If someone told me two weeks ago that I’d be kicking off 2013’s first installment of This Week In Web Videos by profiling a series about John Ortiz’s character in American Gangster and Jim Gaffigan dressed as 1980s drug-addicted cops, I would’ve said “Oh, are you talking about the Two Cops web series? That’s not Ortiz and Gaffigan, but I can see why you’d liken the lead characters to those two dudes because they look a lot alike.” Then I’d write a glowing review of said web series, just as I’m about to do right now.
Created, written, produced by and starring various members of the Columbia Film [...]
Raw, unbridled creativity may be the stuff of pure genius, but it's rarely what we see on screen. Somewhere in between a creator's hatching a wild idea and wide dissemination of that nugget of would-be beautiful, groundbreaking insanity, brilliance becomes watered down vanilla fare. Flickers of original concepts are barely visible, trapped beneath think packaging slapped on to make the whole shebang more marketable or salable or more like Bridesmaids (love Bridesmaids, of course). This is almost always the case in TV and film. In web media, it varies. There are ample opportunities to be left-of-center, but tiny (if existent) production budgets and fear of losing clicks usually steers [...]
Before this week, I thought writer’s block was a myth, a story device perpetuated by B-movie writers looking for a way to get their screenwriter protagonists off the couch and into wacky, winding adventures solely justified by the character's "search for inspiration." It seemed like a gimmick, a dull, broad tool for hacks. Well, while in the thick of a recent creative impasse, I considered writing that exact script. (My main character was Mel and he worked at a Zoo…that's as far as I got.) I’m out of my funk now and Dan St. Germain helped. In between deep, self-loathing, comforter-wrapped-around-my-head-as-I-peered-through-a-hole-at-my-blank-Word-doc wallows, I spoke with Dan about his new [...]
When I called Zeke Hawkins a few weeks ago to discuss his short, Bob Wins an Award, he was in LA, driving back from a creative meeting about a feature he’s directing. As cool as that sounds (and it is cool, no matter how you slice it) Hawkins didn’t answer from the back seat of his stretch limo. He answered while battling gridlock and asked me to “hold on” for a second as he pulled over. Despite geographic location, occupation, and the cache that comes with saying “I’m on the way back from a creative meeting,” the man I’d called isn’t a celebrity. He’s an explorer, a motivated talent [...]
Lauren Hill and Anna Breslaw are quickly becoming this column’s female empowerment champions. In April, we covered Beer Goggles, their refreshing take on a quintessentially male zeitgeist addition — talking about how much hotter girls seem when the pursuing males are drunk. Now, we’re bringing you PHIL, a sketch that stays true to Cook and Breslaw’s affinity for messing around with gender norms but in a more hardcore way. Like porn hardcore. Well, I mean there’s no nudity so it’s not really porn hardcore, but it’s definitely erotic novel hardcore.
Again Cook and Breslaw have surprised me with their sensibility, specifically their unusual knack for turning something kind [...]
It seems like just a year ago that I was writing to all of you recapping 2011's web series, because it was a year…almost exactly.
Now, here we are in the home stretch of 2012, and it's time to think about all the things that the Internet has given us lo these many months — the stars it's birthed, the jokes it's broadcast, the dreams it's made come true. Most of all, it's time for a little holiday relaxation time during which you'd be remiss if you didn't go back and take a second look at the all the funny things so many talented people poured their hearts [...]
You read this column every week to get your web series and sketch video news (just let me think that even if it’s not true), I know. And I appreciate it. Not only do I enjoy writing for you, but I also hold my responsibility to disseminate Internet funnies near and dear to my heart — This Week In Web Videos is more than a pastime, it’s a labor of love, a goddamn act of valor (again, let me go with this) and that’s why I can’t lie to you…
I had a bit of a scheduling mix up this week and had to hold off running an interview [...]
Someone who I really admire in the world of comedy (you'd probably know his name if I said it, but I don't know if he'd want me saying it and I'm generally a nervous kind of person about those sorts of things) told me during a brief meet and greet about two years ago that he was glad I was interested in comedy and not drama. His exact words were something like: "If you told me you wanted to be a dramatic screenwriter, I'd tell you go find a real job because, unless JJ Abrams is your uncle or something, you're not getting in the door. But with comedy, [...]
It sounds great, but isn’t always so realistic. Though we all want to be masters of our creative domains, vigilantly pursuing the arcane passions that occupy the darkest recesses of the right brain, that shit just won’t sell. So, too often, we’re forced to shelve what we believe in to pursue that which we know (or we hope) will pay the bills. We still say: “Screw what’s popular. Do what you love!” but what we really mean is: “I’d love to do graphics for that freelance commercial project advertising your ink and toner business!” Anything to keep the lights on. Add a [...]
Most people can’t pull improv off. Not even improv that’s “loosely scripted” (Curb style). Not even for a thirty-second, 101 class exercise. Improv’s demanding, and few are equipped to handle its demands. So, it can be painful to watch. At the root of most new performers’ foibles is self-consciousness, fear of being unfettered and weird or, worst of all, “awkward.” Those who excel have good instincts and good timing, sure. But mostly, they’re the ones most willing to pull the trigger, to jump into an uncomfortable scene and risk getting stinky, smelly, dirty and — here’s the really big one — imaginative. That’s funny. And that’s why this week’s [...]
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 [...]
“Just let it happen. The best things come when you just let it happen.”
It’s something many ultra-creative people say as they sip their beers and bask in a glow that seems as accidental as it is divine. They never set out to be awesome. It just turned out that way. “Just let it happen.” I wish I could! I wish I had that kind of peace of mind, but I don’t. I want it to happen now. NOW! FASTER! FASTER!
That’s why I’m envious of people like Ben Warheit.
Creator of Broadway Video’s Above Average channel’s refreshingly offbeat animated series Waco Valley, Warheit didn’t set out to [...]
Plot’s easy. Specificity’s hard. What the hell am I talking about, right? Okay, easy does it. Let me explain.
Consider writing a pitch or jotting down an idea brainstorm on the back of a napkin. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you’re like most of us, it’s plot — all the stuff that happens in the course of your sketch or episode. It’s linear and orderly and makes sense. Unfortunately, plot’s not the most important element of an idea, characters are. Strong comedy relies most on characters and how they move and breathe and talk because it’s from these living qualities that we derive a project [...]
Just shoot it. That’s what I’ve learned from Matt Levy, creator of this week’s featured series, Lady and the Damp. As “creatives” (writers, producers, actors, symbol smashers, etc. etc. etc.), we spend so much time agonizing over perfection. We batter our brains to mush with our ceaseless internal monologues, our harsh self-interrogations. “Is this funny? Why is this funny? Will other people think it’s funny? Is it edgy? Is it relatable?” and so on. Though no one wants to release unpolished content, there’s something indisputably limiting about professionalism. Especially for products we’re hoping lots of people will watch and love and share. The fear of failure, of not becoming [...]
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