What do you get when you throw together four geeks, a basement, a couple of girls, and a robot bent on world domination?
The answer is Geeks Underground, a new web series by second year Concordia communications students Jonathan Starr and Howie Pun.
Inspired by American sitcoms like Arrested Development and local web series like Take Me Back, Geeks Underground starts off with three guys: Andy (Shayne Devouges), Trevor (Samuel Chan), and Neil (Nico Racicot). Andy has just returned from college, only to find he’s been replaced by Silent Dennis (Marco Penn).
The series deals with Andy’s attempts to help his friends mature. Kara (Trista Gladstone) and Nikki (Corie-Anne Gonyer) crash the boy’s club to inject a little estrogen into the proceedings. Oh, and there’s also a Kubrick-esque robot named M.A.L. (Andrew Searles).
Starr started writing story ideas in class. Pun eventually joined in and played jokes off Starr; the rest is history.
Each 10-minute episode was painstakingly filmed throughout the summer as the creators worked fulltime jobs.
“Geeks Underground was mainly filmed in my basement,” said Pun. “There were other locations: outdoors, at a restaurant, at a producer’s apartment, at someone’s grandmother’s house. Basically, anything that belonged to people we know could be a set piece.”
“In my experience as a web series fan, 10 minutes is just right to develop the story,” noted Starr. “Five minutes never left me with a sense of knowing the characters, and anything more than 10 minutes is simply too much.”
That’s not to say Starr and Pun didn’t have material to work with. In total, they have about 19 tapes worth 13 hours of footage to pick and choose from for a season that clocks in at 80 minutes.
“There were 14 days of shooting,” said Pun. “We were packing as many pages of script as possible for each day, and only on weekends.”
“We spent 12 hours or more per day, sometimes 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Those were the crazy ones,” added Starr. “We got through them with lots of Guru (an energy drink); it helps that they’re our sponsors.”
And the team?
“We found them mainly through Craigslist, mandy.com (a website for filmmakers and actors), and the Montreal School of Performing Arts,” said Pun. “One of our classmates is actually an actor, so he helped us understand the industry and eventually became our casting director.”
“We got a lot of input from actors and producers when we were filming,” said Starr. “The actors really knew their characters by the end, so they knew how to change them around.”
“Sometimes one of the actors would go ‘Nah, I don’t think my character would do or say this’ and we’d be like ‘Yeah, you’re right,'” said Pun.
Pun and Starr estimate they’ve dropped $2,000 to produce Geeks Underground, not to mention the countless hours of rehearsing, filming, and promoting.
But as far as these budding filmmakers are concerned, it was time and money well spent.
Geeks Underground debuts offline on Nov. 6 (8 p.m.) at Ciné Express (1926 St-Catherine W.) and online on Nov. 7 at geeksunderground.com.