Rich is continually expanding the network of web series to better connect creators, audiences, analysis, advertising and news coverage, both digitally and in traditional print. He is the founder of www.webseriesnetwork.com, the foremost social networking platform for web series creators and viewers to form a community and which also offers exclusive tips and news on web series as a medium. Rich expanded on the site and the exposure of web series by launching the Web Series Magazine earlier this year – the only print publication about web series, also available online – for which he serves as publisher and editor-in-chief. He is also as a consultant and content creator. You should definitely follow Rich on Twitter: @RichMbariket.
Enjoy the conversation and Rich’s astute insights on the medium and the industry.
You’re the founder of Web Series Network and yet you’re also a frequent contributor to the discussion topics you raise for your members. What has creating the Network taught you about the community of web series creators who use your service?
I learned from childhood that community is everything and I’ve maintained that throughout my adult life. Growing up and even today, I’m still the one bringing all my friends together in various capacities. So essentially, WSN is an extension of my personal life in a way, and I am proud to have contributed a social platform that connects web series lovers across the world.
Do you see the community-as-resource you’ve observed in ‘YouTubers’ developing with web series creators?
Yes. Eventually, but right now it’s an individual thing going on. Someone has to want to connect with you for it to work. Youtubers are human beings just like web series creators. But the big difference in my observation is that Youtubers actually want to connect with their peers and go out of their way to do so. Creators on the other hand just want to be left alone. They don’t want to be bothered. They are too cool for school. Those are the ones I stay away from. The creators who have my attention are those that are community-faced and help their peers become better at what they do.
A recurring topic in writing on web series is its relationship with television, namely whether a spot on television is the unavoidable end goal of a web series. You’ve stated you don’t think this is necessarily the case, so what do you take to be the major differences between TV and web series as separate media? Will these differentiating qualities change? Should they?
End goals are relative. My end goal isn’t television or features. It’s the Internet forever. I don’t think people truly understand the reach of the Internet. To me, it’s the largest platform around. But someone else could disagree and say otherwise. Pick what works for you.
What makes a compelling web series? Do you have any personal favorites and why?
Again, this is relative because its based on individual tastes. I love dark drama web series. ‘Western X’ created by Michael Flores, ‘After the Beast’ created by Rob York, and the upcoming ‘Inner Demons’ created by Ryan Mccalla are a few of my favorites. Why? Because they’re dark dramas and well told.
Does the distribution model of web series need to become more streamlined to reach the wide audience that television enjoys?
There is no such thing as a streamlined distribution model in web series. The Internet is your link to the world. Your website, Youtube Channel, Facebook page and social media outlets are your distribution platforms. Use sites like WebSeriesNetwork.com, MingleMediaTV.com and other web networks out there as additional distribution and resource outlets to get the word out about your show.
What do you see as the most important but often overlooked component in the production and distribution of a web series for new creators?
Lack of planning or consulting experts before production.
What have your experiences as a consultant taught you about how companies and creators who contract you are looking at web series as a medium?
The clients who are making web series for the fun of it don’t require my services. The clients who come to me for consulting advice are looking to turn their web series into a business that could be monetized. They believe in the Internet. They believe in their ideas and project. I help them put it all together and create a roadmap for them to execute.
What are you hoping to achieve with the creation of the Web Series Magazine?
Web Series Magazine is the first and only publication devoted exclusively to web series. The beauty of it is that its available in print and online. The Internet is phenomenal, but fact is people still do their living offline. I’m writing this from a coffee shop and people around me are reading magazines. Print is alive and well, folks. What I’d like to add is that the publication will be rebranded WSN Magazine starting next issue, our third, which runs October to December. Starting January 2012, WSN Mag will become a bi-monthly issue, releasing six issues a year. The main objective of the magazine is to give people in web series another platform to be heard and seen. We distribute at entertainment-faced establishments and companies. We’re in Sony Studios, Paramount Pictures, and currently working on getting into more Hollywood studios. We are also in Canada. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished with this magazine in only two issues. We just want to keep contributing quality material to the web series space and we’re open to strategic partnerships from individuals and brands looking to reach our audience.
You’ve mentioned on the site that you’re not in favour of crowdsourced funding, which you called ‘digital panhandling’. What has lead you to this perspective and how do you see this funding platform affecting web series production?
There are many people who crowd-fund, not just web series creators. It’s worked for some of our members in helping them continue to make quality content and I praise them for their accomplishments. Some crowd-fund gracefully and some shamefully. The latter was what led me to call it ‘digital panhandling,’ which I discourage and don’t support.
Rich Mbariket with Director/Writer/Playwright Michael Ajakwe at the 2011 LA Webfest.
Rich Mbariket conducting his live Ustream chat for the Web Series Network with special guests from The Fall of Kaden.