From Sandeep Parikh to Felicia Day, The Guild has launched careers for a number of its actors, but it has also created work for the people behind the camera. Sean Becker, the series’ Streamy Award-winning director since season two, is one such case.
Becker is a rare but increasingly common case of a person who, for basically his entire career, has worked in new media. The Guild, whose fifth season officially premieres on the web on July 26, is probably his most high profile credit, but Becker has lots of plans and projects.
“It’s been crazy lately,” Becker said in an interview. “I’m keeping busy and couldn’t be happier. And I’d rather have that then not be busy at all.”
Becker has been working on passion projects with a number of Guild actors, including Jeff Lewis (The Jeff Lewis 5-Minute Comedy Hour, currently raising funds for season two), J. Teddy Garces (Sound Advice), and Teal Sherer (My Gimpy Life) and other known personalities like Taryn Southern.
It almost didn’t happen this way. Becker was brought on to the Guild by one of its producers, Kim Evey (Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show) after her husband and partner, Greg Benson, couldn’t do it. Becker’s directing experience was mostly with smaller crews of people he knew. After he’d finished his directing duties of a few episodes, he was asked to come back. At that point he thought for a moment of going back to his comfort zone.
“I had the option of coming back and I almost said ‘no,’” he said. “I don’t want to be the guy who ruins this,” he thought.
When Becker came on to the Guild, Microsoft has just signed on as an exclusive distributor, mainly because of the show’s passionate fan-base. The deal was a big deal at the time, and a lot was riding on Becker.
“Now I’m up to it,” he said. “Now it feels more like a job to me, instead of a trial.”
For Becker the Microsoft deal meant he was dealing with a bigger crew and more resources than in the show’s first season. People on set didn’t have to do multiple jobs like they had before. Today, many members of the team are also fans of the show, which improves the vibe. What’s more, Day’s scripts provide an excellent blueprint for direction. “I’ve never really had to do too much,” Becker said.
But it would be a mistake to think of The Guild as a TV-style show or Hollywood film, despite its longevity and popularity.
Becker said they still shoot “guerilla-style,” filming multiple pages a day. He comes to set with a plan, though not everything can be thought through ahead of time. Becker likens it to independent film – for television.
“Yes, we’re sponsored by Microsoft, we’re still not on a TV budget. We don’t have a lot of time to just hang around,” he said.
These days The Guild is as secure as any web series out there, but Becker and the team are still aware they need to earn people’s attention, especially since the series doesn’t have the robust marketing budgets of traditional media properties. “There are so many web series now….I feel like if The Guild came out now it would just get lost.”
The Guild is up for renewal by Microsoft after this season, meaning, at least on paper, the show’s future is still up in the air. No matter what, Becker said, fans have nothing to fear: Day has control of the series and wouldn’t leave the fans hanging. “She’s very respectful of the fans.”
As for Becker, he’ll stay on as long as he can, while also looking for interesting projects to work on, including possibly teaming up with his Awkward Pictures partner Payman Benz, who’s also been busy working with Funny or Die and ABC, among others. “We’ve both been able to find a lot of work…We’d love to do some more stuff.”
“I love to work with the same people. It’s just a better work environment when you work with people you like,” added Becker.