I love YouTube. I can spend hours watching silly children, furry animals, celebrities
messing up the lyrics of the national anthem—I love anything that can make me laugh.
Minus the Sweet, a new web series made by two hard-working USC seniors, definitely fits
that criteria. I chatted with Morgan Dameron, film production major, and Allison Raskin,
screenwriting major, about creating the web series and what it takes to be creative and
funny on a weekly basis.
HC: So where did you come up with the idea for Minus the Sweet?
M: One of my friends always used to tell me how he was so mean to people. He told me about
this one instance where he was drinking a drink, and somebody was like, “can I have a sip?” And
instead of giving him a sip, he poured it all out on the ground.
A: Did he really do that?
M: That’s what he told me. I don’t know if he really did that, but I thought that was really funny.
And then Allison and I were talking about how funny it would be if there was a character who
was really adorable and loveable, and everybody thought she was going to be so nice, and then
she did mean stuff.
A: The twist was that it is always something that would also harm herself. So it’s like cutting off
her nose to spite her face. If you look, everything she does ruins whatever she was doing and the
other person. So that’s the twist.
M: That’s what made it Minus the Sweet.
A: We got “Minus the Sweet” from those Sour Patch Kids. You know those commercials, where
it’s like “They’re sour. And sweet!” Then it was like, what if it’s just minus the sweet part?
M: It’s just all sour.
HC: What’s the process of filming an episode?
M: We set aside time every Wednesday. Generally the week before we’ll decide, we’re going to
do this idea. Then we decide, OK, who should her friend be?
A: We cast someone new every week, which adds an element of excitement, as well as a way to
expand our fan base.
M: Exactly, because hopefully they’ll tell all their friends that they were in an episode.
A: The thing itself is repetitious, so that brings a new element to it. Then we guerilla shoot.
M: We use a Flip camera, which is really nice. Convenient. And then I just edit them at home.
Our friend Carl Oser wrote a really great jingle for us.
A: We felt it was really important for it to be something that was catchy and that people would
want to hear every episode. And when we heard this one--
M: It was perfect, just perfect. So average filming: we pick a time, we all show up, we practice it
once and then we just shoot it for half an hour. It’s really convenient and fast.
A: The whole point is that we want it to be really short, because people on the web are much more willing to watch shorter things than longer things. If you see something is forty seconds
you’ll watch it, and then you’ll watch five more.
HC: Where do your ideas come from?
M: Things we do every day. We try to think of things that are going to hurt her as well.
A: That’s the hardest part. I try to think, what are things people do that piss me off? What
situations where someone would ask something of me? And then, how can I ruin whatever
they’re asking, by doing something more than just say no?
M: It’s all about retribution.
A: Really, she just wants to be kept to herself. There’s so many situations where people just
invade your privacy. Some days are a lot easier to come up with things than others. We also have
a very low production value.
M: The one that’s coming up this weekend, we couldn’t destroy the TV, so we had to come up
with an alternative.
A: But sometimes that makes it funnier.
M: I think those conflicts force us to be more creative.
HC: What are other kinds of challenges that arise with the project?
M: Keeping it new. That’s been the biggest challenge so far. And it’s hard to come up with
actions that indicate new locations.
A: This is a good example: one of the premises is that someone needs to borrow her book. So we
thought, what can she do that’s different? So she just blacks out the book. She has the Sharpie
and just blacks it out. It’s a new way of destroying something.
M: So the challenge there is, how do you make it different?
A: She still has to ruin it, but in a new way that you haven’t seen before. Also, the more bizarre
the ruining, the better reaction we get from the actors.
M: We do use actors, but they don’t know what we’re going to do.
A: It’s better not to plan it out so much, because then you get fresher reactions. But our biggest
issue is getting people to watch it. Marketing ourselves and getting people to watch it, because
the ultimate goal is to get a fan base who wants to watch it every week.
HC: What are your overall goals for the project?
M: Getting people to watch, expanding our creative outlet. The nice thing about this is that it
gets us to create something every week, whereas maybe Allison will be writing a script for two
A: A year--
M: And never getting to see it.
A: One of the best things about a partnership is, it’s a lot easier to let yourself down than to let
your partner down.
M: It holds you to that standard.
A: You have to get the stuff done. Minus the Sweet has been really good training for when we’re
going to be doing other larger, longer projects together.
HC: Anything else you want to add?
A: If you want to make stuff, do it.
M: Yeah, that’s our philosophy. Do it yourself.
A: And do it with someone you get along with. Because if you do stuff and you don’t get along
with the person, it’s not as fun.
M: Share it with your friends. Because as much as it’s about creating something together, it’s
also about people watching it together. You don’t laugh when you’re by yourself. Do you laugh
when you’re by yourself?
A: I’m a weirdo. I laugh when I read books by myself.
M: I think I do, but I don’t think the average person does.
A: That might be true.
M: So watch it with friends.
A: And if you want to be in Minus the Sweet, contact us.
M: Let us know!
Katherine Goldman is a senior majoring in Theatre.