… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1345: Creating an Improv Web Series in 7 Days

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

They said it couldn’t be done in a week. We did it anyway. 

L to R: The creators and co-stars of The Basics: Chloe Troast, Jamie Linn Watson, Mahayla Laurence, Liz Demmon, and Rachel Horwitz

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This article first appeared in NoFilmSchool.com. This is a summary.

This might come as a surprise, but we shot a six-episode improv comedy web series in seven days. We are Jamie Linn Watson, Rachel Horwitz, Mahayla Laurence, Chloe Troast, and Liz Demmon.

After we got in touch with fellow NYU comedians MC Plaschke and Ryan Beggs to direct and produce, Liz took on the role of executive producer. The five of us, with MC and Ryan’s guidance, each wrote an episode centering around our characters, co-wrote the finale, renamed it The Basics, and we were off!

After assembling our team, we put together a budget that would allow us to properly pay our crew, rent equipment, and keep everyone fed and hydrated. Our budget was $13,000, and we raised the entirety of it (in 2019) on Kickstarter.

“Stylistically, we wanted to get away from the idea that comedy has to be either ‘vertical Twitter comedy video’ or ‘Wes Anderson style overload.’ There is so much in between! We think there is a huge range of visual things you can do with comedy that are rarely explored. For The Basics, we relied a lot on improvised performance as well as improvised zooms/camera moves which made everything feel fresh and in-the-moment. The one danger of doing a series about improv is that on-camera improvisation… isn’t that funny. The magic is often lost when you don’t have the stakes of it being live. To get the feeling of spontaneity, much like you would at a live show, we used snap zooms and jump cuts, as well as slow-motion effects and music overlays over the actual improv. We wanted the goofy, improvised nature of the comedy to juxtapose with a very professional look in our cinematography. For these characters, improv is life and death, and we wanted the style to reflect that, pulling from comedic shows like Search Party and Glee.”

The article details how they put this series together in planning and production, and how they promoted it afterward.


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