In each chapter of this series you will find a “check-list” for every step of a web series production. This is absolutely not an ultimate guide; this is merely a collection of advices, views and opinions. So: you’re welcome!
Chapter 3: So now you need a strategy!
- – Now that you plan to make a web series and even already have a concept for it… Guess what? You’re not an artist anymore! Or not only. Now you also are an entrepreneur or, as we call it in the business: a producer. At that point you are both a creator and a producer. And as a producer you need a strategy, you must plan how you are going to make this web series…
- – There is no perfect recipe to produce a web series. However, there are already some “frequently used” strategies. You can choose to promote your project with only your pitch or with a teaser/trailer, you can choose to produce one, two or three episodes to show “what it looks like” and from there find the financing for the rest of the show or you can simply decide to produce the entire first season with or without budget cause you have the team, the skills, the material and everything needed to deliver a high quality web series. You can even try successively all strategies, producing a pilot if your pitch campaign did not work and then deciding to produce the season on you own cause your pilot did not attract any producer. It will only take (way) longer.
- – As the market is slowly but surely opening, there are already some studios producing web series that are looking for concepts and a simple strategy would be to pitch them yours. You would need only basic documents (synopsis, one episode script, presentation…) and the right email. However you should be aware that these companies are receiving lots of concepts, that they all have their own content policy and that at the moment most of them will propose to buy your idea for production without guarantying you any active participation in it. It’s often little money and very little satisfaction but it’s worth a shot as you may also meet passionate producers who believe in you and will be ready to support your project. Some webfests or professional events have now special pitch sessions for creators to present their concepts to commissioners. Keep up to date to be sure not to miss any opportunity.
- – But it is more than likely that you won’t find a “sugar daddy” (or “sugar mommy”) and that, just like thousands of creators already did, you will have to set up your production. And to do so, you will soon need a production structure of some sort to manage the production bills, the contracts, to collect co-production or public money, to benefit of any government or local incentive. It doesn’t have to be your company as you can partner with existing production companies (why not checking the ones in your neighbourhood?) and it may not have to be a company at all as, depending on the laws in your countries, it could also be a non profit organisation or your freelance status. It may seem far from your creative dream right now but think about this: If I want to sign you a check right now for your web series, can I legally do it? And can you legally use it?
- – Start figuring out your production timeline. It is quite important to have a calendar in mind. How much time will take your development? When will you be able to pitch it? Compare your calendar with the one of the events you need to attend (webfests, pitch sessions, production deals…) or deadlines (public fund, pitch contests…). It is important that you keep a calendar in mind, When can you deliver the scripts? When will you shoot? When will you have a trailer? A pilot ? When will the series be available? This calendar will also keep track of your progress and adapt your strategy accordingly. In any case, a web series will use 12 months (minimum) to 36 months (average) of your life.
- – Now you may ask: “why should I be wasting my talent and creativity thinking about a production plan and a strategy when I can just do it this weekend with my family and friends, post it on Monday and be famous by next Friday”. But then I have two words for you: production values! Have them tattooed on your forearm, It’s 2017 and not 2007 anymore! If you want your web series to have a chance to be seen it has to be done properly. You know… Like a series! Good acting, good picture and perfect sound are the three pillars on which you will build the reputation of your web series. So yes, you need a plan.
- Note that as a creator you also need a personal strategy. Or at least you need to know what will be in it for you. Is this web series the project of your life that you are finely crafting since college? Is it a showcase for your talents and skills? Is it part of a larger project? Are you building a license that will make you rich? Understanding what you really are doing will help you figure out how to do it. Don’t sell your dream story to the layman, don’t try to showcase your best in a weekend filming with your family, be sure to invest in what matters or just concentrate on the commercial part. See? This is already strategy.
Now, after you cancel next weekend shooting with your friends and family, you may want to read