There are already four dozens of webfests around the World and new ones are created every year and nineteen of them are actually part of the Web Series World Cup circuit. As they grow, these festivals dedicated to short form serialized fictions gain more and more visibility. But lots of creators still don’t know them or wonder what they are exactly. So let’s have a little FAQ…
“What can a Webfest do for me and my web series?”
First of all, it is important to describe what is a webfest. These events are not only screenings and award ceremony. All webfests (or at least the “real” ones”) are above all forums where you can learn a lot attending the lectures, panels and presentations about various aspects of digital production and distribution. This is where you get a sharper vision of web series evolutions, where you get vital information’s to build your strategy.
Being selected in a webfest is always a success even if your show doesn’t get an award. Every distribution company on the planet pays attention to webfests selections and especially those in the WSWC circuit. Being selected is maybe today the best way to be seen by distributors and commissioners. Some of them are attending these webfest and it is a perfect opportunity to meet them. At webfests you will also meet journalists, get interviews and often be invited to present your creation and share your experience. And all webfests allow you to promote your project or program with flyers, stickers, posters…
And as Webfest grow, they offer more opportunities and rewards: pitches sessions, markets, catalog entry, cash awards, distribution deal, master classes, workshops… But also – and of course – webfests are meeting points for the creators’ community. This is where you meet fellow writers and directors from all around the world. You will discover a very supportive community and build a network of friends and associates.
“Should I submit my web series to all webfests?”
In theory yes, you should. But with the numbers of events around the world, it may represent a substantial budget and it is better to select the webfests according to your strategy.
Of course, you should always submit to your local/national webfests. Some webfests have even special selections and special events for their local creators’ community. But also, international selections are very prestigious and give you precious laurels for your communication.
Webfests part of the Web Series World Cup circuit allow your web series to automatically enter the World ranking. At the end of the year, you will receive a special laurel stating the world ranking of your show for this year. Also, being listed in the WSWC table opens other opportunities to showcase your web series.
“Why are some webfests free to submit and others ask for a fee?”
All these festivals are very new and almost all of them were founded by passionate people with a desire to support the appreciation and the advent of this new narrative form. And as the web series are also quite new, it is still very hard to get financial support from institutions or sponsors.
Being free is the goal of every webfest and the ones that ask for a submission fee only do so because this contribution is essential to their budget. However, a few webfests already achieved this goal and, getting public funding or private sponsoring, are free to submit. You should always apply to free webfests(cause you know: it’s free!) but you should be aware that because they are free they receive hundreds of submissions which may reduce your chances to be selected.
Set up your budget and study the webfests calendar. Apply early when it’s cheap (the later you submit, the more expensive it is).
Never give up because you have not been selected in a webfest. All webfests around the world have different “taste” and ambitions. Your web series may not fit into a selection but be perfect for an other one somewhere else.
Before submitting do not hesitate to contact directly the webfests organizers. They will gladly help you, advice you and even often offer you a discount if your money is really tight.
“Webfests only award the creators who actually attend the festival”
It is simply not true. I have attended many webfests around the World, been in many jury already and never witnessed anything like that.
What is true however is that an award that you receive on stage is 50 times more valuable than the one you will receive by mail. Because all the people attending the webfest (your new friends!) will be sharing your pictures and videos and you will benefit from all the press releases and festival communications.
“What about these online competitions?”
It’s a totally different thing. Online competitions do not offer the same exposure. As a matter of fact, some of them are clearly scams, as they charge a lot of money for a very short exposure with little impact. Online webfest are not a bad idea, but as they are online and do not have any expenses other than managing a website and don’t make any effort to organize anything else useful for the community, they should be free (like the WSWC) or asking for a very cheap fee. It’s usually not the case and I would advise any creator to be very cautious before spending the price of three “real” webfest submissions into one of these online operations (which can hardly be called a festival).
“So the best Webfests are the ones that are part of the WSWC, right?”
You could say that but it would not be right. The Web Series World Cup selects only international Webfests open to all creators and all genres without restrictions. Therefore, some webfests just can’t be in it because they focus on a territory or a special genre but it doesn’t mean they are not good.
“My web series is not done yet, so I’ll wait”
OK: Except you should not! Again: by attending a webfest, and especially a good one, you will learn a lot and network like nowhere else. This is where you will find the crewmember you miss or the actress you were looking for. This is an experience that will motivate you for months and years.