In this age of social media, almost anyone can become a filmmaker — but few can do it well. The new Comedy Central series “Big Time in Hollywood, FL” takes that premise and runs with it.
The 10-episode series created and written by Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf is about a pair of no-talent brothers who believe they are the darlings of the Internet video world. The truth is their work is awful. That doesn’t stop them from putting together an elaborate ruse to maintain their financial dependence on their mom and dad.
Anfanger and Lenny Jacobson play the brothers. Schimpf is the director. Kathy Baker and Stephen Tobolowsky are the parents.
Anfanger and Schimpf decided to write the series because they — not unlike the brothers in the series — were working on really bad projects in New York. And, like the brothers, the writing partners found a safe haven back home.
“We met at NYU, and we had been working together through that time, and we decided to go to my parents’ house in Los Angeles, get away from New York and write something,” Anfanger says. “And so while we were there, we came up with these characters. And they’re kind of like us, I guess.”
When not writing, Schimpf watched a lot of TV dramas. He liked the long story arcs that are a mainstay of dramas and the pair decided to use that formula except as a comedy.
The idea is to start with a small space — like the home where the brothers live — and then keep expanding their universe. And, if the writers have done their job, that expansion will add layers of comedy.
Tobolowsky, whose long list of comedy credits range from “Groundhog Day” to “Glee,” says the creators’ comic voice is unlike any he’s worked with before.
“It kind of hits you in three different levels,” Tobolowsky says. “There’s this kind of character thing of the family that’s happening at the bottom, like at the bottom of the rainforest, and then in the middle there’s this absurd economy that happens above that that’s connected to the family drama, and then it has this stratospheric, operatic, satiric feel that covers the whole thing, and they’re able to keep it all in the air at the same time.
“It was something that’s so exciting as an actor to think like, ‘How on Earth are they going to pull this off?’ ”
Baker was impressed with the way the young writers could create such a convincing mature married couple. It was easy for Baker to slip into the role because Anfanger and Schimpf are the same ages as her own sons.
Ben Stiller’s production company is behind “Big Time.” He was also impressed with the way Anfanger and Schimpf created such an interesting family to be the core of the comedy.
“I saw how their cast was starting to coalesce around them, and their connection with the actors in that great way where you see something starting to happen, where people start to trust each other and sort of buy into what these guys were doing,” Stiller says. “I feel that as you watch the episodes, it’s almost in succession as it grows, I think they get more and more confident and crazy and what the show is, even though it was all written before.”