Spotlight: International Academy of Web Television
One of the things regular readers of Your Industry Insider hear a lot is: “Make it real!” This means if you want to be a music manager, find an up-and-coming band and represent them for free in order to get your feet wet and find out if you really like managing a band. If you want to be a screenwriter – duh! – write a script. (Note: Some people find the butt-in chair requirements of actual screenwriting – as opposed to talking about being a screenwriter – a deal breaker.) And if you want to direct or produce or act, create something great and put in on the web!
Today we’re highlighting the International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV), an organization that supports web content creators, on the eve of a landmark occasion in the history of new media content creation. The first annual Digital Content NewFronts (as opposed to the Upfronts, the TV networks’ annual programming unveiling) are taking place in New York City from April 19th through May 2nd. This will include 15 events by leading distributors, producers, creators and thought leaders in online video content, including IAWTV.
IAWTV was founded in 2009 to promote artistic and technological achievement in original entertainment content distributed on the internet. Its membership is comprised of actors, composers, developers, directors, editors, producers, and others in web television, web video, and digital entertainment. According to Susyn Duris, the PR/Marketing Director, IAWTV is “the first organization for any creative who’s interested in or already involved in doing original web television programming, whether hosted, fiction, non-fiction… any type of program that you would see online. IAWTV provides the tools, education, and networking opportunities to be better at their craft.”
The inaugural IAWTV awards presentation was held this past January. Awards were given out for Best Web Series in the Comedy, Drama, Animated, News, Documentary and Variety categories, Best Hosted Taped and Best Hosted Live Web Series, Best Writing for Comedy, Drama & Non-Fiction, Best Directing for Comedy, Drama & Non-Fiction, Best Female and Best Male Performance for Comedy & Drama, and many more categories. Though the organization want to draw attention to as many worthy projects and contributions as they can, they stress that the mission is to go beyond to awards and provide a true organization.
Susyn Duris came to IAWTV herself as a creative, having had a hybrid career involving finance, marketing, acting, and producing. The first web series she was in, in 2010, was the “Proposition 8 Trial Reenactment,” which took the transcripts from the actual courtroom proceedings and reenacted them out. “It was really exciting,” she says now. “I got very interested in creating web series and started networking with people who were involved.” From there, she got a regular role on the popular “The Unemployment of Danny London.”
Around that time, she also joined IAWTV and immediately saw a need for promotion. “We now have over 600 members,” she explains, “but I think we’ve only touched the surface. I meet people at other events who don’t know about us. But the good news is Variety covered our awards, both the nominations and then the winners.” She points out the success had by some Bay Area web content producers who raised over a million dollars to fund their project as an example of the popularity and appeal of the medium. “If you have a good concept, and it fills a need or a niche, you’re going to get the audience. Or in this case, the funding. But you have to make it for the audience.”
Duris recommends that anyone in the Los Angeles area interested in the organization visit the website to check out the upcoming events, which are usually free. Pick one or two and go to them to meet some of the members and see what they are doing and what they have to say about the organization. “We do events in conjunction with YouTube and we’re partnering with Vidcon, which has conferences in June at the Anaheim Convention Center,” she says. “Anybody interested in WebTV needs to network with people who are in WebTV and IAWTV is the outlet to do it.”
And if you’re in the New York area, consider attending the Digital Content Newfronts. About the IAWTV’s involvement, Duris says, “This is really good news for the IAWTV. We couldn’t be more excited. We are the organization for original web TV, web video and digital entertainment programming. This is our core competency, and we have an amazing corps of members who are leaders in this industry. To be included in this event only solidifies that fact.”