The battle lines are drawn in the emerging webfest world, as the venerable LA Webfest has drawn an exclusivity line in the sand for its 2015 entrants.
The LA Webfest is planned for April 2-5, and it’s considered by creators to be the premier Web festival in North America. But there’s a clause in its rules that those submitting for its 2015 event will face disqualification if they enter “other webseries festivals or awards ceremonies taking place in Los Angeles County 30 days before or after the event, and within 100 miles of the event.”
In particular, the exclusivity clause is aimed at the Indie Series Awards and HollyWeb, which have been gaining momentum in recent years. The 2015 ISA is scheduled the same day as the LA Webfest’s pre-event dinner, and HollyWeb is scheduled for March 27-29, a few days before LA Webfest. As reported in Snobby Robot, LA Webfest founder Michael Ajakwe has accused his competitors as attempting to “cannibalize” his five-year-old webfest’s audience.
“We [LA WebFest] are the victims of severe encroachment by these other opportunistic web series industry players that won’t let us hold our event in peace because we believe they both covet the international audience we have spent the last six years growing,” Ajakwe said in a statement on Facebook.
Reactions among webseries creators have been fairly uniform in their anger over the LA Webfest’s exclusivity clause:
In this ego-driven battle, there are no winners, and it begs for the need for some form of cross-festival governance. On one hand, the LA Webfest has done a lot for webseries creators, providing them a high-profile launching pad which, for many, has led to lucrative distribution deals. However, given the still-nascent stage of the made-for-the-Web content business, having more Web festivals favors the industry by providing more opportunities for directors, actors, and writers trying to gain exposure to different audiences over the course of the year. Whether the timing of competing events was deliberate or not, it is a bad idea. Bunching together three major Web festivals in a narrow timeframe does little to benefit the growing number of new video series that are a year-round business.
The answer is not to merge all three into one super-fest; there always is safety in numbers. This kerfuffle can easily be resolved if reps from the three festivals sit down and devise a schedule that benefits the vast realm of video auteurs more than it does their own selfish needs. The right mindset would result in a win-win for all.
H/T Snobby Robot | Illustration by Jason Reed