Making and distributing web series back in 2001 wasn’t anywhere nearly as simple as today’s creators have it—this was 4 years before YouTube popped up and streaming video over the internet was neither easy or cheap. But that didn’t stop young actor-writers Sam Maccarone and Dian Bachar from showing off their skills to anyone who would watch it—online. By 2001, the pair had launched their second original web series Roommates: The Series after a successful start with their 1999 comedy series Captain Jackson, which netted them a healthy dose of press coverage and paid gigs.
Now nine years later, after moving on to film and TV projects, the duo are returning to the internet and bringing back both series with new episodes starting February 15th. Check out one of the 2001 episodes (above)—”Sam’s New Friend.” We caught up with Maccarone to ask him about what is most likely the web’s longest ever hiatus for a series and his plans for their new comedy site—TheTVFantastic.com, where the two series will live, along with other new originals.
Tubefilter: You guys were some of the earliest web series creators, what was it like back then and how did you distribute?
Sam Maccarone: Dian and I actually had a really popular web series before Roommates: the Series in 1999 called Captain Jackson, so we have definitely been making shows online for a while. We made up a site called Bongcaster and just offered them for free to the public. Back then it was streaming video and we would literally pay 30 cents every time someone watched an episode. It also looked horrible. Very blocky and pixelated. And the sound got off sync after a minute or two. It was annoying. But the show did well and we got articles about us in all kinds of magazines. Our investor finally pulled out of Captain Jackson because it was too much money. Me and Dian somehow became roommates in 2000 and by 2001, we had a new investor and began cranking out Roommates: the Series episodes. At the time, we still had to pay every time someone “streamed” our movies. The charge was for bandwidth. By 2003, we were getting so many hits that our investor again said, “no way.” Roommates the Series was dead…
Tubefilter: What made you decide to return to the web after finding some success with film and TV?
Maccarone: Around that time I sold a script to National Lampoon and went into production on TV: the Movie. That kept me busy for a year and then that turned into more movies and a few TV shows. Dian starred in everything I made. During all this, I watched youtube spring up. The whole time I was making features, I was watching these kids crank out awesome content and was actually kind of jealous!? there’s something sweet about making 2 – 5 minute movies. You have this small amount of time to try and make as big of an impact as you can. I’ve been dealing with shifty, cocky, shady film producers for 8 years now and I wanted to return to making films where we have control. I know Dian feels the same way. So it just seemed like the right thing to do. All music and visual f/x are created by Tim Montijo who did all the original Roommates. I also brought on legendary documentary filmmaker Chapin Wilson (Hands on a Hardbody) to produce. Chapin and I just finished a documentary about the Delorean Time Machine and super fans who replicate it for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Tubefilter: You’re launching a new site on the 15th of this month—TheTVFantastic.com—what exactly is going to be there?
Maccarone: thetvfantastic.com is a site where we will bring back all of our old characters and some new. New episodes of Roommates: the Series go up this month, and in March, we will begin releasing new Captain Jackson episodes. We promise at least a new Roommates or Captain Jackson a month. Maybe more. Lot’s of surprise cameos, lots of naughty R-rated humor. It’s good to be back on the internet! We will be selling merchandise and action figures. There will be contests where winning viewer submitted scripts will be filmed by us. And of course, a good old message board so anyone can tell us what they think.
Tubefilter: Can you tell us who you’ve have lined up in terms of talent this time around?
Maccarone: All I can say is that in the coming months, we will have a lot of cool celebrity surprises.