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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Mr Vista - final series - and lessons learnt.



I've been creating a downbeat comedy webseries for geeks for a few years, called Mr Vista. It is now on series 3, the final series. Style wise, it is in the Jacques Tati / Mr Bean mould - and it is designed to appeal to nerds with it's computer based gags. However, it seems most people get the jokes these days due to the widespread use of blogs, PCs, iPads etc.

The project just about breaks even financially (thank goodness!) and has been watched nearly 2 million times, across the 20 or so episodes. It has also done well in some online competitions and is a youtube partner.  However it's real success has been on Dailymotion, Yobi and others that have supported it and featured it.

Our secret to success has been to have a tight shooting schedule, shooting 6 episodes a day. The current series will be the last as we feel we have pretty much done what we can with this character in the current format and budget range.

Next up (possibly) are the adventures of a girl who can change camera angles at will - it is a visually fun idea that plays with perspectives and angles. But that will take more work than Mr Vista - so it will need more input and support from others.

Coming to the end of a project like this is a good time for reflection. So the key things that I have learned about creating a web series are:

One: you need multiple episodes to really make things work as a business. Only when you reach 10 episodes does it start to work artistically and financially.
Two: chumming up to the gatekeepers at the web portals is a good idea - the people I call the spotlighters. And keeping track of all the web portals is key too.
Three: doing other media and materials (downloads, photos, posters) really helps. Some people prefer these to the episodes.
Four: get a character, get a location and then shoot as much as you can. Using the filming methods of short films will probably make your web series way too expensive PLUS the audience seems to like contained and tight ideas.

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