Meet the men behind This Indie Thing (clockwise): M. Devon Dunlap, Joshua Kwak, Steve Royall and Sacaar Williams.
You mentioned in a previous interview that a lot of the jokes in your show come from your own life.
I still draw a few episode story lines were from my own personal experiences. The cookie commercial episode was one. I did a fast food commercial once and the lady handling the food had a sinus infection and she kept coughing on what I had to eat.
Can you tell me about something else that happened to you in real life that ended up in Season 3?
In season 3 there’s a scene where this girl shows up for a kissing scene, and she has a herpes sore on her lip. That actually happened to me. One of my friends even asked me why I didn’t just kiss around it. We had a big laugh. At the time I didn’t have This Indie Thing put together yet, but it was funny so I saved it.
Were there ever times when you were tempted to use something that happened to you, but decided not to for fear of offending someone?
No. If I think it’s funny I use it no matter what.
Compared to season 3, what will season 4 be like?
Season 4 is going to be about giving up. So many people come to L.A. to try to make it and it doesn’t seem to happen for them. A lot of people finally just go back home. That will be the overall theme.
There’s still going to be a lot of improvisation. I know where it’s all going to go. I’ve already written the next season. In the previous seasons I’d give the actors the script a week before and we’d just shoot it and do improv. But afterwards I’d always think, “I should have said this, I should have said that.”
Now we’re going to meet two days before the shoot to talk about the script everything beforehand. We’re also going to rehearse the scenes more so that people have a stronger knowledge of the original material. I've already told the cast what to expect.
If you could totally start over and write and film it all again, how else would you approach the project?
I would still do a lot of improv, but I would also have the actors rehearse the scenes a lot more. When I work on this project, there’s a lot to think about. I’m the camera operator, the director, the writer, the actor, the sound guy…everything. I certainly learned a lot since I first started. I really wish we had done a lot more rehearsals before now, but at the time I had my mind on a lot of other aspects of the show.
Now, for the next season you've mentioned how you are going to use a full crew instead of just doing it all by yourself. Will working with a big crew like that crimp your previous style?
The crew and I have a history from previous projects. They know how I work, so it’s not like they are going to impose their own shooting style upon me. That's part of the reason why we need the money to film it. Many of our actors are also union now, so that costs money, too.
Are these characters going to make it? Let’s face it, the industry is gruesome and a lot of would-be directors and actors drop out of the game and go home. Are some of your characters going to give up, too?
You will just have to see. This is what I will confirm. At least one of the characters will quit, and the one who does is not the one people will expect.
Have you hinted at which character it will be?
It might come across as a surprise.
Yes. There was supposed to be an episode where my character has an older neighbor who was an actress that didn’t make it. She was kind of like a cougar who was trying to seduce my character by saying she was an up-and-coming director. We shot the scene, but it felt like I was just throwing something together. It wasn’t funny so I just dropped it.
When I shot This Indie Thing, I was always focused on the writing more than the look. One of the things I’ve noticed with some other shows on the Internet is that they tend to focus too much on the surface appearance. When they don’t put the same effort into their writing, you can tell. It's not funny. The lines sound stiff…something is missing.
I have to admit that in the earlier seasons, there seemed to be a lot going on. Now the writing is much more austere.
Anything that doesn’t work will get cut. I’m going to film exactly what I need. I wrote season 4 a while ago, so I already know what I need to do.
As scathing and serious as This Indie Thing can get, will the next season still be as funny?
Yes, very much so. It still is going to be a comedy. I don’t want it to be too biting. There’s going to be a lot of social commentary in the next season, but it will always be funny.
But for that, you need the funds.
We really need more money if we’re going to shoot this season. I’d really like to finish the story.
I’m sure your fans want to see it, too.
If you'd like to help Mr. Royall finish This Indie Thing, check out this link.