Striker and Swat is a mockumentary-format show centered around the hijinks of two roommates who seem to have very little in common besides an abundance of free time; Striker (James Bonadio) is intense, aggressive, and neurotic, and Swat (Steve Berg) is mellow and gentle. Together, they’re unstoppable, and no one in their boring Southern California apartment complex can stand in their way. What’s more, in addition to Bonadio and Berg, the show brings in several veterans of the improvisational comedy scene, like Nick Armstrong who has shown up on The Office, and Dave Holmes, who you might remember from Reno 911! Miami. That’s a lot of talented people appearing in a show which puts the communal dryer’s unclean lint filter in the center of the first episode’s plotline.
Striker and Swat premiered today over at The AV Club’s website and the first six episodes will run over the course of the following 12 weeks. If that piqued your curiosity, we’ve caught up with creator and director, Dan Redmond to wrangle a few more tidbits of information on Striker and Swat.
Tubefilter: What was the inspiration behind this show?
Dan Redmond: I was looking for a therapeutic way to relieve my chronic stress without the use of prescription drugs (they can be so damn addictive you know) and so I thought a comedy show would be a great alternative. So I started thinking about people that made me laugh and who would be good for my show. After many hours of intense self-debate I came to the conclusion that the funniest person, for my money, was Carrot Top. I thought to myself, ‘C Top is hilarious, has universal appeal and chicks dig him’. However, unfortunately for me, C Top has a great gig going in Vegas and was, according to his publicist, ‘not interested in doing something silly that might make him look stupid’. After the understandable bout of depression that followed, I started to think that maybe I was setting my expectations a bit too high. I thought maybe I needed to rethink this whole ‘comedy show’ idea. So I asked my good friend and comic actor, James Bonadio, who he thought was funny and he said, ‘me, I’m funny’.
Tubefilter: Interesting, can you tell us a little more about the premise?
DR: So James and I set out on a journey of comic discovery without Carrot Top. What we found on our journey was, Striker and Swat, a story of two dysfunctional buddies who come from opposite ends of the personality spectrum. On the surface Striker and Swat are very much an odd couple, but they are also best friends. Striker is intense, opinionated and quasi-militant. Swat on the other hand, is chill, open-minded and a quasi-peacenik. In terms of a premise, I would have to say there isn’t really much of a one, other than the classic Odd Couple comparison. They’re different, they live together and they bother their neighbors with trivial meaningless things that they (well at least Striker) find important. Striker is the train engine and Swat is the caboose who follows along mainly out of boredom. In a nutshell, it is a short form, improv-based situation comedy with a documentary visual format.
Tubefilter: Why produce a web series? Format?
DR: Well, the web is there, it’s free, it’s global and so far the networks haven’t offered me a development deal. No seriously, the Internet is a blessing for so many creative people who want to get their stuff out there. Granted it’s a huge world wide web and getting people to watch your stuff can be difficult, but nothing worth doing is easy. The fact that the Internet exists for directors like me offers great opportunities for getting original material out there and hopefully getting noticed.
In terms of camera format, I shot the show using two Panasonic HVX-200’s utilizing its P2 card technology. It’s nice using a file-based workflow as it eliminates the need for tape and all the hassle that comes with it. It also allows you to shoot with a higher resolution (DV-HD) than traditional DV tape. That said, memory cards can have their challenges as well, however it’s another example of how technology is making the workflow of digital filmmaking that much more streamlined, efficient and aesthetically pleasing.
In terms of a stylistic format, I went with a documentary feel. It allows the audience to get closer to the action I think. These days with everyone accustomed to watching reality shows as well as sitcoms like, The Office, audiences want a more spontaneous ‘real’ look as opposed to the ‘staged’ feel of the past. So we tried to combine the two and I think it worked quite well. It also caters magically to the ‘off the cuff’ improv comedy that we utilized in this series as well as making the production move along a lot faster. All together, I feel like we have a comic and visual style that will take this show far and do it on the cheap.
Tubefilter: What kind of budget are you working with? Did you seek out some sponsorship?
DR: The budget was small, very small. The real cost was time. I have been working in the TV and film industry for about a decade and have made some contacts over that time. I called in a lot of favors and was able to complete the first 6 episodes because so many people (cast and crew alike) donated their time, talent and effort. Currently, the show has no sponsorship but that is the next step along with production financing and a distribution deal. Know anyone?
Tubefilter: How many episodes are you expecting to run? Overall plan for the show?
DR: We are rolling out 6 episodes over the course of the next 12 weeks and after that, probably another 6 and so on and so on. I want to continue the show indefinitely because I believe we have created something great here and the possibilities are endless. The idea began with James and I, but has expanded so far beyond just us. Working primarily with improv actors, James and I assembled a cast that any comedy director would be elated to have onboard their project. Working with hilarious people has done wonders for my stress level and, to date, I have been able to avoid taking drugs… well prescription drugs anyway.