Wilson Cleveland: Reflections on the Streamys (Link)

My challenge in attending a first annual anything is not having a sense of what to expect when I get there and deciding whether or not I have to shave. I mean, this was The Streamys which at best, I imagined would be like the Independent Spirit Awards and at worst, a cruel mash-up of ComicCon and the Soap Opera Digest Awards.

Honestly, none of that mattered. I was just excited to be going as someone who doffs multiple hats within the web television community and as someone who could potentially end up on the wrong end of a restraining order were he allowed even a Hellmouth’s distance from Joss Whedon. What can I say? This is my Buffyverse and you all just live in it.

As soon as I saw the throngs of web viderati all expectations were turned upside down and I found myself saying to no one in particular, “THIS is very cool.” I think if you asked anyone among the crowd hanging out in front of the Wadsworth during that first hour if they’d anticipated just how profoundly awesome it would feel to be right there, right then, the answer would have been a firm “no way.”

A lot has been said about the Streamys being a catalyst in formalwear for the broader acceptance of web television as a legit entertainment medium. The thing is, I’ve been sold on the legitimacy of original web videos and serials for quite some time and therefore didn’t need a kick-ass awards show to convince me. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to produce sponsored web series at CJP, while getting to represent some of the best creators, producers and studios in the business on the marketing side.

Beyond getting the web video community a few steps closer to a better seat at the industry table, the Streamys pulled-off something even greater: It celebrated the concept of creative perseverance and recognized a collective passion for making something great. This is a community whose members have at one time or another eschewed the standard 9-5, spent their rent money on a camera or helped a fellow creator by working 12-hour days for free all in the name of making something cool on their terms. There was such a strong sense of camaraderie, respect and gratitude permeating throughout the evening which I found incredibly inspiring.

I enjoy Felicia Day. I just do. Ever since she played one of the “Slayerettes” during Buffy’s final season (I’m still not over it), I’ve enjoyed her. Dr. Horrible? Own it. I suck at video games but I sure love The Guild because like so many web series, it’s just a damn good show. However, it wasn’t until her acceptance speech for Best Actress that the overall vibe I had been sensing throughout the evening was expressed so succinctly. Here is a beautiful young actress/producer dissatisfied with her options within the existing Hollywood ecosystem who instead of settling, subverted the Hell out of it, pulled a team together and made a hit web show. She’s certainly not the first artist to do so, but she was the only one I was paying attention to at that moment. Plus I dug her green dress.

For me, the Streamys was a total blast. One of the shows I work on won its category (Pink’s Blake Calhoun for Best Directing in a Dramatic Series -Ed.); I caught up with friends and got to meet so many talented people. The whole experience left me feeling inspired and excited because I knew this community of creative storytellers that Marc, Jamison and their respective crews had brought together was going to deliver on the promise of what the future of filmmaking will look like on the Web and beyond.

Wilson Cleveland is a Senior Vice President of Digital Media at CJP Communications in New York, a PR firm representing, among other clients, the web series Pink: the Series. Mr. Cleveland also created, writes, and acts in the popular web series The Temp Life.