Web series have really changed the landscape of modern television.
They are allowing people who have no chance at finding a small fortune to make a feature to have a voice.
Now I’m not going to say all web series are created equal, I’ve seen some great ones and I’ve seen some horrible ones, but there is one woman who consistently creates really amazing work.
You may or may not know the name Tina Cesa Ward.
If you don’t know that name then this is the time to learn it because you are already familiar with at least one of her web series.
But first I will begin with her short film.
1-In Their Absence (2003)
This narrates a story about two women who have fallen in love during World War II.
What I love about this short is the pacing. You feel like you’re watching a feature film. She takes her time with the shots and eases you into the time period and storyline.
There is one woman walking into the room and one woman working the room; looking at soldiers drinking at a table, dancing with one of them. It keeps you on your toes to where it’s all going.
Then the woman who is walking into the room approaches the woman working the room and it tips what you think will happen into the opposite direction.
It’s a truly beautiful project and you should watch it right now.
and with this next project you will without a doubt know Tina Cesa Ward and will continue to know her name with every future project
2-Anyone But Me (2008) starring Rachael Hip-Flores and Nicole Pacent
Anyone But Me is a lesbian web series institution. It was one of the first I’d seen and the first which really piqued my interest in the art form. Before this show the series I’d seen were short, comedic, but this one takes a really close look at the relationship of the two main characters.
Vivian and Aster are both in high school and in love when Vivian has to move out of the city due to her father’s health.
This story guides through their relationship with a fine toothed comb.
I think my love for this show comes from the fact that Tina does something I often do when writing my own projects. We live in a world where in entertainment and in life we create so much noise. Amongst the noise we decorate and over dramatize our problems and the problems generally don’t deal with what’s inside but the outside forces which create change.
For the most part, the story in Anyone But Me is about two people who want to be together, should be together, trying their best to be together. It starts characterizing the possibility of Vivian falling for a childhood friend but I was really glad when that part of the storyline went in a different direction to lead the two characters into a world of finding themselves and bringing them back together when they are no longer young and inexperienced at life.
I love stories which take a close look at the drama one faces within themselves and characterizes that despite the drama one faces within themselves the one thing they do know is who makes them tick.
This story is about holding on to the one who makes you tick.
The lost scenes which now can be seen on Hulu, are a bit strange to me, but it is nice to see the two actresses as Vivian and Aster again.
While at Outfest I was so glad to have attended a panel, which I almost missed if they hadn’t posted about its existence on Facebook the night before it happened, where there was a group of web content creators talking about their shows and answering questions. This panel is where I gained the most useful knowledge about the art form and I was fortunate enough that Tina let me ask a million questions.
One of the things I learned during the panel is Anyone But Me was one of the first projects of its kind. They had no money to do it and they crowdfunded before crowdfunding even had a name.
They called in an “online telethon” where the stars would act out scenes and people could donate.
2-Good People In Love (2011) starring Rachael Hip-Flores and Megan Melnyk
This show is so interesting. It is another small picture discovery on love and people. The imperfections of people in love. The imperfections of people who are related. A dinner party where people come together, are torn apart, and have a choice.
One dinner guest, who had just gone through a divorce due to infidelity of his wife, wants to stir up the party and test how far people will go when faced with temptation.
Much of the conversation is pretty dark and it seems like everyone is going to fall apart but in the end we realize that the love is there and will always be there because they are all accepted just as they are.
You’ll recognize one of the stars Renee Olbert who is in another great web series called Seeking Simone.
3-Producing Juliet (2013) starring Rachael Hip-Flores, Alisha Spielmann, Jenny Grace and more
This is the newest series surrounding a New York Theatre play production.
A brilliant writer has new works, a theatre goer in a complicated relationship with one of the stars decides to produce it and the turmoil begins!
I love a good backstage story. I work in a stage environment and it is such a small world.
This characterizes art and love beautifully with all the personalities I’ve come to love and hate in my business.
What is really great about all Tina’s work is the main focus is everyone trying to figure it out within themselves and then in turn projecting it to the world.
It’s messy, it’s heartbreaking, it portrays inner strength and courage.
Tina also has a feature which I have not seen. As soon as I have a few dollars to my name I will watch it and more than likely add it to this post.
For more information about Tina Cesa Ward see my filmmaker page which will connect you to her full body of work.