Although web series themselves began way back at the dawn of the internet, they didn't really get much support until these last handful of years. People have been drawn to web series through their functionality as a platform for new filmmakers, and for established filmmakers looking to expand their work outside of the feature film genre.
Web series draw audiences in with their ability to tell a story within the confinements of 2 to 15 minutes episodes. Of course some series offer longer episodes, but it all of these elements depend on budget, commitment, and the story being told. The major take away of the draw to web series is its flexibility when it comes to budget, timing, script, acting, and all other elements of filmmaking. More and more, we're seeing web series become a launching pad for further success, such as the Comedy Central TV show Broad City, which began its life as a web series from two talented New York comics.
Here is Screen Rant's list of 12 Web Series You Need To Watch Immediately. Perhaps one of them will be the next Broad City.
12 All My Pants
All My Pants puts an interesting twist on the soap opera, by having all of the intrigue, betrayal, lust, and and drama of those shows acted out by pairs of pants. The joke may be simple, but it sure is funny, as characters like "Blue Gene" and "Denny" (made of denim, obviously) battle it out in a world of fabric intrigue.
Despite being made by students at the Vancouver Film School, All My Pants has an absurdist charm to it that anyone can appreciate. But it wouldn't work if the voice actors, writers and directors weren't also up to the task, portraying these collections of cotton and polyester as real, living, breathing... pieces of cloth. Oh, and look out for the pants puns. So many pants puns.
11 Made to Order
A comedic web series that tells the story of two unemployed sisters who have recently decided to embark on the path of entrepreneurship in the food business. The show was created by the dynamic duo Katie Hartman and Leah Ruddick, two ladies who write and perform sketch comedy at the Peoples Improv Theater in New York City.
Directed by Adam Wirtz, the series takes place in Brooklyn, NY. and follows Katie and Leah as they attempt to create and conduct an underground food business. The goal for their business is to be as secretive as possible, playing off of today’s definition of what it means to be hip. Things get messy for these new business owners when health inspection takes notice of their obscurities, infiltrating their business via direct confrontation to undercover committed relationships.
From sandwiches to brownies, this web series will keep you laughing from one episode to the next. Plus, it's free!
10 H+ the Digital Series
This web series is produced by acclaimed director, writer, and producer Bryan Singer, the guy who brought audiences The Usual Suspects and a few of the X-Men movies. Although the first season wrapped back in 2013, the second season is currently underway.
Directed and written by John Cabrera and Cosimo De Tommaso, this series differs from the first two mentioned through its science fiction approach and focus on "transhumanism," a word that describes the creation of new technologies that will heighten a person’s mental and physical capabilities. One of bigger web series to be featured, H+ the Digital Series centers on the aftermath of science gone wrong, making it a tale of post-apocalyptic life.
It plays off of our newfound inability to detach ourselves from the internet by creating a serum that allows people to connect 24 hours a day via an implant in their brain. The series is like the lovechild of Black Mirror and I Am Legend (without the zombies), and is guaranteed to keep you engaged throughout each episode.
9 Bravest Warriors
A web series created back in 2012 by the same guy who brought audiences the comedic fantasy Adventure Time, Pendleton Ward. There are some similarities between the two series, one being the adorable animated characters that bring the show to life. A couple of others include the fact that they’re both set in the far off future and they each follow a set of characters who are challenged to save those around them from mishaps and evil.
However, this show focuses on four kids and a magical dog who can change shape and size when necessary. These teenagers travel through space and save cute creatures from danger in the year 3085, all with the influence of their emotions. Is there a message regarding the power of emotions behind the series? Who knows, but either way, if you like Adventure Time this is the web series to check out.
The series follows Spencer, a Seattle-ite who is looking for a new job but not quite feeling the commitment of a full time career. Spencer’s personality is revealed via her interviews, conversations with her best friend Thomas, and her present living situation with her brother and his wife. Ellis characters go beyond the four main parties and extend the script to include Seattle as a character itself.
Through filming landmarks such as Pike Place Market and discussing stereotypes such as the Seattle Freeze, the series involves the city to add depth to the characters and the story. Wrecked is one of the more popular web series to have emerged from Seattle and currently has two seasons available to view online.
7 The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
Issa Rae, a Stanford University and New York Film Academy graduate created this series after being inspired by her own awkward encounters with those around her.
Ranging from intimate relationships to uncomfortable co-worker encounters, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl tackles anger management, passive aggressive personalities, and overly religious employees. Although narration can be a tricky technique to incorporate into film and television, the show uses just enough to allow the characters unspoken responses to drive the show and not rely solely dialogue.
After the first season ended, Rae took a hiatus. However, after reading about the lack of black female characters, particularly black female nerds, shown in film and television, Rae decided to tackle the second season. Through high quality production and good promotion, the series gained enough recognition that Pharrell Williams decided to join the crew as executive producer.
6 Video Game High School
Also known as VGHS, this series is an action-based web series that takes place in the future. Similar to that of a high school, coming-of-age story, Video Game High School distances itself from the like-minded films and TV series by having the students focus on excelling at video games rather than academics.
In this future, it’s not football or baseball that dominate the competitive sporting world, but video games. The story centers on BrianD as he makes friends and enemies in school, standard to a typical high school narrative.
Funded by Kickstarter, the series was created by a group of guys, Matthew Arnold, Freddie Wong, Brian Firenzi, and Will Campos who also write and direct. The show has gained so much popularity that it was compiled into a two-hour feature made available on Blu-ray, DVD and Netflix.
5 High Maintenance
This web series is a popular show created by wife and husband Katja Blitchfeld and Ben Sinclair. Based in New York City, this web series distinguishes itself by having one main character that shows up only briefly in each episode. The focus of the series is on different characters living their daily lives and at some point being interrupted by their pot-dealer.
Sinclair himself plays the nameless dealer and holds no identity beyond this persona; his role is to connect the characters in each episode, stringing them together to create a chain of personalities within the big city.
The show includes appearances by comedians like Hannibal Buress, Yael Stone, Dan Stevens, and Blitchfeld herself. Soon after its airdate, and following the series’ praise and notoriety, Vimeo picked it up and provided funding for new episodes. As of April 2015, HBO will be funding six new episodes.
4 Day Job
A web series created by Sara Schaefer and directed by Scott Moran that documents life with a day job. More specifically, life with a day job you hate while trying to pursue something else that you love, particularly in the arts.
Each episode films a bizarre thought pattern or habit that helped Schaefer get through a normal day of work before leaving to pursue her passions. From spending time in the bathroom to knit, sleep, or build model houses, to stapling post it notes together and highlighting blank paper, all these methods create the illusion of productivity.
For Schaefer, her inspiration came from working a 9 to 5 job for a handful of years until realizing it was time to begin her full time career in comedy. On her blog, Schaefer equates this experience to sleepwalking, and comments on the danger of being good at your day job even when it’s not your passion. It’s easy to get stuck in the routine and monotony of a 9 to 5 job that offers luxuries such as a nice apartment, a car, new clothes, etc. This series is a tribute to all of those looking to break free and be uncomfortable in order to pursue their passion.
3 F to 7th
This web series is Ingrid Jungermann’s second successful web series, the first being The Slope. Along with having created the show, Jungermann writes and directs each episode and stars as the main character. The success and attention of the first season gave Jungermann the opportunity to film season two with the Spike Lee Fellowship Fund.
The series follows Jungermann as she navigates life in New York, with her dog, as a middle-aged lesbian. She doesn't just cover the sexual aspects of it, but also the vulnerabilities and insecurities. Episodes feature actors such as Janeane Garofalo, Gabby Hoffmann, Olympia Dukakis, Michael Kostroff, Bruce Altman, and Kristen Connolly.
The show’s popularity, quality production, and thoughtful creativity has garnered it both nominations for writing, such as the Writers Guild Award nomination for the first episode, as well as screenings at festivals like the Beacon Indie Film Fest where they showed Season 2 in its entirety.
2 This is Not Happening
As of this past June, This is Not Happening has just been given a second season thanks to Comedy Central. Unlike the other series’ listed, This is Not Happening spent its first two years solely online before Comedy Central picked it up and aired a first season on cable television.
The series focuses itself on stand-up comedy and invites known comedians such as T.J Miller, Kumail Nanjiani, Moshe Kasher, Rob Cordry, Natasha Leggero, and Marc Maron to perform bits. Each comedian gets on stage and spends 5 to 15 minutes discussing a moment in their life they can’t believe happened, from embarrassing stories to hilarious, random occurrences, all centered on a particular theme picked for them that night. Filmed with a live audience at the L.A. gentleman’s club Cheetahs, This is Not Happening is a great series to get a laugh from.
1 Versus Valerie
Similar to Video Game High School in its nerdiness, Versus Valerie incorporates imaginative video game sequences and fantasies from Valerie Lapomme’s mind into live action arrangements. The idea sprang up in 2010 and became a featured web series in 2013. The character is first known for her role as YouTube’s "Sexy Nerd Girl" and was carried over into the world of Versus Valerie, this time with the inclusion pop culture characters like Yoda and Dumbledore.
Her quest in the series? To level up after being challenged by the tasks of life. These tasks include, but are not limited to, relationships, friendships, social interactions, and careers. The series is shot similarly to Sherlock, the BBC show starring Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch through its focus on miniscule details that open up the truth behind a person like wearing the same clothes as the night before, greasy hair, and smelling like a bar, all revealing Valerie’s lateness to her night out and hook up, these events having occurred the night before and causing her to be late for her weekly comic book brunch during the first episode.
Be sure to check out this series for its creativity and high quality production (an estimated $10,000 budget per episode).
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