Local filmmakers clean up webseries awards in Korea

September 10, 2018

Young local creatives are heading back from Korea with heavier suitcases after cleaning up at the Seoul Webfest last weekend.

Local filmmakers clean up webseries awards in Korea

Young local creatives are heading back from Korea with heavier suitcases after cleaning up at the Seoul Webfest last weekend.

Teen party drama, Blind, took home the statues for Best Actress for Redfern local, Crystal Moran, and Best Cinematography for Summer Hill’s Sidat de Silva, while post-apocalyptic survival story, Abandoned, was awarded Best Action Series.

The Seoul Webfest is considered one of the premier web series festivals in the world. For many of the Australians, it was their first time walking a red carpet.

Blind creator, Sydney’s Northern Beaches based James Cripps, said:

“We’re so proud of the team. We brought together a ragtag bunch of veteran filmmakers and emerging talents and we’re stoked to see them shine on the world stage.”

Abandoned [see image of cast/crew] creator, South Sydney’s Nathan Colquhoun said: “Just to be nominated was a big win for us. We spent many months putting this series together and there were long hours of blood, sweat and tears. So, when a festival recognises our hard work it is very rewarding and fulling – winning the actual award was just astonishing. It felt like all that hard work was finally paying off.”

Freedoms and challenges

Cripps said that the rapid development of film technology has opened up filmmaking to a much wider group of creators, but projects striving for high production values can take many months or years to reach audiences.

“Now anyone with an iPhone and a half-decent mic can have a short film shot and edited in a under a week – it’s definitely democratising filmmaking.

“Putting together broadcast-quality content on a mi-goreng budget however is a lot of do-it-yourself, asking mates for favours and trying to fit production around your actual job.”

Colquhoun agreed.

“Everything we make is from within us. It’s our ideas, our concepts and sometimes it can be our own personal stories – it’s very freeing.

“However, without a decent budget, we’re always in a constant battle for time. It also puts a lot of strain on our professional life and personal reserves to reach our delivery targets. Without studio investment, pulling off a significant amount of content comes with its limits.”

Australia punches above its weight

Last year, five Australian webseries were ranked in the top 20 globally, with Odessa Young-vehicle  High Life taking out first place in the Web Series World Cup – a ranking of all major festival awards. This year, seven teams are currently ranked in the top 20.

Cripps says that despite the success of Australian projects overseas, local teams often find it difficult to get in front of audiences at home.

“After dream festival runs, many webseries are going straight to YouTube because options for wider distribution can be very limited for shortform content.

“Brilliant shows like Starting From… Now! and The Katering Show had to self-finance and build huge fanbases before they were picked up by networks. It can be a big ask for young creators who don’t also moonlight as distributors and marketers.”

Creative financing

While Abandoned managed to self-fund their entire project, Cripps worked with local businesses to produce and promote Blind.

“Investment from local businesses, especially Bondi Beach Radio, a TV production company, and from friends and family through crowdfunding, was vital to getting both our show and our team off the ground.

“Emerging bands donated music, bar owners let us film for free, and local clothing stores offered up costumes – Blind was very much a community effort.

“Our actors also worked with Zoom Travel Insurance to film social travel content while in Korea. Without that partnership, the team would have missed out on attending the festival completely.”

Where to next?

For many creators, webseries serve as a pilot or proof of concept to explore their worlds on bigger screens with bigger budgets.

Colquhoun said: “It would be great to create a second season of Abandoned, and we would love to see it on a much larger scale. We are currently writing an adaptation for a feature film.

“We’d be able to see a lot more growth from the characters and the world in which they live. However, I wouldn’t attempt it without an honest budget.”

Cripps however, is content to wrap on Blind, and is working on a new project with many of the team.

Cripps said: “Blind was seven years in the making from the initial idea at university to release this year. While it was a dream come true to get it made, I’d like to think that I have new things to say now. But the team we put together is one of a kind, and I can’t wait to work with them again on the next project.”

Blind’s now award-winning actress, Crystal Moran, looks forward to the new works that will come out of festivals like the Seoul Webfest.

“Attending the festival gave us the opportunity to meet creators from all over the world – we met people from New York, Santiago, and literally down the road. While filmmaking can be a challenging industry to pursue, being surrounded by so many driven, supportive creators was incredibly energising – every mealtime became a story development session where we bounced around ideas and pitched our next projects.

“I look forward to the cross-continent collaborations that come out of these new friendships.”

Where to watch?

Watch season 1 of Abandoned on YouTube now. Blind will be released on new Australian streaming platform, OzFlix, later this year.