He’s baaaack. Alex Anfanger, the wide-eyed good guy who first found a special place in our Internet hearts with last year’s smash hit series, Next Time on Lonny, is at it again. This time, Anfanger’s taking on the role of a perpetually hopeful romantic in Compulsive Love, award-winning indie director Kevan Tucker’s bold ode to the Rom-Com genre — it’s the clearest indication yet of what everyone’s waiting for web entertainment to become.
An eight-installment arc that follows the romantic travails of indiscriminately smitten protagonist Aaron, Compulsive Love is 50 minutes of content away from a successful nationwide theatrical release. Expertly written (thanks to playwright Adam Szymkowicz), edited (tip of the hat to Tim O’Neill), produced (O’Neill and Aaron Edell have done this before), and shot (looking at you, Will Boisture) its creators’ commitment to story and character development spans far beyond web and TV conventions and offers an unflinching look at comedy that’s all at once edgy, sweet, and cartoonish, without ever succumbing to the unbearable safeness that dooms most of the genre’s efforts.
What happened prior to Compulsive Love for you in the comedy space?
Kevan Tucker: I actually don’t have a huge background in comedy. I make movies, I made a feature a little while ago called The Unidentified and it’s not a comedy. It’s an out-of-college, not-knowing-what-to-do-with-your-life drama. I’ve gravitated more towards comedy lately. It’s hard and it’s very different from drama. It’s amazing how something you think is funny in the moment and on the set is so completely different from when you edit and put everything together. I’ve done a few shorts, some of them were varying degrees of comedy.
Talk a little bit more about your background in drama and how you got started in the business?
Kevan Tucker: I dropped out of college. I went to Hampshire College, which is a big hippie school and I didn’t do my last year. I used the money that had been saved up to start making a feature. I shot the first 20 minutes of it and then slowly raised about 100k more to do the rest of it and then did all the press for it. I am mostly someone who works independently with a small group of people in New York. I’d never done a web series before. I think that web series are actually a rally exciting medium in that, in the coming years, people are going to do some really interesting things narratively. My background is pretty much that I love movies, I’ve always loved movies, I’ve been making movies since I was in high school and younger and I love to make things with friends when I can.
How did Compulsive Love come about?
Kevan Tucker: Adam Szymkowicz, the writer, had written the 8 episodes in the series and it was gonna happen with someone else and that kind of fell through or they all decided they didn’t want to do it anymore and I had read it before and was very excited to do it. I was not involved in the actual writing of it or creation of it, I took it over once he gave it to me and got my friends together and that’s how I became involved.
What are some of the most challenging parts about producing a web series?
Kevan Tucker: I think what was most challenging about it was just keeping everybody excited. We shot it as if it were a feature basically, in ten consecutive days and with a small crew. The kind of thing that got me excited about it in the beginning was making something without a large extravagant budget, making something in the style and in the spirit of the way I used to make things in high school. So the challenges were actually kind of the blessing of it in that we didn’t have a lot of money to make it and decided what was funny in the room and Alex is a godsend for that reason. He is always funny and no matter what he does is hilarious. I like to do a lot of takes and we were able to shoot and shoot and shoot and leave that to him.
Can I ask what the budget was?
Kevan Tucker: It was $10,000. Which we raised all on Indiegogo.com
It looks really fantastic, what did you guys shoot on?
Kevan Tucker: We shot on a 7D.
You mentioned that you think people are going to start to do really cool stuff in the web series space. What do you think the evolution of web entertainment is going to be?
Kevan Tucker: Ultimately, the duration of episodes is going to be negligible between web series and regular television. I think what’s really exciting to me about the web and the web as a story telling device in general is you have a lot of freedom in the structure of a television show, which is based on hour time slots or half-hour time slots with commercial breaks and blah blah blah. With the web, you can structure stories any way that you want. We have episodes that are 4 minutes and episodes that are 7 minutes and the time and format just depends on what is important to the story. I think we’re going to see more of that on the web as it merges with television.
What advice do you have for people who are new to producing web series?
Kevan Tucker: The web exists now in a place where you should just fuck around. You can go and make as much as you want and make mistakes and have fun with it. And ultimately the repercussions of that are minimal, so take risks!
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Episodes are released every Wednesday on the Compulsive Love YouTube channel. Only two are out now, so be an early adopter! Here are your three reasons to watch.
So far, 2013’s been the year of the web series story arc. More creators are pushing beyond the idea that ultra-small screen entertainment need be of the sub 2-minute variety and, while viewcount may not have caught up to artistic merit, the result has been impressively woven vignettes.
We already knew Anfanger was good, but Laura Ramadei and the rest of Compulsive Love’s supporting characters deserve recognition for being pitch-perfect.
I’d have been impressed if this level of production was achieved with a $30,000 budget, let alone a $10,000 nut raised on Indiegogo. From locations to wardrobe, this is bootstrap filmmaking at its finest.