It's something a little different to the norm, something to celebrate the current digital age. You hear stories of how directors start from the bottom, trying to get someone's attention and for someone to believe in them. But nowadays, being able to upload your series online means you can showcase your work to the public and simultaneously attract investors.
We attended a session on a Saturday evening and the episodes screened varied from comedy to drama. The series were of different levels of quality and funding and touched on different topics, so you really had to come with an open mind. For an idea, check out one of the festival trailers here.
Witness' storyline from one episode was slightly confusing, but it was fascinating, so much that it drew you in and made you want to watch more episodes to gauge the full story. It included someone interrogating a mother and accusing her son of murder, but she seemed adamant that it was not his fault.
I also found the series attention-grabbing because I've watched many Korean dramas and this fits none of the stereotypes. It seems the web series platform allowed the team to create something unique in an industry saturated by popular romantic dramas.
Meanwhile Greenfield, was an intense Australian drama about a city-sider moving to a small country town. It touches on issues that are often not covered in Aussie dramas, especially in a rural context.
This fascinated me greatly, and I was interested to read about the producer afterwards. They said the stories were based around his experiences being bullied in high school as well as from experiences he heard from friends who lived in the country. See the trailer below.
On the other hand, there were also comedic series, which were quite out there and perhaps not for everyone.
For example, my friend wasn't a big fan of the mockumentary series, These New South Whales. The series was about a band from Newcastle (NSW) trying to be the best in the scene.
Although the storyline was pretty ridiculous, I used to love the local band scene so understood the series in a different context. Local bands are always emerging with an idea to be different and to challenge boundaries - but then you also hear about bands breaking up, members leaving for personal reasons and certain members being difficult to work with. I'm also quite amused to see the band actually exists and are playing shows - see more at their Facebook.
It's great to see people putting their talent, time and effort into a platform that is so accessible to the world. I can see many talents and ideas that would do well with more funding and I wish them all the best of luck!
The festival is also supporting some great aspects of the industry such as students and aspiring Australian directors, with events such as networking, panels and awards. It will be exciting to see how the festival grows again next year! See more at melbournewebfest.com.