Vancouver web series: TV and movie hopefuls hit the web
The Internet is a wonderful, democratic place, a place where anyone can share their creative genius, where they can prove to the world they deserve our attention. It’s also a place where we take the good with the bad. And let’s face it, there’s usually much more of the latter to wade through.
Not to be dissuaded, Vancouver TV and movie hopefuls are producing web series, as portfolios and as business plans. They may be encouraged by the fairly high-profile successes that are Sanctuary and Riese: Kingdom Falling, both of which have signed traditional TV distribution deals. Here’s a look at some recent scripted drama and comedy productions, none of which are creating webisodes that come close to being TV–broadcast length. (All of the websites feature Facebook and Twitter integration, except for Rise ’N Shine OG, which only has Facebook.)
Bob & Andrew
Specs: Five-episode Series 1 is complete (ended December 2010), with Andrew Menzies and Bob Woolsey starring in each of the six- to eight-minute episodes. The second season goes into production in March, and will be online later this spring.
Premise: The life and times of buddies Andrew and Bob. Bob, newly out, is learning how to be a gay man. Andrew, a confirmed het, tries to help. And Bob tries to help Andrew. Complications ensue.
Marvy: This is pretty funny stuff. Menzies and Woolsey have great fun with gay and straight stereotypes without resorting to camp. And it has a decidedly West End vibe, which is no bad thing.
Meh: We miss out on some of the humour because Menzies mumbles his lines at times.
Site: Not just videos, but blog posts, a podcast, and even a web comic. Tumblr is linked too.
Specs: Brendon Bertolini and Curtis Lum star in this mockumentary series. Season 1 (ended December 2010) featured nine episodes ranging from four to 12 minutes. Season 2, which promises eight episodes, starts March 29.
Premise: Brendon and Curtis are two actors trying to break into the biz, and their every move is being documented for their own reality show.
Marvy: Professional production and a full-blown theme song.
Meh: Hope Bertolini and Lum are acting here, because the alternative is that they really are this banal and stereotypical.
Site: All about the show, including deleted scenes and a 10-page digital promotional magazine.
Hard Drive 13
Specs: These episodes average four minutes. The first season will be complete when the fifth episode airs.
Premise: Nomad is a “freedom fighter with a mouse” who exposes a conspiracy involving government agents and alien technology.
Marvy: An ambitious, high-concept project with slick, professional camera work well served by hyper editing that makes liberal use of quick cuts.
Meh: The weak sector in Hard Drive 13 is the acting.
Site: Stylishly black. YouTube is also connected. Easy to navigate. Blog hasn’t been updated since October.
Specs: With a regular cast of seven, the first season of eight episodes—ranging from three to 10 minutes in length—is complete (ended January 2010), and the production is seeking funding for Season 2.
Premise: A sitcom about a washed-up pro football player who’s opened a gym.
Marvy: Consistent production quality and acting in a decent send-up of the workout experience and those who guide it.
Meh: Too often plays for the easy laugh instead of stretching for something smarter.
Site: Functional, although you have to search a bit to find the episodes in one place. It was smart to include a link so that you can donate if you like what you see. Also linked to YouTube.
Naomi the Show
Specs: Ten 90-second episodes make up the first season (ended December 2010). Funding for a second season is being pursued. Naomi Dayneswood is the star of the show.
Premise: Based on the experiences of Naomi, a small-town girl, at a big-city bus stop.
Marvy: Naomi’s humour comes from awkward personal moments: the misunderstood, the misinterpreted, and the misanthropic.
Meh: These bite-sized laffs are good portfolio material, but they add up to a live-action comic strip rather than a full series.
Site: Clean design gives a sense of the Naomi character. Easy to get to the webisodes; weak blog content.
Rise ’n Shine OG
Specs: The five episodes that make up Season 1 (ended January 2010) range in length from 15 to 21 minutes. Anita Smith and Robin Nielsen are joined by numerous guest stars. No word on a second season.
Premise: Og (Smith) is a badly behaved young Brit living in Canada who talks to the audience Ferris Bueller–style. Each episode starts at the beginning of her day.
Marvy: Superb acting, topnotch production values, and genuine humour.
Meh: Smith’s British accent often slips, and the character of Og gets a bit tedious.
Site: Clever, colourful design.