Every year, the end of February is a busy time for Canadian web series makers. It’s when we’re pulling together our application packages to submit to the Independent Production Fund, one of the only narrative web series funds in the world. The first of March is generally the deadline, and on that date each applicant posts a trailer or concept video to demonstrate what their series is all about. Last year we submitted But How Do You Have Sex?, which did not get funding. Many of the stories we planned for that series got rolled into Out With Dad’s Season 4 – so it’s not a total loss! This year, I’ve submitted Ephemeral Connections, a project I’ve been musing about for several years now. It’s something I’m very passionate about, and look forward to producing with or without the IPF’s help. I’ve included that concept video at the very bottom of this post.

What I love about this time of year is that it’s a great occasion for us creators to band together and support one another. I’ve watched lots of the trailers made by fellow applicants, and I’d like to share a selection of these series that I hope also gets funding from the IPF too. If you like what you see, you can help support them by leaving them a comment on their video, liking their trailer, subscribing to their channels and best of all: share it!!

A bit about the criteria of my selections: A web series is not television. For a series to be successful on the web, it needs to aspire to be more than television show that’s simply online. Is it a story that wouldn’t work on TV, or couldn’t get on TV? Does it appeal to niche communities that congregate online that don’t see themselves represented on mainstream television? What sort of unique engagement and participation of the audience is there to help it grow? I should mention, my focus has been on English language trailers. About 50% of the series that the IPF will approve for phase two will be in French, so I apologize for having not reviewed any yet.

If you have some suggestions of French or English IPF trailers that you think I should check out, please share in the comments below! (note: if your comment includes a URL it’ll automatically be held for approval – which I’ll approve asap) There are so many this year! Model Motion has compiled a playlist of all the English language series that you can watch here. Best of luck to everyone!

Kristal Clear

Of all the IPF trailers I’ve seen this year, this is my #1 choice. I wasn’t into this for the first 15 seconds of the trailer, but then I realized what the creators are saying… this is very relevant. One might be hesitant to call this a fantasy/sci fi, but it is, and it is a perfect example of how to use the genre to really say something about our society. This concept is inherently perfect for the web, as it’s about the web and those who live there. The target audience may not even watch the show if it was on TV. And if it was on TV – that audience might not get it. I’d love to read the creators’ engagement strategy, because I’m so curious to see what they have in mind. There is so much opportunity to do so much! My hat is off to Amanda Fahey, the creator/writer.

Snot Bubbles

This is gorgeous. It is stunning to look at. These creators have stated this is a story that is to be told in five episodes of four minutes each, perfect for the web. They will be asking such social questions as “How does a small community survive in an increasingly urbanized world? Can it grow while still retaining its soul and sense of identity?” (taken from their YouTube description). These are important questions, coupled with stunning artistic creative, would make this very shareable by its viewers – which is the key ingredient for web series success. It will also shed light on life in the Canadian Prairies, something so specific that I would think would lend itself to curiosity from viewers around the world.
I don’t get the title. That said, it would probably have pretty good googlablity! I’ve asked them what it means, I’ll edit this post if they give me an answer!

Overachieving Underdogs

The strength of the leads, their chemistry and the production value alone have me sold. I want to watch more of this! Of all the IPF trailers this year, I think this is the one that had me laughing the hardest. How will this function as something you would never see on TV? I’m not sure. That gives me pause, as it could be too much like something I’d see on TV – so how will it stand out on the web? I’d love to read their engagement strategy, to see what makes this unique for the web.

Riff-Rat: The Regrettable Adventures of Rat & Marv

This had me laughing too! I love the craft and artistry that went into this one. Great art production. Also, I don’t think you’d ever see anything like this on television. Could you imagine a network greenlighting a show that co-stars a fowl mouth puppet rat? The humour get’s a little too dark/rude for my tastes, but I think that’s another strength – they say things I don’t think could be said on TV.

The next couple of series I’m separating from the rest of the list, because I’m associated with them in one way or another – so there’s a natural bias! I really want these to happen!

Distinctly Damien

This is from the brain of my friend Damien Dornford, an actor, writer and animator. He’s asked me to be the director of this series. I agreed to be the director in a heartbeat, I love the idea – a blend of direct-to-camera live action, animation and comedy. I’ve read the script of the first episode and I like where he’s going with it. I think it’ll be relatable to a lot of people – especially people who are stuck juggling life and precarious work in the media industry, which in itself is a niche community and very relevant in today’s online conversation.

Laced and Loaded

This is from our very own Jonathan Robbins! I’m not directly related to this series, but Jonathan is my buddy – and hopefully he’ll hire me to direct some of it if it gets funding…. Right Jonathan? Naturally there’s a bias! He loves telling stories about women empowerment. It’s not officially an extension of Clutch, but I think you could say it’s in the same universe.

2 Weeks to Paradise

This is another one that I’m not directly related to, but I’m friends with the creator, Adrianna Prosser who is also the lead. Her performance is remarkable. I also know she’s a social media genius, she gets the internet. That gives me confidence that she’ll be making something that is relevant and targeted towards an online audience, and have the means to engage with them. It’s also a story that has a strong message that is socially relevant: she wants people talking about mental health. It’s a subject that is very important to Adrianna. Mental health awareness is the cornerstone of her production company’s mission statement. Best of luck Adrianna! (Also, I’m available for hire as a director, I get along well with your DP.)

Ephemeral Connections

Finally, my own teaser. This is a project I’ve been thinking about for a long time. It started with a concept that I cooked up with my co-writer Nadine Bell, and I want to make it with my Out With Dad family. In fact, at one time we considered making this Season 5 of Out With Dad, about Rose travelling to Europe. You may have even noticed I dropped hints about it in Out With Dadscripts. It’s not Rose any more, but it is still starring Kate Conway and you’ll see plenty of other familiar faces. I would want to film this show in proximity to the European web festivals that happen in September and October – so that we can work with other web series creators from around the world. I want to cast Americans, Australians, well… the list goes on. If you’re a fan of Out With Dad, you’ll be a fan of this. It will carry on with many of the themes that are important to me, that we address in Out With Dad.  One of the major niche communities this series will appeal to are travel bugs. There is a sub-culture of backpackers. I also think we’ve got a unique way of engaging the audience. Inherently in the story, the characters will be using social media. I want you, the audience, to experience it as if you’re online friends with the characters that inhabit the story. I also think there’s a great chance to make a feature film out of this at the same time. The feature film would be different, more to the point or more concise. Whereas the online version would be longer, diving deeper into long conversations and tell aspects of story that aren’t conducive to television or film storytelling, but could stand on their own as a web/app-isode. Consider if you will, the PFLAG episodes of Out With Dad wouldn’t work in a TV show, not with those long monologues. But it worked online! Anyways, please watch, enjoy, like and share our trailer! We know we can do this.