The beginning of the 6th edition of die Seriale – DigitalSeriesFestival Giessen is just around the corner and while the countdown is on we are in the middle of the last preparations. As we have adjusted our festival to match the current circumstances, this time we are leaving the physical cinema behind to skyrocket into the endless space of the WorldWideWeb as a Digital Live Event. So take your protein pills and put your helmet on since from up there we are starting a transmission that has got it all – and more!
The details? Just after we initiate die Seriale on our website with a live opening ceremony on Wednesday the 3rd (at 4 pm) you can start streaming this year’s excellent choice of digital series on the Videmic App until the end of the festival at 8th of June. The Official Selection includes well-renowned shows as well as absolute world premieres and secret gems to discover: Overall there are 62 series and 9 pilots we received from all over the world, covering the whole cinematic spectrum from drama to comedy, documentation to animation, horror, sci-fi, mystery… you name it!
While you can choose to watch your favourite show, our international Jury was committed to reviewing them all and they are stoked to present their results during the award ceremony on Sunday the 7th at 8 pm in the evening! Of course we have spared neither expense nor effort to live-showcase a wide range of talks and discussions during the festival, which deal with a variety of aspects all around the issue of web series and feature the most influential creators and experts from the scene.
Origins of an Online-Festival: The Relativity of Space and Time
Now that you are all excited, let me take a minute of your time to talk about god and the origins of the universe… or in this case: Einstein. As you know, Albert Einstein entered the annals of physics with his theory on general relativity and as a consequence, it is universally acknowledged that somehow space and time are relative. In quite a similar way, the host and director of our festival Csongor Dobrotka approached the team two month ago in a video conference and announced that we will take on the challenge of reorganizing the festival from scratch, emphasizing that time is indeed relative.
Due to the gravity of the current situation, he did not take this decision lightly but in the end it was one of conviction. As the means for international mobility and cinematic events were dwindling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic while at the same time the insecurity of series creators from all around the world grew, we felt our obligation and responsibility towards the community to host the festival online. In doing so, we can preserve this special platform for creators of digital series and fans alike to strengthen the solidarity, participation and joy for our profession and passion, especially in these uncertain times.
We want to express our deep gratitude for the affirmation and support we have received from the community, our sponsors and partners – not only during the last couple of months but also on a regular basis. To put it simply: The festival wouldn’t be possible without you!
With that spirit in mind, the Ides of March marked the starting point for a horde of home-office-heroines and video-chat-heroes, working tirelessly to effectively prove that Einstein was right – pushing the limits of space and time to put the event in place within a couple of months. In view of these circumstances, the successful effort to communicate within a team of approximately 50 people in addition to the various partners, two dozen jurors and all the participating creators and speakers was a task that demanded a special kind of flexibility, trust and everybody’s willingness to make it happen.
But the challenge didn’t end there: To shift an international festival, that usually gathers people from all around the globe at a certain space and time into the online-sphere required a lot of planning. For series creators from Europe, America and Australia to participate in the same live-discussion, we were eager to organize events set at the best possible time for everybody. Since we all want to join the award ceremony that is scheduled at 8 pm Central European Time (CET), we had to make sure that people on different degrees of longitude with varying postal codes can make it. In short, we had to adjust our time with the Greenwich Meridian (GMT) back-checking with AMT, CLT or AST to make it feasible to follow our various live-events in America or in Australia. It certainly helps, that you don’t necessarily need to wear pants to show up in a videoconference but we still aimed at making it as convenient as possible for everybody.
Proving Grounds: A cinematic voyage of discovery and experimentation
While the sheer range of the event would not be possible without the internet, you might wonder how a festival looks and feels like when it is set within a mixture of video conferences, online panels and livestreams. To be honest with you, we have asked ourselves that question, too. The cinema is a place, where the audience collectively witnesses a spatial breach, as a three-dimensional space is projected onto a two-dimensional screen. The French philosopher Michel Foucault once described it as a heterotopic space, where specific rules and rituals are cultivated that differ from the normative structures of the outside world. The festival – as one might add less academically – extends this free space and creates a participatory basis for creativity, communication and exchange.
We are aware, that it is a challenging enterprise to translate this special atmosphere you know and love into the digital realm and have strived to find ways to meet those ends. Starting with the quest to get our hands on that fiercely contested streaming equipment that everybody wants to buy right now (Seriously, what’s going on?!), we have not only focused our efforts on creating simultaneity during the festival via social media presence, video meetings, chats and streams but also prepared an award ceremony that won’t miss its red carpet and ceremonial splendor. We firmly believe in the creative potential of experimentation and are excited that we will all be a part of it together.
To this effect, we are looking forward to bring the digital series and this year’s festival back to its roots, launching it into the digital space and back onto your mobile devices via our Videmic online cinema. Just make sure to check your WiFi-connection and Houston will be alright.
To shorten the waiting time until the take-off, this blog will provide you with a variation of interviews and articles on the subject of matter from today on. If you want to find out about the background, inspirations and works of the various creators, we promise that you’ll find a video that suits your interests. You might even have played with the thought of making your own digital series but you don’t know how and where to start? Be sure to check out our interview-compilation on that issue, as we have asked them all for advice. Moreover we will grant you a privileged insight into the inner workings of the digital series market and reason on the past and present development of this young and promising format.
The whole team of the 6th DigitalSeriesFestival Giessen wishes lots of fun!
Author: Robert Wolff
Graphic Design: Lichtacker Mediendesign / Photos: Rossi Photography