Why I made a web series and not… something else

I’d be lying if I said that I’m a huge fan of web series. I’m not. I’m a huge fan of some web series, but I don’t seek out or watch web series in the way I seek out and watch good TV shows of films.1

So that might be a little rule breaking. Novelists should read a lot of novels and filmmakers should watch a lot of films, right? I don’t personally know anyone that watches a lot of web series. And Words Fail Me was more of a series of short films than a serialized story, for whatever that’s worth.

But I had a few reasons for making a web series, as opposed to a short film or a feature film.

One reason is that I eventually want to make a feature film.2 I had a lot of the artistic tools necessary for writing and directing feature film, but I was lacking in production experience. In fact, this was the first thing I ever directed, aside from a few improv shows, which is a fundamentally different kind of directing (usually called coaching).

I had read a lot of blogs and several books on film production and I had been on many sets as an actor in friends’ projects, student films, and one professional set of a commercial. So I had some familiarity with the process but the best way to learn any craft is to just fucking do it and make mistakes and learn from the mistakes.

I wanted to experience the filmmaking process from start to finish, but on a smaller scale, and this was a great way to do that. You get more or less the same learning with much smaller financial and time risk. A smaller project meant I could fail faster. You get all the experiences of a bigger project, things that you might not run up against when filming a short—trying to schedule multiple locations and multiple actors and a crew, feeding everyone, and a release plan that’s pretty low-budget but still involves a fair amount of planning.

The upside is that you uncover areas of risk without putting a lot of money on the line. There are a lot of things that, when they go wrong, can ruin any filmed project, but there are also a lot of things that can go wrong without ruining the project. The goal was to identify the former, which I call fatal risks, because those are the ones you want to insure against, prevent, and avoid.

Here’s another reason, which is more more existential than practical. I had been wanting to do more video work for a while, since mid-2013 and after about a year of saying to myself and my friends that I wanted to do more of it, I finally got sick of myself talking about it and decided to just shoot something.

“Sooner strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.”
–William Blake

I read that quote in a great little book that I read a long time ago, called If You Want to Write.

I try to be careful about sitting around wanting to do something for too long without doing it—the risk is that I create a sort of inertia for myself. I don’t want to be in the habit of not doing what I want to do. So after I can sense the inertia building up for a bit too long, there’s like this internal pressure for me to either drop it entirely and forget about it or to just fucking do it already.

And finally, I wanted to make something that I was proud of. I wanted to look back at what we created and have it stand as something that I’d be happy to let anyone see as a sample of my work. And more personally, I wanted to be able to watch the episodes and laugh. I definitely accomplished this goal. In fact, I accomplished all the goals I set out to accomplish.

Thanks for reading and thanks for watching.

  1. Also, I the phrase “web series” annoys me. It’s cumbersome to say, especially in the plural. I digress. That’s why this is down at the bottom. 

  2. And hopefully more than one, assuming it doesn’t kill me or bankrupt me