Two emails of note recently found their way to our inbox. First was an advance notice reminding us to renew our web domain, thewestside.tv, as its two-year registration expires this July. We registered the domain very early in the scripting process—as soon as we’d come up with the show’s title—and upon receiving the email, we wondered if it’d really been two years. While the site didn’t go live until a year after the initial registration—with us writing the full-length script, casting the whole show, and producing Episode One during that time—the email did prompt us to reflect on what, exactly, we had to show for our two year’s worth of sporadically-surrendered nights and weekends.
The answer, of course, was a lot: a story where there was once none, an actual online film, innumerable learning experiences. But then the second email arrived, giving us something more tangible to show for our efforts: the 2008 Webby Award for Best Drama Series.
Even after being nominated, we still didn’t know if we had a chance to win the actual award with only three episodes up and very little outside recognition, especially going up against the probable forerunner for the award: Lonelygirl15, recipient of a truckload of publicity, exponentially more web traffic, and a Wired cover story. But then the awards were announced today, and there we are, Webby Award Winner (we’ve issued a press release here). Predictably, Lonelygirl took home the People’s Voice award (congrats, LG15), but we’d like to thank the judges for recognizing The West Side’s merit in the film/video criteria: concept and writing, quality of craft, integration, and overall experience.
Here we are, two twentysomethings with a camera and a few friends, shooting with zero budget on New York City sidewalks over the past year, not fully knowing where it was headed, when “the web’s highest honor” (so says The New York Times) is bestowed upon us. We can’t help but feel like we’re part of a larger movement, thanks to the Internet: the actual democratization of film distribution.
For all of you who have watched and commented on our episodes, for the bloggers and filmmakers who have written about us over the past year, our sincerest thanks. This recognition gives us a much brighter outlook on a future as full-time producers in film, video, and online media, and despite this being our first production, we expect you’ll see many more from us in the years ahead.