The very first Dublin Web Fest took place in Filmbase the weekend of the 20th to 22nd of November, in the spiritual home for all things related to Independent film in Dublin – Temple Bar’s Filmbase. Unable to resist the lure of seeing some bright, up-and-coming creative types espouse about their work, as well as taking a look at some independent films and videos I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise (as well as being unable to resist the lure of having my name put on the guest list also!), I popped into Filmbase for the opening night launch on Friday, to see what all the fuss was about…
Dublin Web Fest bills itself as the first awards ceremony and festival to celebrate the art of online storytelling, and this is certainly an artform that has come to the public’s awareness in recent times – YouTube clips and Facebook videos are now just as likely to create stars and talked about figures as traditional mediums like TV and radio; a well-circulated online video can genuinely make somebody a national talking point overnight. “The man who slipped on the ice” springs to mind in particular, but this festival aimed to shine a light on those who put time, effort and skill into their craft of video making.
The weekend had many varied talks and exhibitions; however the opening night focused on three segments; “The YouTube Experience”, “Pure Irish” and “Comedy Block”.
The YouTube Experience
The rise of the amateur online filmmaker, and also of the “video blogger”, has raised a lot of questions in the filmmaking world. While the fact that the technology required to make videos and films has never been more inexpensive and accessible has led to a lot of films from those who could never have imagined making them in the past, it has also given rise to an over-saturation of content – and YouTube has no quality filter. It can be hard to make sure that your clip can stand out from the pack when it’s competing with millions of other clips for views. It’s also tough to monetise this as traditional revenue streams are eroded. How do you go about making sure your video is good enough to watch, and gets the exposure it deserves? The fist panel, “The YouTube Experience”, aimed to answer this.
By far the most engaging part of the evening, “The YouTube Experience” gathered together four of Ireland’s most prolific YouTube vloggers (that’s video blogger if you’re not down wit’ da kidz!). Clisare, Jessiblah, Mark Holland and David Atkinson. I had heard of Clisare before thanks to the ubiquitous “Shite Irish Girls Say” video doing the rounds on Facebook not so long along, but we got a brief introduction to all panelists – Clisare posts a weekly video blog and has done sofor many years, Jessiblah (or Jessica Spencer – remember her?) is a relative newbie to the vlogging world but has racked up over ten thousand Twitter followers, and Mark Holland & David Atkinson run the Pop the Cherry Comedy night in Whelan’s, as well as creating video blogs mercilessly mocking The Voice of Ireland (which is actually funded through RTE).
The four panellists gave an interesting insight into the practicalities of “making” it in the blog and YouTube world – how to get your video seen, what content will generate more views, how much work and dedication is practical to give to your videos. What was most interesting was that all four panellists are coming from different levels of professionalism , and different levels of experience. The group took questions from the audience, but there was surprisingly very few – given that I’d assumed many of the attendees would be video makers themselves, it seemed like a missed opportunity to pick up some tips – though perhaps any vloggers in the audience already felt they knew it all?
Pure Irish – Comedy Block
What followed was something of a let down, though it did have moments of genuine brilliance – the “Pure Irish” and “Comedy Block” segments. We were treated to a number of videos – first up, a collection of Irish videos, most of which did lean heavily toward the comedy side of things. There were videos of varying levels of professionalism and quality –some videos had high production values but uninteresting content, some had original novel ideas filmed shoddily – but I’ll give a special mention to the masterful Foil, Arms and Hog who consistently manage to have hilarious videos of great quality, which we were treated to three of.
The “Pure Irish” block started late, and went on far longer than advertised, meaning that the “Comedy Block” started far later than advertised, and also was a much longer segment than the brochure advertised – meaning it finished at 10:50 rather than 9pm! The number of video clips put together did test the patience of many in the audience in my opinion, and while some were of very high quality, there was no narrative in between – it was simply clip after clip, an issue I took with the “Pure Irish” block as well.
All in all, as an outsider to the vlogging and YouTube world, I did feel welcome and comfortable at the event – staff at the entrance were friendly, helpful and informative, and the event and programme were clearly laid out and accessible to a complete novice such as myself. That said, I feel the better experiences probably came on the Saturday and Sundays which had a more extensive list of blocks and panels due to being all day affairs. I did enjoy the experience, although I felt that the novel idea of the four panelists wasn’t matched by what followed, which did seem a little like a lazy collection of clips, even if some of them were genuinely entertaining.
Dublin Web Fest 2015 Award Winners:
- Green Curtain Award for Best Web Series
- Best Comedy
- Filmbase Award for Best Irish Web Series
- Best Documentary
- Best Cinematography
Five Cents & the Boyz
- Best Ensemble Award
- Best Sound
A full list of Dublin Web Fest 2015 award winners can be found here.
– Mark Hanratty
[Image: Dublin Web Fest]