The media loves to call it the Oscars of the Internet, but it doesn’t yet have the same cachet. Or the same Red Carpet.

At the 2008 Webby Film and Video Awards entre de celebs there wasn’t a lightning storm of paparazzi photography, camera crews positioned around major media correspondents, or a parade of Hollywood’s A-list. But that doesn’t mean it was without spectacle or status.

A dozen or so representatives from various online and print media organizations, armed with handheld, prosumer cameras and SLRs equipped with short lenses lined up to meet, greet, and question stars of entertainment’s past, present, and future. Judah Freelander, Rosie Perez, Tay Zonday, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim were a few of the recognizable faces who walked the line to stop and chat about online video and answer whatever ridiculous questions we reporters contrived.

It actually wasn’t totally unlike a toned down version of the Red Carpet at the 75th Annual Web Video Film Festival in the season finale of Viralcom. Check out below for an entraining visual and well-dressed Tilzy.TV cameo at around 1:45.

But there was one drastic difference that doesn’t come across in the reference. I doubt the winners of Viralcom’s awards ceremony had to pay an entry fee.

The Webby’s are a successful, for-profit organization that charge not insignificant entry fees. The average costs to be considered for an Online Film and Video award is $160 (and the least expensive of all the Webby types).

But that’s just per category. Let’s say you’re a dramatic web series that also incorporates some sick animation. If you want to be considered to win Drama Series, Drama Individual Episode, and Best Use of Animation Graphics, that’s three separate entry fees for a total of $480.

No, not a ton of money, only a couple per diems worth even in some spheres of online video. But for a democratized medium, where everyone celebrates the low barriers to entry, $480 can be a budget for one show’s entire season. Many fledgling productions in need and worthy of official recognition can’t substantiate these costs.

I caught up with Webby’s Executive Director David-Michel Davies on the Red Carpet to see if he thought this was a problem. I learned how the Webby’s accommodates those with financial constraints and how the online video space has changed in the past 12 months.

Come entry time next year, if you’re an independent content producer strapped for cash, give the Webby’s Home Office a call and hopefully they can hook you up.

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