Miami, FL

Film Development: Miami Web Fest Returns with In-Person Conference for Aspiring and Established Talent.

Clayton Gutzmore

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The cast of Bae Night celebrating their award at The Miami Web FestCourtesy By Miami Web Fest

Original web series and movies are being sought after by Netflix, Amazon, and other movie companies. Rising filmmakers who want their material on those platforms sometimes have to go through several obstacles just to get a meeting with somebody from the company. Bryan Thompson wants to eliminate those obstacles and bring talented filmmakers and company executives into the same space. Thompson founded the Miami Web Fest, a movie festival where independent filmmakers from around the world gather to learn and network their way to success in the movie industry, ”Essentially Miami Web Fest is about helping independent filmmakers understand the industry they want to live in and how to capitalize on their content in a way that gets them to their dreams,” said Bryan Thompson, CEO of the Miami Web Fest.

The Miami Web Fest took place June 10 through the 13 at the Newport Hotel and Resort in Sunny Isles Beach. Filmmakers from all over traveled to South Florida to meet new filmmakers and potentially find their big break, “This festival lets you see the rising talent. If they haven't gotten their break yet. They get their break here,” said Aaron Albeto, director and Miami Web Fest nominee for best trailer.

2021 marks the eighth year of the Miami Web Fest. 2020 forced the Miami Web Fest to be virtual due to Covid 19. This year, Thompson and his team wanted to organize a panel schedule that will get the attendees ready to get back out making films post-Covid, “Our guests want any tips that will help them get a leg up. What our guests want to hear right now is what is the landscape like after Covid? They want to know how they can start to get paid again for their freelance work? The panels are designed to give tips,” said Thompson.

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Courtesy of Miami Web Fest

The festival brought experts in scriptwriting, film law, distribution, and music licensing. Each expert shared useful information that would have had filmmakers in trouble without it. On the film law panel, entertainment attorney Jerome Jackson Esq shared information on the Fair Use Doctorate. This requires all copyrighted music that’s in a film needs to have the license purchased before use, “Anything that identifies you personally and is used commercially afterward, you have to get licensed. You have to pay for that, even a voice counts, ” said Jackson.

Award-winning screenwriter Miguel Parga had a panel on digital filmmaking with an emphasis on finding your angle. Parga explained how you need to make the audience feel for them to care,” There is an emotion that is required for the audience to feel when they are watching a movie. They must feel this emotion towards the protagonist and that emotion is empathy,” said Parga.

One of the highlights of the festival is a conversation with Cristobal Ross, the director of Gringolandia, Netflix's first Latin American web series that came from Youtube. “They are one of the more successful stories to come out of the Miami Web Fest. They were the first alum to get picked up by a major network,” said Thompson.

Gringolandia debuted in 2013 and had 4.4 million views on Youtube. Netflix seized the first and second season and ordered the third to be made. The series streamed in the United States, Chile, and all of Latin America. Gringolandia is the story of a Chilean immigrant named Peter. The series follows him in his comedic struggles to succeed in New York City.

Gringolandia made an appearance at the Miami Web fest before being acquired by Netflix in 2015, “I closed the deal and the guy actually told me, “This deal that you’re closing, we’ve never done this before and I don't think we were ever going to do this again” I think it was just luck I guess.” said Cristobal Ross.

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Nikki Coble, director of Awkwardly, holds awards at the Miami Web FestCourtesy of Nikki Coble

The festival concluded on Sunday with the Miami Web Fest Gala awards. These are awards given to attendees who submitted their work for the different categories of film. Out of all the winners from that evening, independent filmmaker Nikki Coble may have received the biggest win of all, earning two awards on her first trip to the Miami Web Fest.

Coble is the director of the web comedy series Awkwardly. Her cast member John Wernke earned the award for best comedic actor and the show won the award for best comedy, “Our series, Awkwardly, entered the festival circuit in 2019- and we were thrilled to wrap up our run at Miami Web Fest with this honor” said Coble.

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Clayton Gutzmore is a freelance journalist in South Florida. His work has been published in several print outlets including The Miami Times, The Miami Herald, The Atlanta Voice, and Variety Magazine. Gutzmore is a 2016 graduate of Florida International University. He is also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, The Online News Association and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

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