows where you put a bunch of talented people in a room together, toss ’em a script and turn the camera on. Jonathan Nail, Stephanie Thorpe, Maxwell Glick and others play a table-top roleplaying game together and deal with their personal issues. “You know I wasn’t really going to kill myself, right?” “Yeah.” “Unless we’re playing Fourth Edition.”
  • Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager: Seriously – if you don’t know what this is, you really haven’t been paying attention at all. It’s a lot more of the same. Do you like Chad Vader? You’ll probably still like it.

Bits from the Fantasy Panel;

  • Adam Chambers noted their shooting schedule for I Heart Vampires is months long, out of opening the show significantly to the audience. The feedback/interaction has a direct impact on the show itself. “I’m only about five days ahead of the audience,” Chambers says.
  • A question from the audience asked if the web was ready for a children’s series. Paula Rhodes (A Good Knight’s Quest) notes the kids she’s around are media hounds on the web. Stephanie Thorpe; “The way [younger audiences] consume media” is vastly different from the current 18-24 demographic.
  • Rudy Jahchan (A Comicbook Orange) – the “level playing field” allows for quite a bit of experimentation and independent success on the web.

The show ended with Sean Becker and Jeff Lewis showing up briefly to introduce The Jeff Lewis 5 Minute Comedy Hour, and played a very blue sketch from it. Ending on some serious laughter is a good way to go out.

If I have anymore thoughts, I’ll put ’em in the comments thread.

Questions about the panel? Did you watch it online and see something I missed or got confused? Comment away!

Top photo by Charlie Bodin, courtesy of Craig Frank.

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