What’s your name and how long have you been involved in web series?

My name is J. Sibley Law, but people call me: Sib.

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I started making digital series in 2005 with three series that we took to Europe; our sole focus to get on mobile phones. We figured that eventually people in the U.S. might start watching videos on their phones, but not until the infrastructure improved.

How many web series have you been involved with and in what capacity?

Wow. That’s a tough one. I believe I’ve been credited in well over twenty different web series; I’ve got a “created by” credit for twelve series. But, I’ve pretty much done every thing you can do on a digital series. Here’s a quick pick of some current projects:

  • New Media Weekly, Anchor, Writer, Editor (2013) – Preproduction
  • Bad Kitty, Executive Producer (2013) – In Production 
  • Double Leche, Co-Creator, Producer, Director, Editor (2013) – In Production 
  • Return to Shakespeare: Meet Alums of the Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford, CT – Producer, Director, Interviewer, Editor (2013) – In Production 
  • Out of Time, Executive Producer, Actor (2013) – Post Production

(The full project list is at the bottom of the article)

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What is your experience in film and television and how has it impacted your work in web series?

I grew up watching TV in an era with four stations and rabbit ears on top of the tv set. I still love the best of tv today and watch a lot of it on my computer. That certainly influences my work.

Making both regional and national commercials, sometimes we get bigger per-minute budgets than a lot of digital series. But, sometimes you don’t. What I have found is that great production values are the equalizer. Once the budget is allocated, every production is measured against expectations and the perceived “quality.” The easiest way to enhance the perception of quality is with solid production values.

How do you decide what projects you’d like to focus on?

This has shifted over time. I used to give things the fun-test. Did I think it was fun? Maybe others would too! But, that wasn’t always the case and sometimes I didn’t achieve my original vision. Now, I’m much more focused on questions like: Is this a worthwhile project? What audience will connect to it? What advertisers might be interested in it? How can I appeal to that advertiser in a way that’s meaningful?

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I’ve heard someone make the statement that “you do not have to be a filmmaker to be a web series creator”.  What is your view?

Most filmmakers are focused on scripted narratives. I love scripted narratives. But, there is a whole generation of people making digital series and building large followings with a webcam and a personality. Good for them! I think this new way to engage an audience with a camera is influencing filmmaking. But, it goes without saying that while it may change what counts as good production values, many/most of these people become more aware of the production side of things as their followings grow.

People ask your advice from time to time.  What is the most common question creators/producers ask you about web series?

How do I get people to watch my show?

  1. Create for a niche
  2. Market to that niche
  3. Give lots of love to that niche
  4. Spend a lot of time connecting with people in that niche
  5. Or, pay for tons of advertising (this can work too)

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What are the biggest obstacles you see to shows being created and distributed? 

At this point, 78 hours uploaded to YouTube every minute! I think discoverability and audience building is one of the biggest obstacles show creators face (see my response to the previous question).

What is the best thing a creator can do when considering shooting a web series?

  1. Be honest about your budget and know where it’s coming from
  2. Assemble the best team you can
  3. Set clear expectations with everyone involved in the project
  4. Esteem your team members for their hard work and affirm them in public

Any lessons you’ve learned that you would like to share?

There are so many, how much time do we have? One lesson sticks with me… Don’t stop believing in yourself. Even when you think that no one cares what you are doing or that you’ll never get that break; if creating digital series is what you have in you, you must stick with it. Learn from everyone you can. Keep getting better at what you do. And, revel in the community we share!

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How do you view the value of awards and festivals? 

I like it when I get awards and I like it when I get considered for awards. Awards and award shows serve a great purpose of showing off innovative ways of doing things or simply showcasing really great work. My goal is to make the best work that I can and make the best contributions that I can. When that work and those contributions merit recognition, I am very grateful.

How do you define success in web series?

I think this starts with how you define the audience for your series. I’ve had series geared toward a broad audience hitting nearly 100,000 views/day for six months. And, I’ve been paid to create series where the possible audience was less than a thousand people but we reached more than 90% of that audience. Each series measures success differently. Some of my favorite series by other people don’t always have very high view counts, but I sure do love those shows.

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If someone wants your advice, how is the best way to approach you?

Ask me when might be a good time, then ask. I’m great with email and in person. Don’t leave a voice mail. Also, this Spring I’ll be anchoring New Media Weekly, so if your question relates to this space, reach out through the show because many people may appreciate the insights.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/siblaw

Twitter: @Moonbath

Youtube:

http://youtube.com/ziz

http://youtube.com/therocketstail

http://youtube.com/newmediaweekly (soon)

Tumblr: http://siblaw.tumblr.com/

Website: http://www.saxonmills.com

Series History:

1.     New Media Weekly, Anchor, Writer, Editor (2013) – Preproduction

2.     Bad Kitty, Executive Producer (2013) – In Production

3.     Double Leche, Co-Creator, Producer, Director, Editor (2013) – In Production

4.     Return to Shakespeare: Meet Alums of the Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford, CT – Producer, Director, Interviewer, Editor (2013) – In Production

5.     Out of Time, Executive Producer, Actor (2013) – Post Production

6.     Slummy Mummy, Additional Sound Editor (2013) – Post Production

7.     Laugh Bytes, Executive Producer (2013)

8.     TheRocketsTail, Executive Producer (2013)

9.     Status Kill, Guest Star (2012)

10.  Welcome To – A Look Inside Stratford Middle Schools, Producer, Director, Writer, DP, Editor Creator (2012)

11.  Puppet John Law, Executive Producer, Producer, Writer, Director, Editor, Creator, Software Co-Creator (2012)

12.  Grimm Endings, Executive Producer (2011) 

13.  Uncle Vic’s Kitchen, Producer, Writer, DP, Editor, Creator (2011) 

14.  Now Screening, Producer (2011)

15.  News for Blondes 2.0,Producer, Director, Writer, DP, Editor Creator (2011)

16.  Splatter, Producer, Director, DP, Editor, Creator (2011)

17.  Anyone But Me, Pick-up Camera Operator/One Episode (2010)

18.  What’s in Your Cup, Producer, Director, Writer, Editor Coach (2010) – A special project working with high school students to create a series that shows the pressures kids face to drink

19.  Katya Say, Producer Director, Writer, Editor, Creator (2010)

20.  The Oligarch Duplicity, Producer, Director, Writer, DP, Creator, Web Designer, Editor (2009 & 2010)

21.  U-Belong – University of Bridgeport, Producer, Director, Interviewer, Editor (2009)

22.  The Merry Travelogues, Producer, Director, Writer, DP, Editor (2007 & 2008)

23.  Petergrams, Producer, Director, Writer (2007)

24.  Bonnie for President, Producer, Director, Writer, DP, Editor (2007) – Official Honoree of the Webby Awards

25.  Not Ann Coulter, Producer, Director Writer, Editor, Creator (2007)

26.  The Happy Weatherman, Producer, Director, DP (2006 & 2007)

27.  News for Blondes, (280+ Episodes) Producer, Director, Writer, Editor, Creator (2006 & 2007)

28.  Dishes, Producer, Director, DP, Creator (2005 & 2006)

29.  Laugh-a-Minute, Producer, Director, Creator (2005)

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