Paul Feig, creator of “Freaks and Geeks” and director of “Bridesmaids” the forthcoming “Ghostbusters,” met with fans at C2E2 to discuss his latest series “Other Space,” a spacefaring comedy recently released on Yahoo! Screen. Joining him on stage were actors Karan Soni, Milani Vayntrub, Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu.
“Other Space” follows the adventures of wholly unqualified captain Stewart Lipinksi (Soni) and his mismatched crew as they map unexplored areas in space – until they fall through a rift into another dimension, seemingly trapped forever. Stewart finds an opportunity to prove himself, but this still doesn’t mean their mission will be easy, especially considering the ship’s engineer (Hodgson) neglected to pack food for the crew but did bring aboard an improbable supply of fudge.
“We’re kind of the Shatner and Nimoy of space comedy,” Hodgson said of himself and Beaulieu, who starred on the classic “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
On differences between web series and traditional TV, Feig said, “We treat it as not different at all.” He added that he enjoyed putting the episodes out in “binge format” rather than one at a time, as Yahoo! had originally suggested.
Feig said he originally sold the series in 2005 to NBC, “but they wanted to do it as a sitcom, in front of an audience.” “I tried to write it like that, but nobody was happy,” he said. It took Feig eight years to reclaim the rights, at which point Yahoo! stepped in.
Soni said he felt as if he “had a lot of freedom” to collaborate on the show to shape his character and story arc, but Vayntrub joked, “speak for yourself.” “[Feig] hates women,” Soni qupped.
Vayntrub later said she appreciated that the actors “got to build the characters together with the writers,” because there was a sense that everybody was in it together. Soni agreed, enjoying the serialized format for the possibility to spotlight individual characters.
“I have to say, it was really different from ‘Mystery Science Theater,’ because with ‘Mystery Science Theater’ there were like four people in the room,” Hodgson said, whereas “Other Space” had closer to 60 crew members.
The moderator noted that Feig “takes the science fiction very seriously,” while it’s the reactions that are funny. “I’m a big sci-fi fan, so I want to treat it as real,” Feig said, suggesting other science fiction comedies were made by people who didn’t really appreciate the genre.
“The only difference between movies and real life is editing,” Feig said. He described a date, which on screen is all highlights, but “in reality, you have to get in the car, dinner takes forever – I want to see the moments that are cut out.”
Hodgson said, “I deliberately only read my stuff” and didn’t skip ahead because, “I didn’t want my character to know what was going to happen, because I’m not that good of an actor.”
Feig said he has “a million ideas” for a second season, especially playing with the idea that there are “other other universes.”
Hodgson joked that he was watching the episode in which “the power goes out” and, “I’m shocked by how willing my character was willing to just off everyone.”
Vayntrub said her character “is a more honest version of me, like, I want everybody to like me, but I don’t really like them that much.” Also, both Vayntrub and her character are from Uzbekistan, and she speaks Russian in an episode.
The floor was then opened to questions.
Feig said he liked TV’s ability to let viewers “settle in” to a group of characters, versus films, in which creators have only two hours to establish characters and give them a beginning, middle and end.
Asked about the “fluid sexuality” of the show, Feig said, “I just feel like, a hundred years in the future, everything’s going to be slippery.”
“I think the real show is when they turn the cameras off,” Hodgson said, high-fiving Beaulieu.