Space Janitors, a show I reviewed a few weeks ago, is back this month with a second season. To mark the return of our favourite sci-fi blue collar workers I caught up with the show’s creators Davin Lengyel and Geoff Lapaire to ask them how Space Janitors got off the ground and what we can expect for season 2.
Gabe: Aside from a certain famous sci-fi film franchise we won’t mention, what was the inspiration behind writing Space Janitors to begin with?
Davin:The inspiration for doing Space Janitors came from a desire to do a show in a genre that I have loved all my life – sci-fi! Geoff and I were brainstorming ideas for “buddy” shows – comedies featuring two friends in some naturally funny environment. When I work I always have a movie playing in the background, and I happened to be playing Empire [Strikes Back] at the time while thinking about new ideas. I had a vision of two guys working on Cloud City in the bottom of one of the never ending shafts, probably mopping up or dusting or taking inventory, when BAM! Luke’s hand a saber hit the ground. And I thought it would be funny if that was basically all in a day’s work… as if limbs and gear and droids and such fall down that vent on a daily basis. But the lightsaber would be something different. So there’s the moment in time that describes the entire series – two janitors at the bottom of a huge space station shaft, unfazed by the fact a hand just fell from the sky, but interested in what this lighty-sabery thing is. The rest of the series flows out from that idea.
Gabe: What kind of comedy did you guys grow up with? Any particular comedy heroes of yours?
Geoff: Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live, reruns of Benny Hill is what I grew up with. Louis C.K.’s show is probably my favorite comedy on TV right now.
Gabe: What can we expect from the second season of Space Janitors? Anything you’ve learned from the first season which has informed your approach this time around?
Davin: Season one was a huge, scary experiment. The special effects requirements working in a huge green screen studio were new to us. Making props and set pieces and sets for a sci-fi epic were new to us. Even the budget level was new to us – more than the typical talk-to-the-camera YouTube series but far less than a traditional TV series. With season one under our belt, and working with almost the same crew and cast, we were a lot more confident we could pull it off. I think that meant we could focus less on building a new space station hallway or figuring out how to shoot with all the SFX and more on the characters and the comedy. I think season two is WAY funnier than season one – I’m laughing the whole time I work on it. It’s less about “Space” and more about “Janitors”.
Gabe: For the budding Internet comedians reading this, how did you approach people like the Independent Production Fund for getting the show off the ground? Were there any hiccups when you were trying to get funding?
Davin: The IPF is a very competitive fund, but it’s open once a year to all comers to pitch their ideas. It’s a Canadian fund that helps about a dozen web series every year. The trick is, now that the series like Space Janitors are getting attention, this fund and any similar funds are getting applications from a lot of heavy-hitting production companies that typically work on TV or big-budget productions. I think the way to approach a fund like this is to proudly fly your indie banner – to claim in no uncertain terms that you have a great idea, an audience online that is waiting for your idea, and that you have your finger on the pulse of this eager audience – more so than anyone else. Find the audience and partner up with a blog or channel or site or festival that has access to this audience’s eyeballs, and that will give you a leg up. Pretend you’re sitting in front of the jury and tell them with passion and conviction why your idea matters – then write down whatever you would say on your application. That goes with probably any application you’re thinking of writing for any fund. It’s all about the waiting audience and your personal passion.
Gabe: What was the casting process like for Space Janitors? Did you have particular people in mind for the roles? Did anyone surprise you with their interpretation?
Davin: I would say casting for season one and season two were polar opposites. We know a lot of comedians in Toronto, but we wanted to make sure we had the absolute best cast we could find, so we did 9 full days of casting for the first year. We saw probably 150-200 people. In the end, the cast we found was just incredible, and even better, was made up of a lot of our comedian friends anyway! We were truly fortunate to work with that group.
For season two, we had our core cast, and we were going to introduce only a handful of new characters. Unlike season one, we knew exactly who we wanted to add to the cast, and the parts were written specifically for them. I think that will show in the episodes. The new cast members are SO funny and fit their parts so well, they’re gonna make you laugh your arse off.
Gabe: How did you get involved with Geek and Sundry? What’s it like being a part of such a huge channel?
Geoff: I read an interview with Felicia Day talking about her new Geek and Sundry channel and how they’re looking to put together a slate of shows. I sent Felicia a link to some Space Janitors material and suggested she consider the show for her channel. We got in touch with her partners, Kim Evey and Sheri Bryant – they all thought it was a good fit, which is great because season 2 probably wouldn’t have happened without them.
Gabe: And finally; if you were characters in the show, what jobs would you have?
Davin: Brad’s got it made. I’d be some low-level administrator; not important enough to get force choked if I screw up, but with just enough clout that the suckers in the deck crew would have to suck up to me.
With the first new episode uploaded to YouTube this week, season 2 of Space Janitors has kicked off with a blast, check it out on Geek and Sundry
Their first season can also be found on their website.