LatinoBuzz: 5 Rules of making a Webseries with Alain Alfaro, creator of 'Henry'

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by Juan Caceres
November 6, 2013 11:30 AM
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Alain Alfaro's webseries 'Henry'

I met Alain Alfaro some years back after he came to see one of my short films at a festival. He was getting ready to shoot a short film with a mutual friend, actor George Ruiz. It was to be a romantic comedy called 'Waiting For Her', which he said he had to make to convince his mother he was not on drugs after she saw his previous “experimental” film. As a filmmaker he often writes, produces, directs, shoots and edits all of his projects. His newest work, a web series entitled HENRY, was an official selection at this year's New York Television Festival to great success and which I was fortunate (or crazy enough) to get involved in.

Along with the rise of quality Latino web content out there, Henry, starring Jaime Fernandez in the titular role, is starting to make its mark. So, I asked Alain from his P.O.V what are his rules of putting together a successful web series from scratch.

1. “Expect Nothing In Return This is your gift to the world. You most likely won't get rich or famous off of it. Ask yourself if this is something you would do with or without the money, attention, or that development deal. Find a personal connection to the material and tell your story.”

2. “So have something to say this will help when you start to promote it around. A consistent theme will keep your series in tact. It may change as you go along and that's fine. Find interest and meaning in what you're saying and have fun expressing it. Make each episode about ONE thing - pick a theme, plot line or scenario and stick with just that. Keep the story-telling simple and to the point. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine 24 of them per second. Trust your frame, trust that your material is sufficient. Don't give your audience so much to digest. Assume that there's a world of activity happening around them. Your video should represent just one other thing to focus on. And keep it funny! This is just a personal opinion of mine. Nobody wants to take ten minutes out of their day to be depressed by their friend's boyfriend's web series. Be easy on the drama. Keep them laughing, keep them coming back. Once you've got them comfortable, then you ease in that real message that you want to say.”

Filmmaker Alain Alfaro

3. “Work the tools, don't let the tools work you, it doesn't cost much to create a great-looking video these days. Take advantage of all the fun, affordable tools that we have available to us but keep it minimal always. Less is more. Trust your story and don't saturate your production with unnecessary fancy camera moves. To fit in a tip within a tip, don't hurt your pockets so much either. Having a low budget will force creative solutions, which will lead to happy surprises. Remember, making a series is an ongoing thing. Pace yourself and avoid getting tainted. Make sure to capture the best audio that you can while on set (stay away from ADR as much as possible). A bad image can be passed off as an artistic choice, but bad audio is bad audio and it will make your piece seem amateur.”

4. “Set deadlines don't get lost in your own creative cycle. Release it. A deadline is a great way to push yourself harder. Stay true to it and enforce it among the other people in your team. The concept of perfection can be dangerous for an artist. Once your piece is in the hands of the audience, it is no longer yours. Do your best to create something memorable, then send it off to the real world and watch it get all grown up and be proud of it.”

5. “Keep it short and concise whether or not the "YouTube Audience" has a short attention span is still up for debate, but the truth is that most people are watching a web series on the go. This is your calling card as a filmmaker. Your digital elevator pitch. Ten minutes or under is a good time frame for a web series episode. If you're projecting an episode being longer than this, make sure it's extraordinary. Get to the point fast. Today's audience just gets it. Anytime someone sits to watch something they're bringing a lifetime of movie-watching from over 100 years worth of titles. The cinematic language is embedded in all of us. Be ahead of your audience in your story-telling.”

View his work here: www.alignfilms.com and check out Henry at Henrywebseries.com.

Written by Juan Caceres , LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow [AT]LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook .

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