Peer Production: How Jason Nash Makes a Living in Web Series

Jason Who? Huh?

We look at it this way. The important thing for new writers/directors/actors/et al is to make a living in the biz you love, right? So think of the following article as really meaning, “How YOU can make a living in web series.”

Cuz the point here is that you can:

theshamanby Stephanie Carrie

Jason Nash came to Hollywood to follow in the footsteps of Woody Allen, making a living writing and starring in his own work. And he is – on the Internet. An overview of Nash’s career in recent years illustrates the evolution of the monetization of scripted digital media. Perhaps it’s what Allen’s career would look like had he entered the entertainment industry as a twenty something today. Nash has created and starred in online series for GQ (How to Be a Man), Comedy Central (The ShamanJason Nash is Married) and most recently Regal Cinema’s Date Night Fails.

Originally from Boston, Nash worked for comedian Norm MacDonald on Saturday Night Live during college, then moved to Hollywood in 2001 when he was cast on the sketch show Random Play for VH 1. Nash had success selling several of his own TV shows, but none made it to air. He found the typical road of an actor – – taking bit parts in shows and slowly building a resume – frustrating.

“Half the time I didn’t think the show was even funny,” Nash remembered in an interview at his Studio City home. “I think the right way to go about things is to take small steps and I just didn’t have the patience. I never wanted to write on a staff. I wanted to perform my work. I could sell my own TV show, but I couldn’t get it made. And I couldn’t star in a movie.” So in 2008, he moved his focus away from TV to the smaller screen.

In 2006, MTV had bought digital entertainment company Atom.com, in order to start their own digital presence. Nash, who had also worked at MTV, sold them his first original web series, The Shaman. In it, starred as a Jim Morrison-esque, bare-chested wanna-be guru who goes by the name of Shaman and moves to L.A. to pay the rent by healing the world. MTV gave Nash a modest sum for him to produce all components of the show and pay himself with the remainder. Nash called in favors from comedian friends including former sketch teammates Mike Blieden (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon) to direct and Matt Price (Men of a Certain Age) to co-star.

They shot 50 pages in 6 days. It wasn’t exactly Hollywood money, but it was Nash’s first taste of the funded creative freedom he craved and a strong sample for future web work. “I was really naïve,” Nash said. “I thought, I’ll make this web show and it’ll be so great that they’ll make a TV show. It doesn’t work like that. You still have to pitch the TV show and people in the TV business want to have a hand in what you do.” Yep, the Louis CK/FX deal of total creative freedom on your TV show is a rare one.

After The Shaman, Nash started doing stand-up comedy. When Atom.com execs saw his one-man show “In the Land of Tall Buildings and Red Fire Engines,” about the enlightening and horrifying adventure of being a married father and person of “potential,” they asked him to create another web series based on the show.

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