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Web Series or Feature-Length Film?

One of my goals as a filmmaker was always to complete a feature film by the time I was a certain age (which I won't mention). Well, I didn't achieve that goal, but I did take part in directing a web series (Midnyte) which was almost as long and has some definite advantages for the filmmaker on a budget. For one, you can distribute your show for free. Keep your episodes under ten minutes and you can put them on YouTube. Try doing that with a feature. Gone is the slogging through the festival circuit looking for someone to buy your film. Just slap it online and you can embed the episodes everywhere.

Another thing I really like about the web series format is the release schedule. With a self-contained film, you've got one date (usually) to promote and build up to. Depending on the length of your show (Midnyte was 12 episodes) you have several months of release to build an audience around. Market correctly, and each episode will build upon itself. The downside is that some folks don't like to wait for their show and may just hold out until you've got enough to watch for awhile.

Another nice thing is that your show is potentially available for as long as those servers exist. A fan base can build over time, and can be informed of your next project when it is ready. A long film may be available to all (especially when everything goes on demand), but right now it's a limited window of release, or you have to wait for a DVD to arrive at your door. The instant gratification of the internet can really play into our hands if used correctly.

Still, there's no denying the power of the feature. You command a longer commitment from the viewer (opposed to short bursts of content), which has the ability to draw them into your story more effectively. Plus, a series can take a lot more in resources as it could end up being much longer than a conservative 70-80 minute feature. Both will benefit when you can watch all web content on your television, but right now the web series has a lot of pull (for me, anyway) due the current state of the internet.


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