This week in my column for the LA Weekly, I featured the indie web series, Friends In Therapy, which I discovered at the Hollyweb Fest. When I first saw the series, I thought the acting, writing and comedic timing was just brilliant. When I learned the show was completely improvised, I was even more impressed. All eight episodes are under two minutes each so you can watch the whole first season in about fifteen minutes, and I highly recommend it. As you probably guessed, it’s about two friends… in therapy. You can check out my LA Weekly feature on why I like the show so much HERE or in the paper today. In addition, below is my full interview with creator/stars Daryl Johnson and Joe Towne. Enjoy!
H+: The Digital Series, Warner Premiere Digital’s apocalyptic tale of computer implants in the human mind, is my recommendation this Thursday in the LA Weekly for the Best of the Web. You can read my article on the LA WEEKLY website HERE or check it out in the print edition in the FILM section.
The innovative storytelling of first-time creators John Cabrera and Cosimo De Tommaso as well as the insightful direction by Stewart Hendler on what a studio would call a shoe-string budget, was one of the main reasons I wanted to feature this piece. Cabrera and Tommaso created the world of the show back in 2006 and pursued it’s creation through years of setbacks. I think their story is inspirational for writers and exciting for those interested in creating new forms of storytelling specifically for the web. Here is my entire interview with Cosimo and John that I used as research for my LA Weekly piece.
This week I talked to talented writer/ director Shilpi Roy about her episodic comedy web series Hipsterhood, which follows two hipsters’ mishaps and misconnections throughout Silverlake. Hipsterhood expertly utilizes a storytelling device you would never see on TV: The dialog in each episode is 99% in the two main characters’ heads. I think this show is a real gem of storytelling on the web because each episode has its own short adventure but leaves you craving the next installment. I talked to Shilpi about writing, shooting and promoting the series.
How you came up with the idea for Hipsterhood?
When I moved to Silverlake, I was definitely not a hipster. One of things that struck me was the way people dressed totally differently in that specific neighborhood. And I couldn’t understand how could spend all their time at a coffee shop. Then a couple years ago, I found myself buying… skinny jeans. And I was so against them before, but then I tried them on and realized, ‘oh these kind of make me look good’. Then I found myself thinking, ‘does that make me a hipster?’ And that brought on an identity crisis. So I started paying attention to what the hipsters around me were wearing and doing and asking myself if I had become one of them. That’s where all that inner dialog in the show came from.
LA actor Travis Richey was lucky enough to be cast as Inspector Spacetime, the main character of a Dr. Who parody on the TV show Community. His part lasted for all of ten seconds, but was such a huge hit with fans that he was brought back for several additional episodes. A successful YouTube vet, Richey tried to pitch a web series concept to NBC based on the character, but heard nothing back. So he and his writing partner Eric Loya launched a successful Kickstarter campaign instead and made the show themselves. (Changing the name after NBC insisted.) They now have hundreds of thousands of views and are selling out panels at Comic Con. Their story is a great example of how true luck is when opportunity meets preparation and how indie creators are far ahead of the networks with regards to capitalizing on viewers across platforms. Here’s how they did it.
I will be totally honest. After season 1 I was totally burned out. If I never heard the word hipster again, it would be too soon. All I wanted to do was move onto my next project, which I envisioned would be – an artsy, dramatic feature film that would only be appreciated by art lovers; the opposite of Hipsterhood. But then all these little twitter and youtube comments kept popping up for me, and it was Hipsterhood fans who really wanted to know what happens to Cereal Guy and Faux Fur Girl. Like, they REALLY wanted to know, and they were upset the story was over. It wasn’t an overwhelming amount of comments, but I started to feel a responsiblity to my fans.
And so, I got over myself, and I wrote season 2. Believe me when I say season 2 is not about money, or fame, or even career-building. Season 2 is happening because the fans made me realize that the story of Hipsterhood is not over.
High Maintenance follows the adventures of a weed delivery man in Manhattan. Each episode is a short vignette centered around a person or group of people in NYC who call upon our friend’s services for their own specific reason. I sat down to watch one episode, which was recommended by a friend and I ended up watching them all. Then I watched them again the next day with one friend and again the next day with another.
Not only is High Maintenance captivating because of it’s hilarious writing, great production value, veracious actors, and engaging scenarios, but because the creators had the courage to do away with intro episodes, exposition and excessive back story. They went straight for the meat. Writer or not, stoner or not, treat yourself to the trip of this show at www.HelpingYouMaintain.com. And if you are a writer, I highly recommend the advice of the creators below.
Remember Big Country Blues, that award winning dramatic web series I said was really really worth your time back at Thanksgiving? Well at long last, here is my interview with up and coming writer/director Brian A. Ross. Brian has had a lot of success with the series and even has distribution lined up in FRANCE. But he made mistakes too, which he shares candidly here for you so you don’t have to do the same.
If you are at all interested in creating a dramatic web series, or if you just enjoy a good story and great film making, I can’t recommend enough taking the time to watch this five episode series about a Kentucky singer/songwriter who goes to Nashville to audition for in an exploitative country music Reality Show. Ross has crafted each character and scene so well that each moment within this very short narrative speaks volumes. Big Country Blues is an example of how storytelling for the web can actually make us better storytellers, because in this shortened genre, every moment is precious.
British web series The Vessel, captures the hilarity, awkwardness, confusion and joy of what happens when you ask your best friend to be your surrogate.
Rory and Mike are a gay couple ready to have a family, and they ask their best friend Kim to help them out. This may sound like a familiar TV show set up (I’m happy to say – go 2012), but with the expertly dry British wit of the show, the fact that all the characters speak directly to the camera, (Kim, the surrogate is the camera), and the choice to move through all nine months in ten short episodes, The Vessel tackles this modern fairy tale in a very different way than The New Normal, and perhaps one you’ll prefer
I spoke with producer/writer Chloe Seddon and producer/writer/co-star Phillip Whiteman about writing and producing the show as well as what the web series world is like across the pond.
When you call a tow truck, things are usually at a low point. If we’re going full
cliche, it’s usually pouring rain, your heel just broke and you’re crazy-late for an
important meeting. But Bill & Sons Towing is a call you’ll happily make. In fact, you’ll stay on the line for the full 10 episodes of this hilarious – and sometimes surprisingly poignant – web series about a floundering tow truck company run by four bickering brothers. I interviewed co-creator Mark DeAngelis about the project, and here’s what he had to say…
Squaresville chronicles the misadventures of two awkward, inquisitive teen girls Ether and Zelda, growing up in suburbia. The creator/writer/director Matt Enlow, a USC grad, already has several web series under his belt including Mountain Men and Engaged. Matt, who also works for Strike TV and Comedy Central is a master of the minisode. In addition to the more traditional (as traditional as something on the web can be) 3-6 minute episodes of his shows, he also makes minisodes to capitalize on the click-happy landscape of the web. These help build the world of his show with additional scripted content, offer interviews with actors and behind the scenes footage and generally get viewers involved in ways that could only happen on the web. I highly recommend minisodes as an addition to any series and Matt sets a great example of how to do it. Matt blogs about web media at www.mrmattenlow.com. Enjoy our chat!