Geek Speak: Suzette Laqua, executive director of Vancouver Web Fest

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Suzette Laqua is planning the first international web series festival in Canada. An entrepreneur and filmmaker, she’s the founder and executive director of the Vancouver Web Fest.

From May 2 to 4, 2014, the inaugural festival will take place at the Imperial theatre (319 Main Street). The event will include a pre-launch party, web-series screenings, pitch sessions, panel discussions, and an awards ceremony.

Born in Alberta, Laqua is a co-creator of the Last Chance Casting comedy web series. An official selection of the 2013 L.A. WebFest, the show released 10 episodes in 2012.

The Georgia Straight reached Laqua by phone at home in New Westminster.

Why bring a web series festival to Vancouver?

My goal was to acknowledge all the filmmakers, directors, producers, actors, who have put a lot of work into their web series—you know, not only from Vancouver, but Canada and around the world—and to basically bring attention to them and what’s out on the web these days.

Web series are typically watched alone on a computer or a mobile device. How weird will it be to view them on a big screen in a crowded theatre?

Actually, we viewed them in Los Angeles and in HollyWeb, as well as when I was in Marseille and Rome, and it’s fantastic. People are bringing in popcorn. They’re watching it like they’re watching movies. They can be up to 20-minute episodes, and they run back to back, so you get in a screening time of 40 minutes to an hour. You’re sitting comfortably, and it’s actually quite nice to watch them on the big screen if they’re filmed properly with high-definition.

Based on your experience with Last Chance Casting, what would be one tip you’d offer to someone thinking of doing their own web series?

How many seasons are you wanting to make? Because, the first season, everyone will want to volunteer, most likely. But the second and third and so on—find out if you can get financing first or commitments from your actors to be in future seasons. Because that was huge.

That’s one of the things we found a lot of people had a problem with. The first season, everyone was, “Great. This is fun. I’m out of work anyways. Let’s do something.” Then either people got work or they wanted to get paid for it—and fair enough—unless they were part of the actual production, like they were acting in it and producing. In Canada, you can get backing for web series.

How do you think the web series medium has changed over the years?

I believe it’s changed in an absolutely positive way. Now most people are turning to the net for entertainment. You look at Netflix and House of Cards, and that’s, I think, just the way it’s going to go. You can watch them at your convenience, on different devices, and I think it’s going to be huge. Some of the articles I’ve read lately: “Is TV dead?” Again, people are going to their computers, their iPhones, any kind of device where they can upload and watch at their convenience. The fact you can watch five minutes or three hours—it’s up to the individual.

What are a couple of your favourite locally produced web series?

Convos With My 2-Year-Old, it’s just funny. Even if you don’t have kids, you will be amused by what they’ve done, how they’ve done it. The other thing that I really like about it is they’re only two- to three-minute episodes. You know, you get in, you see it, you laugh—you have a good two-minute laugh—and it’s over. That’s one of the big things about the web series itself is it doesn’t go on and on. It makes its point, and you’re done.

As far as True Heroines goes—the fact that it takes place in the early 1900s. It’s very well-written, very well-acted. The camera work, the lighting—everything’s done extremely well. And it’s a good story. They’ve done well with keeping the story going. The dancers are real dancers.

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