Indie Spotlight: For ‘The Residuals’, Self-Awareness Is Key

By 07/25/2014
Indie Spotlight: For ‘The Residuals’, Self-Awareness Is Key

We receive a ton of tips every day from independent creators, unaffiliated with any major motion picture studios, television networks, new media studios, or other well-funded online video entities. The Indie Spotlight is where we’ll write about and shout out to a select few of them and bring you up to speed on the great (and sometimes not-so-great) attention-grabbing series you probably haven’t heard about until now.  Read previous installments here

This edition of Indie Spotlight is sponsored by Tongal.

Another web series has added to the growing number of comedies about struggling actors, but unlike many of its contemporaries, it seems to be fully aware of its common premise. The Residuals, created by the husband-and-wife team of Michael Paul Smith and Gillian Pensavallefollows its protagonists as they apply for commercial work alongside a horde of unqualified actors.


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In the first episode of The Residuals, Pete (played by Smith) goes to an audition for a pharmaceutical company, only to be paired with a dramatic over-actor who tanks his chance of scoring the role. The competing actors in The Residuals are like the townspeople in Parks and Recreation: They’re an easy source of humor, but they also represent an industry where everyone wants to be the hero. This theme, intentionally or not, also relates to the series as a whole and its position in the crowded word of web series about struggling actors.

Meanwhile, a b-plot concerns Pete’s attempts to make a web series with his friend Keith (Nick Costa), an aspiring actor in his own right. Pete and Keith strive to creative something unique, but their ideas (such as a comedy sketch called “My Douchey Bro-Tastic Wife”) fall flat. This plot also ties into the overall themes of creativity and the difficulty of creating something unique and special.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into The Residuals, but I find its effectiveness as a critical look at struggling actors allows it to stand out. And don’t worry–it’s plenty funny, too.


  • Men, ImpossibleThis Chinese web series explores the phenomenon of “xiang qin”, where mothers set their daughters up on blind dates with ‘reputable’ men.
  • Small Miracles. This web series features inspirational fantasy stories meant to inspire viewers.
  • The White Folks. Apparently, the concept of “first-world problems” is alive in South Africa.
  • The Trio. This music web series is set in Nashville, the “songwriting capital of the world.”

Got a series you’d like to see featured in the Indie Spotlight? Be sure to contact us here. For best coverage, please include a full episode in your e-mail.

This edition of Indie Spotlight is sponsored by Tongal. Tongal is changing the way creative work gets done, by making it accessible to people everywhere. For brands, studios, and causes, Tongal’s innovative platform provides continuous access to a global network of creatives, offering fresh ideas and insights, and top filmmaking talent to bring them to life. Tongal’s collaborative, merit-driven process enables everyone to focus on the work they do best. The result is outstanding content delivered with great speed and efficiency. Tongal is based in Santa Monica, California.

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