The Ex-Convict’s Guide is a bizarre comedy five-part web series (for the crimanally stupid) that explains how a convict can survive the twists and turns of being released back into civilian life. Framed as a series of bad educational film such as you would find in the ’50s, it was created by the husband and wife producing team of Helenna Santos (The Day Player, Helenna’s Tinseltown Tuesdays) and Barry Levy (NCIS: Los Angeles, X-Files). Levy also plays the hapless convict Robin in the series, who is picked up at the police station by intimidating Chuck (played by Glee star Patrick Gallagher). Will Robin survive in the “real world” or will he find that maybe he just should have stayed behind bars?
Tubefilter had a chance to interview Levy via e-mail on this unique and hilariously acted web series.
Tubefilter: What was your inspiration for the series? Are there other shows or films that you pulled from?
Barry Levy: Basically, the writer Rick Mosier and I were talking one day about how messed up the legal system is, and how someone should really make a how-to guide for surviving it. You know like some sort of bad educational film, like the ones we had to suffer through as kids: the burn holes in the 16 mm file, the bad sound, Dudley-do-right style narrator, that could easily play on Funny or Die Presents. The Ex-Convict’s Guide was born out of that conversation. Robin and Chuck are the kind of guys who would be at each others throats until the end of time, and I thought Patrick Gallagher would be just perfect as the only guy who could match evil wits with Robin.
Tubefilter: There is some really fun talent in this series, how did you go about doing casting?
BL: I knew Patrick Gallagher through my wife (producer and actor Helenna Santos) who introduced me to him at a random karaoke event, and it was clear he was just perfect. Helenna basically told me if I didn’t hire Julia Bensen (SGU Stargate Universe) for Shirley I was an idiot. She was right. Julia was a dream to work with, as were Darren Daurie, Brendan Penny, Roger Haskett, Randal Edwards, and Helenna herself as the bubble gum popping girlfriend. I almost always go with actors who’s work I know, or whom I’ve worked with.
Tubefilter: Any plans to develop future seasons of this series? Perhaps some other Ex-Convicts will do some guiding?
BL: We are planning the next season right now, and will most likely stay with my character Robin being guided on the next steps of his reintegration back into society, and Chuck finding his way into the story to thwart him at every turn. We are currently in talks to secure some more great celebrity talent to guest star. As for other convicts, you just can’t have too many. As long as the price of orange jump suits don’t go up drastically, they’ll always be lots of room for evil doers.
Tubefilter: Any other projects or things you have in the works?
BL: We are in post for an animated 5 part web series called Girl and Boy that will launch mid-June. Every episode takes place in a public bathroom, and to use a line from the opening song to sum up the show, “When the world does not make sense, Girl and Boy look at events!” It’s an Adult Swim’ style social commentary set in a place where you often have some time to talk. Helenna and I voice the 2 main characters.
We are also about to shoot the second episode of Helenna’s web series The Day Player, which I am a producer on. The pilot is currently online and has received a good amount of buzz. It’s funny, dark, and mixes the comedy of Ugly Betty with the magical realism of Ally McBeal. In each episode the main character escapes into a dream world which pays homage to a certain genre or style of storytelling. The first episode was influenced by Tarantino, the second will be (inspired by) Glee. After shooting the next episode this month, we hope to find a production company to partner with to develop future episodes and seasons.
Helenna is also in the midst of her second season for her vlog Helenna’s Tinseltown Tuesdays, which mixes documentary style vlogging with reality tv storytelling, and follows her as she continues “venturing into the heart of Hollywood, or at the very least…it’s toe.”