He's not exaggerating.
The most-watched episode of "Graveyard," the first episode (written by Stolte), has been watched just 1,455 times on YouTube, a tiny audience considering the pedigree of those involved: Actors aside, Lazzeretti is a Chicago filmmaker whose "The Merry Gentleman" (which he produced and wrote, and which was directed by its star, Michael Keaton) played the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, and Amaya is owner of 59 Films, a Chicago production house for commercials. It's also a reminder that Web series are many, and getting noticed is hard.
Which, is OK with them, sort of.
"So far, we've been driven by the notion that if people just saw this, they would like it — and nothing more, no larger end game," Lazzeretti said. "I think there is something lovable about the compactness of the format, a charm to its bite-sized nature. That said, if Lorne Michaels were interested, we would accommodate him."
"It's very flukish what gets attention, and not always impressive," said Stolte, currently co-starring on NBC's "Chicago Fire." "But sure, it's also a little frustrating. I do work with people (on 'Chicago Fire' who have) many, many thousands of Twitter followers, so probably I need to stop being so shy about asking for small favors."
Lazzeretti got the idea for "Graveyard" after watching Pasquesi and Stolte in a small scene in "Something Better Somewhere Else," his latest film (debuting on video this fall). He considered two scenarios for them: office building or mine shaft. The former was cheaper to pull off. The first and second seasons cost roughly $8,000 each to produce; money came primarily from Lazzeretti and Amaya, who recently hired a Boston social media marketing firm to help get "Graveyard" noticed. The actors, who are not paid, doubled as the screenwriters, though Pasquesi said the series' voice is so consistent it's often hard to tell who wrote what.
Before they shot last summer, they wrote (along with Lazzeretti) two dozen short scripts, ranking each in order of funniness, length, redundancy. Then they brought 17 scripts to the shoot, with plans to make 13.
They made 14 before sunrise.
A few hours into the shoot, Lazzeretti asked a production assistant to prepare for the holiday episode. While someone strung garland along Pasquesi's desk, another assistant wrestled a fake Christmas tree into place, its branches and ornaments rustling loudly.
"Chris," he said, turning to Stolte, "go shave." Lazzeretti looked out at the dark parking lot. Whatever light remained in the sky was gone now, and they had a solid six hours before it would return. He said to no one in particular: "Only 11 and three-quarter episodes left!"