I recently had the opportunity to interview Joe Thomas who’s the Series Creator/Producer/Director of the hit web series, “Johnny Dynamo.” This series is about Robert Pierce Mitchell who was known around the world as JOHNNY DYNAMO, television’s toughest cop in the 1980’s. Now, 20 years later, Robert Pierce Mitchell is a forgotten man, living a quiet, uneventful life with his wife and daughter in a Nashville suburb. But three fans, young entertainment hotshots Meredith, Motlow and Stein have a plan to get JOHNNY DYNAMO back to the top. All they need is a little cooperation.
You can watch the trailer for Season 2, and read what Joe had to say in our interesting Q and A below.
1. Season 1 of “Johnny Dynamo” was a great success, is that basically what sparked an effort to produce Season 2?
We had always planned on shooting a second season, but a funny thing happened after Season 1 – We became somewhat successful! I had already started writing Season 2 based on the same 10-15 minute episode format. Then, I reached out to Terry Kiser (Bernie from Weekend At Bernie’s fame) and I asked if he would help us do a little promoting – I had worked with Terry on another project and we had struck up a bit of a friendship. Terry was 100% on board with helping out, but he suggested possibly coming on as a series regular. I really didn’t see a great spot for him and I made the mistake of asking him what type of role he was thinking about. He said, How about a mob boss? Well that pretty much changed everything, so I went back to the drawing board and reworked everything I was thinking about Season 2. From there, we decided to expand the episodes to a full 30 minutes. Of course, in expanding the episodes, the budget got bigger, the storyline got darker and did I mention that the budget got a lot bigger?!
2. Who from the cast and crew is back for Season 2, and what additions have been made to the team?
Almost every cast member from Season 1 is back and we’ve added about 20 more roles. As the story line grew, the need for additional characters grew with it. Currently, we have a cast of about 15 regulars and 20+ recurring roles. Along with the expanded episode length and characters, our crew has almost tripled in size. Ed Lamberg remains our DP and has taken on an expanded role as one of our producers. We’ve added Will Fulford to our camera crew and Hunter Dixon as our main gaffer. Ender Bowen and Danielle Richardson are working as AD and DIT. Mike Psanos, who handled audio for Season 1 is now doing all our post audio and Tommy Figlio has joined the team to handle our audio recording. Dennis Mareno is writing another project for us so I did all the writing for Season 2. Honestly, we have become a very well-oiled machine. For Season 3, we are adding even more to the crew with Katie Mamie handling set design and Leia Goodpaster taking on the wardrobe duties. Stacy Lockhart and Amber Cannon returned for Season 2 to handle make-up and hair. My word, we obviously pay too many people
3. How do the goals for Season 2 differ from Season 1?
Season 1 was like one big, fat test balloon. We really didn’t expect the show to explode like it did so we never really had a chance to worry about monetizing it. We spent about 90K producing the entire season. For Season 2, the stakes are a whole lot higher. With a budget that has crossed the 400K plateau, we’re looking to actually recoup our investment. One thing we’ve learned between the 2 seasons is that the web series audience expects a quality product. The days of shooting 3 minute episodes with a Wal-Mart camera are gone. If you want to compete with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and the other usual suspects, you better put a quality product out there.
4. Has this new project been easier than Season 1 since the series is established, or have new pressures and expectations been created with the successes that Season 1 attained?
Is that a trick question? Obviously, the stakes are a lot higher for us in Season 2. We’ve kind of set our own bar a little high so the pressure to be bigger and better is pretty daunting. We feel like Season 2 is a whole different type of series. It truly is bigger and higher quality than Season 1, but then again I’m a little bit in love with our own product – I imagine our audience will let us know pretty quickly if we jump over the bar.
5. What can we expect from Johnny and his mustache in Season 2?
I hate to give away any spoilers, but Johnny’s mustache is history. But we’ve replaced the mustache with a mafia family, a hip hop record mogul, a girlfriend, a hotel room, a beating, and a mini golf course.
6. When and where can we watch a teaser or trailer for Season 2?
The trailer for season 2 was recently released, and you can view it below.
7. Based on the learning experiences from Season 1, what tips and advice would you offer to web series creators who want to also do a Season 2 of their show?
Yikes, well I think I’ve made just about every mistake you can make in putting together a web series, but I will tell you this:
a) Don’t take short cuts – make sure you have the budget to create your vision, and don’t let anybody tell you it won’t work.
b) If your series is a serial, be sure to leave the audience wanting to know what happens next – sounds simple, but truth is, long, complicated stories are really hard to make work. Keep it entertaining but simple.
c) PLAN AHEAD – Shit happens.
8. Where can we watch Season 1 to get caught up?
Oh, finally, an easy question – season one is free at JohnnyDynamo.com. And Season 2 will be released in its entirety shortly.
9. Any parting shots?
Sure, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. My DP told me one day, “You can’t flip the line”. I wondered for a few minutes what that meant, and then it occurred to me that I didn’t know what the hell ‘the line’ was so we shot the scene anyway – turns out it was one of the best scenes in Season 2. Mistake? Maybe, but it worked. Do what feels right – not what they teach you in line flipping school!
We thank Joe for his humorous and insightful answers for web series creators to learn from! We also wish him and his team all the best with Johnny Dynamo going forward.
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