Four TV Shows That Got Their Start Online

image of broad city stars ilana glazer and abbi jacobson

With networks like Comedy Central, HBO and truTV now picking up webseries as full length shows, the race to produce marketable content is on. Here are four tv shows that got their start online:

Drunk History
On August 6th, 2007 Mark Gagliardi drank a bottle of Scotch…and then discussed a famous historical event.

True to its name, the premise of Drunk History is based on an inebriated narrator attempting to retell an historic event in American history, with dramatic recreations shot to illustrate the story. The webseries was launched by Funny or Die in 2007 and featured an impressive rotating cast of comedic talent.

In 2010 the episode titled Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln, starring Will Ferrell and Don Cheadle, screened at the Sundance Film Festival and took home the award for Best American Short.

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay came onto the series as executive producers, and Comedy Central picked it up for a series, which premiered in 2013. The show is currently in its third season.

 Jake and Amir

In 2007 two CollegeHumour writers Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld began shooting short comedic videos in their office where they played exaggerated versions of themselves, Jake as the sensible straight man, and Amir as his obsessive and socially offensive co-worker.

The series grew in popularity and ran for eight years, gaining around half a billion views over its seven-hundred and fifty episodes. In 2015 it concluded, with the final eight episodes airing online. After a plan to launch the webseries as a show on TBS fizzled out, a social media campaign #GreenLightJakeandAmir prompted truTV to order a pilot of the Jake and Amir TV show.

Broad City
Upright Citizens Brigade alumni Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson first introduced Broad City as a webseries in 2010, following their misadventures as two young women living in New York City. Playing fictionalized versions of themselves, Glazer is a marijuana-loving slacker and Jacobson is a struggling illustrator.

The webseries gained popularity and attracted the attention of Amy Poehler, who became an executive producer on the show and acted as a mentor to Glazer and Jacobson, helping them develop the show into a television series, Broad City premiered on Comedy Central in early 2014, and was received with praise from both critics and the public. The show is currently in its third season.

High Maintenance
In 2013 High Maintenance was launched as a partnership between show creators Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfiel and Vimeo, as the site’s first original series. The show follows an unnamed drug dealer as he delivers marijuana to a diverse host of clients in New York City. Each episode features a new cast of characters.

While the first several episodes were released for free, the show retuned for a second season via Vimeo On Demand with a longer run time and a price tag attached. This proved to be a lucrative play, as High Maintenance quickly became one of the all-time top-selling releases on the site.

The webseries made the final move to television when it was announced in 2015 that HBO had acquired the series. Along with a new season they re-released past episodes of the show on their network as well as HBO GO and HBO NOW

Bonus round! Here are four other tv shows that got their start online:

  • Web Therapy – picked up by Showtime in 2010
  • Ugly Americans – picked up by Comedy Central in 2010
  • The Annoying Orange – picked up by The Cartoon Network in 2012
  • Children’s Hospital – picked up by Adult Swim in 2009

Ten Best Romantic Comedies Of The Past Ten Years

By Kryshan Randel

Most of these romantic comedies are not typical additions to the genre. They all feature romance and comedy as central plot points, but beyond that, anything is fair game. The best love stories are the most unexpected ones!

1. LA LA LAND – Starts out as a clever tribute to classic musicals, then finds its own voice and rhythms, breaking free from tradition while simultaneously honouring its inspirations. Emma Stone is incredible as a wannabe starlet, selling both the intoxicating fantasies and stark realities bouncing playfully off of each other, complete with drastic lighting and music cue changes.

2. FRANCES HA – Hilarious, playful and neurotic like the best Woody Allen films. Greta Gerwig is contagiously charming, and the black and white New York stories that surround her are constantly bursting with no-budget romance, innovation and joy.

3. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD – Michael Cera fights off his girlfriend’s seven evil exes, viewing life as a video game and winning his lady’s love as the ultimate hero’s journey. More fun than a dozen superhero blockbusters, Edgar Wright’s love letter to the pop culture he grew up with is a dizzyingly fast paced and consistently inventive ride.

4. GREENBERG – I agree with Roger Ebert’s review of this one in which he states that a hero doesn’t always have to be liked, but he has to be understood. Ben Stiller plays a selfish bastard who refuses to grow up, meeting Greta Gerwig who is trying to figure out her role in life. Together, and apart, they create scene after scene of awkward comedy gold.

5. YOUNG ADULT – A former popular high school girl returns to the small town where she grew up, determined to win back her old flame twenty years later, who is now happily married with children. As her behaviour gets worse – denial, narcissism, extreme immaturity – the comedy gets better and better. Diablo Cody’s best script to date.

6. RUBY SPARKS – A lonely writer’s female creation comes to life. Everything he writes initiates her actions, until she turns against him. This high concept film starts routinely, then becomes brilliantly subversive when it deconstructs the romantic comedy genre, and its lead’s fragile male ego, during the emotionally raw and volatile third act.

7. I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS – Jim Carrey portrays a con artist working his way into dozens of fake-it-til-you-make-it situations. During jail time, he falls for fellow convict Ewan McGregor before his release, then creates more deceptions in order to get them back together. A relentlessly astounding farce, based on a true story, featuring one of Jim Carrey’s most outrageously committed performances.

8. THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – Director David O. Russell has a gift for taking potentially cliched scenarios and making them feel so alive, spontaneous and possessed with manic reinvention that they seem brand new in his hands (see also THE FIGHTER). Rooting for two romantic lead characters with mental health challenges played by Hollywood stars is not an easy feat to pull off, but here even the most sentimental moments feel remarkably honest, or at least fully lived in.

9. KNOCKED UP – Goes further than most rom-coms before or since. The reluctant turn to romance after accidental pregnancy makes everything seem fresh and twisted in more ways that one, and the laughs come from very unexpected places.

10. ADVENTURELAND / SING STREET (tie) – Two ’80s tributes that really know their era. Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg are perfectly matched in ADVENTURELAND, and The laughs stem from character, time and place in equal measure. SING STREET is a pitch perfect coming of age musical love story that doesn’t stray far from formula (start a band to impress a girl), but who cares when it’s this well executed?

TEN MORE:

BRIDESMAIDS, CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER, WANDERLUST, THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT, FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL, FUNNY PEOPLE, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, UP IN THE AIR, GHOST TOWN, and WHAT IF aka THE F WORD.

Top 10 Vancouver Film Festivals and Events – 2017

Vancouver is home to a large and bustling film industry, but there is a community beyond set life and the grind of production. There are an extensive number of local festivals and events dedicated to honouring films and the people involved, from all avenues of local and international stages.

Within these events is a community of people that deeply appreciate film. There’s always an excited buzz in the air at film festivals as crew members and audiences mingle, and a glowing pride at local award ceremonies that recognize talent in the community.

The best way to get involved and immerse yourself into the industry is to submit to your passion of filmmaking. Get excited and get out there, attend festivals and networking events or enter your work into local contests. See below for a list of Vancouver’s top recommended film festivals and events for 2017.

1. Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival – February 10-18, 2017

Now, in its twentieth year, VIMFF is a week-long event that highlights the culture and community of an outdoor lifestyle. The festival includes instructional seminars for those looking to improve their own skills, as well as films that give a unique perspective on experiences and culture from around the world. Per their website, VIMFF “brings communities together to promote positive values and active lifestyles.”

2. Vancouver International Film Festival – September 28-October 13, 2017

One of North America’s largest film festivals, VIFF is not one to miss. With multiple venues screening local and international films over the span of two weeks, this festival could be considered a temporary lifestyle for avid festival goers. Industry and interactive events are held throughout the festival, and are open to the public.

3. The Leo Awards – June 3-4, 2017

The Leo Awards celebrate achievements in British Columbia’s film and television industry. This annual award ceremony, presented by the Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Foundation of British Columbia, recognizes categories such as best dramatic series, best music video, best web series, and best animation among others.

4. DOXA – May 4-14, 2017

Presented by the Documentary Media Society, DOXA is focused on independent documentaries from around the world. The festival includes panel discussions that are  open to the public, and engaging forums and programs.

5. Vancouver Short Film Festival – January 17-28, 2017

The VSFF is short and sweet, as it celebrates the community of short films, video, and animation. It is focused on BC-based productions, and strives to connect filmmakers with the broader industry.

6. Crazy 8s – Gala Screening on February 25, 2017

This 8-day filmmaking challenge will drive you crazy. That’s because Crazy 8s finalists are expected to produce their film from start to finish in just eight days of production and editing. The contest was created to provide funding and support to emerging filmmakers, and has launched more than a few careers. You can also enjoy the final films stress-free, at the Screening Gala.

7. Vancouver Latin American Film Festival – late August 2017

The VLAFF is an annual event that provides “audiences with the unique opportunity to watch inspiring films and interact with guest filmmakers from across Latin America and the diaspora,” according to their website. The festival encourages conversation between cultures, and promotes Latin American cinema in Canada.

8. Vancouver Queer Film Festival – August 10-20, 2017

As one of Vancouver biggest film festivals, the VQFF celebrates the best in queer cinema. For decades, this festival has been creating social change through film, workshops, panels, and parties.

9. Vancouver International Women in Film – March 8-12, 2017

The VIWIFF features an impressive range of work from established and emerging women filmmakers. The festival highlights women from around the world, and provides room for conversation with networking events and Q&As open to the public.

10. Just Film Festival – March 31-April 1, 2017

The Just Film Festival focuses on creating an understanding of other perspectives, through exploration of Vancouver’s diverse justice community.

Honourable mentions: there are many more than just ten film festivals/events in Vancouver, please also check out the BC Student Film Festival, Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, Vancouver Italian Film Festival, and many more!

Three Screenwriting Contests That Can Launch Your Career

It is famously difficult to break into the film industry as a screenwriter, especially if you don’t have a network of connections to point you in the right direction. Luckily there is an alternative to peddling your unproduced scripts around town: entering (and winning!) screenwriting contests is an excellent way to gain the attention of agents, managers, and film industry influencers.

There are hundreds of screenwriting contests from around the world to choose from, but if you are serious about securing an agent or getting your work produced, here are three you have to check out:

ACADEMY NICHOLL FELLOWSHIPS

An internationally renown screenwriting competition, the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting has a fantastic record of emerging writers who were able to launch their careers after winning.

Type of Script:

  • Feature Film

Qualifications:

  • The contest is open to screenwriters who have not earned more than $25,000 writing fictional work for film or television.
  • Entry scripts must be the original work of one writer, or of two writers who collaborated equally.
  • Scripts must be submitted in English.
  • Adaptations and translated scripts are not eligible.

Prizes:

  • Up to five $35,000 fellowships are awarded each year.

Deadlines:

  • March 7th: Early Entry ($40 USD)
  • April 18th: Regular Entry ($55 USD)
  • May 2nd: Late Entry ($75 USD)

Notable Winners:

  • 2010 – Destin Daniel Cretton – Short Term 12
  • 2008 – Jason A. Micallef – Butter
  • 2000 – Doug Atchison – Akeelah and the Bee

 

AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL

The Austin Film Festival Screenplay and Teleplay Competition is well known for consistently lining up a fantastic panel of judges from major agencies and production companies, and drawing the attention of agents.  

Type of Scripts:

  • Feature Film
  • Short
  • Teleplay

Qualifications:

  • The contest is open to emerging and established screenwriters.
  • All scripts must not have been optioned or sold prior to October 28, 2017.
  • Scripts must be submitted in English.
  • Screenplays/teleplays must be the original work of the applicant.

Prizes:

  • Cash awards range from $1,000 – $5,000 depending on the category.  
  • Winners will be reimbursed for round trip airfare and hotel to attend the AFF.
  • A Producer’s Badge to attend the AFF and Conference.
  • The AFF Bronze Typewriter Award

Deadlines:
Feature Screenplay:

  • March 31st: Early Entry ($45 USD)
  • April 20th: Regular Entry ($55 USD)
  • May 15th: Late Entry ($70 USD)

Short Screenplay, Teleplay, & Digital Series

  • March 31st: Early Entry ($35 USD)
  • April 20th: Regular Entry ($45 USD)
  • May 15th: Late Entry ($60 USD)

Notable Winners:

  • A huge number of winning writers have been hired on television shows, including: Bojack Horseman (Netflix), Silicon Valley (HBO), Empire (Fox), Community (NBC/Yahoo), and many others.
  • 2010 Finalist Christopher Cantwell went on to sell his series Halt and Catch Fire to AMC.
  • 2008 Finalist Edward Ricourt sold his script Now You See Me to Summit Entertainment.

 

SUNDANCE SCREENWRITERS LAB

The Sundance Film Festival is a prestigious event for indie filmmakers worldwide, and the Sundance Screenwriters Lab is no different. Twelve projects are chosen to participate in a five-day workshop, where writers are mentored by notable creative industry professionals.  

Type of Script:

  • Feature Film

Qualifications:

  • Applicants must be developing their first or second narrative feature film.
  • Those who have previously had more than one narrative feature produced are not eligible to apply.

Prizes:

  • Admission to the five-day Sundance Screenwriters Lab.
  • One-on-one sessions with creative advisors and industry professionals.

Deadlines:

  • TBA – Details will be posted soon on the website.  

Notable Participants:

  • 2014 – Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – Swiss Army Man
  • 2013 – Ryan Coogler – Fruitvale Station
  • 2004 – Ryan Fleck and Ann Boden – Half Nelson
  • 1999 – Darren Aronofsky – Requiem for a Dream

If you’d like submit your work to even more competitions, some honorable mentions are: The Tracking Board’s Launch Pad Competition, The Universal Pictures Emerging Writers Fellowship and the Script Pipeline. Good luck, and happy writing!

The Big Five: Canadian Short Film Funding

How To Fund Your Short Film in Canada

Canada has a wealth of film funding opportunities for emerging and established filmmakers. On a national level there are five major agencies that are the go-to for creators who are working to greenlight their next short dramatic or documentary project.

BRAVOFACT

Established in 1995, BravoFACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent) is a fantastic resource for filmmakers who aspire to create short form scripted projects.

Eligibility

  • Projects with a Canadian producer and director
  • New projects that are not yet in production
  • Projects with a running time of up to 10:00 minutes
  • The project must be considered as Canadian Content according to CRTC guidelines

Funding

  • You may request up to $50,000

Deadline

  • 2017 Deadlines TBA

Click here for more information.

BRAVOFACTUAL

In 2013 Bravo introduced BravoFACTUAL awards for the production of short form documentary projects. With the same mandate as scripted BravoFACT shorts, BravoFACTUAL is commitment to seeing short Canadian docs gain a greater prominence worldwide.

Eligibility

  • Projects with a Canadian producer and director
  • New projects that are not yet in production
  • Projects with a running time of up to 15:00 minutes
  • The project must be considered as Canadian Content according to CRTC guidelines

Funding

  • You may request up to $50,000

Deadlines

  • Friday, February 24, 2017 (Future deadlines TBA)

Click here for more information.

CANADA COUNCIL: EXPLORE AND CREATE – RESEARCH AND CREATION

The Canada Council for the Arts was established in 1957, and acts as an interdisciplinary major public arts funder within Canada. A new funding model is due to take effect this year, simplifying the application process.

Eligibility

  • Canadian artists with basic training in their field
  • Artistic productions that result in public presentation, publication, exhibition or digital production
  • To determine further eligibility create an account with the Canada Council Portal

Funding

  • You may request up to $100,000, although most projects receive no more than $60,000

Deadlines

You may apply any time before the start of your project, with projects assessed twice yearly: April 15th & November 15th, 2017.

Notes

  • You can only apply to this component twice per year (March 1st – Feb 28th)
  • You must register in the Canadian Council Portal at least 30 days before you wish to apply

Click here for more information.

HAROLD GREENBERG FUND: SHORTS TO FEATURES PROGRAM

An initiative of The Harold Greenberg Fund in association with The Movie Network, the Shorts-to-Feature Program was created to provide emerging Canadian filmmakers with film funding for the production of a short narrative, to be used as a calling card for a feature film currently in development.

Eligibility

  • Emerging Canadian filmmaker who has not had a feature film produced (with the exception of the producer who can have a maximum of one feature credit as producer)
  • Short film scripts 10 pages or under
  • Writer, producer, director must be Canadian
  • Projects must be in English

Funding

  • You may request up to $32,000

Deadlines

  • 2017 Deadline TBA

Notes

  • The grant provides $5000 of guaranteed script development support for the feature film version

Click here for more information.

THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA

An agency of the Government of Canada, the NFB has produced over 13,000 productions since it was established in 1939. They work with creators from across Canada in the production of POV documentaries, auteur animation and original interactive digital content.

Eligibility

  • Anyone who is a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant
  • Projects with an unique perspective, and social and cultural relevance
  • Productions that utilize technology to expand the scope of storytelling

Funding

  • Budgets are determined by your experience, and the project’s need

Deadlines

  • Proposals are accepted throughout the year via e-mail or regular mail to your closest studio

Notes

  • The two main models offered by the NFB are:
  • 100% NFB productions: productions that are financed and produced entirely by the NFB. NFB retains 100% of the copyright and also holds the distribution rights.
  • National co-productions: productions that are in partnership with established, independent Canadian production companies. NFB will be involved as a minority co-producer.

Click here for more information.

Have you received funding from any of the sources listed here? Please share your own experiences, and any advice you can give to other filmmakers who are working on their application!