Vancouver Web Fest (VWF) is right around the corner and we had the privilege of speaking with Executive Director and Founder, Suzette Laqua. Read more below the jump on official selections, the web series industry and more! And if you're looking to get your web series noticed, you can find out how to submit your web series to next year's VWF!
netTVnow: Can you tell us a bit about your experience in the industry?
Suzette Laqua: Prior to founding Vancouver Web Fest in 2013, I had co-written and produced pilots and shorts.
netTVnow: Where did the idea of creating a web fest come from?
SL: Being an official selection at LA Web Fest and attending that event in 2013, I was so inspired by the creators and their work that I felt that Vancouver and Canada needed a web fest of their own to spotlight these amazing people and productions from around the world. I did some investigation and found that Canada did not have a web fest, so I set about the journey of creating the Vancouver Web Fest.
netTVnow: What are some of your goals you’re hoping to accomplish through Vancouver Web Fest?
SL: Continuing to put web series and digital content on the map and expanding the public appetite for digital content. My team and I feel the importance of encouraging and educating web series creators by building a strong and supportive community at VWF. We strive to showcase new work and talent from both Canada and Internationally. Another huge goal for us is to continue to increase and provide more distribution opportunities for content creators.
netTVnow: In your opinion, what makes web series so unique and popular amongst audiences these days?
SL: Many projects that wouldn’t or couldn’t be made in traditional studios can be made without restrictions and at the pace of the creator. The variety of web series and talent out there is huge and very welcoming to the audiences. And of course the idea that anyone can watch them anywhere, anytime on any device.
netTVnow: When did you realize that Vancouver Web Fest was going to be such a popular event? What was the “A-HA!” moment?
SL: When I started the VWF social media pages, Facebook and Twitter, and the number of people and web series that started following, sending messages asking when the festival would take place and when and where they could submit - word spread like crazy. Once we opened for submissions in September 2013 we had hundreds of submissions from 23 countries submit in the first month. It was an absolute honor to have 9 countries in attendance at our inaugural festival in 2014. And the amazing feedback we received about the festival was overwhelming.
netTVnow: Where do you hope the industry will be in the next few years as more and more creators are embracing this new medium?
SL: My vision and hope is that web series will be a recognized medium in the mainstream entertainment industry and receive the same levels of investment as television and film. And these creators and their teams will be rewarded and recognized for their amazing hard work and talent.
netTVnow: What are some key highlights from this year’s event?
SL: There were so many highlights at VWF16, but we particularly thrilled with the attendance of the web series creators from around the world. We had Mexico, USA, South America, Italy, France, New Zealand, England, Spain and Germany in attendance. It’s these creators, along with the support via social media of those who cannot attend, who continuously make VWF a continued success. We were also honored to have participation in the form of workshops, panels and keynotes from New Form Digital, Adobe, Emmy Award winner Bernie Su, Outtv and many more, amazing contributors. A highlight we are also really proud to share is the many distribution deals that were made at this years festival.
netTVnow: Since we are a website dedicated to web series, what are some of your favorite series?
SL: That’s a tough one, there are so many to pick from. But I do encourage everyone to take a look at our Official Selections and winners and watch them. They definitely represent some of the top quality in content that is available. But I’d like to add because we only pick 65 Official Selections, and it can be a very difficult decision, there were many web series that don’t get in that were phenomenal and deserve the attention and success as well.
I would like to do a shout out that VWF17 submissions close October 31st.
netTVnow: What is the judging process like for submissions? Who do you typically enlist as judges?
SL: All web series go through a screening process with our screening team of over 25 people. From the total pool of submissions 65 Official Selections are chosen. Our Program Director and her team then send the Official Selections to 45 judges from around the world (we had 9 different countries judging VWF16) who decide the winners in each of the genres and categories. The winners list is then sent to our attorneys office. The trophies are then ordered with the names and are delivered to Vancouver Web Fest the evening of the awards ceremony where the presenters are given envelopes to announce the winner. The nice thing is that we, my team and I, with no advance knowledge of who won, are as excited as everyone else by the announcements.
netTVnow: Any upcoming projects or anything else you’d like to share?
SL: We are proud and excited to have CBC and CBC Vancouver on board as our Exclusive Media Sponsor. Also, we will have Adobe coming back to do a workshop and talk. They will also be sponsoring amazing Adobe packages for the winners. We’re still in the planning stages and will have more announcements as we go with regards to the Official Selections, panels, workshops, etc. and I’d love to share them with you and your readers as we start announcing in the next few weeks.