Restart — Making a Web Series

After a fair break, I’ve decided to restart the ‘Short Ideas’ blog as a chronicle of my journey of making a web series. It’ll be a 2-year journey as this is being done as a part-time self–directed MA with Raindance, so there will be deep dives into audience building, crowdfunding, concept development, distribution and so forth. I hope to share some of what I learn, figure some things out here, and post interviews with other creators and people that I meet along the way.

The Plan

The plan so far is to conceive a single-camera narrative comedy series of 6 episodes running 2-4 minutes each. Production will likely not be until January 2020 because I’ve got some things to do first. Next week, I start to study audience building, looking at some series that I admire and seeing what they’ve done to launch their series. How did they connect to an audience? What did they do online to promote? How did they build a following?

Next up will be a block of concept and character development, where I’ll come up with some show ideas. I’ll plot out how the series story arc would work and then run it be some people to test their reactions. Then I’ll develop one series deeply, figuring out the main beats for each episode.

Then it’ll be 4 months of scriptwriting, followed by crowdfunding. The final block of the MA will be shooting and launching this series with a careful on the marketing and audience connection. I’ll develop a full marketing/brand building plan before shooting anything, so that all of the assets I’ll need later are carefully done as we go. I’ve never done it that way before — my focus has always been on the work, with this sort of additional communications considered a bit of a nuisance to fit in. But the truth is IT IS ALSO the work. So I’ve got some growing and mental adjustments to make over the next couple of years. Looking forward to it!

So Far

So far, I’ve finished the first module of the MA which sets up the entire course plan, read a bunch of books and watched the first episodes of about 100 web series. Lots of stuff out there, a lot going on, and a real mixed bag of quality and approach. I’ll share my highlights of books and web series as we go.

The Soft Cult

I want to launch this series and all my future work under one banner, so I’ve registered “The Soft Cult”, which will be my YouTube channel. A soft cult is social, friendly, anyone is welcome to take part. Be a fan, hang out, have a laugh. You don’t have to give me all your money and slavishly devout yourself to the upkeep of my front yard. (But there will be crowdfunding, and these COULD be in-kind services, so… keep it in mind…)

What about Crime Lessons?

I had began a web series with co-creators/co-writers Matt Ward and Dan Grey a few years ago and we developed some fantastic scripts for ‘Crime Lessons’, a series about a dimwitted goofball who hires an instructor to help him learn the ropes. We shot the first episode “The Muggening” but life conspired and all further progress was derailed. But now I’ve finished that up as a short film and submitted it to some comedy festivals. If all goes well, we’ll get a positive response and get back to making the full series.

Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve seen any web series you’d recommend or topics to consider.

Thanks and wish me luck!






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