While there’s no shortage of geek-centric media properties out there today, the viewing choices for things about geeks themselves are severely lacking. Fantasy football fans have a show like The League, which perfectly balances self-deprecation with smart/informed dialogue. Comic fans like us, however, are stuck with the nerd pandering and unfunny jokes of The Big Bang Theory or every horrible stereotype about us coming to life in AMC’s Comic Book Men.
Fortunately, someone saw the need for a good show about geek culture and is attempting to fill the void. Daniel Beals, who has a wealth of experience working on more shows and movies than most people have time to watch, has assembled an incredibly talented and funny cast and launched an Indiegogo campaign to make it happen.
Geek Cred (which you can help fund, like I did) is a show in the vein of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or the aforementioned The League that takes place in a comic store. The cast are:
Truth be told, this is who first got me fully on board with the project. I’ve been a huge fan of Michele’s since she played Riley on The Guild (and because I’m a male).
Damion has guest starred in just about everything, from Firefly to Sons of Anarchy. You probably know him best, though, for his awesome cameo appearance in The Avengers as the mad titan, Thanos.
Miley has a host of acting credits along with crowd funding her own web series, RETCON.
Father to Todd ‘The Gusher Eye’ kid and proud owner of a truly glorious beard.
Daniel Beals agreed to talk to with us here at Adventures in Poor Taste about what inspired Geek Cred, along what we could look forward to in the future when (not if) it gets funded.
Adventures in Poor Taste: How did you get your start in film and television industry?
Daniel Beals: I attended college at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, studying video production. I’d grown up loving film and television and wanted to do SOMETHING in that world, but had no sense of what or how.
After that, I moved back home to Michigan where I lived for a few years before realizing that the retail/suburbanite life wasn’t for me. I had no plan, but I packed up and moved out to Los Angeles.
Through contacts I made in Pittsburgh, I got a few production gigs before landing a staff job on The Office. That’s when things opened up for me as far as what I could see myself doing. I loved this comedic television world. I had to be a part of it. I bounced around after that working as a Set PA on numerous shows – Parks & Rec, Castle, Thor, Dark Knight Rises—and not really getting anywhere before finally saying the hell with it and deciding to just write and shoot my own shorts (all of which are viewable on bealsebub.com) Now I’m taking the next step, shooting my own TV series.
AiPT: A show about people at a comic book shop seems like it would be a no-brainer. Why do you think no one has tried to make it until now?
Beals: I really don’t know. I worked at a comic book store back in 1994 and it seemed like a great idea to me even then. And the more I immersed myself in working on various sets and seeing how cookie cutter a lot of TV really is, I began to understand why the great shows really stand out—character. A comic book store itself not only IS a great character, but it’s frequented by amusing, interesting characters on a daily basis. I don’t mean just the stereotypical slackers or uber nerds, either. People from all walks of life go in and out a comic shop’s doors these days. Businessmen, celebrities, women, high school kids, college professors; it’s the ultimate melting pot. Why WOULDN’T you do a show about that?
AiPT: With regards to the Geek Cred concept, was there one particular moment you remember when you finally said “I’m just going to make this thing myself?”
Beals: Yes. Last year’s Comic Con.
I hadn’t shot anything in almost a year and no projects were grabbing my attention. I wasn’t feeling inspired and kept hoping that one project would jump out and claim me. At Con, I ran into a friend who reminded me of this show that I had mentioned once and they pushed me to really pursue it. I mulled it over and that was it… suddenly I had to figure out how to shoot an entire season of a show.
AiPT: How did you and the cast/crew of Geek Cred end up getting together?
Beals: I’ve been friends with Wes Robertson and Damion Poitier for years. Damion and I actually met on the set of Dollhouse. Wes and I met on Dwelling, a web series I wrote for. I’ve been talking with them about the idea for years ‘cuz we’re all huge comic fans.
Once I decided to finally commit to it, they were in. But before I’d decided to do it, I first discussed it with Miley Yamamoto, who I’d known through friends for about a year. She had just come off crowdfunding her action pilot, RETCON, and I wanted her thoughts on the process. She loved the idea of Geek Cred and I loved her enthusiasm and hands-on knowledge. I begged her to come on board to help me produce and co-star.
I still needed a heart and center to hold this ragtag team together and when you need heart for your show, I was told that you get Michele Boyd. Luckily, I’d met Michele years earlier and we kept in touch through social media and gatherings. I called her up, sent her the pilot script, and she was in.
I’m very lucky. Watching us all banter on stage at our launch party, we already have a shorthand and camaraderie about us that’s infectious. You’d think we were already in our second season.
Behind the camera, I’m just as blessed. Some talented writing friends of mine came in to pen a few episodes. I’ve been writing with Zak White for years now. One of us is due a break any day now, so if you get a second check out zak-white.com.
Jameel Saleem, who’s also an actor, has an ease about him that makes me question my existence on this world. Comedy comes naturally to the man. They’re both ready for great things.
Allison Glennon wrote a very poignant and hilarious episode for Callie, Michele’s character. Can’t wait for you to see what we’ve got coming up.
Shooting the series is Paul Davila. I’ve known him a couple years now, as well. He, Ali Naqvi, and the rest of The House on South Bronson crew LOVE making things. Their mentality and product turnout is inspiring. They’re exactly the type of people you want at your back. Paul’s shot the majority of their shorts as well as the last few of mine and he gets better every time. He’s going to be a very successful cinematographer once I fall asleep with the key hanging off my belt and he’s able to escape.
And my composer, Fernando Macias-Jimenez, was referred to me when I was shooting my short Old Rivalry. He has scored everything I’ve produced since. I’m going to work with him until we’re both old and grey. The guy is insanely kind, patient, and endlessly talented. There’s literally nothing that he isn’t up for trying.
This entire cast and crew are a blessing and the amount of fun we’re having is all going to be on screen.
AiPT: Will the show have a large amount of improvisation like The League, or will it be primarily scripted?
Beals: It’ll be primarily scripted, but as I’ve learned working on amazing comedy sets, it’s good to remain malleable and to know when to let your cast play and experiment.
AiPT: You worked on a ton of episodes of The Office. Will Geek Cred be filmed in a manner like that show (breaking the fourth wall, interacting with the viewer, etc.), or will we be watching the shenanigans play out before us?
Beals: Man, I loved working on that show. At the time, I didn’t realize how much fun it really was or how much I was actually learning.
No, Geek Cred will be closer in style to single-camera shows like Brooklyn 99, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League. No talking heads or faux doc stylings.
AiPT: How long is each episode going be?
Beals: We are currently scheduled to shoot 10 episodes that’ll run 6 – 8 minutes each. Just long enough to be funny and get back to work before the boss spots ya.
AiPT: Where and when will we get to see them?
Beals: Season 1 will run through our YouTube channel and premiere on our (still under construction) website geekcredseries.com…unless someone buys us up first.
AiPT: Will Geek Cred have episodes that center around the characters’ thoughts/reactions to current comic book storylines and industry news?
Beals: A lot of the situations and comics referenced will be familiar, but no, we won’t use actual events in the episodes because we won’t be releasing in time for any plot centric references to not sound dated. But there will definitely be archetypes and stories that everyone can understand and instantly relate to. We have a pretty fun episode surrounding a Wonder Woman archetype that I’m excited to get to.
But we’ll also discuss Wonder Woman herself and existing characters and storylines. It’s important to me that we’re discussing as much reality as possible. Nothing’s worse than a TV series that makes everything up. It can’t all be conversations about “SuperbMan” or discussions around “Captain USA”. It has to sound like US and our own world. It has to be filled with people we’d all run into at Comic Con.
AiPT: How close are the characters’ on Geek Cred to how you guys are in real life?
Beals: Pretty close. I’ve certainly gone through my fair share of being overly critical throughout my years reading comics. Who hasn’t?
That’s exactly what it is to be a fan. I wish it weren’t. I wish we could all just Google chat about all the cool books we read and how much we loved them. But I never even did that when I was a kid before the internet. In middle school, I’d bag on my friends’ reading choices and they’d do the same to me. It’s what we do. It’s what all fans do. Everywhere. Ever been to a sporting event?
But fandom isn’t as ugly as that sounds. It’s also very fun, highly entertaining, and when done right, pretty inspirational. The comic store is a water cooler environment for our reading sensibilities and our daily lives. It’s how we share. I’m doing a show about and for ALL of that. All of these angles and traits get divvied up between the main cast as well as the side characters. And of course, each actor will bring their own experiences into the stew.
AiPT: Will there be any guest stars dropping by the comic shop?
Beals: Stay tuned. (Ed. note: shortly after this interview was conducted it was announced that Jim O’Heir (‘Jerry’ of Parks & Rec fame) is the first announced guest star!)
(Slightly) Off-topic question time
AiPT: What are your current favorite comics that you’re reading right now?
Beals: Right now, I am loving everything Valiant Comics is publishing. Each book has a different subgenre it fits into (sci fi, horror, action comedy, etc. It’s not all JUST “superhero”) and none of the characters are the same as they were a year ago. They’re telling stories about “extraordinary people” much like Shooter did when he first founded the company. I dig that.
I dunno…there’s a ton of great stuff out there. I could sit here and think of them all day.. Oh! Last one. I’ve waited years to read this book that everyone always talked about while I grew up and now it’s finally being reprinted. That book is Miracleman and I am LOVING it. The visual storytelling stands up against anything coming out today, and in most cases surpasses them. I wish it was released quicker! It’s a crime that I’ve never read it!
AiPT: Favorite writer/artist of all time?
Beals: All time? Man, I don’t know if I could pick just one. There’re so many. I miss guys like Dwayne McDuffie. He and Jim Shooter both defined my reading as a kid. I was huge into what they were each doing with storytelling at both Valiant and Milestone Media. I grew up on those books. Somewhere there’s an alternate reality where Dwayne McDuffie is still alive and in charge of the DC Universe. I’d give anything to slide over to that world and read those heroes.
You know who I really miss? William Messner-Loebs. I don’t know where he is but I’d love to read his stuff again. Anyone who thinks about writing a “Flash falls out of an airplane” story needn’t bother. It’s already been done to perfection.
AiPT: Favorite comic book character of all time?
Beals: Ha. This is going to be odd. but it’s a tie…the oddest tie in comic book history! It’s Aquaman and Daredevil.
I couldn’t tell you why in either case. Daredevil was always just cool. The ultimate swashbuckling hero. An Errol Flynn for the downtrodden. And he’s blind!!
I don’t know where my adoration for Aquaman began. It doesn’t make any sense because I cannot swim at all, so there’s no connection. I think it was the orange and green outfit and how awesome it stood out next to his peers on Superfriends. Then, when I really started reading his comics, he became the epitome of modern comics to me because he’s the ultimate untapped potential hero. Whatever trends are going on in comics, Aquaman’s usually the one to shift the most in that direction because most writers can’t see the scope that’s waiting there. The last person to really have a laser focus on Orin’s character was Will Pfiefer. If he’d been able to stay on the book for a few years, I smile at the thought of those stories we could have gotten. What Flash (the good one) and Geoff Johns were to one another back in the day, that same lightning was about to strike again with Will and Aquaman. At least, I like to envision so.
Also, from a logical standpoint, Aquaman could systematically and strategically beat every other hero in the DCU. I’m sticking to that. 😉
AiPT: Favorite indie publication?
Beals: I just got into Mind MGMT and am digging it a lot. And again, Private Eye. It’s the future of comics, and colors have never looked more radiant. Marcos Martin is a storyteller in the purest form of the word.
AiPT: Does the collective hotness of Miley Yamamoto and Michele Boyd ever cause a fire hazard on the set?
Beals: Funny enough we actually have an episode coming up titled “Fire Hazard” that is all about those two settling a bet in a kiddie pool full of Jello. Oh…. Wait. No, my bad, that episode actually stars Wes and Damion.
AiPT: Do you understand what’s going on in Johnathan Hickman’s Avengers books? (I get lost a lot).
Beals: The best issue of Avengers vs. X-Men was one that he wrote. And you’ll definitely enjoy our show.
AiPT: Star Wars or Star Trek?
Beals: These days, I’m indifferent to either. I grew up a Star Wars kid, but it’s been so stripped down of everything that was magical about it in the first place that I no longer hold any connection to it.
I hope the new ones are good, but…we’ll see. I worry that everything, all entertainment, is now being created and run by fans. That’s not a good thing. Everything starts coming off like fanfic and before you know it, we’ll be on our 4th reboot of Spider-Man. I guess between the two I’d say Star Trek because their weakest entries don’t detract from their greatest. There’s no Wrath of a Khan: Special Edition.
AiPT: Should Star Wars: Episode VII try to incorporate The Thrawn Trilogy?
Beals: Absolutely. I want Mara Jade!
And God bless you for mentioning those books. What great examples of taking something and evolving it, improving it. Suddenly Star Wars wasn’t “space opera”, it was SCIENCE FICTION.
AiPT: If the cast of Geek Cred was put into a Hunger Games-type situation, who would be the last one standing?
Beals: Yikes. Character wise, I’d have to go with Megan (Miley Yamamoto’s character). We just know so little about her and what we do learn is kinda scary. But in the real world, it’d probably be Damion. Dude isn’t just tough, he’s smart. That cunning smile he gave as Thanos? Yeah, that’s real.
I can definitely tell you who WOULDN’T survive, myself and Wes. Running sucks. We’ll sit and wait for the acid fog, thank you.
AiPT: Anything you’d like to say people who are still on the fence about funding Geek Cred (besides my suggestion that they need to get a C.A.T scan)?
Beals: I love comics. Comics raised me. Comics taught me new words in the English language. Comics taught me sciencey things like what a quasar is (Thank you Wendell Vaughn). Mark Waid’s first issue of Captain America told me that there’s always a way and I STILL believe him! Comics helped me make friends and comics entertained me more than anything or anyone else.
And now I think we deserve a television show for us, about us. A good, funny, scripted show that doesn’t undermine us or try to wedge us apart from one another, nor one that looks to hold up what we love as any form of pinnacle of superiority.
This is a comedy. We’re here to make you all laugh. Together.
Help us spread the word to all of your TV watching, comedy loving, comic reading, video game playing friends. Tell them all to visit us at our Indiegogo page and help out.
While you’re there, follow the rest of the cast as well and say hi: