We’ve been hearing a lot about web shows and their funding recently here on Comedy TV is Dead. But what is it actually like for the new content creators out there, trying to scratch together the money they need to bring their vision to life? Meet Dating, the Web Series – or rather, the soon-to-be web series – currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo. Aiming for $10,000, they are currently making good headway, sitting on a healthy $3,375 with 22 days to go. With a slick trailer up on their page and some imaginative perks (a date with a cast member, anyone?) they look ready to make the most of their Indiegogo campaign. The trailer is very promising in itself, a nervous guy in New York City meets his ex and in the best traditions of cringe-comedy they proceed to have a painfully awkward conversation. Suffice it to say, it’s head-in-hands stuff, but not only that, there were hints of subtly written friendships between the characters and some pretty nuanced acting – there’s some real talent going on here. I caught up with series creator Andrew Levy to ask him about shenanigans, tomfoolery and the Indiegogo experience.
GN: What was the inspiration behind Dating, The Web Series? Are there any internet comedy series’ you were particularly inspired by?
AL: I actually had the idea for Dating, The Web Series while I was working at my restaurant job. I’m the night Maitre D’ at a popular date spot in NYC, which basically entails a lot of stress for about two hours of every shift then awkward people-watching for the other six. One night I saw this couple having a very public split-up right in the middle of the dining room and I started scribbling down what they were saying, which eventually became a scene in the working pilot. I immediately went to my friend Drew Lipson, and got him on board to star and co-produce with me. I was a playwriting major in college, not film, so we were pretty lost and full of unreasonable ambitions until we also attached my close friend Hila Perry, a god of organization and filmmaking. Her production company, Go There Productions, was really the game changer that got us off the ground.
As far as comedy series’ the writing was inspired by, there’s a lot of the same painfully relatable awkwardness in Dating, The Web Series as in projects like I Hate Being Single and High Maintenance. Both are incredibly well done series’ and great role models.
GN: Why did you decide to try and fund through Indiegogo? Did you try other funding options first, or was it the most obvious choice for you?
AL: Bad sound kills even the best performances and good sound costs money; so we found some independent investors to shoot a short and tight teaser trailer that we’d use to help us crowdfund for longer episodes. Drew assembled the cast from his personal networks and Hila put together a crew with a barebones budget. We had our eye on Indiegogo from the start, but we waited until we had a finished teaser before we launched it.
GN: – How did you find the process of creating your Indiegogo campaign? How well designed is it for the kind of campaign you’re running?
AL: We always knew we wanted to crowdfund this project, but we had to make a choice between Indiegogo and Kickstarter. We eventually settled on Indiegogo because it felt more accommodating towards creative projects, and the user interface seemed a little tidier. Contributing is easy and intuitive, which is a huge concern considering that motivating people to take out their wallets is tough enough without adding unnecessary hoops to jump through. I’m sure we would have seen similar support on Kickstarter, but our choice to go with Indiegogo came down to gut feeling in the end.
GN: You are wanting to crowdsource $10,000, what would that amount of money mean for Dating, The Web Series? Do you think crowdsourcing is the way forward for shows like yours?
AL: $10,000 is the first step in making just a few episodes of Dating. Even though we’re all passionate about the project, we feel pretty strongly about paying people for the work their doing, so most of our budget is going towards that. Our director of photography, Alex Crowe, even asked us to pay him less so we could pay other crew members more. $10,000 is nowhere near enough money to produce a season, but it’ll be a huge step forward and allow us to prove to our fans and investors that we’re for real, and their money is going towards something worth paying for.
We’re diving into web series production and crowdfunding at an exciting time for both. Web series’ aren’t just for the guy with a cheap camera and volunteer crew anymore; just look at House of Cards. The same goes for crowdfunding. It’s now become a tool for established filmmakers to reach out directly to their fans and get funding for projects that won’t necessarily get green-lit by a major studio, such as Zach Braff’s campaign that’s attracted almost 40,000 backers and counting.
GN: – How important do you think it is to have interesting perks? Have they helped people engage with your campaign so far?
AL: Most people don’t donate only for the perks, but they’re still an important way to make sure that fans know that their contributions are appreciated. I think that personal perks are the most fun and effective, as opposed to a hat or a t-shirt. For example, one of our larger perks is a date with a cast member of your choice. We’re hoping that someone will choose Rob King, the talented and super fly actor who plays Tito; ladies and gents, he’s adorable.
GN: What can people expect from the first season of Dating, The Web Series when it gets made?
AL: The easiest way to describe Dating, The Web Series would probably be if Seinfeld had a kid with How I Met Your Mother, and that kid got to 3rd base with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia under the bleachers at the pep rally. It’s about four likable yet flawed 20-somethings trying to find their match in a teeming and impersonal city. We have a super talented cast, a producer who knows her shit and keeps us all honest, an incredible director of photography, and tons of positive feedback.
Right now, we are shooting the pilot with over $3,000 raised from Indiegogo. That’s a great jump-start, but we still need help to fund more episodes. There’ll be shenanigans, there’ll be malarkey, and there’ll be tomfoolery, but there’ll also be human moments that give weight to any situation and keep it rooted to the ground.
Dating, The Web Series’ trailer and fundraising campaign can be found on Indiegogo here.