Web Content Corner with Jenni Powell: Sean Becker Interview Part II

Monday, 06 June 2011 12:34 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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Web Content Corner with Jenni Powell: Sean Becker Interview Part II

This is part two of my interview with director Sean Becker. He just wrapped up season five of the award-winning web series The Guild and shares with us what it was like winning a (regional) Emmy and the challenges and benefits of working on the web. You can see the first part of his interview here.

Jenni Powell: You won an Emmy Award for your short Parallel/Parallel. Did the path of your career change after that? Did it open up opportunities?

Sean Becker: I definitely gained confidence in that I was choosing the right career path. I loved what I was doing but at the same time wasn't making any profit. I was using my own money from my day job to make short films and spending even more money to submit them to festivals (which taught me that rejection letters can be very expensive). Getting that kind of recognition reinforced my career path rather than changing it, and funny enough though, the Emmy award never opened up any opportunities. Technically, it's a regional Emmy, which doesn't hold the same weight as a daytime or primetime Emmy, so I can understand why people wouldn't recognize it on the same level. The following is an example of a conversation I've had multiple times about the award:

ME: "I was awarded a regional Emmy a few years back for this short film I did."

OTHER PERSON: "What's a regional Emmy?"

ME: "Well, it's not like the ones on TV, but it's still from the same organisa….you know when the news refers to them selves as an Emmy-award winning team?"

OTHER PERSON: "So, you were on the news or something?"

ME: "No, I just…well, it's just that….um, no, listen..it's like."

OTHER PERSON: "I'm still gonna have to give you a fix-it ticket for the broken taillight."

ME: "Yes, Officer."

Regardless, it's an Emmy Award (regional!) and I am very grateful to have it.

JP: You have also acted in many of your shorts as well as others shorts and web series. Do you find having the acting background improves your directing?

SB: I enjoy acting and like to do it for fun. Most times I immediately regret doing it and wish that someone else had been cast, but it is good to see what it's like to be in front of the camera. Let me rephrase that, its good to see what it's like to be in front of the camera, crew, lights, producers, and other actors. Experiencing this helps my directing by acknowledging that acting is not easy and is so much more than memorizing lines. I always want the actors I work with to be comfortable on set in order get the best possible performances out of them.

JP: Would you like to continue directing predominantly for the web? What challenges and benefits come from working on the web?

SB: For now, I'm happy where I am working in the web world. I've enjoyed watching it continue to grow and expand into other mediums such as TV and film. Eventually, I personally would like to expand into one of those mediums myself, and if that happens, I'll have my web series background to thank. The biggest challenge in working for the web is still budget. Most shows (even the more popular ones) are working off little or no money. It's the independent film of the TV world. Hopefully this will change as more studios and product companies look to financing existing web series as well creating new ones. Although with funding and sponsorship comes the risk of losing the largest benefit in working for the web, which is creator creativity.The best part of making a web series is having total creative control over the final product. Fortunately with The Guild, Felicia Day never gets script notes from Microsoft (sponsor) because they trust her and support her vision for the series. I'm hoping more funding companies will follow Microsoft's example and provide the same creative freedoms for the creators of present and future web series.

Web Content Corner is a weekly IAR exclusive column where new media guru Jenni Powell discusses online trends, and speaks with the most important creators working in the industry today.

Jenni Powell has been deeply involved in innovative online communities for several years, dating back to the cult Internet series Nobody's Watching (over 40M views) and later becoming a central figure on the web video breakout lonelygirl15 fan community. This led to her creating the fan-favorite parody series lonelyJew15, which landed her a job at lonelygirl15's production company EQAL. She has a strong background in production working with Upright Citizen's Brigade (UCB) A&E's Deadliest Catch, and Lifetime's Lisa Williams Life Amongst The Dead. Online, Jenni has worked on many popular web series such as the smash Microsoft-sponsored hit The Guild, Streamy Award-nominated With the Angels, Poor Paul, The Crew, and Comedy Central's Atom.com standout The Legend of Neil. She freelance writes for popular web entertainment site Tubefilter News and consults on and produces various transmedia entertainment projects around the web, such as the ghost-hunting comedy Bumps in the Night, the No Mimes Media 10 minute transmedia experience Webishades, and the Atom.com series Video Game Reunion. She is also the Staff writer for DeFranco Inc., which is headed by YouTube influencer Phillip DeFranco.

Picture courtesy of the Bui Brothers.

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