Let’s start with the number-one reason NOT to make a web
series: To get famous. In spite of the fact that it seems like everyone you meet has one, creating a web series as a way to get a TV deal is like inventing
Facebook as a way to meet women.
I should know. I had the web-series maker’s dream experience
with Like So Many Things, created
with Anslem Richardson:
We made a short that was a finalist for an IFC Redbull
To capitalize on this, we made another 6
IFC licensed the series and it premiered online and on their linear channel.
· The reviews were positive.
IFC rebranded to focus on comedies for men age 18-35.
No Season 2.
So why in the world would we raise more than $5,000 on
Kickstarter to make a Season 2 to put up on our own? Because there are good reasons to make a web
1. Learn and
Practice New Skills. Anslem and I
started our series as a way for a group of actors, writers, and directors to
help each other learn new skills. Season 2 was my turn to be showrunner, so I
took the lead this time. I created the story arc, wrote the outlines, assigned
and edited scripts, directed two episodes, shot one episode, and edited 6 out of 7.
The technical skills I acquired were great, but the best lessons came from
getting the project to the finish line — the kind of thing you can’t learn in a
2. Learn to Be
a Hard-Ass Producer. The first days
of shooting had to be rescheduled when Hurricane Irene blew a tree through our
country-house location. Everyone wanted
to cancel. (And by “everyone,” I mean the four of us making this at the time –
Anslem Richardson, Ben Insler, Greg Keller, and me.) But I had spent weeks
figuring out the Venn diagram of scheduling and knew it was now or never. So I insisted we shoot in my neighborhood in
Gowanus instead. If we got the footage “in the can,” I could deal with the rest
3. Learn to
Let Go of Your Precious Writing Ideas. I had set the entirety of Season 2 in
a truck. Partly because I had a truck, but mostly because I had a lot of
writer-y ideas about a road trip story. Any experienced producer will tell you
driving scenes are not only costly and difficult to shoot, but they are boring to
watch. Unfortunately, I was the producer. A good percentage of our budget went
to buying a camera rig for the truck. We hadn’t tested it until our first day
So there was a lot of
stress as Ben (serving as director, DP, and sound man) figured out how to rig
the camera and then direct and record the scenes scrunched in the back seat
with our friend Kia Barbee as PA. Also, I am not the world’s best driver, and I
had to act and drive with a camera attached to the truck, having a panic attack
every time a cop car drove by. Day One
of shooting was written off to “practice.” We eventually got it. But after
that, the Producer convinced the Writer of the wisdom of rewriting some episodes
to NOT take place in the truck.
4. Revel in
the Creative Control. Two years and
ten months after those truck-driving scenes, I hit “publish” and launched Like So Many Things Season 2. Pushing
through to finish the series not only made us proud, but was a satisfying
commitment to our Kickstarter supporters – proof that we were worth the investment.
Making your own web series, there are no outside producers telling you what to
do. So enjoy being the auteur. This is your time to make every single decision
and learn from the ones that work and the ones that fail. Enjoy it, because now
that you’ve made a web series, you’ll be famous soon and there will be a slew
of people weighing in on your TV show.
Watch the entire series here.
Gazzaniga (@mgazz) is a writer for page, stage and screens and
producer-director for digital. Most recently she was co-head writer for the
Hulu version of One Life to Live.