Let's start a dialogue!

TinyChat Chatters

So, before I get into to problems and solutions, let me just say that I appreciate all the volunteer work people have been doing to prepare for the Streamy Awards. I've been waiting four years for the 2nd Annual Vloggie Awards (not gonna happen), so it's vitally important to me that the 2nd Annual Streamy Awards are successful and that the event continues for years and years to come. That said, however, these are the early years of the awards show, an adjustment period where we need to work through the kinks and adapt our methods to best serve the medium; web series.

A lot has happened over the past week: members of the IAWTV voted to finalize the nominations for the Streamys; official nominees were announced; and a For Your Consideration mail plan appeared online (later to be removed after many community members disapproved). As with any new award show, there are some issues that need ironing out... in an effort to keep this blog post brief, I'll try to do some of this using point form.

Streamy Awards voting process

The nomination process, as judged by members of the IAWTV, was a long and difficult one. Members were sent an email on February 21st with a link to a web form on Polldaddy.com and were given until February 27th to complete it. The biggest problem was that there were hundreds of videos to watch and no way to save the form as you went through the different categories. This meant that voters had to either do it all in one sitting, or keep their browsers open and computers on until they completed it. Personally, I was scared my browser was going to crash... luckily it didn't, but apparently Zadi Diaz's did. FIVE TIMES! Perhaps a lot of this stress could have been alleviated if we had an ability to save our progress and continue another day.

Another issue was the videos themselves. Some videos were embedded in the header of the poll, but they weren't necessarily the videos that were submitted by creators in the $10 certified submissions. In fact, they included videos published in 2010 and trailers, both of which shouldn't count in the voting process. These mix ups, and the fact that not all shows were embedded in the header, meant that we had to visit every web site of every web series - which caused more issues since not all sites clearly displayed the date their videos were published (pretty important since we're judging videos published in 2009).

Note: Streamy organizers are aware of the embed problem. If they embedded the wrong video for your series, please contact Joshua Cohen at joshua at streamys dot org with the proper embed code.

For Your Consideration program

Yesterday I noticed an email in my Spam Filter confirming our nomination for Best Hosted Web Series (W00T!). The email was sent on March 2nd and had detailed information on dates and deadlines for sending materials to help prepare for the final voting process and the Streamys ceremony. For those who were following Matt Enlow's and my blog posts on For Your Consideration Screenings and DVD Screeners, this is where things get a little more controversial.

Screenings It was announced in this email that there were going to be IAWTV For Your Consideration screenings in Los Angeles and New York on Thursday, March 11th. Nominees were asked to submit a one-minute video of their show by March 6th to screen at the events. This sounds pretty cool, I gotta admit, but there are a few issues that arise from this:

  • How much can IAWTV members get out of a one-minute clip?
  • Can people submit one-minute sizzle reels and trailers? Is that fair?
  • Independent nominees may be too busy to make custom videos for the screenings, won't major studios have the upper hand since they can hire someone to edit and submit this for them?

I love meeting my colleagues (especially at Tubefilter's legendary meetups), so this is a fun idea, but I'm not sure showing one-minute of each show is going to give people a really good look at what's out there.

Mail outs Also included in the email was a link to the new For Your Consideration program, which offered nominees a chance to send DVD screeners or an email to IAWTV voting members. This was the pricing breakdown:

  • DVD Screeners: $5.89/DVD. You send to all 220 members for $1295.80, or you could choose a smaller number of members to send them to that fits your budget (members are random).
  • Emails: For $99, the Streamy Awards can send an email to all 220 members on your behalf.

And that was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Upon hearing of this, many of us took to Twitter to get our frustrations out. Shortly thereafter we started to chat on TinyChat to discuss our concerns (unfortunately for me, my mic wasn't working so I couldn't really explain my stance... which is why I'm writing this blog post today). Over 50 industry professionals joined the discussion, including Streamys organizer and Tubefilter co-founder Brady Brim-DeForest, ICM agent and IAWTV board member George Ruiz, and many web series creators. A few things that came out of that conversation were:

  • Members of the community are concerned and we really need to talk about these issues
  • A group should be established (whether in virtual space or in the real world, or both)
  • New media is all about new technologies. Why follow old media models of mail outs and screenings when we already have access to a free world-wide screening room already? (The web)

If anything, the best thing I think to come out of this discussion is that we're creating a dialogue. Creators and Streamy organizers are having meetings and organizing the future together instead of apart. This is important, especially if you want the awards show to last and not fall victim to the same politics that killed PodTech's Vloggies.

Note: The Streamys 2010 For Your Consideration Program (mail-out) is no longer available. It was taken down after the discussions last night.

A Potential Solution

As I said before, new media is about adopting new technologies. So why not create a web site around the nomination and voting process?

Public Submissions Firstly, it's really nice that we have the public submission option, but why not separate it from the certified (or creator) submissions? We could have a 100% fan-submitted (non-IAWTV) award for each overall series category. The Streamy Awards may choose whether they'd like to include this in the official ceremony, or if they'd prefer to announce the winners at the Craft Awards Ceremony, or even a live stream! (Online fans might prefer the latter) Separating the public submissions from certified entries would make it easier to manage the next suggestion I have for the future of voting.

Certified Submissions Create a private site where creators can:

  • Submit their own series for consideration; and
  • Manage a profile that includes the name of the series, a brief description, up to 3 embedded videos (not including trailers or sizzle reels, and must be published in the correct calendar year), as well as a link to the series' web site.

These profiles will make it much easier for voting IAWTV members to navigate through the hundreds of series they have to review (there were over 60 nominees for Best Comedy Web Series ALONE!) and find the videos they should be watching. This site can give all series a level playing ground when the member voting opens. Much like the Polldaddy form used this year, a similar form can be built into the web site linking to the series profiles, and giving IAWTV members voting accounts that allow them to make their choices and SAVE them along the way.

Once the technology is completed, this will actually give Streamy organizers LESS work. They won't have to collect so much information because creators would have already done it themselves!

Your feedback

And you may find yourself... asking whether the certified submissions for this new site will cost. Let me know what you think of that idea. Should it be free? Are you willing to pay a small fee (this year's certified submission was $10)?

And you may find yourself... wondering how to submit an embed code for your series since some corporation owns your work and you can't upload it publicly? Blip.tv offers a private upload and embed service. You can upload your video there, set it to private, take the Flash embed code and submit it to the new site!

And you may find yourself... disapproving of the site because you want to judge on the show's interactivity on the web? Fine! Link to the original web site to go see for yourself, especially in the case of Best Interactive Web Series. Again, I don't want to take traffic away from the original sites, I want to make it easier for voting members to see the correct eligible videos and give everyone a level playing ground to be "screened".

What is your opinion on all this? What do you think of my proposed solution? Have an idea on how to improve the process? Suggest it in the comments below!

Note: Keep in mind that some comments may be held for moderation, there is no need to submit your comment twice. Please do not use this as a way to promote your web series, but as a way to find the best solution for the future of the Streamy Awards. And, lastly, please be patient and kind with your fellow creators' ideas... let's keep this civil! We should come to a logical solution, not a revolution.