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The Bannen Way Sneaks Online Early — for Streamys Consideration

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[show=bannenway size=large]Updated with comment from Crackle: For a few months now, plenty of buzz has been circulating about the Crackle-produced The Bannen Way, a gritty noir web series created by Mark Gantt and Jesse Warren that was set to launch on Jan. 6 (a date proudly plastered on the official site). That’s a pretty easy date to remember — the first week in January. So color me surprised when today I got a tip that the first three episodes of the series were live on Sony’s (s sne) web video portal.

Screw-up at Sony HQ — or a sneaky effort to ensure that the show is eligible for the 2nd annual Streamy Awards (which require that at least three episodes be released during the previous calendar year)? Well, we’re still waiting on comment from Crackle, so there’s no official answer yet. In the meantime, though, let’s watch some web video! Update: A representative from Crackle confirmed via email this afternoon that making Bannen Way eligible for Streamys consideration was a factor in the decision to release the show early.

First things first: Bannen Way is compellingly made and well-written, with a knack for drawing the viewer into its world of cards, sex, addiction, and high-stakes larceny. Neal Bannen (Gantt), an inveterate gambler and crook, is broke and in debt to the wrong people — from the very beginning, he admits, he’s “f—ed” — and while he’s not necessarily the most likable hero (something about his consummate smugness makes it hard for him to generate much empathy), his grandfather’s guidelines for life — the titular “Way” — make for a nice framing device.

According to the creators, who spoke at a recent Tubefilter meetup, the shooting schedule was insanely tight, but the lack of time doesn’t show. It’s a tightly paced ride, and the acting — especially Michael Ironside (in his second web video project this year) as a hard-edged police chief with a vested interest in Neal’s well-being — is uniformly professional and polished.

However, stylistically, Warren and Gantt owe Guy Ritchie at least a nice thank you; Bannen Way‘s eclectic mix of gangsters, scoundrels and attractive ladies (some of whom are even introduced with distinctive freeze-frame title cards) seem pulled directly from an American remake of Snatch. The creators have brought some individual flair to the proceedings, and the level of production is impressive for web content, but if you’ve seen more than one gangster film in the last two decades, you won’t be overwhelmed by The Bannen Way‘s originality, and you might even grow bored at times of how derivative certain elements are. For example, in case you were wondering, the guys seem to have a thing for large-breasted brunettes, as Neal flirts or has sex with at least three different ones in the first three episodes. Blondes and redheads need not apply.

Bannen Way, much like Angel of Death (Crackle’s big action smash from last year) was filmed essentially as an independent feature, and after premiering online will eventually be released on DVD as a full-length film. It’s a smart way for Sony to get its money back, but losing the novelty of being a web series will mean that Bannen Way will be just another crime caper on the shelves at Blockbuster (s bbi) — and not the most novel or inventive of its genre.

43 Responses to “The Bannen Way Sneaks Online Early — for Streamys Consideration”

  1. Ann

    You’ve hit upon another key problem anyone would have in doing a grassroots awards show in a worldwide new media arena. The Streamy Awards people and the IAWTV people are wonderful people I know that truly, (I applied to join the IAWTV maybe I’ll be accepted,) and anyone would have this problem doing an awards show like this.

    The changing the release by a studio distributor to go across two years of awards eligibility for one season is one issue. But, you speak to another.

    The other issue is real entertainment awards shows have never included us before, I mean
    you or I cant make a feature, release it free to millions of people from our living rooms and then win a best picture Oscar for it because it was really, really good.

    It doesn’t happen or work that way. Not even at “indie” film festivals like Sundance.

    “The general public” of artists with self produced material, writing, performances, etc… should have a show yes, and frankly it’s nice the Streamys is still kind of one for the time being. I think we all thought that would last a bit longer past the first two years. Given the Emmy category for web, and other major awards adding web categories of sorts, this award show seemed a safe place to ask to be recognized.

    In those other awards, no matter the original artists budget and resources or influence once the film went into the big pipeline if it was award worthy then it’s the corporations, agencies, PR, and Academys duking it out for their stable of artists and investments, big and/or small budgets, whatever, its entity against entity. Not person against large entity in those shows as it is becoming rapidly in the Streamys.

    Frankly, I try everyday to get my hard work and the hard work of the group of people who agreed to do the series Safety Geeks with me out into the world. Just working to be recognized by an audience or an awards show or even a blog or reviewer is uphill, frustrating work.

    A production of literally two on the series, Invention with Brian Forbes with us two doing production of everything right down to clean up the room. Thor shooting it alone and doing a few effects as needed. Its another world from whats emerging. Invention is two people doing every single thing involved pre, production and post and another person borrowing a camera to film them while listening to the mics. Three people motivated, loving doing it and only three to vote for themselves LOL.

    With Safety Geeks, we had a few more people working for free I put it on my credit card and KoldCast will get me back to -$3000 below zero dollars only 9 months later when they send the last sponsorship payment, they are honorable that way. In post I did everything alone and for visual effects it was literally three guys working for free all night on over 1200 composite effects and CGI for 8 months. That’s how its been with web stuff for most of us.

    I try for several hours a day now to get the show recognized, an award would help as we are the kind of people who that sort of thing might really help.

    This was to be different, the Streamys was to be a place for peers and “us” to nurture and reward excellence with direct access to the public and each other, already it has the biggest multinational distribution companies in the world wanting in earlier than they had planned.

    The web changed MUCH faster than we would have liked it to as an incubation for talents and distribution unfettered by big money, corporate concerns, and getting through development people hired as gatekeepers to make something.

    In the rush to be making money at it, we have to pause and remember that with big money to “pay the bills” comes a requirement to get big name actors from established media, name production and big distribution and publicity to justify any real return on investment in a series. I’ll be the first thing that is decided, has to go.

    The Bannen Way might be the last of its very short breed where a talented bunch of non names ie… a talented non-A list like Mark and non A-List like Jesse get to even be in or directing and producing a series that gets distributed by a big studio.

    The next series idea well…if this works it will be Christian Slater with music by the Jonas Brothers and you would be escorted off the set because you dont belong there. What could you possibly know about making real shows with these people? After all, they’re famous.

    In three years, the web is becoming mini-Hollywood and the same cliques that wouldn’t let us do anything or be “in” before, they are forming again around this now. At this point, if I keep doing artistically successful shows that people want to see more of, I am going to go broke, but the balance of that is if I want other people’s money to do more then I have to satisfy other people’s parameters, desires, limitations and expectations. I am willing to do that on some level.

    It is now just like trying to get something through traditional media in that you try to get a series “picked up” on the web. Once you are lucky enough to get the nod from some company to make it, even the means of distribution is changing into another kind of entity.

    YouTube is freezing views if they dont like your thumbnail, or you seem to be getting too many too fast, and an entertainment giant owns YOUtube. What’s going to get front and center there from now on as a result? YOU? Your production, well, the better it is, the bigger the threat to the old guard moving in unless its absorbed.

    It would have been nice if really big corporations and organizations had stayed out a bit longer, but they cant and they didnt. By the time the tech and the access to broadband reached a point where talented “unhired” artists like us could put out stuff and threatened the studio pie, they have indeed clamped down.

    I have actually have to now go to pitches and even had one development/pitch person who wasn’t listening to me as I begged to have access to resources to continue to make shows, take meeting and actually they turned down the produced show as a “pitch” later as unfilmable and not going to work in the space. It was a project idea that I’d actually just mentioned as a sample of my work, now it was already produced a while ago on the web, was all out, nice following, good reviews (look them up) on DVD on Amazon and done LOL here it is http://aoc.mevio (dot) com. they didnt hear that. They sent me a really nice rejection letter about it. I sent them a few great reviews from the previous year, just reviewed it and they liked it a lot that was nice to send to development too.

    But, now these development people are the ones that we have to go to to ask for permission and impress in order to be viable and reach a big audience because the window of the indie circumventing all that is closing now. What if none of them get me or like me or my ideas?Will it soon mean that’s it? Game over?

    I grow weary of the only weak retort (yes, I am looking at you Monkey) some can muster the “It’s about great content, go out pull yourself up by your bootstraps and stop whining. If you’re great, you’ll attract money, lots of it.” Oh, thats how it works huh? Well tell that to Orson Welles, Preston Sturges, Byron Dawson, Dylan Thomas, Van Gogh, Nicola Tesla and on and on. It’s not about fame it’s the appreciation and funding thats hard to get.

    So, if they turned down one project that was a successful and I had done, but also they never heard of because it isn’t plastered all over everywhere. So, it hadn’t been made in their minds nor should it. How likely are they to say go ahead do the ones I havent? And give me money? I get that I am “out there” and do comedy (much more Terry Gilliam than Judd Apatow that’s just who I am. I do silly egghead British-style humor and always have when its something I generate) and some have agreed with me that it’s funny, not everyone, but enough.

    You don’t need everyone to like your work, just enough.

    That said, you are right you need separate categories because it is as wrong as comparing a drama and a comedy for best film in the Oscars is; it’s wrong to take your story, what it took to make it, and how well you can lobby for it and expect any result comparable to that of a company that is financed and has staff whose sole jobs are to do just what you do solo on your own for no money. They do it for other peoples projects, not even their own. I mean, we design the poster for our shows, whereas a designer does it on the clock for someone else’s film at a studio.

    Thats why they all the posters have faces (usually in standard layout ( … sters.html)
    and the TRAJAN font is on almost every movie poster and if not on poster then its on the DVD. It’s all standardized.

    We have not yet been standardized. We can be, if they will take the pitch and let us do what we want to make.

    We are trying so hard now to get Safety Geeks or Invention with Brian Forbes out there and also recognized, I think about it constantly and work on it hours a day. A few more reviews from reviewers who get it and think its good or getting people talking about it and everything could change on a dime I suppose. But that’s outside my control.

    But, I do not really think for a moment that either will be nominated let alone win. I am no dummy. I suppose it’s nuts working so hard to get it considered if I really believe it doesn’t have a chance but I’m stubborn sometimes and obsessive others. I see who has momentum, who has representation that believes in them and works for them hard all day picking up the phone and pushing them to whomever, I see what’s becoming a brand name and there are some great series out there in the comedy genre that also deserve to win.

    Both series we made will probably disappear regarding the Streamys without so much as the whimper of “Oh, they should have got one.” I am resigned to that. It’s how it works and I don’t think I’ll be eating crow anytime soon.

    I will keep doing it because I love it. I love making shows and doing all the different jobs you have to do, act, write, edit, sound, music, costumes, catering, music, everything and I have lots of new ideas.

    I’ll keep acting, directing, writing and producing at my low level for a living and hopefully act in some other people’s web series from time to time this year. I love the people I get to work with and the creative process… I love the whole bittersweet thing.

    Tom Konkle

    Safety Geeks: SVI &
    Invention with Brian Forbes

    If you like our shows please take a minute and vote for them often. If not. It’s okay.

    • Tom – You are a prolific mofo! And you don’t give yourself enough credit man. Your show is original and weird and funny. And unlike anything out there (old and new media included). So good on you for sticking to your comedy guns, working your ass off and creating shows that make YOU (and the people who get you) laugh. I’m giving you the “Ann Marie Award for Excellence in Web Comedy” right now. It’s just a piece of gum. But it’s Bubblicious. I’ll give it to you the next time I see you. ;)

      As for me, I’m just amazed to have been able to create a TV series. Even ten years ago we wouldn’t have been able to do this. I literally launched a show from my apartment! It was the coolest thing ever. I still marvel sometimes that when my biz partner is editing on one machine and screams out something like “I need the sound of a dying fly STAT” I can locate the perfect one on Sounddogs, download it and send it to his machine in 2 minutes flat. Who knew so many people were out there recording dying bug sounds?

      Moreover, we had a packed premiere party in Hollywood, got reviewed and were featured numerous times on numerous websites. And, guess what, we were brought in to pitch and/or just meet with a number of big companies on the strength of our work in “Whorified!” It’s been a great “calling card” series for us and I am a better performer/filmmaker and all around person for having done it.

      So an award would just be cake icing, you know? And I don’t expect the Streamy peeps to not go “big”. It makes sense from a business perspective. Big name winners, big-studio-sponsored shows, etc., get them press coverage and give winning a Streamy an added sense of importance.

      A couple indie peeps and projects will sneak in for sure. Will they be us, who the hell knows? I’d like to think the members of the IAWTV watch numerous episodes of every single show entered into the Streamys and really judge on things like originality, execution, story (over the course of an entire season) and entertainment value. And then factor in (even if it’s not a technical guideline) whether the project had a budget of $7,000 or $700,000.

      It would be nice if they didn’t already have picks in their brains that rise to the fore the minute voting commences. But, as you said, due to some shows having great PR flacks, budgets for marketing and the ability to glad-hand like there’s no tomorrow I think it’ll be hard for them to not pick those shows.

      We’ve been doing this since 2006. Our first series was written up in Forbes Magazine and came in as one of the “top 15 most watched indie-produced shows” on Veoh in 2007 (just under Eisner-backed “Prom Queen”). But we’ve won nary an award (admittedly, I don’t enter our shows very often). So we’re in it for the duration I suppose. But our approach, product and goals are evolving just like these awards and the medium in general are evolving. Such is the nature of the game.

      With that I’m outtie. Don’t obsess too much, Tom. You’re energy needs to go into making me laugh some more. It’s grape, BTW. The gum, that is.

      Ann Marie Lindbloom

      P.S. For those web comrades and comedy lovers who haven’t seen our show, our sizzle reel will give you a nice taste of “Whorified!”:

  2. Here’s my proverbial two cents:

    I think you sound like a very cool chap Mark Gantt and you’re certainly quite talented. I congratulate you on scoring a deal with Sony on the strength of what was an awesome pilot. It inspired me to shoot some awesome pilots. So I’m sorry “TBW” is being dragged through the muckity muck as an example of a big studio’s attempt to thwart indie creators.

    That said, I still don’t think 3 episodes is enough to judge a series on. I also think that when it comes to the Streamy Awards there should be separate categories for indie content and studio-backed content. As other people have stated, awards like the Streamys are evolving as this very new medium evolves. We’re all learning, the IAWTV included. I wanted to acknowledge that. I suppose “New Media” is just now emerging from the primordial sluice. Next year, after it develops appendages, things will be very different I’m sure.

    But let’s talk about right now. Up until now, I hadn’t thrown my hat into the awards ring for my comedy series “Whorified!” because it seems like most awards go to shows that are studio-backed and/or helmed by someone with name recognition. Either that, or they go to the handful of shows you see covered time and time again on the two or three websites everyone turns to for new media coverage. I feel like I can list exactly who this year’s Streamy Awards will go to using that criteria. It makes the awards seem not that “awardy.”

    Alas, I threw my hat into the ring for the Streamys this year. Why? Because I created a good series that I’m very proud of. A series that has received critical acclaim (if not a huge fan base). Also, it was only $10. I think our series can go toe to toe with studio-backed web comedy shows that spent much much more than we did. So I don’t think we should be held to a lesser standard. I’m not saying that. But it feels sort of weird that our unadorned peasant toe is in the same category as their gold-dipped piggie.

    To wit: myself and my biz partner created, wrote, produced, directed and edited our show for roughly $500 per episode. We were the casting department, the art department, the wardrobe department, the camera department, the set designers and the entire post department.

    Moreover, we location scouted/secured locations, script supervised, shot (when we weren’t on camera) and held the boom when we had to. We had the help of 3 extra pairs of hands on set who shot, gripped, did make-up, PA’d and did the billion other things that are needed on set. And, happily, our very talented make-up artist is also a music composer and created all the songs/stings you hear in “Whorified!”. So a total of five people put together a 10 episode series (and a number of promos).

    So how in the hell can one compare “Whorified!” to a show that cost $700,000 to produce? Admittedly, we’re not up against “Bannen” for the Best Comedy Series award but in all other categories – “Best New Web Series” for example – we are duking it out with shows like “TBW.” I understand “TBW” was a union show and that makes things far more exorbitant but it also makes it far easier in many regards. Experienced actors, experienced crew and delicious sandwiches during breaks are just a few of the perks. My neighbor was actually the craft services person on “TBW”. Her fees exceeded our entire series budget.

    So all that said, I hope that this lengthy discourse we’re having about the subject helps the cause and inspires the IAWTV to take a look at the rules, guidelines and judging process as they move forward. Right now it does feel like it’s an “everything old is new again” situation with big studio moola, name actors, and studio-backed PR machinery stealing indie’s thunder. But award selection is arbitrary and awards don’t always go to the people and projects who most deserve them. I never hold my breath when I’m rooting for someone or I’m up for one. That said, would I like a Streamy? Hell to the yeah. They’re so shiny. So very very shiny. But do I need one to keep doing what I do? Hell to the nizzo.

    I’ll close by saying I am grateful to be part of this community and the rocking people who are making it happen for themselves. So I lift my glass to people working and creating on all budgets and seeing their visions come to life. And I toast the people who’ve released 30 episodes or 3 episodes in the past year. It’s the greatest time ever to be making TV and I’m going to keep fighting the good fight and having a blast making people laugh while doing what I love.

    Happy New Year. Here’s to big things for all in 2010.

    Ann Marie Lindbloom
    AcuteTV/Co-Creator of “Whorified!”

  3. I feel like I should chime in here. As an writer and actor in Los Angeles for over twelve years and a working in the film business for eighteen years I totally understand and respect what Tom and others are feeling. I’ve been struggling for so long, the fact that anyone is even talking about something I created is a little… surreal to say the least. Jesse and I created this out of neccessity. We didn’t have careers and were tired of complaining that my agent was getting me out and casting director workshops weren’t working. (okay that was mostly from me, my girlfriend points out) As Jesse Warren (my co-producer,writer and director) mentioned in Taryn’s blog, we originally were going to be releasing this in December. Actaully, October, then November and then December. Lot’s of things that were out of our control and the studios, for that matter. But I get it. The point that Nick and Gennefer bring up is true, it’s all about the content, story, acting and directing. I’d like think that we’ve made the best product we could and will hopefully be judged on that. There was no money put up by Sony for this early release, we they/we were just following the rules set up by the Streamy’s board. We believed that we’d be judged on the whole series not just those three episodes but all sixteen. That being said, there are a lot of great series out there. I do think that studios getting involved with “New Media” (hate that fucking term) is a boost to us independent guys that have a story and a way for them to recoup their money. And on that… I have to clear something up, this was not $1 million dollar budget. That is something that is getting around and since we can say how much, it keeps going around. There was one web series around that number, yes, Bannen had a much larger budget than most web series (except Circle of Eight which is.. hmmm should I dare say… four times what Bannen cost) BUT it was the first large in house production for Sony. That means that when we initially made the deal we had budgeted for an ultra low budget feature we didn’t realize that we were going to be UNION! The Bannen Way was one of the first all union shows. That’s IATSE, AFTRA, DGA and WGA. Which sounds great, but if you’re an indy producer then you understand, that means we had to pay payroll taxes and fringes (health and pension benefits) on every cast and crew member. Right off the top, one third of our budget went to that, leaving us with well… nothing near what we had budgeted to do the show we envisioned. So, to be clear, not a million dollar project, no extras from being a partner with Sony on that end except people wanting more money from rental houses and locations because of SONY. We were still very fortunate to have Sony foot the bill and an amazingly talented crew made up of pros, who cut their rates to make our dream come true. I really hope that everyone gets that Sony isn’t buying anything, especially an award. Dr. Horrible was pretty fucking excellent and it’s not really his fault that Joss is successful. I will finish with saying that we’ve had an overwhelming amount of support from everyone in this community and it’s blown us away. I really do feel that people want us to succeed (except for you Tom of course… LOL). Happy New Year all and feel free to hit me back with any comments.

    • Mark —

      I’m glad you chimed into the discussion, and a very gracious response. As I said in my previous comment, yours and Jesse’s hard work is absolutely deserving of recognition, and the fact that you attracted a studio only supports the quality of the content you created. If you ask me, more content creators should be celebrating that fact, and its positive implications of potentially more studios following suit to invest dollars into this space (instead of rallying against it in the name of ‘big media’). Not to mention the additional exposure that it brings for ALL web series by having a high profile player involved like Sony.

      I know I sound like a broken record, but discovery is still the biggest hurdle when it comes to web TV, and the space is so saturated that there needs to be support from bigger outlets to rise above the clutter, broaden reach and attract viewers. Look at the success of ‘Valemont U’ as a result of its distribution via MTV — over a million viewers were able to consume the great content that Brent Friedman and Electric Farm Entertainment worked tirelessly to create who would not have otherwise even known about it or likely ever found it online. In fact, it’s caused new viewers to discover ‘Afterworld,’ one of their earlier series that’s over 2 years old.

      I think shifting people’s perspectives from ‘big bad media’ is critical if we are going to advance the space and elevate the production quality of the incredible stories being developed. And let’s not forget that Sony/ are invested in the digital entertainment space and want to see it succeed. It’s not us (independents) versus them (big media). It’s media converging and new profitable business models emerging, and I am in support of it, and very excited about where it’s going to lead in 2010 (which I’ve affectionately termed ‘the year of monetizing web video).

      Happy New Year, everyone, and as Joel Bryant pointed out, let’s not lose sight of the most important thing — it’s all about him! :)



    • A couple key things jump out at me here. First of all, it’s becoming clear that the focus of the discussion is not on Mark and Jesse as creators but on whether their creation can be judged for an award from their peers based on 3 episodes of their content. Because regardless of how much Team Bannen says they want to be judged as a whole 16 episode season, the majority of the IAWTV is only going to have access to those 3 episodes (unless the show is willing to release the entire 16 episodes to every IAWTV member during the voting portion of the process much like the SAG Awards and Academy Awards do). The PUBLIC, who is doing the initial nominating, only has access to those 3 episodes, so no matter what, they are being asked to judge it based on that amount of content.

      Making comparisons to Dr. Horrible in this instance is flawed because that WAS a complete story completed in 3 episodes and so COULD be judged as a whole piece of work.

      In my humble opinion, that is what is ruffling the feathers here: not a flat out BIG MEDIA IS BAD or an independent vs. studio backed content debate (though there is a lot of both of that wrapped up in there) but a perception that a loophole of a new system is being manipulated and that maybe in the future, adjustments need to be made to improve upon that system. The Bannen Way is becoming an unfortunate and largely unintentional cataylist for bringing this to light and hopefully sparking improvements.

      • I completely agree, Jenni. Mark and Jesse are the unfortunate center of a debate that should be about Streamy regulations and the eligibility process itself. But many of the arguments have centered around Sony (as big media) throwing its weight around to get special treatment or ‘stomping the independents,’ all of which I think is unfounded and think it’s important to point out that studio participation in our space is actually a good thing so that the discussion can stay focused on the core issue, and as you said, hopefully spark a productive resolution. Here’s to a prosperous 2010 for web TV!

    • Tom Konkle

      Definately want you to succeed Mark this is not personal more a discussion of tactics and ideas that frankly were probably out of your hands . I am you before this happened for you, I have no ill-will toward you. Here’s to a fresh start in 2010. I’ll buy you a beer let’s trade war stories.

  4. Joel Bryant

    Hey, I think we’re all glossing over a pretty big notation earlier in this discussion:

    I was nominated for a Streamy last year!

    …that was pretty effin’ cool!!!


  5. Hope not to derail the topic, but I am curious about something… Let’s say Bannen Way is nominated for it’s 3 episodes, and they only make one season (which I doubt. Due to the sleekness of the episodes). Would they be nominated again for having the remaining season airing next year? Sorry for sounding Newbie(ish). Only been truly discovering the vastness of web series since ComicCon :)

    • As I understand the rules if they release 3 episodes next year they are also eligible then.

      It’s a good question and in my opinion a valid reason to look at tweaking the rules for submissions.

  6. I keep seeing this on Twitter about the early release of The Bannen Way for Streamy consideration… It does seem to upset people with low budget shows that want awards… my question is, why do we assume that The Bannen Way will even be nominated and win? Is the Streamy’s just gonna give awards to a show because it cost a million dollars? Well if so, then the Streamy’s means nothing to me. I personally would be much more impressed by a web series that wins an Emmy, and both the Daytime and Primetime shows give them out for Web Series… but regardless, if the Streamy’s awards The Bannen Way for anything we will wait and see, but I would question the validity of that awards show if it will only give shows like The Bannen Way and Dr. Horrible awards. It’s a lot harder to make a really good high quality web series on a shoestring then a millstack, and there are people doing it. So we can only wait and see…

  7. I pretty much will be echoing what Nick said, but I posted on anchor cove my thoughts before he posted his here so I feel like it’s a point worth repeating. To me bashing a series is unnecessary and I have never really partook in that. But I think the issue of what should be considered is an excellent discussion point.

    So here’s my post from anchor cove, apologies to the people reading everywhere:

    I don’t necessarily think its fair & it’s not what I do, but ya know what is fair?

    I feel like a series should be judged as a whole story arc or season. Even if the voting is in February this show should technically be judged only on these 3 episodes which simply isn’t enough to go by. I’m rewatching Lost at the moment and even though the “Pilot” was brilliant television do I think it deserves an award just for that? No. It could easily have all fallen apart halfway through the first season. Another example, one of my favorite shows but had more of a cult following, Roswell. It was the highest rated pilot ever by test audiences. And it was a good show. Was it the best show ever as it’s high pilot rating should suggest? No.

    So my argument is not the “big media is evil” and more the question “How should we judge a story?” I feel like a story is much more than it’s first chapter. Took me halfway through Pride & Prejudice before I fell in love with that book. Now I’ve read it numerous times and suggested it to friends. Stories have a beginning, middle and end. There is introduction, conflict and eventually resolution. Critically stories, be they books, shows or movies, can only really be judged by how they navigate every part of a story.

    • This is a totally separate issue from what has been discussed thus far. Geolocking is becoming more common with studio-backed series that aren’t willing to pay international rights (or as an effort to make additional funds by selling international rights in addition to domestic). Should the fact that a show is trying to protect itself monetarily be rounds for ineligibility? It’s worth discussing.

      • The www was conceived to share information around the planet. If a studio chooses to geo-lock a series for their own needs then that is their choice. However, if it has not been released world wide then technically it does not exist on the www.

        Now if a show is blocked by a national government then that would be a different issue.

        I would say that a show like Harpers Globe would become eligible once it has been fully released to the World. That way the Streamys is actually an international award and not a regional award.

  8. If it is geoblocked in Australia then is it still eligible. I mean the www is supposed to be world wide and if it is blocked then it is effectively not online world wide. This is an international awards show and that should not be acceptable.

  9. Nick Carlton

    This is being discussed on every site so I don’t know where to post this! NewTeeVee will do!

    My frustration is not with The Bannen Way/Sony/Mark Gantt… I commend them on what looks like an awesome series (geoblocked in Australia) – and by all means they should do what it takes to be eligible – everyone wants an award. Hell, I would have snuck out an early release if I had a series shot.

    My frustration is with the Streamy rules. I understand it is only in its second year and part of being a new organization means that they will be tinkering with the rules to figure out what works best (the Oscar nomination rules change every year).

    I personally believe that the current eligibility rules are flawed, a minimum of three episodes is a reasonable requisite but series should only be eligible if the LAST episode of the series or that season was aired in the 2009 calendar year.

    The Streamys are a celebration of storytelling on the web – they are called web SERIES not web EPISODES. The Bannen Way is one project that consists of an entire series. How can you judge the series and its ability to tell a story from the first 3 episodes? Hell you wouldn’t even get a decent look at the first act!

    • Excellent points, Nick, and I don’t disagree. Feedback like yours is important for the Streamy founders to hear and consider as they fine-tune the process, which as you highlighted, is only in its second year (and a huge undertaking). My comments are centered around how it’s dragging a deserving series through the debate — especially when most arguments are rooted in speculation on an outcome that has yet to occur. All they are is eligible. They’ll still need to rely on the strength of the content, which as you aptly pointed out, will mean considering an unfinished first act against completed series. Thanks for the discussion!

      • Nick Carlton

        Agreed… slamming The Bannen Way is not warranted in this discussion. The series looks great and Mark and Jesse clearly went to a lot of effort and should be applauded for their achievement.

        Yes, I acknowledge the Streamys are new and a massive undertaking and applaud the founders and Academy for putting on the event.

        Hopefully critical discussions like these about the rules will assist the Academy in refining the selection process.

        There is obviously a glaring flaw in the rules if a series can be up for the same award twice.

        Also the question is what are web series being judged by? Three episodes or an entire series’ ability to tell a story and integrate other elements such as interactivity and social engagement (all widely acknowledged characteristics of a web series).

  10. I think many people are losing sight (and diminishing) the spirit behind the Streamy Awards, and the foundation upon which they were founded — to recognize and honor quality web content. Does the fact that ‘The Bannen Way’ secured studio backing mitigate their hard work or somehow make them undeserving of recognition? Absolutely not. Mark and Jesse invested their time, money and passion into creating their art, just as all of the other content creators have who are vying for nominations. Just because they are eligible, doesn’t guarantee them a win — or even a nom — so I don’t think it’s worth all of this fuss, which undermines the fabric of a community that should be invested in the success of the ENTIRE web TV category as it will ultimately benefit everyone in the long-term. And while I’m confident that Sony isn’t putting anywhere near $40-60k into promotions, any efforts they do put forth also elevate visibility for web series overall. So, let them spend their money, which will likely expand the reach for your Streamy-submitted series as well.

    One of the core tenets of indie work is that it is free of the politics of the Hollywood machine, and creates a system where the work is paramount, not hidden agendas or subversion. In-fighting amongst content creators likes this is antithetical to the entire reason people like Felicia Day and others chose to go around the system — to create something special and build new bridges for their craft to reach the masses. Does the fact that The Guild attracted funding from Microsoft now make it ineligible for Streamy recognition? Of course not (though just as absurd a thought as questioning ‘The Bannen Way’). And remember, they’ll still ultimately have to perform with only 3 episodes against those that have a full season under their belt.

    So, let’s focus on the good that comes out of even the Streamy campaigning process — the additional exposure, the fan interaction and excitement. All of that is beneficial to helping the space grow and thrive, and will open up opportunities, even if your show may not get the nomination this year. And I have been enjoying all of the creativity coming out of the process, and have even uncovered some gems I hadn’t seen.

    You’re all doing incredible work, and I’m honored to be part of an industry that is churning out Streamy-eligible content in droves. Let’s celebrate that instead of scrutinizing it. That’s the shiny new board’s job anyway! ;)

    Best of luck to everyone, and I’m excited for what is sure to be a great event!

      • I don’t think Sony releasing the series to be eligible as ‘stomping the independents.’ If you had a studio-backed series that employed the same tactic, would you still have an issue with it? I suspect not. If anything, as Nick eloquently states below, this is a Streamy rules issue, so I’m simply suggesting that the community focus on that and work toward a positive common goal instead of against ‘The Bannen Way.’

  11. Tom, I agree with you 100%. Anyone who remembers the stunts Sony pulled to win the video game turf wars of the late 90’s knows that this is not an isolated incident. They do things like this for one reason and one reason only; to crush their competition before they get a chance to swing back.

    There are some people who are supporting them for this but you have to look past your next potential job and look at the bigger picture here. If Big Media is allowed to basically crush all of us, we are NOT going to benefit from this. They will simply turn around and hire their cronies and celebs for future projects, NOT us whether we supported them or not.

    Again Tom, I’m with ya!

  12. At least Crackle was up front about the early-release decision. Honestly, there is some big big content up next year that is going to be pretty hard to go up against (LXD and The Mercury Men just to name a couple…not to mention hopefully fingers crossed a second season of Compulsions) so I can see why they’d want to make a run of it this year.

    Crackle being transparent about their decision now puts it in the Academy’s hands to decide whether to reward this action or not. In the end, it should be the content that is judged but it’s challenging to reward an entire series based on just the first three episodes and look past months and months of discussion and buzz, which sounds like is one of Tom’s major complaints.

    • It is only one part of my opinion, yes Jenni.

      It’s never just about the content in this, it’s all the mechanisms that get content there to be judged.

      It’s Sony deciding to spend… oh (I am making up numbers sure, but they are numbers very do-able for a Sony) lets drop $40,000 to $60,000k on an “awareness” campaign for the Streamys for this 3 episode / 3 day before the end of the year entry. That also helps the Streamys too sure, but help us indie producers?

      Not really unless you parlay losing to a studio into a win as a self-financed individual or group of individuals who were at least able to get nominated.

      Whereas lets say Bernie Su could personally afford $1000 for Compulsions campaign for awareness to get the word out and add the man hours for free, then he and everyone else who did whole dramatic seasons this year are up against a studio influence pushing an incomplete run of the show they want to sell this coming year and submit as a finished season for the third award season, which is why they dont want to wait to be elligible,

      So with offers of the promise of future paying work to those along the way, agents really pushing and calling in favors for their actors, writers and creators on Bannen Way, (most of us to not have powerful agents picking up the phone and saying you need to look at this series or any agent pushing for us in this awards show) with this last minute bid from Sony you have legal departments, PR depts., etc, ALL pushing to make it happen for them against a few grass roots people with twitter accounts. Challenging.

      They can rightfully say “You’re not going to invite previously award winning/nominated actors like Robert Forster, Michael Lerner or Michael Ironside to your web awards show and not give it to him are you? ARE YOU?” Give it to Craig who? What agency is he with? No, no. thats not going to be news like us winning and we’ve leveraged these names in foreign markets. So, no, Craig I am sure hes great but no. Hope I am SO wrong.

      When Joel Bryant won last year in drama after Rosario, Neil Patrick, name, name, etc, etc.. I was SO happy because here’s a guy who does the work for years, trying, taking it, and comes up from struggling to be seen and do what he loves for pay without all the support and hype, and MOST import him winning means something to him and will mean something to those of us laboring in obscurity.

      I venture Joel Bryant was 1 million times more happy, grateful and impacted career-wise by winning a Streamy than Michael Ironside or Michael Lerner will be if they win or even know the Streamys exist. (they might really love winning and are sitting twittering all day for votes but…I doubt it)

      Any of us regular people would be affected more. It would mean the world to me. I never won anything before so yeah, it would be great to have years of trying without help acknowledged. That’s being candid and intellectually honest.

      No, Sony vs Taryn O’Neill and Stephanie Thorpe does not sound like it will just be about the content. Or a fair fight.

      It’s worth the major studios time because saying it won something ups the price to those in their network of international and domestic buyers that already are lined up to buy the show/film after it is “a web series.” It’s slick, expensive and looks like a TV show. Do you want your beautiful passion project shot for free with friends that is unlike anything a studio would greenlight up against that?

      Even if its greater artistically and in ambition than this show it can’t compete. There will be someone hired to make sure the interviewers on the red carpet know who they all are on that studio show and interview them because that will make the news not us.

      It is VERY important for a studio investing money in “product” to legitimize oversees distribution by a Streamy to cross platform the movies and foreign television sales of “award winning” US shown web series so they kind of need this to happen. Transparent what they are doing? YES.

      Let’s go ahead and get three episodes in so we have the “win” we already printed on the posters for the Asia market.

      Well now you and I can forget getting to the next level with some recognition as equals unless we beg to work for a studio on a project they say its okay for us to do, because if its just a show you pay for because your passionate to see it and get it out then your gonna be competing against a major corp for attention and votes and lose every time.

      A little film from a studio can go up against a big budget film and win something because though the film might be small or personal the mechanism that distributes it and gets it awards is the same deep pocketed one that the big budget film has got. You spend 10 mil on an Oscar campaign for The English Patient, fine but we spend 10 mil on Little Miss Sunshine (more than the films budget say) because a studio released it then it becomes just about the content because big or small the playing field is leveled by release times (the movies have to be complete not the first few minutes, and released a certain time) but the studios even the chances.

      If Little Miss Sunshine were made in my back yard and on my credit card, no “names” just equally good actors and with nothing more to spend after that well…

      A show puts out 23 episodes of a hard fought to make beautiful drama and 3 days before the end of the year a major studio drops the minimum 3 required to double dip this year and next year so the studio can sell it oversees as traditional television and a film as “the Award Winning Series” to recoup the 700,000 they have spent on name actors and production. Yes, thats good business IF thats what the Streamys are now about. I DO NOT think the guys who started the Streamys are about that AT ALL. They have integrity and were supporting us the little guys and the web community.

      If you can get a deal with Sony or a studio run with it, I would (or will if they aren’t too pissed that I have an opinion) but I would never say its keeping me on the same playing field as Dirty Bomb Diaries. That’s an insult to their hard work without resources.

      If that is what our own awards show all about already then we personally are in deep trouble because Safety Geeks and Invention have NO money to spend on advertising, no actors agents or producers agents calling “the right people” on the shows creators and actors behalf, no offers of show sponsorship and future jobs with a major studio later or a PR campaign so regardless of the quality of the work we do… it forever “hangs in the closet” appreciated by the few thousand people we can reach personally cause something else has been anointed to be sold and win.

      Let’s see how it goes down. If I’m wrong, I’ll be delighted and intellectually honest about it.

  13. Okay. This early release is such a disservice to the indie dramatic shows that worked all year to get their seasons out and finished only to then drop a $700,000 studio show three days before the end of the year.

    It presents itself as a web series in the US and is sold as a television show for millions by a major studio in the rest of the world. Doing this right now is not a good thing for the independent web community. I don’t have a horse in this race (drama category), but I know people who do. Who do you think is going to win a Streamy for drama now? And you know that most of the good but unknown actors in the guest star category will be crushed by a studio PR machine backing a celebrity actor.

    Is the point of the Streamys to make the world aware of Robert Forster and Sony or good independent web productions?

    Its timing is great for them. Not all of us. Cant they just win everything in drama next year when the rest of their season finishes? If you release the first 15 minutes of Iron Man 2 right now can it win something in the Oscars or should it be judged as a whole in the next year that it completes the story? This has nothing to do with the quality of the show — its great, it should be — the point is the timing and the bully factor.