Since digital media has become a vital part of mainstream culture, digital content evolves rapidly as to grow audiences to consume it. In the digital era, it has a lot of potentials for fostering and motivating new talent, also create a space for independent productions. Bite-sized, short formats and low budget web series can be commonly watched on a range of platforms, including smartphones, laptop and also on TV. Since 2013, web series has been gradually recognized by mainstream media awards and film festivals, such as Emmy Awards, Canadian Screen Awards and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) (Wolfson 2015).
In 2014, a Canadian web series Carmilla caused a stir on social media. Sponsored by U by Kotex with a limited budget, this single frame web series is loosely based on the novella Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu and with the alternative modern background. The series narratives a love romance between two women at the fictional Austrian Silas university, one protagonist is a 19-year-old human, and another one is a 300-year-old vampire. This show eventually developed four seasons and a feature movie because of its normalized queer characters and relationship and positive LGBTQ representation.
Carmilla season 1 poster
Carmilla has generated over 70 million viewers and translated into more than 30 languages on Youtube. In 2016, the series won a Canadian Screen Award and a Rockie Award for Branded Content at the Banff World Media Festival (Graham 2016). From 2017 to 2018, the movie had several World Premieres and got more international recognition in Canada, America, Brazil, Australia, France, Taiwan and Spain. There is also a special shout out from TIFF for its dedication and creation on 8th September 2018.
A tweet form Carmilla official twitter account
The Carmilla web series not only educated media content creators how to narrative a queer relationship without cliche, but its unique brand managing and fan service leads low budget web series to a new stage. The show has a deep bond with its target audiences, because it inspires and motivates fans to create more fan arts, fanfictions and fan videos, and they automatically spread out the show like a wildfire. With the good reputation among the fans, it gets more exposure and has been reported worldwide, therefore, even an international film festival like TIFF could not ignore the contribution that little web series has made.
It is pleasing to see digital media, especially web series is getting more recognition in mainstream media and film festivals. The diversity is desperately needed in the mainstream culture since different age groups are eager to see them being represented properly. Web series is one of the most efficient ways to present the development of the digital area and an easy way to narrative subcultural visibility, and it should be explored in more dimensions in the future.
Graham, C 2016, Defanged and desirable: An examination of violence and the lesbian vampire narrative, Bowling Green State University.
TIFF 2018, Dialogues Developing Talent and Digital Content, viewed 9 September 2018, https://www.tiff.net/events/dialogues-developing-talent-and-digital-content/
Wolfson, C 2015, “T.O.WEBFEST & IWCC PRESENT WEB SERIES!”, Towebfest, viewed 9 September 2018, https://www.towebfest.com/uncategorized/web-series-screening-tiff-nov-19-9pm