Mocumentaries and dramedies, sitcoms and sketches, vampires, aliens and just lovers. The Third International Festival of Web Serials Realist Web Fest has come to an end in Nizhny Novgorod. The organizers accepted more than 3 thousand applications, as a result 43 projects (including 18 Russian) from 16 countries were included in the main competition. Izvestia appreciated the scope and prospects of the web serial movement.
Best of the web
Last year, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic, and this time, 2021 applications were considered along with the newly submitted ones. As a result, the jury announced awards in six nominations. The works were judged by the playwrights brothers Vladimir and Oleg Presnyakov, actress Olga Sutulova, director Maxim Pezhemsky, as well as the founders of foreign web festivals Leandro Silva, Rose of Dolls and Joelle Bassage.
The best web series was the comedy “The Daughter of a Communist” (Canada) – about a girl defending communist ideals in a Canadian province in 1989. Prize Best Director went to Andrew Shanks and Nicholas Cleary for Love, Weapons and Levels New (Australia) – about a couple in love with video games. Michel Duchenne, Eric Piccoli, screenwriters of the People’s Writer social series won in the scripts section (Switzerland). By the owner the best original idea named “Golodrants” (Switzerland) – a shocking story about the competition of orphans, the prize in which is getting into a rich family.
In the nomination “The Brightest Character”, the Russian TV series “Sister” took the lead, where the role of the extravagant Iris was played by Sasha Magelatova… For the first time in the history of the festival, an award was presented in the nomination “Best Russian Web Series”, which looked fair: in terms of variety and quality, our products not only did not yield, but also surpassed foreign ones in a number of positions. The award was given to the film “P.S. or Incredible discoveries of the deepest mysteries of the human race ”- mocumentari, created exclusively using a mobile phone and accompanying accessories.
According to the founder of the festival, Anton Kalinkin, web series have already become an integral part of the media space and our film industry.
“Today, almost all players on the market produce, invest or develop web serial content,” he clarified in an interview with Izvestia. – In addition, interest in Russian content is very high at world festivals – Russian web series are in the competition of almost all international web shows.
Not a single pandemic
Web Products – Free Flight Zone. Its leaders are free not only in genres and formats, but also in the use of obscene language and all kinds of “tough”. They do not need a rental license, so the degree of freedom depends solely on the authors of the content, as well as the choice of topics, plots and technologies. From this point of view, the festival in Nizhny has demonstrated every conceivable variety. The best of what is shown is artistry, relevance and relaxedness.
As for uniqueness, then the festival has its own trend – films about the Network and its adherents, which is logical for a format born of the Internet. These products are a real treasure trove of situations encountered on the way of users, advanced and not so. At one extreme, there is a complete identification of the hero with a virtual, as happens in the drama Martha (this is the name of the operating system that falls in love with its owner) and the assertion that only YouTubers will survive in the zombie apocalypse (“The Last YouTuber”).
On the other, there is a complex, sometimes irreconcilable relationship with the once loyal Network, which at best ends in an attempt to humanize an esports partner (“Love, Weapons and New Levels”), at worst – virtual, and maybe even a real death of the hero. like in the movie “On the Net”.
And here pandemic theme, which, it would seem, should excite the participants, was presented rather poorly… In addition to the Dutch “Heat” with an intimate scene at social distance and the Australian animation “No man is an island” with a list of the benefits that the pandemic has deprived us of, I remember the deliciously filmed rom-com “You can’t stay out” – about a Chinese woman who left for Berlin and got stuck there. It was shot by Yang Ge, who received several prizes at the 40th Moscow International Film Festival for her feature-length debut “Nu”.
The lack of a pandemic theme was partly made up for by the presentation of the new series “Survivors” by producer and director Boris Khlebnikov (“Arrhythmia”)… The story of people who survived a viral invasion was conceived even before the pandemic, and then fueled by the personal impressions of the authors and actors. The result is an entire universe of the main series and its accompanying web episodes. The premiere is already 12 August.
Where does the money lie
The organizers of the festival joke that every year they have to answer two questions: what is a web series and where to get money for it. If the first one is easy to answer (see the program), then the second one needs to be discussed. In fact, the web product for most aspiring filmmakers is the first entry into cinema. And the more funds are allocated for this, the more hospitable it will open up. A round table was devoted to money at the fest in Nizhny, where representatives of online platforms, producers and curators explained how to get it. Same pitching projects, where those who learned these lessons were awarded grants.
It turned out that the main condition for financing is the ability to surprise investors, and this is possible when you shoot something that really captivates you. On average, a series is allocated from 600-800 thousand to 1 million rubles, and you can find money not only for production, but also for marketing, advertising and adaptation (dubbing, subtitling, etc.). And not only from Russian investors. According to Anna Gudkova, the curator of the pitching of the Kinotavr festival, last year has shown that there are no borders in the world, despite the fact that they are physically closed.
“While online, you can apply for any pitching to any country in the world,” she told Izvestia. – Nothing is needed here except knowledge of the English language and talented universal material.
However, according to the applicants, not everything is so rosy. In particular, investors rarely fund an application “from and to”, funds must be collected in parts… And donors do not like to be “the first money”, they want to join those who have already appreciated the quality of the project. It is also necessary to be experienced petitioners exposed at such events.
The pitching of web series in Nizhny confirmed this. Grants of 500 thousand rubles were awarded to the documentary-game project “Bear on the Server” – about cybersport fans, presented by Kirill Alekhin, and the fantasy “Reboot” from Vladimir Bolgov Velimir Rusakov – about the adventures of a young couple in the post-apocalypse of 2121. All of them are famous people in the cinema world. And Anton Kalinkin advised young applicants to try further and remember that it is necessary to deal with web series “without friends” – this selfish and aggressive product is not born in collective creativity…