Last week we spoke to the one and only Nicholas Brendon about his appearance on the web series Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy (amongst other things), which premieres today. We also had the pleasure of speaking to the fine people who create and star in this hilariously odd web series. Today we're bringing you the second part of the interviews, this time with show creator Travis Richey and Head Writer Eric Loya.
BUFFYFEST: Can you give us a little background on RNGG?
TRAVIS: About three years ago, X-Box was having a contest where they wanted web series pilots, so I got a few of my friends together from ACME (a sketch and improv theater in Los Angeles) and had a brainstorming session. Curtiss Frisle offered up three concepts – one of which was “Ninja, Robot & Gay Guy.” There wasn’t much more than the title and the idea that it was a roommate comedy, but I was just starting out in web production with The Musecast (A year-long documentary project that ran for two seasons created by Travis; Eric was in the second year cast), and we simply didn’t have the finances to produce anything, so I sat on the idea for 2 years. Finally, after I’d been dating Rob [Wood, Director] for a while, we started talking about producing stuff that he could direct and I could act in, and RNGG (the title had switched around by then) was at the top of my list. And once Eric came aboard things started to move really fast. I’ll let him tell that part.
ERIC: Hah! I actually never knew that it was originally “Ninja” first. That seems so wrong to me. I actually have heard people call it that, getting it wrong, and it seems so strange to me, because I feel like “Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy” has a nice rhythm to it.
Anyway, yeah, my involvement began over Facebook, actually. Travis and I were chatting one night and he says, “I want you to be the head writer of my web series.” I had no idea what he was talking about, but I blindly agreed. Cut to a few weeks later, like he said, I had a title which was also a premise, and not much else. One of the most important things to me was that Gay Guy not be a typical sitcom gay guy, you know? I mean, we've seen that before, and with few exceptions, it's cheap and pointless. Our gay guy would definitely be gay – we wouldn't shy away from that – but he'd be other things, too. Every episode wouldn't be about him being gay. That was important.
Applying the same logic, Robot wouldn't be V.I.K.I. from “Small Wonder,” you know? He-wouldn't-talk-like-this because, again, we've seen that before.
It was also important to me, from the beginning, to have a show that I would want to see. A show that I thought was funny and important in its way. Luckily, I've found myself in a situation where my input is valued and the working dynamic couldn't be better.
BUFFYFEST: Besides the upcoming appearance of "Buffy" star and core Scooby, Nicholas Brendon, are there any other things that Whedonverse fans can relate to in RNGG?
TRAVIS: I’ve been a fan of Joss Whedon ever since I read the script for Alien 4 (which was amazing – don’t let the finished product fool you). I didn’t get into Buffy until I was able to watch from the beginning on Hulu, but I devoured Firefly. Of course, Dr. Horrible was amazing and I liked Dollhouse a lot. All this to say that what I like most about Joss’s writing is that it’s smart and quick. I see a lot of that in Eric’s script work for “Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy,” and I know that he’s intensely inspired by the Whedonverse. Also, I’m particularly fond of having a mythology around a show, and we’ve gone to great lengths to build the world that Robot, Ninja and Gay Guy inhabit and be as specific about the characters and their histories as we can. Even if we haven’t seen those details yet…
ERIC: Aw, that's very sweet and incredibly wrongheaded to compare my writing with Joss'. (laughs) No, but I definitely do respect and admire what all the writers have accomplished. I'm particularly partial to Jane Espenson, who I think is just absolutely incredible, and a lot of my writing has been inspired by hers, as well as by her blog which I hope she writes at more soon.
Anyway, other things... well, I guess, just very basically, there's the fact that all of Joss' shows have outrageous premises, but they're treated with a dose of reality within their own confines. For instance, in our “The Robot Situation,” it was important to me that they have some concern about whether or not Robot actually was a robot. To me, that's similar to the scene in the “Buffy” pilot where Xander hears all the exposition while in the library, and then there's that, “Wait, what?!” moment.
Oh, oh! And yes! In Nicky's episode in particular, there are at least three other Whedonverse nods, ranging from a very obvious article of clothing to significantly more subtle bits.
BUFFYFEST: Will we be seeing a season 2?
TRAVIS: Ah, well, that’s the big question, isn’t it? I would love to do many more seasons of “Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy,” and we’ve planned out possible story arcs for future seasons, but unfortunately it all boils down to money. I funded the first season of the show completely out of my very shallow pockets, and at this point I can’t afford to do more. We’re going to start fundraising to produce another season of RNGG, as well as another super-secret series that is currently in development.
ERIC: Yes, it would really be a shame if we weren't able to do a second season. We have a lot of great storylines, episodes and moments planned. I will add, though, that just like we said in the announcement video, a second season is definitely a possibility. It's really down to how much people dig what we do, and whether or not they tell their friends who like to tell their friends. Word of mouth is the name of the game in the web series world, which is just another reason why everything we do is absolutely all about the fans.
A big "Thank You" once again to the cast and crew of Robot, Ninja, Gay Guy and to Nicholas Brendon. If you haven't seen RNGG, we really recommend it. Click here to subscribe to their YouTube channel.
Without further ado, below is today's episode starring Whedonverse's finest, Nick Brendon. Enjoy!:
Let's end this with the lyrics to the wonderfully retro RNGG Theme Song:
There are days when life gets you down,
And nothing's going your way.
You try to get your feet back on the ground,
Take on another day.
Well, all it takes is a little teamwork,
And a friendly face
You might think you're on your own,
But together we can win the race!
Whatever you need, I'll be there in no time.
Follow my lead, and we'll cross onto the finish line!
Haven't you heard, each day opens a new door?
Just say the word, and we'll go off to explore...
To see what life has in store...