Category Archives: Film

Toronto Web Series Festival: Or How to Meet Cool People

Toronto Web Series Festival just celebrated its inauguration this weekend. True to form, I only found out about it the evening before via random coincidence.

Being the broke student that I am, I was drawn like a moth to flame by that effervescent tagline: “FREE!” Without paying a cent, I was able to attend the festival, see the screenings of all the shows, attend the actual awards ceremony, and go to the after parties. SCHMOOZE TIME!

But wait, there’s more! If unlike me you have some spare change rolling around, a festival pass is only $50 which allows you to attend 11 panel discussions on topics ranging from “Financing web series” and “Courting brands” to  “The web series soundtrack” and “Actors bringing it to the web.” (If you feel like mixing and matching, the panels are $10 each).

I attended all three days and met many wonderful people. On Friday, the festival opened with the screening of the official selection for the Sci-Fi category. This was my first introduction to the following video:

TO WebFest 2014 – Official Trailer by towebfest

I have seen that video so many times over this past weekend that it has lost all meaning.

The official selection was: Abigail, Aeternus, Chronicles of Syntax, El Gran Dia de los Feos, Olympia, One Hit Die, Out of Time, Pete Winning and the Pirates, Polaris, State of Syn, and The True Heroines.

During the talkback,  we were treated to some scrumptiously useful tips:

“Put your generator on ‘Eco’ mode”

“Don’t build huge sci-fi sets out of  Masonite”

“Fewer Locations!”

Saturday began with Children’s programming. I know we all expect kids shows to terrible, dumbed-down pieces of kitschy drivel, but this was not the case. I witnessed some of the best children’s shows I have ever seen. Some short and sweet, like “What’s Inside?,” and others longer, like “My Lupine life.”  I think my personal favourite was “My Lupine Life, ” although “The Invaders web series: Angie’s Logs” wins for sheer cuteness (But Angie does bring it). If you are a film and/or literature buffs, you should definitely check out “Rubber Chicken Players” (If you’re not, just do it anyway).

The official selection was: Kid’s Town, Kimchi Warrior, “My Lupine Life”  By Louis Pine, Out With Dad, Rubber Chicken Players, Ruby Skye P.I.: The Haunted Library, The Invaders web series: Angie’s Logs, and What’s Inside?

My talkback tips and bits for this category were:

“We started creating buzz a year in advance”  – Kid’s Town

“The crew donated a lot of their time” – Ruby Skye

“I got this Facebook message, written in broken English, from someone saying they wanted to fund our project. I was very sceptical but I played along and sent an email asking for details. …And then I received a  reply with a specific amount and a contract.”  – Out With Dad, on getting a broadcasting contract in France

“In web series creation, there are no rules.”  – Everyone

The next screening was the LGBT Programme. Unfortunately, I was unable to see this screening so I cannot tell you anything about the wonderful cinema revealed in the confines of that dark auditorium. But I can tell tell you what it was…

The official selection was: GAY NERDS, LESlieVILLE, Nikki  & Nora: The N&N Files, Producing Juliet, Re(l)azioni a catena, The Vessel, Vanessa’s Story, and Venice The Series.

Quick on its tail, the Drama programme made an entrance. “Libres,” a series out of Madrid, stole my attention when they incorporated Catalan. This was totally unexpected because generally a Spanish show would not. Having the Catalan slip into the conversation when the conversation involved Andreu, the Catalan character, was a nice touch that I wouldn’t expect to see on mainstream Spanish television. The series follows a group of seven youth  who, because of the economic crisis, abandon the city to squat in an abandoned village in the Pyrenees.

The rest of the shows were great and they continued the festival’s trend of shattering my preconception of web series as “Like TV but less production value.” Other than “Libres,” I think that my favourite would be “In Between Men.”

The official selection was: 3some, Big Country Blues, CUCKOO, Fight Night Legacy, In Between Men, LES BÉLIERS, Libres, Long Story Short, Someone Not There, Teenagers, and The Steps.

Tidbits and tricks are:

“Don’t shoot in November”

“Edit the script down”

“Know what you want to say”

“Get permission for locations”

“Have a ‘Social Media Person’”

And then the shadows fell, leaving all but the tiniest sliver of light to illuminate the horror of what happens After Dark. The Horror & Pulp programme was everything I hoped it would be.  From B-movie and black comedy, to thrillers and plain old WTF. I don’t know that I have a favourite, although “Bloody Cuts” is definitely up there. #noduds

The official selection was: After, Asset, Bloody Cuts, Esther’s Style, FUTURE DUCK!, Horror Hotel, Malice, Manigances: Notice Rouge, New Eden, Noirhouse, Stage Fright, La Grieta, and Who The F##k Is Nancy?!

“Pinhead, with a magnet”

“Freddy Kruger, I haven’t slept since I began working on this”

“The Mummy, with a pair of scissors”

— Some of the answers given by show creators when asked what  classic horror villain they would like to go up against and how would they defeat him.

The final day was full of hilarity with two whole screenings dedicated to comedy. On this day I again missed things. Namely: “Super Geeked Up Live”  and the Documentary & Lifestyle programme.

The official selection for Documentary & Lifestyle was: What’s In My Bag?, AsapSCIENCE, Burgundy Jazz, Garage Sale Diaries, Last Chance Saloon, Marriage Pressure Points, Often Awesome the series, Tailgate32, and Truth Mashup.

Hey there readers! {Insert funny joke here} Eh? Eh? Alright, I get that humour is perhaps not my strongest suit… But these people knock it right out of the park!

The official selection for Comedy was: Backpackers, Bad Indian, But I’m Chris Jericho!, Day in the Life of Death, Failed First Dates, Job Review with a Vampire, La Brigadière, LARPs: The Series, Last in Space, Miss Guidance, Missing Something, Mommy Uncensored: Confessions of a Real Mom, My Gimpy Life, Off2Kali Comedy, PARKED, Pretty Darn Funny – Season Two, Pretty In Geek, Research., Secret Diary of a Call Centre Girl, Super Knocked up, The Casting Room, The Monstrometer Report, Les Tout-Nus, The People That Touch Your Food, The Poke Folks, Under the HUD, Versus Valerie, and WRECKED.

Also got some juicy gems of knowledge from this one:

“What are you ok with your parents seeing?”

“Shoot a pilot”

“Set some money aside for ‘just in case…’”

“Trust the script”

“Know when you have authority/license”


Of course, the info you’ve all been waiting for is “Who won?”

The winners are:

And that’s the festival.

I had a great time this weekend: I made a whole pile of new connections (and friends!), stayed out til 5, and saw a lot of great film. I recommend for  anyone who is at all interested in web series to keep their schedule free for next year.

It only goes up from here.