March 10, 2010 Jill

Andra Sheffer’s office has walls in two shades of blue and looks west out at College where the blue roof of the police headquarters matches her decor nicely.  I was visiting to find out more about the Independent Production Fund and what I could put into my application that would help it stand out from yours.  Which raises the question of why I’m now going to tell you everything I found out.

”Or am I?  Do you trust me?

Well you should because one of the things Andra — the Executive Director of the Independent Production Fund — and I discussed was collaboration and cooperation among the successful applicants.  But I’ll get to that in a sec.

First, let’s just go over the basics of the application.  The IPF, as you know, is running a web drama pilot program:

The intent of the Fund is to assist independent producers/creators to finance the production of original drama series created initially for the web.
The Independent Production Fund intends to explore the potential for high quality, story-driven drama with new and innovative narrative forms.
Successful properties may subsequently be exploited on other platforms such as television and mobile either in their original format or through the exploitation of derivative rights.

Applications, which are limited to a maximum of six pages, are due on March 31st.  I suspect that there will be A LOT of applicants.  The plan is to narrow down the field and ask a small number of applicants (12? 14?) to create more detailed production proposals.  The IPF “intends to work closely with applicants in the creation of their Production Proposals.”

What can you do to get into that select second round group?

The guidelines say:

The primary criterion for acceptance by the Fund will be the quality of the project.The Board will assess projects based on the creative materials; creative and production team; production strategies; scheduling; budget and financing; distribution and web strategies; marketing and promotion plans; projected traffic; business model and revenue projections; maintenance strategies, third party financing and endorsements, associated interactive activities, recoupment, HD, etc.

But what are they really looking for?  Andra says great creative if the first step.  Creative that excite jurors and evaluators makes them look deeper.

hh-ww-no-bg.jpgA track record is going to help.  Experienced writers can apply, but you need to show evidence that you know how to produce and better yet, get things onto the web.  If you don’t have that experience, teaming up with someone who has complimentary skills will help your chances.

The business plan is going to be key.  The IPF is making an investment.  They want their money back and they want a profit which they can invest in other people’s projects.  They’d like to see you make a profit too.

You might want to talk about marketing as well.  How are you going to attract and engage an audience?

Fit all that into six pages!

Obviously, no one really knows exactly how to create a successful web series and make money with it.  You might say “Oh, Pure Pwnage did it.”  There are definitely lessons to be learned but times have changed a lot since then.  There are a handful of other series that work well and make money but no one guaranteed model.

The intent is to create a climate in which all of the successful applicants can pool resources and learn from each other.  By collaborating and sharing information and strategies, the teams will improve their chances of creating great web series that audiences love and turn a profit.

As Andra says, she wants all of the series to be as successful as possible.

I’m excited because 6 or 7 web series are going to get some financing and a good chance at testing the waters.  Whether they make money or not, we’ll all profit from their experience.

For more inspiration, check out these guidelines for creating award winning web series from the Fine Brothers.

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