SDCC ’12: Interview with SAVE THE SUPERS’s Sandeep Parikh
Thanks to the internet, filmmakers now have the opportunity to share their stories without going through major studio routes. The web-series format allows genre shows that may have a somewhat limited audience to truly thrive and even make celebrities out of their creators and stars. April’s launch of Felicia Day‘s premium YouTube channel, “Geek and Sundry”, may be the best sign of the rising popularity of internet TV as well as a glimpse into the future of media consumption. One successful web-series writer/director/producer/actor you may (or will soon) know is Sandeep Parikh. He is best known for his co-starring role as Zaboo in the hit web-series The Guild and his hilarious original web-series The Legend of Neil, a comedy about a slacker who gets sucked in to”The Legend of Zelda” by masturbating while playing NES. We sat down with Sandeep to chat about his brand new (more family-friendly) series Save the Supers, the upcoming The Legend of Neil DVD release, and his experience producing for the web. Save the Supers chronicles a superhero team’s greatest challenge, government funding cuts, and you can watch it here.
Screen Invasion: So Sandeep, tell me about Save the Supers. What is its origin story?
Sandeep Parikh: Save the Supers! It’s sort of a fucked up Justice League. It’s Justice League meets The Office, kinda. It came from a love of Super Friends growing up. I loved that show so much! When I first came to L.A. I watched the British version of The Office and fell in love with television all over again. I was like this is amazing television! It was the first time I had watched a comedy be sincere and real in a way. The characters just felt so true and real and they did these amazing story arcs that lasted only 6 episodes a season, or whatever it was, and I just loved that format. I had never really seen it. A 6-hour movie, basically, is what I’m experiencing. I fell in love with that! I fell in love with the awkward humor and I was like “man, what if we did this with super heroes!” What if Superman was the office frat boy and Batman was just the weird guy, the sort of Dwight Shrute, I guess. So I started mapping these personalities to the Justice League, which I know in some ways had been done, but I thought I could do it in a fresh way, a new way, and I shot that in 2004 called The Good Guys. That was my first directing experience. It got me representation with William Morris and it was this whole thing that I pitched to all these networks. All the networks said “no.” “Superheroes would never work on television,” is what I heard a lot, “superheroes are too high concept for TV.” This was before Heroes. So I felt like we were a little ahead of our time. And this was also the first thing I did so it was a little rough around the edges and didn’t have any budget. Anyway, it was an idea I always loved and sort of hung on to. So after I did Legend of Neil, this is a very long winded answer, after I did Neil, when people were like “Ok, that was a success, it did really well on Comedy Central, it did three seasons, all this stuff, what do you want to do next?” I was like, “well, you know what I want to do really is my first love, which is make this show.” So I sort of re-invented it, modernized it a little bit, took it a little bit away from The Office. It’s more of a Reno 911/The Office blend, in a way. But I wanted to keep that sincere real feeling, you know. So it was still mapping them to realistic humans and letting their relationships forefront those. It still has that nature and I’m really proud of the show, yeah, it’s out now.
SI: Are there any similarities between the character you plan on The Guild, Zaboo, and the character you play in this show, Merman?
SP: No. I don’t think so. I mean, except that you bring yourself to every character that you play. I’m not Daniel Day-Lewis so I don’t know if I transform in to a completely different person every time I play someone. Merman is a much more sensible guy, he’s actually way more the grounded reasonable guy where all these insane people live around him and it’s his job to keep the team together in the face of World Man being a total self loving douche bag.
SI: Some things I loved about The Legend of Neil were the props and physical humor. Based on the first episode of Supers, it looks like you are continuing that tradition. How much does your production designer, Greg Aronowitz, add to those ideas?
SP: Oh god, Greg is a genius! He built all those costumes, designed them. We had a small army to help him build them, but he did design everything. He’s a visual genius. He’s one of those people, which I think there are very few of, that can build anything. He has his own style, as all artists do. But man, he just makes dreams come true, you know. You tell him that I want a giant demonic amplifier, you’ll see later there’s a character with a big amp, and he built just the coolest, hugest thing. You know, I say it like it’s no big deal, I’m like “oh yeah, just build this thing,” and then I have my vision of it in my head and then he always even exceeds that grandiose vision of it. Without him the show wouldn’t be half as cool.
SI: What kind of cameos can we expect to see in this thing?
SP: Some amazing people drop in. Seth Green drops in. Felicia Day drops in, you may know who that is. Tony Janning from The Legend of Neil. James Read, who is an amazing actor with a storied list of credits, look him up on IMDB. I don’t even want to start listing them. He plays our general. He’s hilarious. Fiona Gubelmann, she’s the girl next door in Wilfred. She’s hilarious and plays “Rascal”. Each episode we have someone cool and new play either a hero or a villain or even just a civilian in a unique role. I feel like I’m forgetting people, oh, Tay Zonday kinda comes in there. He’s in the first episode, so sorry I guess I’m spoiling that, but whatever, who gives a shit? Frankly I’m so over the whole like “omg, I’m gonna hold back these people.” It’s like no, I’m gonna market them because we need them for people to come watch the show. They’re all amazing and really funny. You know, Seth was so cool, he’s a movie star dropping in to a web show for shitty web rates just because he loved the material and wanted to play. We were blessed to have him. It was awesome!
SI: So it looks like there are going to be 7 episodes. Is that correct?
SP: 7 Episodes. We originally wrote them as six, but then we split up the last episode in to two because it felt right when we were editing it that way. They come out every Wednesday. We are actually going to do a 12 week run where we have a whole bunch of ancillary content that comes out in between.
SI: And how many seasons?
SP: 40. 40-50.
SI: We keep hearing about it, but when is The Legend of Neil DVD coming out!?
SP: So we don’t have an official date yet, we’re very close to one. This year it will come out. We’re really gunning for Christmas. In all honesty, Viacom is a very big corporation. It took The State 13 years to get their DVD out and we were lucky to get it nearer to 2. They’ve been really cool and it’s just tough. There’s a big legal department and they’re all really good guys and they want to make it work. It’s just a lot of people that have to sign off. We’re doing a new thing, you know. They’re use to working in television and film and we’re the web. It’s all new business models and we want to make sure they protect themselves. And I get it, it has just been a long process. But we fashioned a really favorable deal for everybody, I think, that both sides are really excited about. It’s just a matter of crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s and we should have a DVD out with an hour’s worth of extra content. That’s the cool thing, it has taken us so long to make this DVD that we just keep making extra content for it. So it’s like, “Fuck it, we have another 4 months until this deal is done, lets make another special feature.” There’s going to be gag reels. There’s going to be a huge behind the scenes featurette. It’s almost like a how-to-make-your-web-series featurette in a way. It’s cool. We interviewed everybody. Lots of behind the scenes footage and then commentary from me and Tony [Janning] and then another commentary track, a party track, where we all got drunk together, the entire cast and crew, and we did a commentary. It’s pretty fun. Greg Aronowitz does a special feature on how to build props. Tony and I built that really cool cliff scene in the finale. We built that miniature cliff and it is sort of a behind the scenes specifically on how to build a prop like that. I think it’s really cool. I had to sort of piece that together. Yeah, it’s chock full of goodies. So many Easter eggs! If you keep pressing buttons through the whole thing you’ll see all these weird little clips that we found, found footage, cutting room floor stuff scattered throughout.
SI: Any chance Neil will rise again? Perhaps in comic book form?
SP: You know, I won’t say no to anything. Dark Horse and I are talking about doing some stuff together. I don’t know if it’s going to be Neil, I don’t know if it’s going to be Save the Supers, or something totally original. I’m not sure, to be completely honest. Whatever works at the time and where inspiration strikes, but I would love to come back and revisit Neil in some way, absolutely. But right now I’m focused on Save the Supers and I want to build that. Like I said, it was my first love in a way, when I came out here, so I’m psyched to do it!
Thanks to Sandeep for hanging out with us, you’re a talented man and a good dude ta boot! Holler at him on Twitter @sandeepparikh, it was his birthday yesterday! If you are in the Los Angeles area you should check out his amazing improv group, Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, which also features Felicia Day, Tony Janning, and a slew of other hilarious folks, at Third Street Theater on Saturday, July 28th. Discover The Legend of Neil, if you haven’t already, and be sure to watch Save the Supers right now! We’ve embedded the first episode below, so you have no excuse! Ok, go do all that stuff…starting…now!
Stay tuned for more interviews from Comic Con, and don’t forget to peep our Comic Con photo galleries in the meantime! For the latest news and reviews follow @RealBrianRudlof and @ScreenInvasion on Twitter.