Five Female-Driven Web Series Every Creator Should Check Out

When we saw the article below we knew we wanted to run it with a positive “woman driver” type punny pic. Soon we found out that was almost impossible because all we could find were images mocking women drivers. We decided to look for an action photo of the world’s most well-known woman racing driver, Danica Patrick – and lo and behold, 99% of those we found were beauty shots. The closest we could come to a pic where a renowned sports figure could be identified engaged in her sport was this: (And it ain’t exactly close at all! Kee-rist!)

Danica Patrick taking a hairpin turn in an Indy racing car
Danica Patrick taking a hairpin turn in an Indy racing car

by Cameron Maitland

As creators of new web series content, we’re constantly excited by the multitude of diverse female-focused series on the web. It would seem that the internet affords us viewers with styles and situations we can’t find on television and in turn it would seem that the most successful series tend to bring something very unique to the table. As we began pre-production on our new series Sisters of Mercy, with a focus on women and diversity as well as storytelling, we looked to some of our favorite series for inspiration. Here’s a list of five, how they inspired us, and why we think they’re worth a watch for any web creator.

Burning Love

Burning Love is a technically brilliant parody of the Bachelor that has run for three seasons skewering everything from the banality of reality tv competition to the wild personalities of those drawn into the spectacle.

With its massive success and involvement of Hollywood A-liters, the ‘inspiring diversity’ angle of Burning Love is often overlooked. Still, at its core Burning Love is created by Erica Oyama and was a brilliant way to highlight female comedic performance. By latching onto the ‘Bachelor’ parody concept Oyama opened a door to fifteen comic actresses, a number that dwarfs the big Hollywood success of Bridesmaids. Also, through its bombastic tone and multi-season arcs it has allowed these actresses a chance to perform the kind of strange, over-the-top humor that has mostly been the providence of male performers online. The abundance of talent on display in Burning Love definitely defeats the notion that the world has a lack of talented funny women.

We think creators looking to focus on women and diversity should look to Burning Love and its building blocks. Oyama saw The Bachelor as popular, female-friendly and woman filled form of entertainment and built and sold her own idea around it. Sometimes the outlets for diversity can be right in front of you, in places you least expect them.

Nikki and Nora

Nikki and Nora is a fun P.I. romp with a twist: the detectives are a lesbian couple. Set on a backdrop of New Orleans, the first season delves into the music scene and all the fun and danger inherent in detective work.

The story of Nikki and Nora is a classic example of the struggles involved with getting diverse content on air. Originally shot as a pilot in 2004 but not picked up, the show leaked online found a fan base among lesbian viewers desperate for content. Creator Nancylee Myatt stuck with the project in the interim, eventually got back the rights and found a home for it online.

Nikki and Nora is a great example of how a relatively traditional genre story can get so much flavor from diversity. There are plenty of female detective shows out there but making the leads lesbians adds a dimension to the storytelling that puts it a cut above cable drama. By pairing with the lesbian content platform Tello Nikki and Nora also found a way to focus on and reward its loyal diverse fan base, as well as provide a strong, traditional series backbone for a fledgling content stream.

Web Creators should see the struggles and successes of Nikki and Nora and Nancylee Myatt as a template for commitment to a creative, diverse idea. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of web series and bail on a project that’s not getting heat but creators shouldn’t be so quick to bail. Nikki and Nora proves that even years later, with the right audience, an idea can be a success.

Read it all

The kind of pic found all over the interwebs that we refuse to run, especially with an article like this. Absolutely. No way:

Female-driverUm, we kinda just screwed ourselves with this, didn’t we? Ulp…

What I’ve learned from the sales of How to Write a Novel

The writer Nathan Bransford talks about something every writer needs to understand: Book sales.

Yes, even if you write for TV cuz…audiences is audiences, dig?

by Nathan Bransford

howtowriteanovel (1)One of the best parts about self-publishing is getting nearly real-time data on how and where your book is selling. I’m not one of those writers who feels comfortable posting my exact sales and royalty figures online, but I’m seriously thrilled with how How to Write a Novel is doing and thanks to everyone who has snagged a copy!

As I was compiling some sales figures, I was struck by two findings:

1) People still want the print version

I brought out the print version of How to Write a Novel about a month and a half after the e-book version. I knew I would have to price it higher and wasn’t sure there would be sufficient demand to go through the trouble of putting it out in print.

Well.

Even priced at $11.99 vs. the e-book’s $4.99, the print version has nearly kept pace, and in the past month I’ve actually been selling more print books than e-books.

Print! There you have it!

2) Amazon dominates e-book sales

We all may know that Amazon has the dominant e-book platform, but it’s pretty stark when you see the raw numbers. Here’s what my US e-book sales look like broken down by platform:

Read it all

Is TV in India “Creatively Bankrupt?”

Sure hope so. Cuz why would Indian creators want to be different from the rest of us?

For a change of pace, we thought we’d bring you some harsh words not from those of us here at TVWriter™ but from…well, from a TV star named – we kid you not – Harsh:

harshchhayastoryby Indo-Asian News Service

The “creatively bankrupt TV scenario” has driven Harsh Chhaya, an actor with over 20 years’ experience, into re-exploring his love for scriptwriting and the aspiration to direct. To this extent, his endeavour is that fresh storytelling, often slated as “the other cinema”, takes centrestage in filmdom.

“I would say I am now giving serious attention to writing. I did write on and off even earlier,” Harsh told IANS.

He emerged successful at a time when satellite television was at the nascent stage but had qualitative and mature content to offer shows like Tara and Hasratein in the 1990s. Now, he says he is “better off away from TV, unless of course it comes down to my very survival”, and so is giving “serious attention” to writing.

What’s come as a bonus is a chance to get guidance in professional screenwriting under eminent filmmakers and writers as part of the second edition of Asia Society India Centre’s New Voices Fellowship for Screenwriters (NVFS) 2013-2014.

He’s the only celebrity among seven independent screenwriters who have been chosen for the programme, which identifies, encourages and supports such talent to develop their feature film scripts.

This is not his first brush with writing – a little over 25 years ago, he first attempted to write fiction scripts inspired by popular serial Malgudi Days. That apart, he also wrote corporate film scripts to earn extra money as a student while pursuing his master of arts degree in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia.

He however admits, “I was far more drawn into acting then to think of seriously pursuing writing. Not that I mean to cry about my woes here, but of late, the absolute frustration of being an actor in the now creatively bankrupt television scenario drove me to writing once again because as an actor, I feel my motivation and excitement can only come from the written word that comes in front of me.”

So far he has penned two scripts. Apart from Dulhan 420, which he submitted for the NVSF, he has another story, the final script of which is ready. However, the stumbling blocks come in the form of “finding funds” and in being able to tell any “human story” without always conforming to stereotypes.

In fact, finding funds for his project is a challenge he has already faced.

“I wrote Dulhan 420 as a reaction to not getting money for my previous script. It’s a different matter that I was fortunate that despite putting in what I believed to be popular elements, I still could manage to write a story that has a strong human element and a certain gravity to it. In fact, that is what I would endeavour for, if and when I ever get to direct even a so-called commercial potboiler,” he said.

Harsh, whose roles in films like Corporate, Bheja Fry, Mithya, Fashion and Jolly LLB are also reflective of his unique taste of content, hopes that “fresh storytelling” gets a deeper meaning in the industry.

“Fresh storytelling is still at a very nascent stage here and mostly, I would say, sidelined as the other cinema. I hope to see it take the centrestage. I’m not sure how I would define the freshness that I aspire to bring, but as of now, I feel that anything that is not star-driven with item numbers, cars blowing off all around, the bad men flying by the mere touch of the hero, remakes of old films or regional films, would qualify as fresh.”

Yahoo is creating its own video content

As in web series, dudes and dudettes. Series, we tells ya!

yahoo-video

by Mike Shields and Douglas MacMillan

Yahoo Inc. YHOO -3.47% is raising its ambitions in online video, with plans to acquire the kind of original programming that typically winds up on high-end cable-TV networks and streaming services like NetflixNFLX +0.20% people briefed on the company’s plans said.

The company is close to ordering four Web series, these people said. And unlike in years past, Yahoo isn’t looking for short-form Web originals, but rather 10-episode, half-hour comedies with per-episode budgets ranging from $700,000 to a few million dollars, the people said.

The projects being considered would be led by writers or directors with experience in television. “They want to blow it out big time,” said one of the people briefed about the plans.

Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer is hoping to show off TV-caliber content to advertisers on April 28 when Yahoo holds its “NewFront”?event that is Internet companies’ answer to the so-called upfront ad-sales presentations made by TV networks each spring.

Yahoo declined to comment.

The company is competing in a costly and crowded market for top-notch original TV series. Besides a broad array of cable outlets vying for those shows, new entrants like Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc. AMZN -1.62% and Hulu LLC also have entered the fray.

“They’re looking at the same type of shows that Netflix and Amazon are eyeing,” said a person familiar with the situation.

Read it all

Famous Writers Who Hate Writing

by Bill Cotter

Sometimes I hate writing. That’s not to say I hate the writing of others, though I occasionally do, and that’s not to say I hate my own writing, though I often do, but rather that I sometimes hate the commission of the act of writing. I hate it when I have nothing to say, which is most of the time, or when I think I have stuff to say but the words are clogged at the nib, or when the ink flows freely but lands on the page in impotent smears, or when the words ring like bells but the sentences flop like flagstones in the mud, or when the paragraphs flare but the chapters fizzle.

i-hate-that-poem-300x300I also hate writing when I have better things to do. Doze, eat cheese and crackers, solve easy Sudoku puzzles, shop for books on the Internet, doze some more. I’ve concluded that even some unpleasant chores are less hateable than writing. Cat box cleaning, evacuating the hard drive of viruses, defeating drain clogs. Sometimes I feel like I would trade a writing obligation for a trip to the emergency room for stitches. More than once I’ve promised the gods in their pantheon a year of my life if they would get me out of a writing commitment.

I am not alone in my dark feelings, of course. Most writers, if not all, whether professional, recreational, or scholastic, hate writing at one point, or, in some cases, every point, in their careers, and their attestations to this can entertain, nonplus, horrify, and occasionally provide comfort to the writing-hating writer. For fun, I’ve provided below a small selection of quotations by well-known writers at odds with their business, which I hope the reader will find profitable, instructive, and cautionary.

“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” –Kurt Vonnegut (quoted in “Kurt Vonnegut: In His Own Words,” London Times Online, 12 April 2007)
Kurt Vonnegut

“An incurable itch for scribbling takes possession of many, and grows inveterate in their insane breasts.” –Juvenal (quoted in Satires)

“Writing [a novel] is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay.” –Flannery O’Connor (quoted in Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose)
flannery oconnor

“Every stink that fights the ventilator thinks it is Don Quixote.” –Stanislaw Jerzy Lec (quoted in Unkempt Thoughts)

Read it all