Key Steps To Developing A Web Series by Kathie Fong Yoneda

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Film Courage: What are the key steps in developing a web series? I know you’ve said before it’s not really a film script so you can’t divide it up and just say “Great, well these two pages are going to be the first episode.” You’ve got to design it especially for that five minute time period.

Kathie Fong Yoneda:  The most important thing is that you have to have a character that you feel will hold the audience’s interest and he or she has to be involved in something that is relatable. So using something that is of personal interest to the creator is probably one good way to start. Start with an area of expertise that you’re good at.

There’s a guy named Ed [Robinson] and I’ve forgotten his last name. But he had a web series and his was about a guy who was a chef. And the guy…he could create great food, with the women who just couldn’t do anything!

Photo from the PAIRINGS Facebook page

And what he did was start off with that premise “What does a guy got to do?” And the fact that he eventually became a chef shows his trial and error of him eventually becoming a chef and eventually making contacts and it’s very funny because one of his favorite things is he goes to the same Sushi shop a couple of times a week. And the real reason he goes is not just because he likes the Sushi but he has a crush on this one gal who works there and unfortunately he sees this Asian guy come in giving the gal a hug and everything and saying all of this and I missed you and everything. And so he thinks “Oh my gosh, she’s got a husband or a boyfriend.” And she’s interested in him too. And she flirts with him and always asking him “How are you doing?” It’s really cute.

And it turns out by the end of the first season (I think the last episode) he finds out that that’s her brother! And then the love interest grows from that.

But it’s starting off with something, maybe an area that you know about like in his case it was his web series is called PAIRINGS.

And you usually think of pairings as Okay what wine goes with this kind of dinner? or whatever. But it’s a play on words about what is was like for this poor guy who’s a good cook but just can’t see…he can cook everything and anything but he just can’t seem to get a gal.

Film Courage: But did he take this from his own experience? Was he or is he a chef?

Kathie: Yes. And in fact he uses that as way to advertise what he does is he’ll say If you subscribe to our web series (and it doesn’t cost anything to subscribe. In his case it didn’t), you’ll get this week’s recipes. It’s something a little different which kind of makes it interesting for the viewer and the fans.

And as it turns out this guy (I think) is going to be doing a cookbook. And there is also an olive oil company I believe and a winery that advertised now. So he kind of got sponsors from it. So he didn’t purposely go out to do that. When we were talking a little bit about Well I have to find a sponsor first. In this case the sponsor found him.

Film Courage: So build it and sort of that Field of Dreams analogy but don’t set out to have it be your only goal?

Kathie: And they’ll come. Well if you don’t have the story, in his case he was just fascinated by web series and he always enjoyed writing and telling stories and so for him to do that and his day job was being a chef and he combined the two of them.

And so there are no Okay, first you do this, this and this. It’s hard, it’s the same as any kind of writing. You’ve got to sit down, put your butt in the chair and do it. That’s the first step.



Photo from the STARTING FROM NOW Facebook page

Most of the successful web series I’ve seen a lot of them started off by taking a character not unlike sometimes themselves and trying to see Okay what’s the surrounding? What’s the environment?

Another friend of mine did one, she’s lesbian. And she noticed that there weren’t any lesbian web series and she wanted to talk about the fact that a lot of people don’t understand that really no matter what your sexuality is people have stories and they have the same fears and insecurities that all of go through when we’re in a relationship. And so she did one and it’s in Australia and it’s called STARTING FROM NOW and it’s becoming an Internet sensation. They have fans all over the world and they won a lot of awards. But she took the world that she was in and she thought How can I do something that’s going to be interesting and have characters that I think people are going to care about? And when you look at it those characters, they worry about their job just like we do, they worry about what their families are going to think just like we do, they worry about what the political situations are like or they worry about people cheating on them. And you see all of those things playing out.

They are now finishing up (I think they may have finished up) by now their fifth season, so they’ve done incredibly well.

Film Courage: What’s the name of it again?

Kathie: STARTING FROM NOW and it’s based in Australia but you can see it here, I mean you can just Google it and it will come up.


Questions For The Viewers: Are there any Web Series you would recommend creators check out?


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¡CALAMBRE! is a 53 minute episodic black and white film about a poet who returns to his hometown of New York City to rekindle an old flame, only to complicate his return with new women in his life. A film by Carlos Renaso.