By Tina Cesa Ward, Chairman of the IAWTV
Why do the IAWTV Awards matter? The answer to that has been the reason I, along with IAWTV Vice Chairman Sandra Payne, have formed this hardworking two-woman band and taken on this full time, volunteer gig to bring them back in 2017.
Please note that our submissions are open now and will close August 15th. The 5th IAWTV Awards will be held in Los Angeles at the Skirball Cultural Center on October 4th. You can submit via Film Freeway. So go submit! https://filmfreeway.com/festival/IAWTVAwards
Now that all that business is out of the way, lets get back to the question at hand. For the benefit of easy reading and because everyone loves a list, I will answer this question with three simple reasons:
- Because the independent voice matters and it’s critical that it’s recognized.
I joined the IAWTV from its inception in 2009 and have always thought of it as an important organization formed to create community and support the independent spirit of the web series. When the vote came in to create our own awards show, many were against the idea, including me. But now that the landscape has changed I realize how important the IAWTV Awards are to bring visibility to shows that struggle to get noticed. The IAWTV Awards was named by Variety as the Web Emmys and we’re happy to carry that nickname. Yes, the Emmys has expanded to short form which I think is an amazing achievement for the web world, but independents aren’t entering the Emmys in large numbers, mainly because of the cost of entry. In the end, there are a lot more digital studio-supported shows entering (and promoting to get the vote) than independents. We are the award show for the independent TV creators out there. We’re proud that creators have credited the IAWTV with launching Hollywood careers. Julian De Zotti, co-creator of “Whatever Linda” said, “Winning an IAWTV Award opened the door to our development deal with The Mark Gordon Company to turn our series into an hour-long TV show.”
It’s critical for the independent voice to stay relevant in the world of web series that is now slowly closing its doors to independents. The new popularity of web series and the platforms that house them wouldn’t be in existence without the independents that took the chance — and continue to take chances — on this medium that now is old enough to have history but still young enough to cause a ruckus.
- Short form series, in both narrative and non-scripted, need an awards show that champions its achievements as independent television.
For many years all independent video has been thrown into one basket. A dramatic scripted series is examined right next to a YouTube Influencer video, right next to cat videos, which is alongside a “how to” video. Which one of these videos do you think loses the numbers game? But not all video is created for the same reason and looking at views is not the only means to weigh the value of a video. Although scripted series generally bring in less of the web video views, they have a unique ability to generate new views and dedicated fans over a longer period of time unlike the other types of videos thrown into the web video basket. They also have the ability to launch careers into scripted television more than any other video variety. In short, independent television has a longer reach into other avenues and cannot be judged on its daily view count alone. But with lower daily visibility comes the need for other ways to get the best of the best out to the masses and the IAWTV awards offers that visibility.
- Sense of community and support has value beyond measurement.
Coming from independent film, the only time I caught even a glimpse of community is when I went on the film festival circuit. But even at that, it felt limited to a hang at an after party and maybe a couple of emails after. When I jumped into the web series world in 2008, I instantly understood what community can be and how it could fuel that desire to continue to create. Going out to web events has always been like going out and seeing your friends. More importantly, seeing your friends champion your work and having the ability to champion theirs builds an important network of creative contacts that remains unmatched in any other entertainment community. We have to preserve that and hang onto it. Today, some of my best friends come from my connection to the web community. Some of the early web series creators have gone on to bigger positions in the TV and digital world but are still reachable and are still fans of the web, many of whom we highlighted last awards show with our pioneer segments. You can watch the segments here: https://youtu.be/Jv1zyzreu14
Those segments highlight this community in the best way. It not only shows the success you can achieve by working in web series, it shows we have history. And maybe more importantly, it shows what the web world means to us and how supportive we are of one another. Join us at http://www.iawtv.org/! We’re here for you.
Tina Cesa Ward is the Chair of the International Academy of Web TV and an Executive Committee member of The Caucus of Producers, Writers, and Directors. The IAWTV is now a division of The Caucus. Ward was also the Co-Executive Producer, Co-Writer (along with Susan Miller) and Director of the series “Anyone But Me” which has over 50 million views and is available on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Fullscreen and YouTube. Her other series work includes “Producing Juliet”, “Good People in Love” and “Bestsellers.” She is the recipient of the first Writers Guild Award for New Media (along with Susan Miller) and has three IAWTV Awards for writing and directing.