Student launches college web series

A Florida A&M student has created a web series based on the overall undergraduate experience of students at historically black colleges and universities.

Undergrad Chronicles” is a story of eight students trying to make it through their junior year of college while also dealing with issues in their personal lives.

The series, which launched Monday, showcases the dynamics of romantic relationships among men and women. There are themes of love, deception, religion, self-esteem and success.

Shaniqua Durant, a senior political science student from Pensacola, Fla., who created “Undergrad Chronicles,” said she wants her web series to be a relatable experience for the viewers.

“My main goal for ‘Undergrad Chronicles’ is to have a relatable and authentic story,” Durant said. “I want people to be able to say, ‘Hey, I went through that, too.’ “

Durant was inspired to create the series after stumbling across other web series on YouTube, such as “Quarter Century,” “Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” and Roomie Lover Friends.”

She began writing for the web series during her winter break in December and conducted one audition and a callback in January. Durant said she wants her web series to be a positive representation of African-American young adults.

Vincent Montgomery, a junior broadcast journalism student from Orlando, said his experience with “Undergrad Chronicles” has benefited him as an actor.

“The role I play is the complete opposite of who I really am,” Montgomery said. “I knew that if I performed well as this character, then I could do any role in the future.”

Jadaun Sweet, a FAMU alumnus from Murfreesboro, Tenn., who is also an independent filmmaker, said independent projects are beneficial for amateur film producers.

“While producing independent projects, it becomes easy to create a network of people who are working in the film industry,” Sweet said. “People are always looking for the next big thing.”

A web series is a series of scripted videos, in episodic format, distributed through the Internet. Web series are often released on the producers’ websites or online video sites such as YouTubeVimeo or Blip.

Netflix is another host for popular web series. In 1995, Scott Zakarin created the first advertiser supported web series, “The Spot.”

Today, major television production companies are developing shows specifically for the Internet.

Jibri Bailey, a senior public relations student from Tampa, said web series are an alternative to watching regular television shows.

“I like web series because they are a different outlet of entertainment than just watching TV,” Bailey said. “They are creative and fun to watch.”

Durant funded the production of the first season for “Undergrad Chronicles” with her own finances. She invested $1,500 into her Canon Rebel T3i camera, lighting equipment, microphones and costumes. Her production team consists of three people, including her.

Durant advises aspiring web series producers to do thorough research of the web series format and commonly used equipment before they start filming. She also said an intense passion should be the essence of every producer.

“You have to watch other web series and research equipment before beginning your own project,” Durant said. “I eat, breathe and sleep this show. If you can’t say the same thing about your project, then you shouldn’t do it at all.”

New episodes of “Undergrad Chronicles” can be viewed every Monday on its YouTube channel at 9 p.m. eastern standard time.