Web Series or Film?

8 Dec

I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at Film to TV adaptations over the past few weeks in preparation for my final research project and I thought I would share one I found that relates to our recent conversations about TV content on the internet. While researching the crossover between film and television, I came across an award-winning indie film that is currently being released as a web series. The film, “Hand of Glory,” won awards at multiple festivals and has been nominated for many more. Rather than releasing their film in DVD format, the filmmakers have chosen to release it in the form of a web series throughout the month of December. The filmmakers claim that the film was originally planned as a web series and was later spliced together into a film. As a result it follows the form of a web series very closely including distinguishable “episodes.” While it is obviously a web series at heart, the film has made a great showing at film festivals, winning awards for it’s special effects, directing, and acting. In one case it was even considered for a Best Feature award, which indicates its success as a cohesive unit despite its original intent as a web series.

Here is a link to the film/web series Facebook page if any of you want to check it out:

I can’t say I like the film/series but I find it interesting that the filmmakers think that the most effective way to distribute their film to the public is through a web series. Also, the fact that the web series form did well under the label of “film” really blurs the line between the two mediums and raises the question of whether there is a line at all? I will be curious to see if the film is as successful in webisode form or is entered in any web series festivals.

2 Responses to “Web Series or Film?”

  1. jhaderlein December 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    This is not the first time this kind of reversal has happened. The most famous example is David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, originally designed as a television show but never picked up by a major network, so instead Lynch retooled the script, shot more footage, and made one of his most acclaimed films of all time. In Mulholland Drive it is easy to spot certain isolated scenes that clearly begged for follow-up in later episodes that instead in the film serve as red herrings and throwaways. Though most David Lynch projects also trade in the surreal, part of how Mulholland Drive made the jump from T.V. to film was Lynch’s decision to have the question of what is significant and what is real be the primary part and parcel of the film’s experience, which turned the disconnection and confusion of an originally unintended adaptation in to the thematic and stylistic core of the film. I wonder whether the transition in format altered the production of this show or the way they decided to use past footage. Changes like this to me are a testament to how it sometimes takes arbitrary restrictions on creativity to make the best art possible.

  2. Stuart R. Wahlin December 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    As the writer/director of “Hand of Glory,” I thought I’d weigh in here. First, thanks for the mention. Secondly, you indicated you don’t particularly like the film/series, but I’m also aware this blog was posted at a time when only the first episode was available, so I hope your opinion improves as the story unfolds.

    Originally, the script was only about 40 pages, which I thought was an ideal length for a four-part web series. In the end, however, we wound up around 70 minutes. At about the midway point in production, realizing this thing was growing, I thought it made more sense to keep the piece intact as a feature, and to take a whack at some festivals.

    We made “Hand of Glory” with less than $5,000, but we’re proud of what we were able to accomplish with it. But let’s be real. It has some of the limitations that inevitably arise when you’re on a micro budget. No one is going to pick this thing up for distribution. Under the circumstances, we agreed the best course of action was to create some buzz about a limited-time public release as a web series, then be done with it. On to the next, which we hope will have a less-modest budget.

    This was essentially my first film since college, about 20 years ago, and I was shaking off a lot of rust. So from the very beginning, I really intended “Hand of Glory” to be resume, of sorts. The awards and nominations certainly help. I think we tell a very interesting story in a creative way, and that it’s a unique, worthwhile viewing experience. I can show it to potential investors/donors for my next film and say: “This is what we accomplished with $5,000. Imagine what we could do with, say, $50,000.” A year-and-a-half ago, I had nothing to show anyone who might financially support the production of “Hand of Glory.”

    Now as for how the viewing experience may differ in its capacities as a film vs. a web series, that’s a very good question. We’ll see.

    And I’m glad jhaderlein brought up David Lynch. Right on the mark. And “Hand of Glory” certainly has some Lynch influence. We tipped our hats by placing a “Twin Peaks” box set in a scene.

    Glad to have found your blog!

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