The November Web Series IRL panel included Little Acorns co-creators Maria Therdorakis and Trudy Hellier, No Strings Attached co-creator Emma Watts, and For Actors creator Holly Hargreaves.

Web series have allowed independent producers and creators to make the content we wouldn’t usually see on TV, and to create content where, when and however they like. However, funding these series and paying the talented professionals that work on them is still a struggle. Creators and companies are still writing the rules and playing with different funding models and methods.

No Strings Attached creator Emma Watts discussed this idea at last week’s Web Series IRL.

“Funding a web series without a network is still really tricky, so we need to lend on them in some ways.

You get to a point of asking people for favours and you can’t keep doing it,” said Emma.

This sentiment was shared across the panel; “We self-funded our teaser, we paid for basics but everybody worked for free. We couldn’t ask them to do it again unless we paid them,” said Little Acorns co-creator Maria Therdorakis

“My advice would be to make one series for free and then try and get funding,” said Emma. This was the case for No Strings Attached. The first season was independently produced under the title Tales From Tinder (which was a Spotlight selection at MWF 2015), while the second season has been picked up by ABC iview and was released in late November. 

Similarly, the creators of Little Acorns produced a teaser episode as a proof of concept when applying for Screen Australia funding and have just sold their series to Virgin.

“I don’t think you can rely on funding networks to read the script and image, you have to develop it for them,” said Maria.

Although Maria and Trudy were pleased to receive Screen Australia funding it meant they had to be more concerned about the budget. “With funding bodies the rules are pretty strict in paying everyone the correct rate so you have to be smarter about the budget,” Maria said.

For Actors, on the other hand, was entirely self-funded.  

“Usually when I make stuff I make it to make my career happen and this one I just made to say something,” said Holly.

“As an independent creator you have to do a lot of leg work and cold emailing to try and get picked up.”

For Actors was recently picked up by U.S streaming service, Revry.

The panel agreed that selling to distribution platforms is one of the best ways to make a profit and increase your audience, therefore it is important to maximise your efforts in this area.

“We have a distributor in the States but we work with them too. I still just do a google search to see what the best platforms are and who is buying.

The good thing about being in Australia is we can sell it to different markets, for example iview geoblocks its content so it can only be viewed here. We are hopefully in the final processes of selling in the US and now seeing where else we can go,” said Emma.

“The industry is changing rapidly; the audience is definitely dictating that change. I don’t think our series will necessarily go to free-to-air but it could become a long-form series just because the story is so rich. I think it will have a life on a streaming service at some point,” said Trudy.

Thanks to Alyce and Hayley Adams for another fantastic event. The next Web Series IRL will be held on 22 December at Loop. The series screened will be Suspect MoustacheShakespeare Republic and Henry Haus