Are web series the new movies?

Are web series the new movies?
Director Debbie Rao chronicles the misadventures and bad decisions of Pushpavalli, a girl who obsessively pursues love, in this new Amazon Prime Video India web series.

In a constantly communicating world, our reel loves live online and meet us on demand TV shows have found a new home - the web

By Disha Dadlani & Rachel Dawson

Published: Sun 7 Jan 2018, 8:33 AM

Last updated: Sat 13 Jan 2018, 2:46 PM

Have you watched a web series lately? Hold that thought; because there's no way you haven't. Hear us out. Those episodes of the House of Cards that you binge every weekend? Web series. Remember watching Orange is the New Black? You guessed it; web series. Similarly, One Day at a Time, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Transparent are all web series. You might have watched these shows on television or online. But, the fact remains that they qualify as web series. So, what exactly is the difference between a digital series as opposed to a regular television show?
While traditional shows are first broadcast on television and then made available online, web series or web episodes release online first. Another key difference is the duration. Television series fall between 45 minutes to over an hour whereas web dramas tend to have shorter time stamps (usually under 10 to 25 minutes per episode). In most cases, web series have a lower budget for production and usually turn around quicker between seasons.
Digital series have niche themes - feminism, youth empowerment, and differently-abled people are among a few popular ones. There's no doubt that digital series are an increasingly popular format with stars like Shah Rukh Khan jumping on the bandwagon. The Badshah (king) of Bollywood has finally announced his banner Red Chillies Entertainment's collaboration with Netflix to produce a multilingual series based on the book, Bard of Blood. The series will explore the story of Kabir Anand, an expelled spy, who sets out to save his country and long lost love.
While television losing viewers to online platforms is old news, there's a new 'onstage to online' transition underway with the BroadwayCon2018 on January 26, 2018. The makers of popular Broadway-themed web series will discuss the behind-the-scenes of their work and production for a largely online global audience. Meanwhile, stories that have long been forgotten resurface in online series like ALTBalaji's nine-part Bose: Dead or Alive. In terms of language, Netflix has released Netflix Anonymous, its first Arabic web series, featuring Egyptian actor Ali Azab, who thinks he's Pablo Escobar on the show. Similar to the old school series Mind Your Language, the new Language Academy is a crowd-funded comedic web series about teachers of English at a second language school. Then, there's Amanda Montell's language focused web series, The Dirty Word, which focuses on the language we use to talk about dogs, puppers, and floofs. What's your favourite flick?

By women for women

Themed on friendship, this crowd-funded English web series allows its online audience to view the 'black woman' in an unfiltered perspective and promises to break away from stereotypes.
Ladies Room
Find your own stories in best friends Dingo and Khanna's daily adventures and conversations. Directed by Ashima Chiber, this is a Y Films web series, a division of Yash Raj Films specifically targeted to an online audience with a consistent scene setting that takes the story forward - the ladies room. 
Ladies Only
With this web series, Pakistani director Anam Abbas looks stereotypes in the eye and shatters them. One of the episodes was a tribute to the late Pakistani model Qandeel Baloch.
Synonymous with Indian television, director Ekta Kapoor recently ventured into the world of digital content with ALTBalaji and brought the big names of TV and Bollywood onto the 5-inch screen with Bose: Dead/Alive (Rajkummar Rao), Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat (Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar), and Dev DD among others. With her next web series, she will soon delve into the world of three women scientists, who were integral to the success of the space mission Mangalyaan.
Director Debbie Rao chronicles the misadventures and bad decisions of Pushpavalli, a girl who obsessively pursues love, in this new Amazon Prime Video India web series. Comedian Sumukhi Suresh essays the lead role.

The Internet has become the perfect counter-culture in the world of entertainment - streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are proof. From shows like Stranger Things to YouTube's beloved content creators The Fine Brothers, creative entertainment is going through a kind of renaissance. There's potential for the metaphorical walled-garden to become an open world, where the possibilities to make some magic are endless.
-Ankit Ojha, film critic & YouTube creator, The 20 Second Verdict
Currently, 80% of the Middle Eastern population consumes their content through social networking sites, and the MENA region is ranked the second highest in the world for YouTube views per day. That number on its own shows just how many eyeballs are now online and how a well-budgeted web series can captivate a solid audience.
- Roha Daud, co-founder & head of talent management, Muse Dubai

You don't need to know the language: Web will find you

If your love for entertainment transcends languages and culture, you might want to spend your weekends from now onwards binge-watching this list of Korean, Indian, Arabic and English web series.
Permanent Roommates (Hindi)
Mature and realistic Tanya and annoying but lovable Mikesh share a silly, imperfect, and relatable relationship in this two-season long TVF (The Viral Fever) production. Despite dwelling on a common theme, Permanent Roommates manages to pull it off differently, and it's nothing like what you see at the cinemas. Sans the drama, this web series is raw and real.

Pitchers (Hindi)
TVF's Pitchers tells the story of four friends, who are stuck in the rut of their regular 9 to 5 jobs. With a desire to do something different and make it big, they decide to quit their jobs and launch their own startup. Regressive mindsets, an unreasonable parent, frauds, and teen bullies stand in their way. Apart from investing yourself wholly into their success story, you'll also find yourself longing for another season. TVF recently launched TVF Machi and released Pitchers in Tamil. 

Netflix Anonymous (Arabic)
Meet Ehab (played by Egyptian actor Ali Azab). He binge watches shows on Netflix; no biggie, everyone does that. Ehab, however, is obsessed with the show Narcos, and faces a Netflix addiction problem. To help him recover, he's sent to a rehab center without television and computers. Regardless, Ehab tries to chalk out a plan to watch favourite episodes with other Netflix addicts.
What The Folks (Hindi)
After taking viewers into the sweet and simple life of Kavya and Dhruv with Little Things, Dice Media told the story of a newly-wed couple in a five-episode dramedy. Learn what happens when the husband moves in with his in-laws in an interesting turn of events.

FeMale (Arabic)
This Jordanian web series tells the story of the stages of a couple's relationship from dating to marriage, and also from the point of view of the woman. Created by comedian Tima Shomali, who is known as the Tina Fey of the Arab world, the romantic comedy series tackles taboo topics with humour.
RCVR (English)
Set in the 1970s, RCVR (pronounced receiver) centers around a federal agent tasked with investigating UFO sightings across the country. However, as the search progresses, it becomes clear that the government is involved in extraterrestrial communication. Produced by the multi-channel network MachinimaRCVR is a compelling science fiction mystery-thriller like the X-Files.

Pinocchio (Korean)  
The web series is about Choi In Ha, an aspiring broadcast journalist, who suffers from a condition known as "Pinocchio syndrome," which causes her to break into hiccups whenever she tells a lie. The show airs as a web series, followed by a broadcast on television.

Video Game High School (English)
No web series listing can be complete without a mention of Video Game High School. The series is produced by Freddie Wong's RocketJump Studios and co-created by Will Campos, Brian Firenzi and Matthew Arnold. The web series is primarily funded through crowd-funding sites Indiegogo and Kickstarter. It's set in the future, and follows a gamer Brian Doheny and his experience at Video Games High School.

Aftermath (Korean)
It is based on a web comic and follows the life of Ahn Dae Yong, who suddenly develops the ability to tell when someone is about to commit murder and the next targets of the criminal. Yong becomes a hero as soon as he decides to utilise his new power to help save lives.

Sugar boy (English)
This web series illustrates the rambling life of a child. He tells his tales from the confines of his bedroom and the result is a hilarious and creative set of episodes. The narration is inspired by '70s action films and produced by Lorne Michael's Broadway Video.

Driving change online 

This British web series discusses serious issues such as mental health and gambling addiction. Characters stem from real life events and highlight the state of mental health awareness today, indirectly prompting viewers to attend to their health. Presented by actor-director Simmy King, who is reportedly a domestic violence and child abuse survivor, the seven-episode web series released early this year.
Project UX
Channel your business acumen and skills with this newly launched American web series - a panel of experts gives early-stage startups an insight on how to improve their products. They do this by reviewing its various elements such as architecture, accessibility, visual design, and others.
The North Pole
Trust web series to look at serious issues with a satirical perspective. Writer-producer Josh Healey addresses global warming through a humorous story of three California-born and bred friends in his latest web series.
The story of four 20-something friends - Tara, Obie, Priya, and Alfie - is beautifully told in this crowd-funded web series. Directed by UK-based filmmaker Kunmi Ogunsola, the web series brings to attention issues of race, mental illness and societal pressures. 
This isn't 'just another' web series that strives to promote positive well-being; it aims to tackle mental health issues with the help of video games. Yet another crowd-funded project started by CheckPoint, a health promotion charity in New Zealand and Australia, and 959 backers made the 16-episode series possible.

The pocket pinch

When you're creating a web series, the budget will be treated differently as opposed to a magnum opus for celluloid. Creating a web series can be either extremely low cost or exorbitant depending on the scale of a production you're eyeing. Just like a feature film producer, don't forget to factor in costs for film festival submissions, social media ads or other forms of marketing, props, and casting among other elements. The central characters of Indian blockbuster and high grosser Bahubali returned to the smaller screen (think laptop screen, not TV) early this year on Amazon Prime with Bahubali: The Lost Legends, an animated version of the film. Reports indicate a whopping budget of Rs10 crore (reportedly, the film franchise cost a total of Rs430 crore) was spent on the production of the web series helmed by Deva Katta. Apart from good ol' Netflix and YouTube, there are also popular video on demand services such as Amazon Prime, Hulu, Sony LIV, VOOT, and Hotstar.
"It is unfortunate that a lot of brands or businesses do not understand the power of web-based video content and don't invest much. The masses now have access to an incredible amount of entertainment online and that's why web series are giving the film industry a serious run for their money. When you're looking to attract a genuine audience, you need to focus on creating good content, which can mean investing in the right scriptwriters, directors, SFX artists and casting agencies. Content has, is, and will always be king," says Roha Daud, co-founder and head of talent management, Muse Dubai. 
Crowd-funding platforms such as, Indiegogo, Seed & Spark, Wishberry, and Kickstarter allow web series creators all over the world to generate funds for their project. As a gesture of gratitude, creators carry social media shout-outs, a video from the cast and crew to thank online 'backers' for the donations or allow their audience access to any #BTS material.

For students by students
The web series follows a trail of crimes differing in scales of violence, and the lives of criminals whose lives center around a garden nursery. Each episode features different crimes.
Made by: Luke Austin, student, University of Colorado, Denver, who co-wrote the show with classmate Nigel Wickens, and produced it with the help of classmates from the College of Arts and Media.
Losing Ground
The series follows 12 young people with divergent nationalities, career paths and mindsets. The pilot had almost 1000 views in three days.
Made by: Nine students at the New York Film Academy, including producer Liana Afuna and writer Tom Machell.
Long Story Short
Each three-minute episode features Assam-Miller, an average college student, who recounts everyday college experiences. Told in a series of recollections, the narrative strikes a balance between fantasy and reality.
Made by: Avidan Antonir and Tom Assam-Miller, film students, Chapman University.
The web series is about Edmund, a misanthropic writer with a writer's block, and Levi, a musician. It is a story about the deep insecurities of young artists as they struggle to find their footing and hone their creative voices.
Made by: Third year students Michelle Melky, Dylan Murphy and Tom Jones in the Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing) program, RMIT.
A dramedy that follows the lives of army recruits at a female boot camp, who hope to join the US army. The series explores the diversity of women in a male dominated field, their fulfillment of duties, and battle with personal problems.
Made by: Caroline Gecker and Isis Grills, students, Writing and Producing for Television program, Loyola Marymount University.

Comedy on global warming

While global warming isn't news, The North Pole, a new web series written by Josh Healey, uses humour to depict environmental changes. In each ten-minute episode, a group of friends navigate North Oakland (known as the North Pole) and notice their changing neighbourhood. Healey succeeds in localising a global issue to amplify the seriousness of the situation. He told Hoodline website, "This is not a straight comedy. It's a political comedy. There are punch lines that will make you laugh, punch lines that will make you angry, and a lot in between. You're hit in your head, your heart, your funny bone and your raised fist, all at the same time."

International web-series festivals

Back in 1995, when blogs, vlogs, and web series weren't the norm, an online serial made its way onto the Internet. Created by Scott Zakarin, The Spot traced the lives of many twenty-year-olds, who shared a beach house in California - partly through video and photos. Video streaming was identified as a feasible option in 2006, and soon enough there was an increase in web series with Soup of the Day, lonelygirl15, and Sam has 7 Friends. Today, web series festivals such as HollyWeb Festival, ITVFest, YouTube FanFest, and Vancouver WebFest celebrate digital content. The first ever web series festival was established in 2009 - Los Angeles Web Series Festival.
Marseille Web Fest
This web fest aims to reveal and highlight the best talent of digital series. It further seeks to serve the changing digital world, promote its development, and celebrate the best of digital series on a global spectrum.
For more, visit
Melbourne Web Fest
Ranking as Australia's international web series festival, MWF seeks to honour innovative creators that can transform the world of entertainment.
For more, visit
Organized in Toronto each spring since 2014, the T.O. Web Fest seeks to support, connect, promote, and celebrate independent content creators from Canada and around the world.
For more, visit
Vancouver Web Fest
The festival showcases global talent and provides recognition for online content. VWF brings together International and Canadian web content creators and viewers.
For more, visit 
Roma Web Fest
This web fest aims to represent the contemporary media world by an exchange of new ideas and projects, and create new connections between filmmakers and audiences.
For more, visit
Hollyweb Festival
The festival began in March 2012, and has qualified as the world's premiere destination for digital content, series and pilots available online.
For more, visit
ATL WebFest
This interactive festival is designed to bring together the film, business, and technology communities in a way that will spark new ideas and showcase the latest talent and innovation.
For more, visit
NYC Web Fest
This festival brings together a multifaceted group of people from around the world to showcase the best of the web every year.
For more, visit
The Streamy Awards Ceremony
The awards ceremony is unofficially known as the Oscars of online content and nominates the best of online videos and the creators. The event brings together the biggest names from YouTube and the online world for a night of celebration, discovery, and meaningful recognition.
For more, visit
Raindance Web Fest
This is UK's first independent festival dedicated to web/streaming series. The Raindance web fest believes that the Internet and mobile technology have created many new opportunities for independent filmmakers, and web and mobile series have become the new short form content that studio executives have started looking for in order to find the next generation of filmmakers and stars.
For more, visit

Online communites web series

Web Series Friends is a Facebook group made to support web series creators, podcasters, independent movie creators and people interested in independent projects. The group helps people to find the resources and connections they may need for their various projects. A similar group is Web Series Today. Groups focused on one particular web series include Respect Life the series (devoted to share their views about "Respect" the web series). The name explains it - Hater's Animosity web series group page discusses Hater's Animosity that has been directed by Mark Adams. Get on one of these or search for your favourite web series to share your views and fan theories with an online community.

Pincocchio is a web series about Choi In Ha, an aspiring broadcast journalist, who suffers from a condition known as “Pinocchio syndrome,” which causes her to break into hiccups whenever she tells a lie.
Pincocchio is a web series about Choi In Ha, an aspiring broadcast journalist, who suffers from a condition known as “Pinocchio syndrome,” which causes her to break into hiccups whenever she tells a lie.
Sugar Boy is a web series that illustrates the rambling life of a child. He tells his tales from the confines of his bedroom and the result is a hilarious and creative set of episodes.
Sugar Boy is a web series that illustrates the rambling life of a child. He tells his tales from the confines of his bedroom and the result is a hilarious and creative set of episodes.
FeMale is a Jordanian web series that tells the story of the stages of a couple’s relationship from dating to marriage, and also from the point of view of the woman.
FeMale is a Jordanian web series that tells the story of the stages of a couple’s relationship from dating to marriage, and also from the point of view of the woman.

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