Four TV Shows That Got Their Start Online

image of broad city stars ilana glazer and abbi jacobson

With networks like Comedy Central, HBO and truTV now picking up webseries as full length shows, the race to produce marketable content is on. Here are four tv shows that got their start online:

Drunk History
On August 6th, 2007 Mark Gagliardi drank a bottle of Scotch…and then discussed a famous historical event.

True to its name, the premise of Drunk History is based on an inebriated narrator attempting to retell an historic event in American history, with dramatic recreations shot to illustrate the story. The webseries was launched by Funny or Die in 2007 and featured an impressive rotating cast of comedic talent.

In 2010 the episode titled Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln, starring Will Ferrell and Don Cheadle, screened at the Sundance Film Festival and took home the award for Best American Short.

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay came onto the series as executive producers, and Comedy Central picked it up for a series, which premiered in 2013. The show is currently in its third season.

 Jake and Amir

In 2007 two CollegeHumour writers Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld began shooting short comedic videos in their office where they played exaggerated versions of themselves, Jake as the sensible straight man, and Amir as his obsessive and socially offensive co-worker.

The series grew in popularity and ran for eight years, gaining around half a billion views over its seven-hundred and fifty episodes. In 2015 it concluded, with the final eight episodes airing online. After a plan to launch the webseries as a show on TBS fizzled out, a social media campaign #GreenLightJakeandAmir prompted truTV to order a pilot of the Jake and Amir TV show.

Broad City
Upright Citizens Brigade alumni Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson first introduced Broad City as a webseries in 2010, following their misadventures as two young women living in New York City. Playing fictionalized versions of themselves, Glazer is a marijuana-loving slacker and Jacobson is a struggling illustrator.

The webseries gained popularity and attracted the attention of Amy Poehler, who became an executive producer on the show and acted as a mentor to Glazer and Jacobson, helping them develop the show into a television series, Broad City premiered on Comedy Central in early 2014, and was received with praise from both critics and the public. The show is currently in its third season.

High Maintenance
In 2013 High Maintenance was launched as a partnership between show creators Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfiel and Vimeo, as the site’s first original series. The show follows an unnamed drug dealer as he delivers marijuana to a diverse host of clients in New York City. Each episode features a new cast of characters.

While the first several episodes were released for free, the show retuned for a second season via Vimeo On Demand with a longer run time and a price tag attached. This proved to be a lucrative play, as High Maintenance quickly became one of the all-time top-selling releases on the site.

The webseries made the final move to television when it was announced in 2015 that HBO had acquired the series. Along with a new season they re-released past episodes of the show on their network as well as HBO GO and HBO NOW

Bonus round! Here are four other tv shows that got their start online:

  • Web Therapy – picked up by Showtime in 2010
  • Ugly Americans – picked up by Comedy Central in 2010
  • The Annoying Orange – picked up by The Cartoon Network in 2012
  • Children’s Hospital – picked up by Adult Swim in 2009

The Reemergence of Super 16mm ­- Aesthetics and Practicality

Cinematography in indie filmmaking is a constant negotiation between financial reality and creative vision. With that in mind, should indie cinematographers consider Super 16mm more seriously? There are some sound arguments for it.

Financially, film may not be as expensive of a choice as most would think. Arri CSC still rents out Arri 416 and Arri SR3 packages to students, and indie filmmakers. Rental houses will often work to make packages that are appropriate for their budget and the project. If you opt for Arri SR2, the option becomes even cheaper. In the Vancouver area, for example, Cineworks offers SR2 packages for $400 a week. With the trend moving towards digital, the cost of rentals for film cameras is expected to go down even further.

Of course, one should take the cost of stock and processing into account. The good news is Kodak is very friendly towards low-­budget, indie filmmakers. You can negotiate the price to get a discount or if you play your cards right, even get them to donate a percentage of the stock. You can always consider recans and shortends as well. Technicolor is also quite helpful in figuring out a realistic budget and will provide discounts to filmmakers when possible. And if you’re lucky enough they might have a pricing agreement with your local film association or collective. (In Vancouver, ByDeluxe offers film processing and Telecine).

The aesthetic side of the argument is a bit more obvious. Super 16mm will give you that old, nostalgic, grainy, raw look that is quite hard to replicate in post. Sure, you can add grains and highlight blooms in post when you shoot digital, but whether fake grains and blooms are as good as the real, organic ones is up for debate.

Still from Beasts of the Southern Wild

Still from Beasts of the Southern Wild

Ben Richardson, the cinematographer of the Oscar­ nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild, has talked about his choice to shoot on Super 16mm quite extensively. He praises film’s superior ability to capture beautiful pictures in challenging lighting situations, as compared to a digital medium. He also states that shooting on film actually turned out to be a better financial and creative choice for the movie.

Of course, shooting on film isn’t an easy task. The price will take more negotiating and networking to get a good deal, and perhaps most importantly, you need to find a DOP who is experienced and competent in shooting on film. However, with some of the solid arguments for using Super 16mm, it is once again becoming a viable option for indie filmmakers.

Recent films shot on Super 16mm or 16mm (partially or entirely)

  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Black Swan
  • Fruitvale Station
  • Hurt Locker
  • Half Nelson
  • I’m Not There
  • The Wrestler
  • The Runaways
  • The Walking Dead (AMC Television Series)

Resource links

  • Raw­stock
  • 1-800­-821­-3456 (Kodak)
  • 1-888­-424-­3854 (Fuji)

Written by Freddie Kim

This post was originally published on February 4, 2014 and was updated on December 13, 2016.

10 Must-See Indie Horror Films

Nearly fifty years ago George Romero changed the landscape of the indie horror films forever with his debut feature Night of the Living Dead. This tradition has continued as emerging directors have used horror to launch their careers, consistently breathing new life into the genre—from Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1980) to Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).

This generation introduces a new wave of indie horror films that play with cultural influences, horror clichés and self-awareness within their work. Here are ten indie horror films that are redefining fear.

The Babadook (2014)
Director: Jennifer Kent
Writer: Jennifer Kent
Budget: $2 million
Summary: The Babadook is about a troubled young boy and his mother, who find themselves tormented by a nightmarish creature that appears in their home via a mysterious pop-up children’s book. Following the film’s release, William Friedkin, the legendary director of The Exorcist, announced: “I’ve never seen a more terrifying film.”

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

Director: Eli Craig
Writer: Eli Craig, Morgan Jurgenson

Budget: $2 million

Summary: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is an incredibly entertaining twist of perspective, following two hapless rednecks that are mistaken for backwoods killers by a group of preppy college kids. This film is a romp in ‘meta-horror’ territory, slashing its way through tropes and emerging covered in blood and gore and a whole lot of heart.

Creep (2014)

Director: Patrick Brice
Writer: Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
Budget: Unknown

Summary: Creep is unlike anything you’ve seen before: a mumblecore found footage endeavour that treads the water between comedy and psychological horror. Director/writer Patrick Brice plays a naive videographer who answers a cryptic online ad, and begins documenting the charming and increasingly unhinged Mark Duplass, who produced and co-wrote the film. This film truly a testament to what two people can do with talent, a camera and a rubber wolf mask.

The Orphanage (2007)

Director: J.A. Bayona
Writer: Sergio G. Sánchez
Budget: $4 million

Summary: If you prefer your horror films to come with a pedigree, rest assured that The Orphanage not only opened at the Cannes Film Festival, but also received a ten-minute standing ovation from the audience. The film centers on a woman who moves her family into the orphanage that she grew up in, her hopes to reopen it abruptly halted when her son goes missing under mysterious circumstances.

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Director: Neil Marshall
Writer: Neil Marshall
Budget: $2 million

Summary: Before director Neil Marshall released his critically acclaimed feature The Decent (2005), he first tested the waters of horror with Dog Soldiers, a film that wholeheartedly celebrates the low-budget comedy-horror genre. In the Scottish Highlands a group of soldiers is forced to barricade themselves in a farmhouse and fight off a wave of bloodthirsty werewolves.

Resolution (2012)

Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Writer: Justin Benson
Budget: Unknown

Summary: A disarmingly funny genre-twisting film that opens with a man’s aggressive attempt to help detox his meth-addicted best friend, and switches gear when a mysterious entity begins targeting them. Exploring a barrage of classic horror-film clichés, Resolution is a breath of fresh air for those who feel they have thoroughly OD’d on the genre.

Lake Mungo (2008)
Director: Joel Anderson
Writer: Joel Anderson
Budget: $1 million

Summary: Presented as a faux-documentary about the death and secretive live of a sixteen year old girl, Lake Mungo feels like something you might stumble across while watching late night television, blurring the line between reality and nightmare. This is a gem of a horror film that blends the complexity of grief, memory and the afterlife.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Writer: Ana Lily Amirpour
Budget: $1 million
Summary: The critically acclaimed A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a stylish cross-cultural black-and-white feast for the eyes that can be summed up by its tagline, ‘The first Iranian Vampire Western’. The result is a film that was clearly made with excitement, passion and a true love of the cinema.

Honeymoon (2014)
Director: Leigh Janiak
Writer: Phil Graziadei, Leigh Janiak
Budget:   $1 Million USD
Summary: A newlywed couple finds their brief marital bliss shattered when the bride begins sleepwalking and acting increasingly erratic. This film plays on the very relatable anxiety that goes along with intimacy and commitment, taking it to a chilling extreme.

The Loved Ones (2009)
Director: Sean Byrne
Writer: Sean Byrne
Budget:   $4 million
Summary: A future cult classic, The Loved Ones feels like an absolutely horrific mashup of Carrie (1976) and Misery (1990). When a socially awkward young woman is turned down for a date to the prom by the high school heartthrob, she and her father take things into their own hands to give her the night that she so desperately desires.