Pete Winning Does The Six


Greetings Web lovers or umm lovers of web! Ahh... swipe right. As we gear up for Monday's T.O. Web Fest 2016 submission launch, we're rolling out some awesome new creator content!

Starting soon there will be a podcast by web creators for web creators - as well as a new Facebook video series with tips and stories from past T.O. Web Fest nominees! We have so much awesomeness in store for 2016 - we're getting it started early! 

Here's a new feature to our blog we're calling - the Six. Sorry, too Drake? We're sitting down with a web creator to talk creativity in the social media era.  This week we caught up with 2014 T.O. WebFest winner Mike Donis! Mike is the creator of the award winning web series and now motion picture Pete Winning and the Pirates!

Donis is making the natural transition from web series to film for his swashbuckling adventure. Because an iphone 6 can only hold so much awesomeness. Yes kids, in an industry first - pirates will actually leave the web to watch something in a movie theatre.  Toronto's web community will be out in full force this Friday at the Royal Cinema at 9 pm - and we hope to see you there.  Now on to the six.


1. IWCC: Besides growing up with Canada's national sport of Laser Tag - what was your inspiration for Pete Winning?

MD: I grew up on things like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, all that great, joyous, adventure-type sort of movies. It started as a whim doing (what I thought at the time was going to be) a standalone short film that I thought would capture the energy of those kinds of stories. When that short started getting the kind of response from film festival audiences that it did, the writing team and I had the crazy idea of "what would happen if we did more of them?" So the original season of the web series was born from that, and I couldn't be happier that we were crazy enough to actually do it.


2. IWCC: Assuming the dream of one day being the first creator to be featured on the IWCC blog wasn't enough - what made you decide to make web series and then take the next step to motion picture?

MD: Our original "Pete Winning" short was designed stylistically as though it was an episode of a serial, even though at the time we intended for it to be a standalone project. But at several film festivals we toured, we kept getting asked, "Where can I see the whole thing?" That got the wheels turning for me and Aaron Tsang and we began developing more episodes of the story. After I met Jason Leaver (from Out With Dad) and several other creators of web series that I had seen, I decided that the web was a terrific medium for distributing those episodes.

After we then started getting feedback about the show, people who liked it the most were a) binge watching it anyway and b) telling us that it felt more like a movie than a series. Which I suppose in a sense is true, since it was serialized instead of episodic and contained a singular main story, which lasted about 90 minutes. So we went back to the drawing board and wanted to see how this would work as a single-piece. We made some changes, used some alternate takes, re-arranged some stuff, and revamped a lot of the tech in order to make it work and feel like a cohesive whole.

3. IWCC: Do you remember the first web series you binged?

MD: I think it was "Microwave Porn" - I'm not sure if Ash Catherwood knows that, and it's especially neat now that we've become friends and he was a part of Pete Winning itself!

(IWCC Full disclosure Ash currently sits on the IWCC board. Second Full Disclosure - We appreciate Mike mentioning his web series title as it will help our new blog's SEO.)

4. IWCC: Sorry, back to you Mike. What advice would you give to a new web series creator?


MD: I guess the most important part from my perspective, which may seem obvious, is to make sure you are a part of your own audience. Think about who will watch the show, and why. Then make sure that when you go about designing your show and marketing your show, everything goes in line with giving that audience something that it will love (even though don't know they'll love it yet, because heck, that's what makes for the best storytelling). If you do that, you know who will watch your show, and you also know that you're a part of that group, it will be the exact show that you realy want to make. Your name's going to be on it forever, and part of the best thing about web series is that we can retain control over the design of our stories. So don't let that slip. Make it for you, just make sure that you're not the only one you're making it for, or nobody else will watch it - which sort of defeats the purpose of making it public.

5. IWCC: Tell us something even the biggest Pete Winning fan might not know about the series.

MD: Hmm... Well this is one that I find the most amusing: I had undergone some surgery two weeks before shooting Season 1. So for 95% of that season, the main hero in the swashbuckling adventure story couldn't lift more than ten pounds or run around at all. Getting up and down off the boats was even a challenge sometimes! Thank heavens for movie magic.

 6. IWCC:  So tell us, what's next for you and Pete Winning?

Screenwriter James Christopher and I have several storylines we're developing at the moment. In terms of whether it'll be a Season 3, or a Film 2, we're not sure. That sort of thing will change as more develops. But the one thing I can say for sure is that if I have anything to say about it, Pete Winning will return.

Pete Winning and the Pirates Screens Friday December 4th at 9 pm at the Royal Cinema in Toronto. Tickets are $12 at the door or can be purchased online here.


Launching a Web Series? Got a Podcast? Vlog? Blog? Would we like your selfies? If you're a web creator looking to get the word out, that's what we're here for! Email Dan Speerin at and tell him about your project!