Imagine you’re a famous TV star. Now imagine that suddenly, you’ve fallen from the spectacular heights of fame, to the devastating lows of obscurity. For Ben Little, the protagonist of the new comedy web series BUFFERING, being a nobody suddenly presents a new chance for him to be a somebody – in his case, by creating his own web series. The show, which debuted last April with four episodes, stars Curt Mega (who also stars as Nick, one of the Warblers on the popular Fox comedy/drama GLEE) as Ben Little, a recently unemployed TV actor, who tries to stage a comeback by producing his own web series. Standing in the way of his success is his roommate and best friend, Alex (Eric Carroll), himself an actor, but unlike Ben, one that’s steadily employed on his own TV series.

Ben casts two of his other friends, each with their own quirky personalities: health nut Tim (Matt H. Zimmerman) and artist Darren (Chase Edmondson). In addition, Alex’s ex-girlfriend, a bipolar/pyromaniac actress named Cindy (Stephanie Stuart) joins the cast, along with Alex’s TV co-star Kristen (Malgosia Tolak). Kristen and Ben carry on a secret romance, albeit one that Ben hopes to hide, mainly out of fear that his crazy friends will ruin their relationship. Mike Chinnichi directed BUFFERING, in addition to sharing writing duties with Michael Tobias. In addition to BUFFERING, there’s also a six episode companion web series, THE BEN DIARIES, written and directed by Mega, featuring Ben Little in a first person video blog format.

BUFFERING was developed late in 2011, after initially being developed as a short film, with some consideration given to making it a play. Yet, primarily because of the increasing popularity and expanding reach of new media, Mega and his production crew took a different approach: “We decided that the best way to connect with people is to make something that is not just web content, but to create a television show, and put it up in the form of something you can watch on your phone or your Ipad, and so we really set out to say, ‘how can we make a TV show for the web?’. We’ve actually rebranded ourselves from saying ‘web series’ to ‘digital series’. I have nothing wrong with the term ‘web series’, but I do feel sometimes that people give it a negative connotation, like ‘oh, you’re making a web series; that’s great because you’re not doing anything else.’ We’re making an episodic story, but we’ve chosen our medium to be the web.”

The casting process for the show was relatively easy, with many of the actors comprised of mutual friends of the production team, including some of Mega’s GLEE cast mates. However, the production of each episode of BUFFERING had its own set of challenges, primarily when it came to one important factor: the budget. Yet, Mega says, he put the show out there, including to his followers on Twitter (a built-in fan base because of his role on GLEE), resulting in a crowd funding campaign that netted $6,000 for the production of three more episodes. Mega also launched an IndieGoGo campaign, which raised over $11,000 for production of the last two episodes of the first season. “It’s one thing to put something out there and think it’s funny, but it’s really cool when people care enough to really want to see it get made,” he says.

The show’s devoted fans (a.k.a. Buffies) have contributed to the show in other ways, from a song featured in the show’s second episode, to various drawings of the cast on the show’s official web site, as well as a fan-created poster that appears in a promo video for the show’s spinoff, BEYOND THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR. It’s an innovative social media outreach that encourages both feedback and interaction with the show, and it’s a campaign that sets BUFFERING apart from other shows.

BUFFERING also stands apart from other web series in its structural approach to storytelling, with episodes that last up to fifteen minutes, making for a complete episode story. “We really wanted to try to make something that had a full three acts, instead of a ‘one and done’. It’s been kind of tricky, because even though it’s four episodes, there’s actually a lot more story than that than your typical web series, which is four to five minutes.” Mega feels that BUFFERING is not only an entertaining show, but also one that has a profound message, one that resonates with the underdog in all of us. “(It’s a) story about what it is to be an independent artist with really creative ideas, and not a lot of resources at your fingertips, and I think that’s something a lot of people relate to and connect to.”



TWITTER: @BufferingSeries