The 31-Second Web Series

By 03/31/2011
The 31-Second Web Series

31 SecondThe best thing about the uber-short-form – my descriptor for serial episodic programming with installments clocking in at 60 seconds or less – is that its short. If that sounds redundant, that’s because it is, but the importance of the brevity of the genre is worth repeating. It’s the foundation for a Marshall McLuhan-influenced relationship between the content creator, the web as an entertainment platform, and the viewer.

When a content creator creates an uber-short web series, he or she gives the viewer’s time and the interenet a helluva lot of respect. An online environment presents a billion distractions hidden behind a million places to click. Those distractions are all competing for the attention of potential viewers, whose attentions are in turn demanded by things not connected to a series of tubes.

This is something the uber-short web series creator understands and respects. By creating a 31-second web series released in 31 installments over the course of 31 days, he or she is saying, “Hey, I know you’re busy. Heck, I’m busy a lot, too! But watch this for 31 seconds. If it’s good, great! If it’s not good, it only took you half a minute.”

Is the idea of uber-short show a little gimmicky? Is it just as much a marketing tool to entice eyeballs as it is a legitimate format? Sure, but it’s a gimmick I like. It’s also the gimmick Director L.C. Cruell and Executive Producer Dawn S. Smith use for their uber-short form thriller 31: The Series.

The first of the 31 31-second installments debuted today on March 31 at 3:31PM EST. A new episode will drop at the same time every day for the next 30 days. Here’s the synopsis:

She wakes up alone, trapped, surrounded by darkness, with no memory of how she got there or even who she is. Will she escape? And even more importantly, who or what awaits her outside her prison if she does?

And here’s Cruell’s pitch for the show:

It has the story arc of a film with the structure of television, told cliffhanger by cliffhanger, within the attention span of the Internet. It’s the best of all three worlds.

So, is 31 good? Meh, it looks okay. If you throw enough shaky camera, scratchy edits, dark rooms, and girl screams into anything it’ll probably have some semblance of scary and decency. But it’s really too early to tell. We’re only 31 seconds into the series!

But does the format work? Definitely. If it’s good, bad, or mediocre, I’ll for sure be tuning into episode 2. Worst case scenario I’m not entertained and still have 29 seconds to start that distance run Kipling’s been yelling about.