Last week our creator ShinySwoots came to me from on high [Editor’s Note: Not THAT on high ;-)] and offered me a journey. I accepted and was led down a path of righteousness and awesome….
Anyway, Swoots asked me to do a post about http://www.robotninjagayguy.com/RNGG/HOME.html otherwise known as Robot, Ninja, and Gay Guy. They have finished their first season and are currently raising money to fund a second season. I had never heard of this great webseries before and I am grateful to Swoots for introducing me to it. I sent the creator Travis Richey some questions, and I will be posting those and his answers in two parts.
(They even got Nicholas Brendon on! You know, the guy who played Xander on Buffy!)
1. How did the three of you meet originally?
Trav- Well, Gay Guy was living with his boyfriend Chad, who was a big superficial jerk who always did things like eat the last of the chicken marsala without saying anything. Out of the blue, Chad left, so Gay Guy had to find someone to replace him in the apartment, so he put an ad on Craigslist and the only ones who responded were a ninja and a rob—It occurs to me now that you may have meant the actors. Did you mean the actors? I met Brian Giovanni and Ryan Churchill at the ACME Comedy Theater in Hollywood, where we all perform. Brian does improv there, Ryan is on the sketch side, and I do both. I really love ACME and try to use ACME performers for almost all my videos.
2. Who’s idea was “Robot, Ninja, and A Gay Guy?” And how did they come up with the idea?
Trav- The original concept for the show was from another ACME friend Curtiss Frisle. A few years back Xbox was having a contest for new web series. I was doing “Musecast” at the time, and I got a few of my friends from ACME together to brainstorm some ideas. Curtiss came with the concept for “Ninja, Robot & Gay Guy” about three random, weird roommates. He didn’t have much more than that, and our initial concept for the show was much more wacky than it ended up being.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the resources or equipment to produce anything, so we kind of just sat on the idea for a while. Then I moved into a new place with my boyfriend Rob Wood, and we knew we wanted to produce something together. Curtiss was busy working on some other projects, so I emailed my friend Eric Loya and asked if he wanted to be the head writer of this web series “Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy.” He said sure, and I said ok and went back to moving.
A month or so later I got 4 scripts in my inbox from Eric, who had just taken it upon himself to create the current tone of the show. He made it a point to say he wasn’t attached to anything (and in fact that’s the only reason he didn’t name the characters originally), but I loved them so much I decided to go into production the following month. It was a really frenetic period getting ready for that because I didn’t have anything I needed to make the show, like a camera for instance.
3. What do you plan to do with the money you raise from the current Season 2 fundraising effort?
Trav- First, we have a detailed budget that is available for any potential investors.
It’s important to note that everything we did for Season 1 came out of my pocket, to the tune of close to $10,000. That’s cameras, lights, sound equipment, hard drives, food, costumes, makeup supplies, etc. People don’t often realize that there’s a lot that goes into making any sort of scripted entertainment. I also want to say that I’m incredibly proud of what we were able to do for that little. Think about it this way: Season One had about an hour and a half of content in total (not including the Truth or Fail game show), which is the same as a full-length feature film. And you never hear about anything being made for that little. Even “Paranormal Activity,” which was famously inexpensive, cost $16,000 (But the sequel? $3 million).
For the second season of “Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy,” we really just want to take the show to the next step, as a professional-looking web series. For that we have a chunk of the budget set aside for equipment upgrades in video, audio, lighting and editing. Besides that, the per-episode budget is for some pay for cast and crew, which includes a few crew positions that we didn’t have in the first season (for example, I’d love for the director to not have to also operate the camera), food for those people on set, and a few other miscellaneous supplies.
Everyone worked for free in Season One, and that’s a hard thing for people to do when they’re also struggling to survive in Los Angeles. I want very much to be able to offer a little bit to people for helping to make this great show, and in some cases we need to in order to move forward at all.
4. How did you get Nicholas Brendon to appear in one of your episodes? (I am insanely jealous about that btw)
Trav- This goes back to the Musecast, as well. Helenna Santos was in Year 2, and for her final vlog, she interviewed Nicholas, whom she’d met at her work and become friends with. Then, a few months later, RNGG head writer Eric Loya was invited to go to a play that Nicky was in. Eric is a huge “Buffy” fan, so it was a particular treat for him. By this time, we were through Episode 8 of RNGG, and Eric just mentioned it to Nicky who was tickled by the concept. When it came time to find our Mr. Furper, we managed to get in touch with him, sent a script his way, and based on that, he said yes. It was tremendously exciting. It was also very flattering that he agreed to shoot with us for free, based completely on his love of the script.
Whether he’ll be back is completely up to him. Last I heard, he wants to, and we want him to, and Mr. Furper has potential storylines in Season 2, but with Nicholas being a relatively successful actor, it’s always hard to say how those things will turn out, especially when we still don’t have a proper budget.
5. What are your hopes for this webseries?
Trav- I think “Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy” is a wonderful show that could go on for at least a few years. I feel really proud that I can watch episodes over and over (even after seeig them dozens of times in the production process) and still laugh out loud at moments. I do think it’s important to have a budget, though. I’ve been demanding some great work from the people who’ve been involved in the first season, but I haven’t been able to give them a cent for their time and effort. Me included. But assuming we can achieve some sort of sustainability, I’ll do “Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy” until it’s not funny anymore.
On a grander scale, I could definitely see us on TV. I think cable channels like Comedy Central, TBS, Logo, or HBO would be perfect homes for “Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy.” We’re entering a few festivals this year with the goal of getting noticed by some industry folks.
We’ve also got a plan for sustainability. Ideally, we’d like to not have to ask for donations after this first run. RNGG is extremely quotable, and I would love for our revenue to come from merchandise like T-shirts and DVDs. If we can manage that, it would open the door for us to do so much more than we’ve already been able to accomplish.
More to come tomorrow!