We haven't told our moms that we're making a Web series, because we sort of hope they never see it. Not really their cup of tea. It's more like the tea that would make them cry and wring their hands and wish we'd turned out better. Considering that Max's mom called the other day, having forgotten both the username and password to her email account, and said, "The Google is broken," there's a fair chance she'll never know. (Hi, Mom! Sorry.)
But had we told them, we imagine that both would have asked, "What's a Web series?" In fact, even our savvy friends, who use the Internet all the time to find news and clothes and sex, don't all have a clear picture of what Web series are. So.
Web series are shows produced for distribution on the Internet. They run the gamut: Most are meant to be funny, and some of them actually are, whereas others aim to be sad or sexy or scary. It's like TV on the computer, except:
Or so it looks from our end. The 3 Bits is our first foray into narrative filmmaking. We're building the thing from the ground up: from writing to casting to putting together a crew and funding. And we decided it should be a Web series in July, when we realized the short film we wanted to make would (if we were lucky) be seen by a handful of people at a festival and then die without offspring. Why not bypass all that and make an episodic show that could reach right out to audiences on the Internet? Neither of us went to film school, and on our first day on set, our patient AD had to walk us through all the technical terms. We knew that it was our job to say "action," but when?
In thinking up a show for the Web, we realized that the Internet offers a lot more flexibility in format than a network does. Instead of one show about three siblings, we can make three shows, one for each of them. And while we're at it, the style can be totally different for each show. They can be very different visually, tonally, narratively. The episodes can be of different lengths, with different pacing. And the siblings can jump in and out of each other's story lines.
We created the Bits family world in a unique way and let the viewer choose how to experience it. For example, if a viewer is more into Henry's story than Madison's, they can go ahead and just watch his episodes. His story can stand independent of the others. But if the viewer wants to see the big, weird patchwork world, they can watch all three. It doesn't really matter. That's part of the fun, and that's something the Internet can do and TV can't.
Plus, TV is painfully behind the times. If you got your idea of queer people strictly from American TV, wouldn't it feel a little '90s? Sure, there are a couple of sassy gay men, but there aren't a lot of lesbians, or trans people, or dudes who like to wear dresses, or other violations big and small and serious and silly old gender codes. But the Internet is like a playground with no parents to tell you to get off the tire swing before you puke. We plan to puke all over.
So The 3 Bits is not one but three shows, each focused on one of three siblings: Henry, Roman and Madison Bits. Henry is a gay college kid trying very hard to have a good time. His older sister Roman, also gay, is a former weed dealer trying to get a career in freelance gardening off the ground. And Madison, the oldest, is a mommy blogger determined to prove her rock-'n'-roll cred.
Here's a sneak preview of Henry's world:
Enjoy the show!
Follow Margaret Singer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/HenryBits