The Small Time: Shooting a Web Series in a Weekend.

April 29, 2016

It seems like everyone is developing a web series.  With networks and online streaming services buying up loads of content, a new hit show is always hiding in the wings, waiting to be devoured by millions of episode binging eyes.

I’ve had the “how do I make my idea become a reality?” conversation with countless creators.  What’s the formula?  Do you put all your faith in a script and shop it around?  Call in some favors, shoot a slick trailer and show it off to industry execs?  Go straight to kickstarter and crowd fund to produce the pilot?

“Let’s just get a couple of camcorders and shoot it.” – Rob McElhenney, creator “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”

I recently watched this piece on making the $200 pilot for “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.”  It’s the success story everyone dreams of…almost seems too easy.  The pilot LOOKS terrible, gets picked by a MAJOR NETWORK and lasts for 10+ SEASONS?

When I was first approached to shoot “The Small Time” a first instinct was, shoot this on an iPhone, quick and dirty.  Let’s just see if it works.  However, with a pair of TV vets on board as well as two seasoned actors, I couldn’t do that.  Still, we kept things simple and made it a goal to not let production get in the way of performance.

In “The Small Time” I needed to create two very different worlds.  Literary agent Ben Bernstein’s cramped and crowded city office, juxtaposed by his his famous-author parents light soaked and spacious suburban home.



Day 1: After driving two hours north into Connecticut, we reached the home of TV veterans Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker.  We never had a chance to scout this location, so upon arrival I had to quickly choose the best space, figure out each frame and design the lighting.  Fortunately, the kitchen provided all the aesthetics we were looking for…lots of light, depth and a hint of the rural world outside.




Day 2: For Ben’s office, we didn’t have to travel as far, as there are plenty of these in Midtown, Manhattan.  With it’s dirty white walls and unusual physical attributes (who puts a random window in the wall?) we didn’t have to do much to make this space look pretty sad.




“The Small Time” was not just the name of a show we helped create, it became an approach and a blueprint.  That small time mentality is delivering big results.  Watch the full pilot below.

Official Selection

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Carl Vasile

Carl Vasile is a film and television editordirector of photography, and voiceover artist located in New York City.

View projects like the one in this article.