Do you know people? Do you like them? Do you share a similar comedic sensibility? If you answered "yes" to all of these questions (sorry, it's an all or nothing kind of deal), then it's probably worth inviting your special little creative collective over to talk web series ideas. Just because you have friends who say they're creative doesn't mean they are or that you'll make something great, BUT there's a strong possibility that you will. If you and your troupe are motivated and inspired and, most importantly, talented, you can capitalize on a shorthand that could allow you to pull a little move I like to call the Palardy/Lower/Foster. Admittedly not too catchy, but it doesn't need to be once you consider what its namesakes were able to pull off for a mere $4,000.
Created by Kat Palardy, Britt Lower, and Dan Foster, written by Palardy and Foster, directed by Bridget Palardy and Danielle Krudy, and shot by an adept Danny Belinke, Window Dressing is one of the most imaginative web series concepts I've seen this year. Though episode lengths spill a ways over the acceptable Internet norm, the project's concept, strong actor chemistry, and filmic pacing made me feel more like I was at some secret deleted scene screening for a lost Apatow flick than watching YouTube alone in the nude. This is a good thing and due in large part to the creative team’s long history together. More on that…right this second.
What were your comedy lives like before this series?
Dan Foster: Kat and I, and Britt — who plays Clarity in Window Dressing — we all went to Northwestern together and were on an improv team called The Titanic Players. We got cast as freshman and by the time we were seniors, it was just the three of us on the team. We’d always collaborated a lot and when Kat moved out [to LA], we started writing this series together.
What kind of work do you do?
Dan Foster: I do a lot of stuff at UCB. I just had a two person hip-hop show there. I do a lot of improv, I write, I have a theater company, all of that.
Kat: He’s also involved with Story Pirates.
Dan Foster: Yeah, we take stories that kids write and perform them at their schools.
Kat: I used to improvise with a group of women including Britt Lower, my co-star in Window Dressing. We were called Funklepod and had a weekly show going at a Long Island comedy theatre. I did a couple of two-person shows at the Magnet and then I started at UCB. I broke in by playing a WWE style wrestler in their Cage Match. My sister and I started doing sketches early last year and that’s when I decided to move out to LA, where she is, so we could work together on some projects, with a collective called Dude Take Dude. They ended up producing Window Dressing.
How did you guys come up with this concept?
Dan Foster: I believe Kat and Britt were approached by Tipped TV, a web start up run by friends from college. They talked to Kat and Britt about doing the show and then Kat talked to me about what to do in terms of writing it.
Kat: And I just want to say: Britt Lower is the real life window dresser. She actually does that and lives with her boyfriend in Williamsburg. So she has this whole experience of actually window dressing and that’s where the idea came from. And then we called Dan and started to think about what could happen in these episodes and how we could create an arc.
So it’s a homegrown idea that really sprung from somebody doing it?
Dan Foster: Yeah. And then we started talking about what would be cool about the window dressing is that you can do a sort a workplace sitcom where the workplace is constantly changing because the window displays are always changing. And from there we started playing with tone, keeping the characters the same while letting the workplace inform the type of story that we’re going to tell.
Kat: Each episode is a different style, which is affected by the environment. The second episode is a big Halloween themed piece so we thought “let’s make it a horror film.” That’s really fun for the directors who normally work in drama. They know so much about style, so they get to nerd out on the way that they shoot each episode.
How many episodes are there going to be? Just the 3 that are up, or are there more?
Dan Foster: We’ve written more than the 3 but, right now, because Britt is in New York, we can only shoot them at certain points. Britt is coming out to LA for pilot season in February and March and we’d like to shoot some more then.
Kat: It’s been interesting, it’s been a learning process just to see how everything is growing and changing on the Internet and thinking about things like: How do we get money to make more episodes? Are there people who need content? Are there channels opening up or are we working towards a pilot like a sort of Broad City type situation where you make a ton of episodes, build your audience, and then you get discovered and make your pilot? Or is it the kind of thing where we can get funding to create a full web series season?
How are you leaning at this point?
Kat: We’ve been meeting with a lot of companies and it’s the type of thing where we’ve definitely been considering whether we need to make a Kickstarter to fund more episodes or if we’ll be able to get more private funding. We’re excited, but it’s still up in the air.
Thus far, how have you guys been funded? Has it been out of pocket or did you get a small grant, or what?
Dan Foster: We got a little bit from Tipped TV and then we funded the rest.
May I ask how much you needed to shoot all three?
Kat: We got those three episodes done on $4,000, which was really tight, and we had to pull a lot of favors. I don’t know if we can pull anymore, if we make more episodes, so it’s tricky. We know we want to make more, we know that it’s a great project.
Dan Foster: It’s nice that Kat has her sister directing and that they have a shorthand, and then Bridg and the two of them have a shorthand, and then Kat and Britt and I have been performing for long, so we have a shorthand. It just feels very easy as far as creative processes go.
What do you think is most important in developing a successful web series?
Kat: Pick a concept that no one has done, if you can. I feel like I haven’t seen a show about window dressers?
I’ve not either. I think you guys are pioneers in that respect.
Dan Foster: For me it’s about finding a world that you can inhabit, that’s different from anything you’ve seen. And, also, I think [it has to be widely accessible]. Web series are easy to make, but hard to get seen. Most importantly, this show relies so heavily on the dynamic between Kat and Britt — Kitty and Clarity — so having that as our starting point in every idea is essential, that chemistry. That’s half the battle.
For the last time in 2012—here are three reasons you need to watch.
Though every one won't be a viral sensation, quality web series have the potential to launch young careers into the stratosphere. With that level of upside, it behooves creatives to pour their hearts and souls into projects, even if they’ve got to eat a lot of Ramen noodles to do it.
The best way to be original is to have a wealth of odd and intriguing experiences from which you draw inspiration. And the only way to have those experiences is to get off your computer. So do that. After watching Window Dressing of course.
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