It’s no secret that there’s a dearth of multicultural roles in Hollywood on either the big screen or silver screen. Even J.J. Abrams’ vision of Middle Earth (“Lord of the Rings,” from J.R.R Tolkein) was populated by only milky-skinned faeries and hobbits, wizards and knights. But this dilemma has not stopped homegrown content creators from producing their own programming. For distribution, sites such as YouTube and Vimeo allow users to create Channels that perfectly house episodic content and grow audiences through subscriptions.
There are several web series gaining millions of views from their respective demos, and attention from potential advertisers. Most recently, Issa Rae’s “Adventures of Awkward Black Girl” has exploded, averaging 180,000 views per episode and currently has over 12MM channel views. Shonda Rhimes, executive producer of primetime gems “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy” recently greenlit another Rae spinoff “I Hate LA Dudes.” Donnie Leapheart’s “Osiris” won the “Best Web Series at the 2012 American Black Film Festival. Latino web series “East Willy B” centers Willy Jr. who struggles to keep his Bushwick bar afloat amidst gentrification. The series has some heavy hitters on both sides of the camera, and earned 100,000+ views in its first 6-episode pilot thus far.
The term “web series” no longer equates to a few teens recording pranks on their mobile phones in a poorly lit room. Some online shows tackle serious issues with HD production value and quality. Even the author of this article has produced a Mommy-centric web series entitled “Mommy UNcensored™: Confessions of a Real Mom,” based on his wife’s adventures through motherhood. This wild comedy tackles the serious challenges that motherhood poses upon a woman’s body, marriage and social life.
Networks are getting in on the fun, too. The Comcast-owned TV channel Mun2 is set to produce 3 web series targeting the Latino demographic. With the pioneering of Internet TV colliding with emerging smart TV technology that streams the web, it’s only a matter of time before these web series jump from YouTube to the Silver Screen.
By Justin Jordan, Sr. Art Director