Felicia Day has been told she could be in movies. However, the 32-year-old writer and actress would rather geek out online.
That’s because Day does not see the Web as a stepping stone to TV or movie production. As people spend less time watching television and more time online, the Web is a means to its own end.
Web series have come a long way since lonelygirl15. Instead of webcams, they use camera crews. Instead of basements, they shoot on movie sets.
The major Web series, Dragon Age: Redemption premiered today. Far from a low-budget production, this corporate collaboration between Day and video-game company Bioware would not appear out of place on TV.
But even with all the special effects, there’s one way Web shows distinguish themselves from their their television and movie cousins: connectivity.
Day got her start in Web video on YouTube. In 2007, her self-made series, The Guild, was filmed in her garage. The group ran out of money after only three episodes and survived on donations from fans. Eventually though, it picked up 6.5 million viewers and won a slew of awards.
Today, Day doesn’t have to worry so much about money. Bioware footed the bill for Dragon Age’s 200-person cast and crew and a budget she said was much higher than The Guild’s.
“The budget may have been higher than The Guild, but we shoot that show in my garage! This show needed everything made FROM SCRATCH. We had stages, location shooting,” she told io9 during production.
But today’s fans expect the same quality from a Web show as they would from television.
In fact, critics who saw Day’s premier today on her personal blog, said that while they generally liked it, they also called her out for some of the unrealistic props and costumes. Gone are the days when audiences let Web shows slide because of their novelty.
Web series provide fans with the quality they expect from other forms of media with the intimacy of a small production. Even as she becomes more and more legitimately famous, fans will continue to be able to speak with Day directly through blog comments and several yet-to-be-announced Google hangouts.
Day has turned down offers to produce television series, preferring the freedom she has while working on a Web series. As the production values and profits of Web shows grow to match those of television shows, there’s not much incentive to leave.
“I know that some Hollywood people are like, ‘Why isn’t she doing pilots? But I’d rather be opening doors for people behind me to tell different stories,” she told Forbes.