Long ago, fledgling actors, writers and filmmakers would move to Hollywood, New York, London, or a small handful of other cities and hope that someone would notice they had arrived. Few succeeded. For decades there was an ongoing joke in Los Angeles. If someone said "I'm an actor" the response would be "which restaurant do you wait tables at?"
Twenty-first century technology has changed all that. Today, people can live where they choose. They can write their own scripts, buy high definition cameras at local electronic shops, shoot their own films or series, edit them on home computers, and post them online. Where they can sell ads.
Websites like Kickstarter and Indie-Go Go has made fundraising simple: just appeal to your fan base.
Thousands of web series of every imaginable genre are now in cyberspace, many building up huge audiences. The major television networks have taken notice, and have grudgingly admitted that they're now competing with web producers. Web content providers have in fact taken quite a bite out of the once mighty network's viewership.
Australian Tonnette Stanford is one of the latest web producers to spring up seemingly out of nowhere. So far she's produced two ten-minute episodes of her web series Love Bytes, a fresh and comical look at love and sex in the century's second decade.
Love Bytes is a product of our new and ever changing era: the characters include a mix of gay men, lesbians, and straight people. Laughs ensue as they each try, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, to navigate the twenty-something dating pool.
It's envelope pushing humor to be sure: the very first episode features a gay kiss which spreads the herpes virus. The scene is played for a laugh. There's familiar humor as well. In one hilarious sequence, a man goes to meet an Internet hook-up at a gay bar, only to find that the gentleman in question lied about his appearance. And his weight.
Those first two Love Bytes installments are now on the web. As she writes new scripts, Stanford is actively fund raising and spreading the word so she can turn her baby into a regular series. She has the chops for it: the former film student holds Graduate Diplomas in Film, TV and Directing--she studied at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne.
"My films have won numerous awards and have screened at over 180 festivals nationally and internationally, including Oscar recognized festivals,” Stanford told SFGN, speaking from Down Under. "The Vicious and the Delicious and Frontbum Dancin' are distributed across North America by Frameline and have been released on DVD in Germany, Austria and Switzerland."
Stanford has produced other works which are now being distributed in Canada and by Canal in Europe. She explained what inspired her to create Love Bytes.
"My very good friend Michelle was determined to find love last year," she said. "She went on forty dates in twelve months and still ended up single. These dates were so outrageous, so bizarre, yet so relatable that I felt compelled to make a web series out of them. Her life stories are really a hilarious gift to the world."
The auteur pointed out that her lead characters have differing genders and sexualities. "Jade is a lesbian, Michael is gay, and Stacey is trying to figure out where she fits on the sexuality sliding scale. The show is like the Neapolitan of sexuality and that's something I wanted to explore. In this heteroflexible world everyone is different but ultimately looking for the same thing: love and sex. It was also important to me to find actors who were actually gay."
We wondered if she was worried about offending people with her envelope pushing humor.
"I do worry about going too far," she said. "But then I have watched a lot of queer material over the years and I know my audience well. Nothing seems to shock the gays and I love that. I can't wait to show the audience what is going to happen in the rest of the season--you've seen nothing yet!"
Stanford hope that the first two shows will leave viewers wanting more, and that they'll offer support.
"We're applying for funding to finish the season, however it's very competitive," she said. "That's why it's so important to build an audience with these first two pilot episodes. If we don't get the funding we will likely be engaging in a crowd funding campaign, so please keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, don't forget to subscribe, like and follow!"
The first two episodes of Love Bytes can be viewed here: www.LoveBytes-TheSeries.comDavid-Elijah Nahmod