Has anyone ever said to you “you’re crazy for making a web series”? I’ve definitely had some interesting looks in the past.

Since Melbourne WebFest was founded in 2013, I’ve witnessed web series rise from obscurity into a force to be reckoned with, shouting louder every year. In 2019 we are building a program to turn the volume up even louder.

What is truly inspiring to me is it’s anyone’s game. We’ve witnessed micro-budget shows sweep up awards and compete with shows with million dollar budgets.

I went to Pause Fest last week not only for inspiration but also to explore emerging storytelling technology. I walked out with my mind expanded even further into how this internet thing is going to shape the future of storytelling.

Original content is no doubt going to take a very important role in our future. Stories have been shared since our genesis, and today we are truly blessed with the technology to tell and access billions of stories. Technology will continue to enable us to forge extraordinarily immersive and creative story worlds we currently struggle to dream of. By 2050 we’ll have entered a brave new world of storytelling.

Creativity is taken more seriously than ever. The business that took the title at the Australian Creative Startup competition at Pause is a narrative-driven audio entertainment for children. If you want to check it out it’s called Audioplay. I saw the semi-final pitch and was blown away at the concept, I wanted to experience it myself. Spotify’s acquisition of Gimlet Media Anchor a few days prior is further proof that storytelling is increasingly being seen as a product of immense value. At the grand finale of the pitching competition, AudioPlay won over all the other truly great startups, the excitement of what it meant punched me square in the face.

The people we talked to making original stuff were everyday people. They’re making apps to simplify gig booking for musicians, they’re creating kindergartens for adults, they’re creating immersive audio story worlds for kids using nothing but headphones and a phone.

The future of what we make and consume is not driven by the few; it’s driven by all of us.

The age of the guilds is over, we started making web series because we were sick of asking for permission, and tired of waiting around for a phone call that was never promised to us.

It’s driven by you; the web series creator, someone unwilling to sit by and wait for an opportunity, someone that will go and make what they yearn to make.

Without seeking permission.

While at Pause I heard the term “AI is the new electricity.” Electricity took a long time to change every aspect of our world, the internet was next and AI will do the same, but slowly. Do you remember Deep Blue, the IBM computer that beat the world chess champion, Garry Kasparov? Other chess-playing computers have been built since, but none has ever beaten a human and another computer working together. I can’t help but imagine the story worlds and ways of storytelling we are about to unlock using these new tools. It is truly an exciting time to be a creator.

The future will be driven by original, creative work. It can’t be commoditised, it can’t be taken over by AI, and it’s increasingly valuable to a public that values it.

Of course, the future needs to find a way to help you make a living from this. We’re solving the first problem pretty well, and with that demand for creation, I believe we’ll get better and better at solving that next problem.

But there is one absolute; the way to get there is not to seek permission but to grant it to yourself and start making.

Whether it’s your first series or season 10, you’ve got work to do, and it’s worth it.

Never stop making, never stop hustling and don’t ask for permission. 

Here’s to the crazy ones.