Bablegum continues to roll-out their unique brand of sci-fi comedy, this time teaming up with comedy legend and actor, Kevin Pollak and his documentary comedy with a vampiric twist, Vamped Out. Tubefilter had a chance to sit down with Pollak and talk about the show, the inspiration behind it, and how the partnership with Babelgum came about.
“(It came about because of) the brilliant George Ruiz, the greatest New Media agent on the planet … it’s a scientific fact, it’s been proven in a lab,” revealed Pollak. “Two weeks into the Streamy-winning Kevin Pollak Chat Show experience, literally before my acting and writing agents knew about it, I got an e-mail from George, who I had never met, introducing himself and saying, ‘I would love to help you if you want to come in and talk about it’. And that blew my mind. As a character actor, I have been fortunate enough to work with all these great filmmakers and work in 60 movies (6 of which were really good) so I have all this “street cred” and so what happens is, the agents no longer have to work, they just wait for the phone to ring … So George Ruiz suddenly becomes the greatest agent I’ve ever had because he called on his own, called me into his office, asked how he could help, explained everything to me, got Felicia Day and Alex Albrecht to both come on the show. But more importantly, when I gave him the scripts for Vamped Out he said, ‘this is absolutely going to be incredible’ and I will immediately start shopping this and one of the first places he went was Bablegum.”
Amber J. Lawson, head of comedy at Babelgum, quickly and energetically snapped up the opportunity to work with Pollak. “I’ve worked with Network executives, Film executives, for over 20 years: as a writer, as a producer, as an actor…I’ve honestly never seen the sort of enthusiasm as I’ve seen (he points over to Lawsen, sitting beside him). Truly, it’s ridiculous. And just a great champion. The Chat Show has never had a publicist and now Vamped Out has this machine. It’s amazing.”
Pollak went on: “The best part, from a creative standpoint: I’ve been getting notes as a writer from television and also from films as a member of the Writer’s Guild since 1987 … and you find out from other writers that you embrace the rule that there are three kinds of notes. First category is ‘it’s not going to hurt us, let’s put it in, placate them, make them happy and think they are involved’. Second kind of note is ‘we can do a slight change based on that note and they’ll think we’ve changed everything that they asked us to’. And then the third note is ‘that’s ridiculous and we’re not doing that so just dismiss that immediately’ … With Amber, we got her notes and there were about six of them … and all six of them are in the script and they actually made the thing better. That’s never happened, ever.”
Vamped Out marks the directorial debut of Pollak, who also co-created and stars in the project along with Broadway and film actor Jason Antoon (Contact, Minority Report). The show also features Samm Levine (Freaks & Geeks, Inglorious Bastards) and Seana Kofoed (Broadway’s Proof, TV’s Men in Trees).
“I’ve been asked before to direct a couple of feature films”, said Pollak. “It’s bizarre thing in traditional media where if you have any sort of street cred as an actor, someone will eventually ask you if you want to direct something, even though you’ve never even asked to or have any aspirations. I was asked a couple of times but the scripts were terrible and I thought ‘really, am I going to experiment on this material?’ and I decided, no, I can’t do it. It was all very daunting. So what happened was, this guerilla style of shooting with no money not only allows for abject freedom but, in terms of experimenting on your maiden voyage as a director, it’s kind of perfect.”
“And then fate of fates … an Academy Award-winning genius, Robert Legato, who won an Academy Award for Titanic … he’s ridiculous. So we were on the phone 6 days before I was going to start shooting my web series and he said, ‘what are you up to?’. And I told him I was about to direct this web series, it’s got no money, and I think it’s going to be great and I’ll have a lot of fun. And he goes, ‘well, if you need any help or anything, I’d be happy to help … I could shoot it for you and also cut it’. So my DP and my editor has an Academy Award for visual effects and knows more about the visual than Picasso. It was insane luck and I cannot tell you if it has ever happened in my life before. It was that impactful … and he’s doing it for free.”
Vamped Out is shot documentary-style by award-winning filmmaker Elliot Finke (played by Pollak) as he follows a modern day 35-year-old struggling actor (Antoon) trying to make a living in Los Angeles. The actor also claims to be a 172 year-old vampire who knew Bram Stoker and spoon-fed him myths about vampires for the novel Dracula.
“(My girlfriend) and I go to have lunch with Antoon and his gal Seana (Kofoed, also in the series) … and we pass a billboard for Vampire Diaries with the hilarious (*sarcasm*) one-liner “Life Sucks”. And so we arrive bitching and moaning … and Antoon just blurted out: ‘imagine you were a real vampire and you couldn’t get hired to be in any of these things cause you weren’t skinny and gaunt and brooding and handsome’. (And I said) that’s a web series. I don’t even know why … it came out ‘that’s a web series’. And within a week, we were in my house writing it.”
Pollak hopes this will become a long and rewarding partnership with Bablegum. “The future is based on the results, as most situations are”, said Pollak. “Our hope is that everyone loves it as much as we do and we continue to do more. And other series as well … If you find a home that works, then enjoy it. I hope to be what Mad Men was to AMC for Bablegum. I would like to brand them beyond their current existence. That would be the fantasy.”
The first of six episodes will go live on April 12 at www.babelgum.com/vampedout. Each episode ends in a cliffhanger and will air on Mondays for the following five weeks. For those in town for Web TV Week in LA, Bablegum is hosting a premiere of the series for members of the entertainment industry and Web community on tonight at Cinespace, Los Angeles.