As Awards Season Kicks Off, The 2014 ISA’s Move West
By Maria Kern
Come April 2014, Los Angeles will be flooded with the rising stars of Internet television, all in town to celebrate the finest in online serial entertainment. The 5th Annual Indie Series Awards, formerly known as the Indie Soap Awards, and unofficially known as the Emmy’s of ITV, will celebrate achievements in online episodic content, drawing an international crowd of the industry’s most talented up and comers. Established to honor the underreported accomplishments of the online entertainment community, the ISA’s award categories follow a traditional breakdown: best actress, actor, supporting actress and actor, directing, series, and so on. A bevy of KoldCast favorites picked up awards at last year’s ceremony, including Mythos, Hitman 101, Miss Behave, Thurston, and The Bloody Mary Show.
Indie Series Awards founder Roger Newcomb, also the architect of We Love Soaps, was ahead of the curve when he held the inaugural ISA ceremony in 2010. His decision to design a system that recognizes the finest in online episodic content was forward thinking, as ITV is growing rapidly to replace traditional television. In the years since, the awards have grown in scope to include a live ceremony and red carpet event. In line with the media frenzy surrounding Oscar season, the ISA’s made press last year when We Love Soaps featured a best-dressed list penned by New York-based stylist Anne Sayre. But the event hasn’t fallen victim to the trappings of today’s Hollywood. As Newcomb puts it, “We always try to grow the event without even losing the overall feel we’ve had since the beginning.”
As in years past, the 2014 ceremony will honor the best in online serial content, though this year brings some exciting changes. “We’re moving to Los Angeles as part of our fifth anniversary celebration which will change things up a bit,” explains Newcomb. “We also have a very accomplished host, Carolyn Hennesy, who is sure to add a lot to the ceremony.” And accomplished she is. Known for her work on True Blood and Cougar Town, Ms. Hennesy is an Emmy-nominated actress and bestselling author. In addition, event producer Susan Bernhardt has been tapped to run the first ISA ceremony on the West Coast. She says the awards’ seasonal and geographical changes were strategic, as both the LA WebFest and HollyWeb festival are scheduled in April alongside the Indie Series Awards. “Since we’re in LA this year, I anticipate a higher turnout of celebrities,” adds Bernhardt. That said, the ISA crowd is known to be a more congenial group than the attention-seeking celebrity set. “I can honestly say the crowd at The ISAs is the most supportive, community-oriented group of people I have ever seen at a gala event,” says Newcomb, and Bernhardt agrees. “The creators are so supportive of each other and are truly there to celebrate the achievements of the platform as a whole.”
As audiences, we’re all on the edge of our seats come awards season, keeping a careful eye on each nominee as winners are announced, as even the most famous faces aren’t immune to expressions of defeat. Fights between celebrity stylists over who will wear what are reported every year, and the competition for an award that can catapult a previously unknown name toward fame is fierce. But evidently the ISA’s attract a more laid back crowd. “Everyone is ready to have a good time, and ready to cheer on their fellow nominees,” says Newcomb.
While there are many similarities between new and traditional media when it comes to serial programming, including the touchstones of any successful show—ongoing character development, layered plotlines, and rich dialogue—the striking convenience and wide availability of web TV encapsulate its universal appeal. Bernhardt explains, “There’s still a need to keep the story moving forward by creating the typical arcs and cliffhangers—it’s just a shorter format. Of course, creating a series that is aired on the web has always allowed more freedom in storytelling which, in turn, has produced simply amazing, and many times undiscovered, online gems.”
The ISA’s are the perfect addition to an industry built around this new, unadulterated episodic content. Bringing an edge to the next golden era of television, the ISA’s maintain the enduring tradition of the old guard while catering to the rapidly expanding market for ITV. Newcomb also notes the creative freedom and international reach that is unique to independently produced web series. “The indie serialized content on the web comes from an amazing group of writers across the world, and it never feels like it’s gone through the filter of network executives. It’s still a true writer’s medium and there are some ingenious ideas out there.”
Finally, a word to the next generation of winners: take note! The extended Indie Series Awards entry deadline is January 20, 2014. With a new crop of award-worthy shows, KoldCast is once again on the cutting edge of advancements in web entertainment.
Maria Kern is a contributing blogger at The Sixth Wall, Supercool Creative, and a graduate of Mills College in Oakland, CA where she earned a degree in Legal Analysis. She is interested in creative marketing, film production, and the science of branding. Maria finds creative inspiration in all things media and pop culture.