A few days ago I was part of the web series industry podcast New Mediacracy discussing the future of storytelling, along with the talented group of Mark Gantt, Bernie Su, Nicholas J. Robinson, and series regulars Steve Woolf, Zadi Diaz, and Chris McCaleb. We discussed the possibilities and limitations of storytelling on the web. While much of the conversation was aimed at the untapped potential of the medium, there was one advantage I personally feel very passionate about: the story and people behind the story. New media, more so than say TV or film, fosters both a greater look behind-the-scenes and a deeper relationship between creator and viewer. I'll elaborate on the example I used on the podcast.
When The Bannen Way (created by Mark Gantt and his partner in crime Jesse Warren) hit the web last year, the quality and production value shocked a lot of people, myself included. In an industry filled with low budget fare, a well polished series causes heads to turn. First impressions, once again including my own, incorrectly judged this series as Sony using it's power and money to dominate a space filled with mainly struggling artists by putting a television series online. But just a few months after it's premiere, series creators Mark and Jesse appeared on New Mediacracy to share their story. Little did the greater web world know the long struggle and sacrifice that these two and their crew went through to bring this project first to Sony and then to the web. This was no series by committee, this was the labor of several talented creators. Throughout the course of that podcast I counted myself among their biggest fans. THEIR story was equally as important as the fictional one they were telling and I found myself rooting for them even more so than the colorful characters they created. THAT to me is one of the great advances in storytelling fostered by new media: the creator has become part of the story. HOW has become just as important as WHAT.
It has become woven into the standards of web video that creators communicate directly with their viewers, sharing their inspirations and struggles, answering questions and comments. No more must the storyteller be hidden away behind the gates of Hollywood, they're just a Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or blog page away. If you've been following The Mercury Men for any amount of time than you've noticed this is a sentiment we greatly share. We spend just as much time and energy trying to take you along the journey with us as we do creating the story itself.
While this single element is not the definitive future of storytelling, to me it's a pretty important step.