Founded in part to support Net Neutrality, the first annual Baltimore new media Web Fest was held over the weekend of November 4th and 5th at the Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland. Net Neutrality is the idea that Web should be open to everyone. The festival featured screenings of several Web series, an awards ceremony, emerging technologies such as virtual reality programming, discussion panels and appearances by Web Series content creators.

Conceiving a Web Festival

The festival was conceived by Writer/Producer Elena Moscatt.

"I've been involved with Web series since 1996," said Moscatt, who created a teen drama for the Web called "Jamie's Way." From there Moscatt created the Web series "Life After Lisa" in 2008 and "Click on This" in 2009.

Actress Sabrina Taylor Smith, who has worked with other festivals, such as the Northern Virginia Film Festival, was involved with various organizational and logistical activities for the festival, including creating swag bags and promotions. "I was involved in things like helping resize the program," Smith emphasized the novelty and uniqueness of the festival. "It's something very new. A lot of people don't know about Web series. It's kind of cool to be a part of the new wave of entertainment.

We are getting in on the cutting edge of media right now."

"The media is going toward Internet series and Web shows," said Smith. "Netflix is not renewing their Marvel series because Disney is making its own streaming channel [by 2019]. "

International New Media

"Without trying, we got international projects," said Moscatt. Neva Krauss Co-producer/Co-Creator of the festival said the series that were submitted were of extremely high quality.

"We could learn a lot from our international friends. It's the Oscars of Web series." Krauss emphasized that the festival covers "brand new territory, it's exciting." SAG/AFTRA Actor Johnny Alonso of shows such as "One Tree Hill", said "they've gotten submissions internationally. I am happy to be a part of it!"

A Vision for Next Year's Media Festival

Moscatt said she envisions an expanded festival next year with more sponsors.

She wants next year's festival to include "multiple venues. I want to have a campus [of events], get the colleges involved, and we can do more panel discussions and workshops." She also mentioned she would look at delineating and promoting specific genres. "We got so many comedies."

Next year's festival promises to feature more celebrities. This year's festival featured actors Tracey Fairaway ("Rosewood" on FOX TV) and Alonso ("GOTHAM" also on FOX TV) among others. The festival also featured an appearance by YouTube musician Jehry Robinson.

Winners of New Media

The following series and actors won awards: Best Drama Web Series: "Reckless Juliets"; Best Actor in a Drama: Christopher Kirby, lead in "Shakespeare Republic"; Best Supporting Actor in a Drama: Sean Michael Bowles; Best Actress in a Drama: Odessa Young, "High Life"; Best Supporting Actress in a Drama: Mia Park-Hemmings; Best Web Series: "Bertrand."