The web series is dead.
Okay, okay, don’t freak out, let me clarify.
As Facebook and YouTube algorithms steer us toward original content funded by…Facebook and YouTube, there’s less room in the ecosystem for indie creators to gain the kind of rags-to-riches virality that, in 2012 or 13, made the prospect of web series so damn alluring. So, they’re not quite dead, but they’re burdened by a real barrier to entry if “entry” means being seen by many others beyond a creator’s circle of friends and family. Independent web series, then, must evolve from traditional forms of storytelling if they’re to differentiate from bigger-budget, expertly marketed content. Distance is a prime example of that kind of evolution.
Created by Alex Dobrenko (Sam), starring him and Ashley Rae Spillers (Emily), and featuring an original score by Jenn Romero, Distance is an ambitious effort to tell the same story of a long-distance relationship (LDR) from the distinct perspectives of Sam and Emily. Emily’s episodes are directed by Carlyn Hudson, and Sam’s by Jack Mayer. By episode six (which is actually more like eleven, considering the first five are each told from two perspectives), Sam and Emily’s narratives dovetail and we see them in the same place for the first time.
Sweet and relatable for anyone who’s tried an LDR, Distance is exemplary in its attempt to reinvigorate the unpackaged, guerilla form that started the digital video revolution. It’s a reminder that, while one form of digital has matured, there’s still so much for creators to explore in the space that sits outside of traditionally packaged stories.
Watch all Distance episodes here.