Ed Helms may be best known for his big roles in the Hangover movies and on The Office, but for his new web series he went small. Really, really small.
Helms is the co-creator of Tiny Commando, a new web series that went live last week. It stars Zachary Levi as Tiny Commando, a former Navy SEAL who gets shrunken in a military experiment gone wrong. As a 4-inch-tall soldier, he goes places where bigger commandoes are unable to tread. (For example: when NASA needs to send someone to Mars but only has a miniature prototype of the transport that would get an astronaut there, they call on Tiny.)
“I don’t know why miniature things capture the imagination. For some reason small things are just really fun,” says Helms. “The notion is that it would be really great to shoot Jerry Bruckheimer-style action set pieces with these toys. Then it was reverse-engineered. You’ve gotta have a guy who drives them. Who’s that? That would be Tiny Commando.”
Helms says that a web series was the perfect vehicle for a show like Tiny Commando—”a little bit campy and green-screeny”—but that access to technology means that web-series creators don’t necessarily have to have smaller imaginations than TV or movie creators (unless they want to). “The food’s not as good and the trailers are not as comfy,” he says, comparing making a web series to making a TV show. “That’s the main difference.”
And there are plenty of show to back up his claims about the big things going on in the world of web series. Besides Tiny Commando, here are Ed Helms’ three favorite examples:
“One of the great pioneer webseries was Children’s Hospital, which turned into a TV show. I was actually in the first or second season of that,” says Helms. “Rob Corddry did such an incredible thing with that show. It was very early for a studio giving backing to a web-only series.”
Helms’ other two favorites are “Burning Love,” a Bachelor parody hosted by Yahoo!, and the Jake and Amir videos on College Humor.
“All three of those shows are so different in premise. It’s a difficult thing to articulate but it just comes down to entertainment value,” he says. “When you’re talking about a five-minute episode, you’re not trying to deeply move people necessarily. You’re just trying to grab attention and have fun.”
Jake and Amir on College Humor
“If you can capture someone’s imagination for those few minutes,” Helms says, “that’s what it’s about.”