From Hong Kong to Melbourne, LA to London to Cannes, a new kind of movie festival is now coming to Canada.
It’s a celebration of Web series and digital movie content produced here and around the world, and it marks the first such event to be held in this country. (Well, in this city….Vancouver will have staged the first in Canada; my mistake and no offence, Van!)
With more and more shows being distributed online and watched through website portals and mobile apps, and with online movie services like Netflix now producing original content, the time is more than right for a dedicated Web fest.
Even better, Canada’s interactive content industry as a whole is seen to generate more than $3 billion in annual revenue, with the interactive digital media sector in Toronto representing a significant portion of that total.
So the Independent Web Series Creators of Canada (IWCC) is staging its inaugural screening festival/conference exclusively dedicated to Web series.
TO WebFest 2014 will take place at Harbourfront Centre, May 9-11th.
Organizers say that special gala screening events are in the works, including a red carpet-like kick-off gala of all Canadian screenings, a special gala dedicated to LGBTQ Web series, and a celebratory closing gala.
Screenings, panels, presentations, workshops, live events, networking opportunities, parties, signings and appearances by top Web series stars, creators, characters and more are also planned, with the idea of both supporting the local Web series industry as well as bringing new audiences to the content.
Those audiences are growing in leaps and bounds, too: as just one example, award-winning writer, director and producer Tina Cesa Ward (who will be at the TOWebFest) worked on one of the most popular and successful scripted dramas on the Web.
Anyone But Me has reached over 35 million views and has brought home several top industry awards; the series finale is now online.
Also participating in the festival is Regan Latimer, writer, director and producer of the popular web series, B.J. Fletcher: Private Eye. She’s been an event coordinator at Harbourfront Centre for the past four years.
(Leaver and Latimer are part of the directing committee and any show submissions are subject to the impartial independent juries final decision.)
On the IWCC website, there are some great examples of the width and breadth of Web series content, with streaming videos, trailers, mini-sodes and more from these and other series available for viewing.
Web shows now represent the whole spectrum of entertainment genres, from kid’s content to after dark programming, from comedy to drama to sci-fi and much more.
They also represent increasing interactivity, as Web series can easily deliver supplemental content on other digital platforms, including the Web itself, social media networks and mobile devices.
Guidestones, for example, is an interactive online mystery series, in which valuable clues to an apocalyptic mystery are e-mailed to audience members.
Organizers of the TOWebFest may not be planning such an elaborate interactive hunt for clues, but they do say that the festival programming schedule is still evolving, with further news and information to be posted on their website, Facebook page and/or Twitter account.
Online submissions to the Festival will be accepted, beginning in January.
TO WebFest is produced by the Independent Web Series Creators of Canada – Créateurs Indépendants de Séries Web du Canada (IWCC-CIWC), a Canada wide non-profit association of digital content creators supports, promotes and brings awareness to independent and creator-driven, audience-focused Web series in Canada and around the world.