The internet has revolutionized the way that stories can be told and who can tell them. Easy access to audiences and the capability to make a product available with just a single upload have opened doors for all kinds of filmmakers working in all sorts of genres. Can’t get the distribution for the passion project you’ve just made? Simple — make it available on streaming services and launch a social-media marketing campaign. The doors are opening for niche, interesting stories that don’t see studio support.
The same goes for creators of TV series. No longer does an aspiring writer have to wait around for pilots to get optioned — with a little bit of production know-how, they can make it themselves. While many see webseries as a way to get one’s work out there and, hopefully, get a network deal, there are those who create quality entertainment that just hasn’t found a home in more traditional formats. There’s a level of uninhibited expression in these webseries that makes them utterly watchable.
The age of streaming is a boon for women writers, directors, actors, and producers. It allows them the creative freedom needed to innovate and tell stories that matter in defiance of a studio environment that caters to stale stereotypes about what women can and cannot do. Here are a few noteworthy VOD releases and webseries that are multi-faceted in their portrayal of authentic women.
“A Cry From Within” – Written and Directed by Deborah Twiss (Available Now)
Deborah Twiss, a writer, director, and actress, believed her family was being haunted in real life. So what did she do? Wrote a film about it, of course. “A Cry From Within” is based on what Twiss calls a “terrifying supernatural experience,” one that involved a ghostly specter haunting her and her children. Eric Roberts stars alongside her in this horror film that subverts the genre. The premise is par for the course for horror — a family moves to a quiet house in the country after a devastating personal tragedy, hoping for a new start. Of course, the house isn’t all that it seems, but in “A Cry From Within,” the specter isn’t what you’d expect, either.
Twiss has spoken about her take on the horror genre, saying, “I didn’t go for the scare, I went for the story. The characters. Reality can be far more horrific sometimes than any horror film. There is much natural horror in this.” The film is currently streaming on VOD services, so you can see for yourself just what kind of “natural horror” it holds.
“Grace” – Co-Written by Cindy Joy Goggins (Available Now)
Annika Marks stars in “Grace,” a film about redemption, addiction, and the power of female friendship. Gracie, the titular character, is an alcoholic, used to having her messes cleaned up by her father. She finally goes on one bender too many and winds up far away from her safety net and in trouble with the law. She’s forced into an Alcoholics Anonymous program as her alternative to jail, and the reckoning is a harsh one as she learns to let people in and face the disease inside her.
While “The Actress” has garnered significant buzz since its
first season back in 2013, it has yet to grab the attention a series of this
caliber so rightfully deserves. The most recent season of Ann Carr’s webseries
(directed and photographed by Tim Bierbaum of “Broad City”) follows the
humiliating and heartwarming life of a struggling actress played by
The series has repeatedly been compared to HBO’s hit “The
Comeback” in subject matter, while some have likened the tone of the
show to Lena Dunham’s “Girls.” Carr’s third season manages to up the production value
while keeping the dark heart of the show well intact, promising the fans that funded its third season nothing
but the best.
A year after its initial debut, “Be Here Nowish” has
managed to attract an impressive following, and it’s no wonder why. The series
follows new friends Sam and Nina (played by co-creators Alexandra Roxo and
Natalia Leite) who, after coming to the harsh realization that their “careers”
as professional dating consultants and not-so-professional drug-delivery gals aren’t
quite what they imagined they’d be, flee to Los Angeles in hopes of turning
their luck around.
While some hear ‘webseries about two female friends’ and immediately
think of former webseries-turned-Comedy Central darling “Broad City,” “Be Here
Nowish” is certainly a few shades darker. The show hones in on the “absurdity
and depth of the exploration of sexuality and spirituality,” striking a skilled
balance between truly original and completely relatable. No word on a second
season yet, but the entire first season is available on YouTube for your