Well, it finally happened: improv has lost its charm.
Every time you get on stage, you feel like you’re performing in a vacuum. Sure, it’s great to have all of your friends and peers constantly telling you what a great show you just did, but deep down, you know your brilliance deserves to be shared with the entire world.
That’s why you’ve decided to take your career to the next level: by starring in your own comedy web series! Soon, the whole internet will bow before the love child of your comedic genius and that one semester of a film production class you took 6 years ago!
Follow these 10 simple steps to create the perfect web series (or at least the one with the most offensive replies in the comments section).
1. Do a…
Before you do anything, before you write a single page, before you purchase a tripod– hell, before you even search the web for a cracked version of Final Cut Pro– for the love of all that is holy, do a Kickstarter.
It’s time to tell all of your potential donors (read: your parents and their friends) that the next great American filmmaker has arrived, and that if they pledge $500 or more, you will reward their generosity by drawing a picture of a cat for them.
PRO TIP: Be sure to remind everyone about your Kickstarter frequently via social media. It’s easy for people to forget just how much they want to give you their money, so constant reminders are key.
2. Start a Twitter Account & Facebook Page
If there’s one thing people love more than a low-budget comedic web series, it’s getting frequent updates and messages keeping them posted about a low-budget comedic web series. You’ll want to make sure you’re keeping everyone up to speed on as many platforms as possible:
- Post an Instagram of you scouting a location for a future shoot (aka the view from your day job’s window)!
- Update your Facebook status to let everyone know you’ve chosen the official burrito restaurant of your show (is it Chipotle?)!
- Tweet something that ends in an ellipses so it sounds like you walked off a cliff instead of ending your sentence!
Making sure your “fans” are aware of what you’re up to via social media is a sure-fire way of getting more people interested in your “brand.”
3. Cast Your Improv Class Crush as Your Love Interest
He/She will be flattered that you asked, and you’ll be on your way to “artistically necessary” Smoochtown in no time.
4. Make the Plot a Very Thinly Veiled Metaphor for Your Life
They say “write what you know,” and considering all the knowledge you’ve gained from growing up in a privileged suburb and attending a Big Ten school, it’s safe to say you know quite a bit.
You could make your show about a fresh-faced dancer who just moved to a new city and is trying to break into the business while struggling to make ends meet. (It’s really about you, just replace “dancer” with “actor.”)
Or, you could make it about a fresh-faced college graduate with a B.A. in creative writing who just moved to a new city and is trying to break into the business while struggling to make ends meet. (It’s also about you– just replace “writer” with “actor.” See how easy this is?)
If you’re still having trouble developing your plot, just watch a few episodes of HBO’s Girls or the movie The Graduate and change a few of the names. (You don’t have to change them all; it’s fine.)
5. Befriend Someone Who Owns a Really Nice Camera
Let’s face it: you’re a modern-day Roman Polanski (minus all the weird sexy stuff), but trying to film your opus on that FlipCam you got for Hanukkah three years ago just isn’t going to cut it.
It’s crucial to make friends with that guy you took Level 1 with who has a totally awesome HD camera he has absolutely no use for. You can give him the honor of being the show’s director of photography (read: the person who sets up the tripod) or even give him a quick cameo (you can always cut his part out later).
A nice way to thank this person for their time and for letting you get your paws all over their $1000+ camera is to buy them a six pack of beer. Don’t worry, it can just be Pabst. He’s the one that’s getting to witness your brilliance here.
6. Do NOT Worry About Audio– It’s Completely Inconsequential and Does Not Add to the Finished Product in Any Way
That loud hissing in the background? That siren that plays in one shot but disappears when you cut away and then comes back when you cut back again? The inability to hear anything your actors are saying over the hum of fridge?
These all work to your advantage.
People want to see vulnerable art. This isn’t some major network television show; your audience wants to see the flaws. They want to know the show was made by a real human! That echo isn’t unprofessional! It’s… well, actually, it’s kind of ruining this take. You know what? I have an idea…
7. Do Another Kickstarter
Lavalier? More like “send cash here!”
8. Put Your Web Series on Vimeo
Okay, seriously. I’m just going to say this one time: If you’re still putting your videos on YouTube, then you are an unwashed, uneducated, mouth-breathing rube. YouTube is so 2008, and if you’re on it, then you’re so 2000-and living in the past!
Have you seen Vimeo’s uploading screen? It has a bunch of different scrolling SWEET COLORS. YouTube’s is like, some lame two-tone progress bar. Plus, they have a picture of a CUTE DEER on their login page:
9. Use Any and Every Chance to Promote Your Series
Your masterpiece is available for the eyes of the world! Use any outlet you can to let the world know that… and the eyes of literally anyone they know with an internet connection. Fall back on those old standbys like Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. Hell, if you’ve still got a MySpace, go ahead and throw it on there, too. But don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face interaction. Find ways to tie everyday occurrences back to your show:
“Oh, that was so funny when you just went in the break room and there wasn’t any coffee left. It’s just like that scene in my web series where I’m on the phone with my temp agency and they’re all like, ‘You have no marketable skills!’”
Is it actually like that scene? WHO CARES? Get the word out!
With that being said, I should take a second to mention that if you like games and you like bros, boy, do I have the show for you! You’ve absolutely got to check out Game Bros Web Series! We’re online at http://gamebroswebseries.com, and you can follow us on Twitter @gamebrosseries!
Now that’s how it’s done.
10. Give Up On the Whole Thing in Like a Month
Because eh, that idea was stupid, anyway.
Daniel Strauss is an alum of the Second City touring company and performs at various theaters in the Chicago area. He also makes fun videos about video games that can be found at gamebroswebseries.com. Daniel is on Twitter @danielstrauss.