What is a web series?
A web series is a series of short films that all have something in common. It could be a theme (Break-ups), an ensemble (Teachers), or based on character (Harold in the Zone, Brother). A web series episode could be as short as a minute and could run up to twelve or fifteen minutes. Television Sitcoms typically run twenty two to twenty four minutes and there are some “TV” shows that run fifteen minutes each.
Web series episodes are typically shorter because of the intended market. They are good for people surfing video and social media sites. While you can watch a three hour movie on your smartphone, I think most people would prefer to see longer content on a bigger screen. Having a web series episode short in the five minute or less range makes it easier to view on a smart phone.
For filmmakers, web series have been a great way to experiment with filmmaking as well as pursuing a more ambitious project. Since web series episodes usually have a shorter run time, there is the opportunity to film a number of episodes in the course of a day or a weekend. Created by the sketch comedy group The Katydids, their web series Teachers was filmed in one weekend. Sometimes creating a web series can make it easier to find talent. When Ted Tremper set out to make Break-ups, he was already involved in the Chicago Improv comedy scene and knew a number of the best improvisers in town. When he first set out to cast his series, he was able to cast the first episode from people he knew, and once he completed the first episode, he was able to share that as a calling card to make it easier to cast additional episodes.