What Takes to Make a Successful Web Series: Lessons for Aspiring Producers

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As both viewers & creators of digital content today, I am gonna ask ourselves a simple question, what really takes to make a perfect web series? Now this very question, you might have thought about it, You might have discussed extensively about it or even even You might have tried making a web series yourself, but let’s face the truth here. Something like a Netflix styled TV series in Tamil looks far fetched as of now, so Lets no go there, Let’s talk about just web series. Well if you are still confused about the difference between a TV series and a Web Series, I want to go quickly here but read slowly and come here again. So assuming you know the difference, Lets now focus on producing web series alone.

What brings us to this detailed discussion is some amteaur talk by the film experts at Fully. You can have a look there and come back quick

Making a Feature Film is not Equal to Making a Web Series!

Today, our industry is travelling in one kind of an unpleasant thought of viewing both feature films and webseries as the same. If you fail in a feature,  a web series is a go-to option for all to earn out of it. This is such a non-evolving idea that we need to surpass. In the true sense, a web series is very different from a feature film in every aspect.  A story when heard needs to tell us if it will sound better in an episodic format or the feature film format.  Unfortunately, our makers fail to ask this question while jumping into making one. Imagine kalachirrupu (2018) being produced as a feature film, will the cliff hangers or the suspense build in it work? I don’t think so. The makers realised that during the weaving out of the story and cleverly didn’t opt for the feature film idea!

Film Production Houses View Web series as Low Budget Films?

The trend of established feature film production companies entering into web series doesn’t look quite healthy, atleast to us. Why? Is there a tendency among production houses to see web series as a type of low budget feature films? Just like we have production houses specialising in serials, specialising in advertising, Production houses specialising in web series should come up. The core problem is perceiving web series and feature films as one and the same. What we question is will these established feature films establish a different process for web series, because the content demands one? Up north, web series explored themes that were not previously explored in feature films. The concern is are these production houses here ready to innovate in new themes, or they would tend to convert feature films into web series? Just like short films previously made into feature films and flopped big time, the same trend would happen if feature films get converted to web series, is what we believe!

An Alternate Ecosystem

What we require is an alternate ecosystem that is capable of surviving on its own without the help of the film industry. The foundations are to be laid from the scratch. Right from writers, directors till the actors, they are to be the ones that are in this medium for a pretty long period of time.For instance, Consider the series that have come up in the north. We have TVF, Dice media and several other channels that had original creators who had become big only after these webseries. These channels didn’t have artists from the film industry working on the series.From  Pitchers, Permanent roommates until ye meri family hai, we have a separate team of individuals working that aren’t found in the big film industry space. Somehow, our webseries industry is flooded & dependent on individuals from the film industry for reasons that are unknown!

More Youtube Content will result in Better Understanding!

So the question arises how to directly make webseries on huge platforms such as Amazon prime if one is going start with new fresh faces/team. One of the ways is by making web series for smaller platforms like that of youtube where in one can literally formulate on what to do and what not to do! By doing so, one understands the webseries format betterly and also makes the viewers of our south get used to it. Another benefit is, a section of audience will become a loyal viewer of the faces/artists involved in your web series. You almost become a brand! When this starts to happen, bigger platforms will be obviously open to your scripts and your loyal viewers will genuinely be your watchers on these platforms! This will result in a balanced out situation. I can’t perceive why this can’t occur here when it has already occured in the North?

Two Types of Online Films!

In the video about fully, they talk about how Seethakathi (2018) could’ve been released online and more people would’ve appreciated it. This got me thinking for a while. That’s when I realised we can somewhat categorise our films into two. One of them being those films that view these online platforms as another channel for distribution apart from that of theatres (like big films, theeran adhigaram ondru types). The monetary returns to these films through these platforms will just be an add-on benefit.

The other type of films are those that view the online platforms as the ‘only medium’ for it (sigai types). The maker has to decide on which category his/her film falls while making the film.  In the video by fully, one of them tells how Merku thodarchi malai (2018) couldn’t earn much owing to the money spent on marketing and stuff. Making Merku thodarchi Malai (2018) a complete online film would’ve resulted in bigger profit for sure.But, somehow the maker wanted it to have a theatrical release. If one wants to make a quality independent film and earn out of it today, they best way would be to just make the film and then sell it to a platform like that of netflix (something what sila samayangalil  did). It will be a very economically returning way for makers that make independent films.

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