When Karlton Clay began filming his own series and uploading it to the web while still a student at Georgia State College and University in 2006, he had no idea that he was pioneering a new entertainment genre.
“It wasn’t really big when I was introduced to it,” said the Augusta resident and alum of Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School.
His foray into web-based entertainment was a happy accident. He wanted to produce a television show called College Daze, but he was turned down when he asked to put the show on the college television channel.
“I built a website, and we didn’t know what we were doing,” he said.
That was in the days before YouTube became popular. In its early days, YouTube only allowed a few minutes of video to be uploaded at a time. An hour was too long.
Fast-forward 11 years, and Clay has seven web series under his belt. He and his work has garnered numerous accolades. So far this year, his productions have already earned 34 nominations from festivals. He received three awards at the recent LAWEBFEST in Los Angeles — an international award, as well as an award in outstanding writing for his drama, Karma, and outstanding series premiere for his newest show, Ex-Factor. The international award means Clay will be taking a trip to another festival in Rio de Janeiro in November.
Clay’s desire to produce dramas is rooted in his childhood.
“I watched Young and the Restless with my grandmother. I stayed with her during the day, and she used to watch Young and the Restless,” said Clay, who recently resumed watching the series after a few years’ hiatus.
And there is some of the soap opera effect in some of his series.
“Lovers Lane is considered the soap opera,” he said. “Now that I’m watching (Young and the Restless) it’s a definite writing style.”
Having a soap of his own on network television or a network of his own is one of Clay’s long-term goals.
Six of Clay’s seven series are still running. Lyons’ Den is in its eighth season and Lovers Lane is in its fifth, but he’s in the process of wrapping up Karma and another series called Color Blind. Now, he’s focusing on some new series. Although he’s based in Augusta, he’s collaborating with others on some of his newer projects which include Blind Fury, a spinoff of Color Blind that will be filmed in South Korea. He’s also planning a pay-per-view series called Bondage that will be filmed in conjunction with the North Carolina-based Film Architectz.
Going back and watching the earlier episodes is tough for Clay.
“I cringe all the time,” he said. “My mom likes to watch the old stuff. Wow, to be honest, it looks horrible, but you have to realize I didn’t have a blueprint.”
With each season that passes, Clay learns more about the genre. In the early years, he focused mainly on writing, but he’s learned about the entire process, from lights and cameras to overall production and marketing.
To view any of Clay’s productions, visit his website, www.vpnpresents.com.