A guest post from Tom Benedek, screenwriter (Cocoon) and co-founder of Screenwriting Master Class:
It is so difficult to get a movie made. All the stars must be aligned just so. It does happen. But not often enough. Damn you, Movie Gods!
You can step away from those hurdles and write scripts that become films.
Webisodes are short films. Very short films. The production hurdles may be minimal. A web series may be crude or as good as something by Fincher, Vince Gilligan, David O. Russell, Shonda Rhimes.
The concentrated form is nothing new. In the Roman Empire, they called this kind of story an anecdote. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Boccaccio's Decameron – 14th Century short story anthologies. Mark Twain, Raymond Carver, Faulkner, Chekhov, Kipling, Borges, Fitzgerald, many great writers did some of their best work in the short form.
This renowned screenwriting teacher has said many profound things. Promoting his new book on writing dialogue (Anybody read it yet? What do you think?), McKee talks about webisodes.
Mckee: “You have to hook 'em, hold 'em and pay 'em off in three minutes. Good luck!”
You can always use some luck. (See paragraph 1)
And one or two interesting characters, a little exposition, one complication, crisis, climax, and maybe a resolution.
When you're done, take those same characters more or less, create another complication/crisis and do it all over again.
A web series may be to TV and feature films what a short story is to a novel. You may want to consider taking a break from the "long form" and trying this.
It is a growing field. With opportunity and competition. Distribution is open. "Verticals" with specific demographics gather and produce groups of web series.
Warning: There is a lot of silly and juvenile stuff being done in this space.
Also note: Web series High Maintenance and Diary of an Awkward Black Girl have moved to HBO.
Consider our Writing the Web Series Workshop starting next week at Screenwritingmasterclass.com.
There has never been a better time to be a content creator. With digital filmmaking and editing technologies, and the Internet as a worldwide distribution network, why not make stuff, put it out there, and see what happens. And that includes web series. So check out Tom’s workshop. Starts Monday.