A Pair Of Local Filmmakers Make The Bad Look Good In Their New Web Series.
Chris Gardner and Blair Rowan know a thing or two about patience.
Soon after meeting each other while attending high school in Dallas, the pair began working on their first film script together at age 16. And they continued revising drafts for the next 10 years before shooting began on their feature-length comedy-horror Blood on the Highway, which features Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Tom Towles (House of 1,000 Corpses) in 2007.
It's a trait they share with the main characters from their latest endeavor, the upcoming comedy web series The Bad, whose plot primarily revolves around a couple of hopeless thirtysomethings who just can't let go of their rock 'n' roll dreams — despite being in the worst garage band of all time. The series stars Gardner as Clark, the thoroughly oblivious, socially awkward lead singer of The Bad, whose blind optimism seems to be the band's primary catalyst for continuing to pursue their pipe dream of rock superstardom. Then there's Ira (Casey Wickson), the band's bassist and, by all accounts, only source of brains/any semblance of self-awareness in the group, and Ira's wife, Penny (Carly Goodwin), whose constant battles with these two man-children has left her a constant ball of rage.
We had the good fortune of catching a screening of the series' first episode at Texas Theatre a few months back, and can attest to how well the all-too-familiar premise translates to the medium.
And, like the series' creators, we too, have found ourselves waiting. In our case, we're anxious to see how The Bad's fans react to a music video in which the breasts of the lead singer's mother make an appearance — a reaction we assume we might see in Episode Two of the series.
For now, we'll wait, as Gardner and Rowan have had their hands tied by circumstances beyond their control.
For starters, before they could finish filming the second half of the series' first season, time got away from them, the duo said in a recent email exchange, forcing them to put their summer-set series on the backburner while they waited for the winter to turn back to spring. And, now that things have begun to warm up once again, Gardner and Rowan are hoping that a successful Kickstarter campaign will help them raise enough cash to pay their actors and crew, and allow them to finally release the entire season of The Bad.
Lest you were concerned: Fortunately, the filmmakers share a bit of the same optimistic spirit for their project that their characters Clark and Ira have for their terrible band.
“We definitely relate to the struggling-to-keep-struggling aspect of their ambitions and their inexplicably dogged drive to keep pursuing this thing, no matter the outcome,” Rowan says. “You could certainly hold up a mirror to us trying to make this web series and see the warped reflection of these characters trying to make it as a band.”
Earlier this week, we caught up with the series' co-creators to find out just how closely their early musical endeavors mirrored that of their characters and what else the future holds for The Bad.
The characters in the show are in a band. What are you guys' musical backgrounds?
Gardner: In middle school, I began recording on my own in my room by looping annoying homemade sound effects on a Casio SK10 and setting that against droning guitar in lament to the only challenges I had faced so far — female rejection, weight problems, Vietnam, eighth grade stuff. I would sell the tapes on consignment at the now-defunct Forbidden Books & Music to no one. After that, I was in a slew of bands throughout high school up to present day. I currently play in a band called Black Whale (formerly Tober Omi). I get a lot of leeway on the songs for The Bad. Blair gives me a lot of freedom to just sort of run with my dumb ideas.
Rowan: The musical aspect of the show, I leave that all up to Chris, and, fortunately, he's really fucking good at it. You really have to know what you're doing to create something so intentionally bad that it's entertaining, and he's got that shit down pat.
What were the worst bands you've been in?
Gardner: The worst band was also probably the greatest band. It was a high school duo with me and an angry young gangster rap enthusiast, Jeremy Proctor-Smith. The band was called BEE, a moniker I co-opted for many years, incarnations and line-ups thereafter. It was pretty much just a way to bang on instruments we couldn't really play, shout profane and vile treacle in an almost always successful attempt to shut down house parties and secret shows, and basically ruin everyone's good time. It was glorious.
Is anything from the series based on your real experiences?
Gardner: A lot of the band talk is derived from band experiences I've had. The unheralded connections you put on your music compared to well-established bands you admire, the dreams of grandeur. One bit of dialogue in particular that stands out is a line that one character sadly remarks to the others: “I thought we were friends. But we aren't friends, we're just band mates.” It was a reversal of a drunken, overly sentimental remark I'd made to long time bandmates: “We're not friends, we're bandmates.” I meant that music was a greater bond than friendship but, in hindsight, that sounds kind of like a shitty thing to say. Sorry, guys, I meant it in a loving way. There's more true-to-life band stuff in future episodes — failed gigs, scary venues, meth labs. The first season is really setting up who these idiots are and what these idiots want.
How long has The Bad been in the works, and what are your ultimate goals for the series?
Rowan: We've been working on the idea for nearly five years now. It was originally supposed to be a movie, but the story just kept getting bigger, and it only made sense to turn it into a series. Our plans for the second season were in fact the original plot for the movie, and that's the story that we're really determined to tell. But it's much larger in scope and ambitions, so the first season is a low-key prologue of sorts to set up and introduce the characters, and kind of a litmus test to see if we can drum up enough interest to continue the series. Ultimately, we'd like to do four seasons. We've got the first three heavily plotted out, and some loose ideas for how to wrap up the overall story, but four seasons seems like the right amount of time to get these characters where we picture them winding up. The absolute dream-come-true would be the chance to do it as an actual television show, of course. If anything, just so we don't have to battle against the internet attention span, and could actually allow the episodes to unfold in a traditional 20-something-minute time span. It's really fucking tough to keep these episodes beneath 15 minutes, especially with as much story as we have to tell.
What types of things will the Kickstarter donations pay for?
Gardner: The goal to reach is $7000. It will pay for props, locations, police cars, food. American actors are little titty-babies about going 12 hours without a meal, which is why so many people use Canadians. They gain nourishment exclusively through non-offensive sarcasm. But, mostly, paying our incredible cast and crew for their time, which, up to this point, we have been unable to do due to a complete DIY lack of funding. From the looks of current footage, you'd never know everyone was working for free but trust me, they were.
We enjoyed the music video for “Warrior.” Are there other music videos or songs planned to help promote the series?
Gardner: There are a few other song I've written as Clark for the series; “Shit Patrol,” “Titty Cake,” “NFF (Notorious For Fucking),” “Lullaby (Skeeten Doodley Doo).” There has been talk of a “Titty Cake” video, but nothing set in motion yet. Bait that breath, world!
Anything else people should know about the series?
Gardner: It's excellent, I promise. It's about a band, but it's mostly about long-term friends and a pipe dream they won't let die. It's a story that anyone can relate to — except for the friendless, but fuck those dudes. We have a lot of fantastic greatness in store for the world, but we need the meager means to make it so. I come at pitching most projects with a level of humble self-deprecation, but in the case of The Bad I can't bring myself to do it.
Rowan: It's really goddamn funny, and it only gets funnier as the series progresses. Funnier, and simultaneously darker. We've already got half of the first season filmed, and, if you like the first episode, then I guarantee you will enjoy the rest. If we can meet this Kickstarter goal, then we'll go into production in late June to shoot the rest of it over the course of a week, and then have the series ready to share on the internet by the end of the summer. Oh, and we're planning on screening all of the episodes back-to-back up at the Texas Theatre, so keep your eyes peeled for that.