Raindance Web Fest 2014. Interview with producer Elisar Cabrera

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During the Raindance Film Festival (24th September – 5th October 2014), one of the most important independent film festival of Europe borne with the purpose to nourish, support and promote independent films and directors coming from all over the world, the 2nd  edition of the Raindance Web Fest will take place (27th -28th September 2014). Aware of the fact that the web has created new opportunities for the independent film directors and that the webseries have become “the new format”, the Raindance organisers have begun to promote this new sector to seek out the next generation of film-makers.

The Raindance Film Festival, arrived at his 22nd edition, has hosted over the years film-makes like Christopher Nolan, Shane Meadows, Ken Loach, Marky Ramone, Iggy Pop, Anton Corbijn, Quentin Tarantino, Faye Dunaway and Lou Reed.

Will this stage be a good omen for the British webseries as well as for the Italian series as well?

We talk about it with the producer of the Raindance Web Fest, Elisar Cabrera.

On the 27th and 28th September the second edition of the Raindance Web Fest will take place. What will be the novelties and what are your expectations for this new edition?

At the moment we are still open for submissions (creators have until July 6th to submit their web series) and so we are still watching all the submissions before deciding on what the final selections will be. So far we are easily expecting to surpass the amount of submissions from 2013, which is a good thing as it means there’s more fantastic content out there being made. I think 2014 has been a transition year for web content. There’s more web production now than ever before and independent series need web fests like ours to stand out in a crowded market. Our aim at the Raindance Web Fest is the same as at the Raindance Film Festival discover new talents and help bring them to an international stage, so they can elevate themselves and their careers to the next level. So…for 2014′s edition of the festival we hope to bring not only a great line up of series but a full schedule of industry events of interest to creators at all levels.

What is the red threat of the Festival?

I am not sure if you can say there is a common theme. I like to think there will be a ‘Raindance’ theme to Web Fest. Raindance has been for 22 years a champion of independent filmmakers and filmmaking, so I suppose it’s fair to say that our selections will somehow mirror our big sister festival by taking the Raindance “indie film” spirit and finding the “indie series” spirit amongst our selection and creators. This doesn’t mean that we won’t show series with higher budgets, we are open to all, but we are looking for those unique stories and voices, which will capture the imagination of our audience.

What’s, in your opinion, the identikit of a webseries’ creator?

I think that the independent web series creator for the most part embodies the Raindance spirit.  It’s a creator or writer who hasn’t been sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, or spent years trying to get their idea made by sending out to commissioners hoping someone might bite. They have made a conscious decision to be the master of their own career, by making their series their way and doing it now rather than later.  It’s the same spirit of many independent filmmakers who make the indie feature films that we show at Raindance.  This is why it was an easy decision for us to add web series to the Raindance family.  Web series creators are independent filmmakers.  As the TV industry changes, the web series creators are those who will be in the best position to benefit, because they will have proven track records.

Italy is one of the major webseries producing countries on global scale. What is the key strength of these products?

It’s great that Italian creators have embraced the web series film format.  As you know Italian television series are not made for export. There are no Italian equivalents being made by the established channels to popular European series like The Bridge or The Killing.  So it’s come down to the independent creators, who don’t have any expectations to work with Italian TV, to come up with Italian stories that can be exported internationally via the web. This is great to see. It’s a perfect example of the Raindance spirit of filmmaking.

More and more the TV and cinema workers are focusing themselves on web products. Do you think that’s the natural course of the digital revolution?

Digital has fully integrated into media. It’s really no longer “new” media, it’s just media now.  There are still the traditional ways of financing and distribution – these won’t go away that quickly, because filmmaking at a particular budget level requires investment and return on investment.  With more studios and established media companies investing and looking for new content, independent creators have a great opportunity to get noticed, but they have to prove themselves by going out their making their own content first. You might have a great idea but you might still be an unknown quantity. So, go out there and become a known quantity if you plan to seek that investment from the established studios. Again, look at the indie film scene for inspiration. Christopher Nolan and Gareth Edwards made micro-budget first feature, look where they are now. They did it by proving themselves with a track record. For indie web series creators it is harder to knock on those doors, but if you can prove yourself, you then have to make sure you knock on the right door and you do that by reading up on the industry and staying connected by networking, by taking part and going to web fests.

A quick gaze to the future. How will the spectators approach change, not just towards the webseries, but towards the entertainment industry in general?

It’s always changing, so it’s up to creators to keep up to date in how and where audiences are engaging and discovering web content. This is the reason we created the Raindance Web Fest, for creators to come to a weekend event to gather new knowledge and networking opportunities. I think platforms will become more important as far as curating content and I think platforms will also start competing for exclusive content; this is the opportunity for independent creators.

From a partnership between visonaryweb and the Raindance Web Fest a new opportunity for our readers and webseries’ creators will rise. All the news in the next days, stay visionary!