I’ve always been a fan of web series on big screens. Despite the obvious irony in that, web shows that are shot well (and in HD) just look better in a theater, especially surrounded by a hundred or so fellow web series fans.
Celebrate the Web wrapped up its fourth installment last night with a screening of the thirteen entrants in its “Raising the Bar” festival at the ACME Theater in Los Angeles. The festival tasked web series creators from all over, with one entry hailing from the UK, to create an independent web series pilot in just 7 days. In a nod to the 48-hour film festival model, entrants had to incorporate three elements—a William Gibson quote, a globe image and the number 42.
Taking home the Judges Prize last night was The Silver Lake Badminton and Adventurers Club (or TSLBAAC for you acronypsters), from “Team Tax Deductible Charity Organizations” made up of Matthew Smith and Avi Glijansky. The duo are veterans of the scripted web series scene with Smith editing several seasons of The Guild and Glijansky fresh off of his first season of Cupid & Eros, which Smith also edits.
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“I was going for run and had this idea that there would be hipster detectives and be pretentious about everything even when solving crimes,” Smith told us about how the TSLBAAC idea came to be. “But we’re more laughing with them then at them—I mean I actually do still shoot photos on film and I own a ton of vinyl.”
Even before finding out they had won last night, Smith and Glijansky announced in a video blog entry that they would continue to make the series at least as far as completing the first mystery. “One of the decisions for the time being, because we’re made around the mystery theme, is that we can try a different release schedule,” Glijansky told us. “We are going to treat it as cases, something like the old school BBC mysteries, and we’re thinking of it in groups of three in terms of telling stories.” Two more episodes will complete the mystery of who killed “Fernando Fernando, the great Conceptual Installationist, snuffed out too soon.”
Beyond that, the pair said they are looking to merge the scripted story with real-world interactions, something that web shows like White Collar Brawler seem to master last year. “We want to take it in the direction where audience participation and out in the real world, or perhaps transmedia participation are part of it,” said Glijansky. “It’s something that Matt and I talked about while shooting it. Whatever we do moving forward, that is going to be a big part of what determines how we go. We want to people to continue interacting with this bizarre alternate world.”
One such interaction already happend last Saturday, as the show hosted a “membership open house” for the newly-formed Silver Lake Badminton and Adventurers Club. “I think we got 15 application forms and of them maybe three or four of them knew us, but the rest did not. They just saw the flyers that we had been plastering around Sliver Lake,” added Glijansky. “We’re not hiding the fact that it is a show, but we also plan on regular club outings.”
“What Matt and I love about the web is that you can do stuff like this,” said Glijansky. “I think about New Media the same way about indie film—I feel like there’s a satisfaction doing stuff for the web that I used to get doing indie features, and that satisfaction from indie film has been waning from me. So as long as I get that satisfaction and it scratches that itch then I’ll be here.”
Excerpt from the one-sheet pitch for TSLBAAC:
TSLBAAC is a Film Noir-esque spoof/procedural hybrid that uses the tropes of detective fiction and the police procedural to poke fun at the world of hipster elitism and faux cool. One of the hallmarks of the detective genre is the idea of the intellectual hero, the detective so observant that they, and only they, can see the obvious in even the most complex situation. The current hipster aesthetic and attitude is the perfect target for ridicule here. After all, what is a hipster if not someone who un-shakingly believes they know more than you about everything—even when they don’t. Broad and satirical as the humor may be, the goal is to still create fun and compelling mysteries where the clues are real and the evidence does lead to a culprit.
For winning the Judges’ Prize TSLBAAC takes home $250 provided by Jinx Clothing Line as well as one month of Spotlight Ad here on Tubefilter. The judging panel included the four CTW4 producers—Jenni Powell, Kim Evey, Stephanie Thorpe and Taryn O’Neill, plus blip.tv’s Dina Kaplan, Jinx’s Kyle McCarthy and Tubefilter’s Marc Hustvedt (wait, that’s me).
CTW producer Jenni Powell said she was overwhelmed by the quality of shows in the festival and was adamant in showing them in their HD quality, even taking the time to burn Blu-ray versions of all the pilots for the live screening. We were all about raising the bar, not just for the web series creators but also for ourselves.”
Taking home the audience prize—and $500 from blip.tv—with the most fan votes was Relapse (below), from the “Team Discovery Channel” (no connection with the cable network) of Scott Brown, Matt Doubler, Adam Leiphart, Gustav Lindquist and Steven Tobler. The dark comedy pilot stars Cooper Harris (Squatters) as a narcissistic celebrity rehab doctor trying to regain credibility after one of her high profile celebs (Leiphart) falls off the wagon again. I spoke to Scott Brown from the Relapse team who said they are exploring options to develop the pilot into a full web series, though he does want to make sure he can make it where all of his actors get paid.
There were a number of quality pilots in the screening, even if it was the comedies that took top honors. Several darker dramas were in the mix like Target Kill, Happy Hunting, #Follow and Gone: The Series. Quirky comedy Group (below) took the prize for best integration of the William Gibson quote: “Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” Life’s Little Ultimatum scored best use of the number 42 while Happy Hunting and Target Kill tied for best integration on the Globe graphic. The full 13 pilots can be viewed on the Celebrate the Web site.