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.
- Instead of competing against real housewives and crime procedurals and sitcoms for your attention, Web series have to compete against home videos of kittens and porn.
- Instead of existing at the whim of a network and its corporate sponsors, they're generally built by independent artists who volunteer their time and talent for cheap or for free.
- There are no censors determining what is and is not appropriate for the viewing audience, and generally there is more freedom and less money.
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