On September 4th and 5th, Germany will be holding its first ever international webseries festival in the form of WebFest Berlin. This is a crazy time for the organizers, but Meredith Burkholder was kind enough to take some time out of her schedule to answer some questions about the event:
WebVee Guide: Who founded and organized this festival? Why did they do so?
Meredith Burkholder: I founded and am directing the festival. After moving to Berlin 2.5 years ago, I started helping out managing the live action production on a no-budget web series called Mission Backup Earth. That show ended up winning the Grand Prize at the Melbourne Webfest which gave it automatic entry into the LA Web Fest and the Marseille Web Fest. After Alex Pfander, the creator of the series, returned from the LA WebFest, he told me this really nice guy named Michael Ajakwe (founder of the LA Web Fest) thought that Berlin would be a great place for a Webfest. I jumped at the idea. My background is in production management and events, and I spent many years in New York working on reality TV shows. So this opportunity to make an event to support independent creators making quality series outside of the traditional television system was right up my alley!
WVG: What is the status of webseries in Germany as compared to things like movies and TV shows?
MB: German web series are generally of very high quality, but the problem in Germany is that there has not been a central platform for web series, making them a bit hard to find. We are working hard to get exposure for these series and to spur conversations regarding platforms and distribution of web series.
What is the German webseries community like? Is there a lot of collaboration between show creators?
MB: The German web series community is just starting to come together. There was a regional German language web series festival that happened this summer in Giessen – Die Seriale. Many people began to connect there and had a great time sharing experiences. Now we will bring some of those creators and some creators who had not known about Die Seriale together in Berlin to keep the ball rolling.
WVG: This is the first Webfest to be held in Germany. How is the public reacting? Do people seem excited?
Yes! We’ve been having screenings of submissions all summer long to spread the word. Nearly everyone that came through was very impressed with what they saw. We started with just a few people and by the last screening there was standing room only.
WVG: You are allowing fans to vote online for their favorite selection. What steps have you taken to prevent show creators from voting for themselves over and over again?
The polling is set to accept only 1 vote per person. The polling app we have chosen uses several approaches to combat fraudulent voting including fingerprint technology which ensures each person is only able to vote once. They also look at vote rate, voter location, IP address, browser and many more factors.
WVG: Will there be streaming coverage of the red carpet and awards show? Is there a way for fans who can’t make it all the way to Berlin to watch and interact with the festival and awards show?
So there you have it. The global webseries community takes another step into the limelight. Be sure to follow along with WebFest Berlin on social media and on their website, where you can also learn more about all the excellent shows selected for the festival. Good luck to all the nominees!