lawebfest-selection logo#1The LAWEBFEST has been very good to Out With Dad. The first awards Out With Dad ever received were from the LAWEBFEST in 2011. In 2012 we were honoured with the Jury Selection, sending us to Marseille, France to the sister festival there. It was the pinnacle of my career.

Your festival has been criticized in the past for over-indulging in giving awards. I will confess, when I found out that I was one of over twenty directors also awarded for Outstanding Director, I was a little put-out. That was before I realized the beauty of what this festival was trying to do, and echos my own feelings about the nature of this burgeoning industry. It was never Best Actor, or Best Director, or Best Series – it was Outstanding Actor, Director, etc. Your festival was never about competition, just celebration and inclusion. Awards for web series, especially new series, are very important. It gives opportunities for the series, its cast and crew to celebrate in their accomplishments. As I’m sure all of my fellow creators will agree, any opportunity to engage our audience with good news about the show they love is a good one. It can go further, when sharing the news with local press. It can turn into an opportunity for career advancement for all of us involved. This philosophy that the LAWEBFEST championed perfectly embodies what I love most about web series: is that all series have an equal opportunity to succeed. It is unlike film and television, which is rife with competition. A web series does not need to compete for tops at the box office, or which of us get a primetime broadcast slot. Nor do we have to compete for an audience. It frees us creators, and encourages us to support one another.

When I heard the LAWEBFEST changed the nature of your awards to be more like all of the others, I was saddened, but understood. These demands were thrust upon you, and you had to react. I later learned about a new exclusivity clause – which was made clear to the web series community after the submission period opened. This exclusivity flies against everything I believe the web series community stands for. In light of this, I chose not to submit to Out With Dad or Vanessa’s Story. Let me be clear: I did not make this decision because of any conflict that might arise, but because of the meaning of this decision. I very nearly wrote this open letter then, but chose not to. Today, I regret that decision.

Yesterday was an exciting day for the creators of sixty web series, when the Indie Series Awards announced their nominations. As many know, and many more have yet to discover: this is an amazing event. It is a prestigious event. It is a glamorous event. It is an exceptionally well run event. This morning, several of my fellow nominees were instructed by the LAWEBFEST to recuse themselves from this awards show, or be disqualified from the LAWEBFEST.

To series creators who are official selections in both, you are in an unfortunate situation. You have my sympathies.

To the founder and board of directors of the LAWEBFEST, you too are in an unfortunate situation. However, this is your own doing and you should be ashamed of yourself. I am not writing this letter to encourage you to change your policy for this year. I don’t think you can, for that would be unfair to the series creators who were forced into a calculated decision of not submitting into one or the other. Instead, I think you should stand by your decision and accept your shame. If you maintain this policy in years to come, I’m sure in no time at all, your festival will be forgotten. You are a blemish to the very industry that you helped to foster.



Jason Leaver
creator/writer/director of Out With Dad & Vanessa’s Story
LAWEBFEST Alumni 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014