L-R: Pat Thompson, Eli Sasich, Dom Jefferies and Chris Sasich, the masterminds behind web series Small Timers. Photo: Peter Anderson
Approximately two and a half years ago, a group of friends set out to create a 10-episode web series called Small Timers. Small Timers follows two college-age students—Steve and Elton—who find themselves in huge amounts of debt for various reasons. To try to solve their financial woes, the two turn to the world of petty crime, initially attempting ridiculous stunts such as snatching old ladies’ purses before figuring out that the real way to cold hard cash is through drug dealing.
Chris Sasich, the writer behind Small Timers, landed on the idea for a webisode series after becoming somewhat frustrated with his experience in college. “I thought film school was shit,” says Chris Sasich (who also produced the series and portrayed the character of Steve). “We just wanted to dive into something head first and see if we could handle it.” After scrapping some initial scripts, Sasich teamed up with a handful of fellow Judge Memorial graduates to create what would eventually become Small Timers.
Once the ideas were set, Chris and Eli Sasich, along with Dom Jeffries and Pat Thompson on the technical end of things, took approximately a year of their lives to create the finished product: 10 webisodes, the majority of which fall under 10 minutes, that were released weekly on their website, smalltimerstheseries.com. They filmed for about a month last May and edited for the next eight months. All 10 webisodes are currently available on their website.
It’s clearly well-made, and looks like a pricey endeavor. It makes you wonder if they have rich parents or a gloryhole website funding the project, but apparently that’s not the case. Chris Sasich says, “It really didn’t cost that much to do. It’s just a bunch of dudes with specific talents that meshed well together. That, and a website called Kickstarter, which helps fund projects like this.” Through the use of Kickstarter, they were able to raise $3,050 in two weeks—$50 over their initial goal. The money raised covered 100% of the filming and production costs, with most of it being spent on hard gear like sound equipment and batteries for cameras.
They are all funny people, and the end product is a testament to that. Small Timers features a dry sense of humor that is not opposed to the occasional gag. Although there are literally thousands of web series available, Small Timers stands well above most of what can be found on YouTube. “We watch a lot of them, and they aren’t great,” says Chris Sasich. “We think [Small Timers] is fucking good.” It might sound like arrogance, but there’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence, and once you watch a few other web series and compare them to Small Timers, you realize he’s right. According to Eli Sasich, one of their bigger influences is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. “They didn’t so much make webisodes, they made a rough version of that show, somebody picked it up, and now they get to make the show how they want,” he says.
As the series progresses, Elton, who initially attempts to get rich by looking under dumpsters for dollar bills and snatching purses from old ladies, begins to dabble in the world of drug dealing. As Elton dives into more lucrative petty crime, his confidence increases noticeably. According to Chris Sasich, this correlation was not accidental. “I based him off of Michael Corleone of the Godfather series,” says Chris Sasich. Elton is essentially the type of character that didn’t know what he was getting into, but instead of dealing with a horse head in a bed, he wears a wig and fake mustache at a party, trying to find drugs. Steve, one of Elton’s accomplices, might be my favorite character in the series, because Chris Sasich wanted him to be a character like Walter Sobchak of The Big Lebowski. Any series that features characters inspired by Corleone and Sobchak is definitely worth following.
The decision to deal drugs leads Elton and Steve to meet an aloof drug dealer named Benny (played by Jeffries), who gets them into trouble that I don’t even think he saw coming. Lady problems, beatings and chases ensue, and before Elton and Steve know it they are in way over their heads.
Although associate producer Jefferies says that Small Timers is completed and there are no further plans for that series, the crew behind the web series has some other projects in the works. They plan to create and submit a short to Sundance next year and hope to start work on another web series soon.
Check out all ten episodes of Small Timers on smalltimerstheseries.com.