Tech View: Where's the Web Series Money?
BY Kellie Ann Benz
“Let’s face it. Web series are just expensive TV series proposals, aren’t they?”
“I’m a little offended by this question and the suggestion that web producers who make stuff are only hoping to get on TV,” says Scott Albert, Creator/Producer of the upcoming web series Tights and Fights: Ashes. A sentiment echoed by Robert Mills, creator of ruffusthedog.net who tells me “we’ve only scratched the surface of the fundamental disruptions to culture that the web will be responsible for.”
Them’s fightin’ words.
“Canada is one of the leading countries in public funding programs,” Pablo Vio - Partner & Co-creative Director at Jam3Media tells me. And sometimes the reward is ample, as Vio experienced when his NFB funded web series Waterlife received a Gemini nomination for Best Original Program or Series produced for Digital Media - Non-Fiction.
While the new CMF, the Bell New Media Fund as well as provincial matching funds offer opportunities for creators to tap into broadcaster-triggered web content funding, there truly is only one national source for standalone web series development. The Independent Production Fund (IPF).
“The IPF is the first out of the gate source for web series money that doesn’t require a broadcaster,” confirms Mills.
There’s a common misperception that CMF funds web series – they do, but they actually only fund them as part of a larger convergent or experimental cross-platform package – and in the convergent stream, you need a broadcaster on board.
“That’s why the IPF money is so visionary,” Scott Albert explains.
The CFC also put a toe in this lake last year with its own pilot program aimed at web series. Dennis Heaton, the creator of the CFC-produced, now Gemini-nominated web series My Pal Satan was initially planning to go it alone: “I was actually planning to do Satan as a web series independently. The CFC Program just offered more resources and a huge amount of creative latitude.”
Which brings us squarely to the draw of web series for writers in Canada. “We have very much enjoyed not having to go through the approval processes of series television prep,” says Ruby Skype P.I. creator Jill Golick. “Our meetings focus on character arcs, raising the stakes, making the script stronger than ever.”
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