Recently I had the chance to talk with the creators of the hopefully soon to see more of webseries DADS: Adam O. Thomas and Siobhan McCarthy as well as one of the stars of the series David Lewis. For those of you who may not be familiar with DADS it is a transmedia production about 4 guys, 3 of which have children and 1 of which who is a big child, who take a well let’s just say a different approach to parenting. By no means are they bad parents they just don’t fit the classic stereotype of what society wants us to believe a dad should be like.
I don’t know how much time you have so I just had a few questions and I wanted first to thank you guys for helping to set this up. I also wanted to say that I loved DADS, I really did. I didn’t expect to, but I did.
Siobhan – Awesome
Adam – We know that the topic might not be for everybody but if they’re strange enough and outrageous enough and have a quirky sense of humor they can get in to it.
Siobhan – And we feel like you really summed it up when you said DADS is like Full House on crack. We thought that was awesome, thank you for that.
I’m glad that you guys took that as the compliment I intended it to be. When I was writing it I thought that people might not get that it was a compliment but it is.
Siobhan – Just like they’re not “those” dads we’re not “those” people.
David – I actually wanted to pick a fight with you until they were like no it’s a compliment.
Adam – While I was drinking a beer I thought it would be really funny to have a show about me and my friends or ideally people like me and my friends and kind of autobiographical but how do you make them weirder and funnier. From the parenting aspect what I found interesting was the fact that in all these people and who they were is that you are expected to change overnight and some people really embrace it and they are like “I want to be a dad, I want to be a parent” and then some people really struggle with it. Like I’m a musician or I’m an artist and I still have to do this stuff.
David – There’s no course set up for this. The most important thing ever in the history of mankind making new mankind and they don’t give you a course. You have to take a course if you want to drive a car but to have a kid it’s here’s some alcohol, go to a bar, and meet somebody and that’s pretty much it and then you are expected to be a totally different person. It’s like I love this thing that I made that is totally useless at the beginning but I still want to go and do stuff and you cant do as much but you still want to. And there are people that are giving up their entire identity to be a parent and for some people that is really admirable and that’s what there identity was before hand and that’s great but if you have the urge or the need to do other things and to find yourself with them not being able to do those things.
I’ve had the experience that because I’m one of those parent’s who never saw myself as a parent but ended up being one and was kind of like I don’t know how to do this and there always seemed to be these people who were just made for it and I’m like how do you do this? When I was watching DADS I was like there are people out there that understand that you can love your kid but you are never going to be that person.
Siobhan – It’s funny too because I was talking to someone about that the other day because at least now people are opening up a little bit more about their faults. I know that a friend of mine had a baby and with in their family they had an on-going joke of who is going to drop the baby first and you do. You have accidents and things happen. But for so long the component was you’re this perfect parent and there’s a lot of pressure to be this perfect parent and nobody really talks about the actual struggle with living two different lives almost.
Adam – I took my wife to the prenatal classes and there was a point where the dads went down for a beer with a dad mentor and there were some that were like I don’t know how to do this and I’m like hey look there are way dumber people in the world doing this and you’re not that special and your kids are not that special. None of it is. It’s awesome for you and it’s magical but its not all great and wonderful and there are people that can do that no problem.
David – And when they had kids they didn’t have X-Box or tv so you’ve got that babysitter on your side. In the beginning they we were like turn the fire on I want to watch the fire and they were like shut up or you won’t get more brontosaurus burgers or something. You know this is a pretty historical time in terms of things that will help watch our children and it’s awesome.
Adam – One of those things we tried to do with DADS is tell it from the point of being a group of dads who are somewhat of reluctant care givers. They’re not really all in they want to keep some part of who they are. In the beginning they appear to be total douche bags but in reality there not completely one dimensionally terrible.
Siobhan – That’s why we always say that they’re not bad dads they’re trying. They might be flailing while they’re trying but they are trying. There not so far gone that they don’t care. Child services is not going to be on their way. They do care.
The one thing that I really liked about the pilot is that even though there was a lot of comedy and there was that one scene where the little girl threw up I almost lost it. But it’s all very true to what we experience as parents of young children. It’s all rooted in extreme honesty. Was there a conscious decision to keep it honest in regards to how you are with children and the experience you would have as a parent with a young child?
Siobhan – That’s the same for us when we were trying to pitch the show to different broadcasters and what not because we will say it’s a comedy and they are like “Oh like wakka wakka wakka it’s a sitcom?” (gotta love a good Fozzie Bear reference) and we’re like no. If anything it’s a half hour drama with dark humor. But we’re not using 3 cameras. There’s no laugh track. It’s not cheeky, Jim Carrey funny faces type comedy. It’s more a relevant comedy like Girls for example. It’s coming from a place of “oh my god I can’t believe they just said that out loud. I can’t believe they just did that.” Things that people will often think about but don’t necessarily execute or say.
Adam – I always thought the really funny stuff is where it walks that weird line and you are never sure exactly how to take it. There are always those moments that you don’t know quite how to take it, but the reality is there is a fine line between going too far and being unrealistic but at the same time you kind of want to push the boundaries. You want to tap in to those things that make people go “s**t man that happened to me” or like David said these characters a lot of people say Oh I identify with this guy or this guy or that one. There not just seeing themselves in not just one but hopefully all of them.
David – I think that is where the best comedy comes from for instance with Knocked-Up or The 40 Year Old Virgin, you definitely want to appeal to your audience and they can see parts of themselves in those characters. They can make these guys much more crazy, vulgar then what they are and you would get frat guys going that’s awesome but the reality is this stuff is happening everyday like to me. I have kids and when my kid was 2 months old he peed in my mouth while I was changing his diaper and now he’s 10 year old and he thinks it’s the funniest thing ever to happen in mankind. Cause this stuff happens and you have people actually going that’s really crazy, that kid put a condom in his mouth and that happened to me when I was first married.
Adam – That’s a true story.
Siobhan – That happens in the rest of the pilot cause we only put out the half-pilot so there’s a connection to the rest of the script.
Adam – Stuff like that happens to good people all of the time. So hopefully that’s what stands out and if it doesn’t have a little truth then it’s just an outrageous comedy and that’s fun but that’s not really what…
Siobhan – What we’re going for.
Adam – It’s not just a show about being a parent, but it is a show about the dads. That’s a weird line too. How much parenting do you show? That’s an interesting line to walk. How much is this really about being a parent and how much is it about these characters and these guys. Which brings us back to this idea, this concept that they have of who am I now? Am I still the writer? If I have to find time to write? Will I still be in this band? Am I still a musician? Or do I have to always be taking care of my kids? Or do you realize that you are not going to be one of those people who aren’t able to give it all up and ultimately be better for it?
Now how long have you guys been working to get DADS off the ground? Like when did the process start?
Siobhan – 2010. When Adam would tell me that he had this story that was on the back porch, having a cigarette and said this would make a good show and then he was meeting with a friend working out concepts and then his wife, Sarah, said to me ‘You know Adam’s been talking to me about doing this show but I don’t know if it’s an excuse to get out of the house or if it’s really a show. You’re a producer so what do you think?’ So I met with Adam and told him pitch me. Tell me what’s going on. I was like if you’re serious I would love to take that on. I would love to option it. I would love to work with you. I would love to package it. Let’s go for it. I want to go to Banff this year, this was for Banff 2010, and I would love to go there this year to pitch it as a concept. Let’s break it down. What would be the episodes, What would be the viable story. Let’s go. So I went to Banff that year and pitched it as a concept and had a lot of interest. We came back from Banff and I was basically like Ok Adam it’s time to start writing. We’re not in the marketplace where people are willing to give you development to write a pilot. You need to do the split equity. So that happened in 2010 and then in the fall of 2010 I met with Peter DeLuise and we attached him as our director and then we went back to Banff and that’s also when we attached David Lewis (who’s on the line) and a few of the other cast members and we did a reading just before going to Banff the second year and we went with it as an actual package. After Banff that year I applied for the Film & Media Grant and that’s when we got our development money to actually create the pilot that we put out just now.
Now do you believe you have more creative control with a webseries than say a network show?
Siobhan – Oh very much so. We were ultimately told by broadcasters that they didn’t think it was a viable show. They always got the concept, but they were never sure about the execution and then we were told they didn’t think that there was an audience or demographic that would get the show. They just weren’t sure that it would fly. So I was kind of belligerent, like a dog with a bone. I was like I’ll show you an audience and now we have an audience demanding our show.
Adam – We also pitched it at one point to Fox a couple of years ago and they asked if we would considering watering it down and make it more of a sitcom? I was like f**k that.
Siobhan – That would be work and right now we really enjoy what we do. It comes naturally to us. It’s our comedic sensibilities. When it was suggested to us that we polish it up like a bright shiny coin and make it more PG…
Adam – Make it more like Guys with Kids.
Siobhan – And Guys with Kids was a complete failure, right? That’s not us and that would be really hard for us. So we decided that we were going to stay true our own comedic sensibilities and our own brand of the show and now we are setting the way. We don’t have any body giving us notes on how to create our concept so we can create it more organically and authentically.
Adam – The one thing you have to have is the cash in order to get it filmed and all those kind of meddling fingers are kind of out of the way. And with the number of subscribers to our channel and comments and stuff like that has shown that we have an audience. Ultimately you want to be proud of it and I want to watch the show. I want it to be something that I want to watch.
Siobhan – We don’t want to watch Guys with Kids.
I think you guys would probably be a good fit on Showtime, maybe Starz, but definitely not the networks.
Siobhan – Definitely. I just won a big mentorship to go to Banff and have that paid for and that’s one of the broadcasters we would love to meet with and Showtime. We’ve also had a lot of discussions with back and forth with HBO. So we are trying to work with in what they want versus what we want to see if there is going to be a happy medium. Even today when I was talking to a potential interested party they were like we need to bring in a show runner and we need to know how involved do you want to be in this and I was like are you asking how involved do I want to be in the series that I’m creating right now? Are we seriously having this conversation?
Now David, how did you become involved?
David – Well Siobhan and I were married about 13 years ago twice. I cheated so much.
(Siobhan’s laughing at this)
Actually I’ve known Siobhan in the actor’s community for about 8 years now which is a small community at times and made a connection with her and we kept in touch and got a call from her saying would you be interested in coming in and doing a table read for a new show that I’m working on? I was like absolutely, fantastic. I got the script, read it, and was like holy s**t I hope that I can audition for this. You want me to read for it because you have a whole bunch of actors down in LA that would be perfect for it they just can’t fly up in time but that wasn’t the case. So I did the table read and I approached Siobhan afterwards and said please if you guys are going to start casting for this bring me in for, not the character I read for, but for a different character. I thought the actor who was there did a fine job, but I think I did a much better job. So I came in to the auditions and I got the job. I’m really, really proud of it. I have no problem showing the trailer to my friends, my agent. I have no problem helping this thing as much as I can. I think it is very unique.
Siobhan – I have to say David actually inspired me when I became a parent I was like if Mr. Lewis can do this I can do this. David you’re really committed to your career and you’re very passionate and you’re able to balance being a fantastic parent as well as being true to your own path in life and that’s being a great actor.
David – Thank you.
Siobhan – Immediately when we started talking about creating the script and creating the characters I always had David in the back of my mind. I know for myself when I start creating characters I’m always thinking of who can I pull from in my own life. I’m often writing with certain people in mind. At least for me personally. David and Adam hadn’t known each other, but David had always been in my mind to definitely be part of our collaborative collective.
Adam – There was this part where I had this sense of how I wanted the show to be and Siobhan was smart enough to know that the acting community that I don’t have a strong field in as a non-actor so I was smart enough to listen to her so it was like ok let’s see these guys and they hit it out of the park. So it was a lot of fun.
It was amazingly acted. It felt that while I was watching it that I was watching a home movie, not the way it was filmed, just that I was seeing inside these guys lives that may not necessarily want the whole world to see but there like yeah whatever. So I thought that was great and the scene where you are with your ex-wife or soon to be ex-wife and the annoyed looks that you guys have on your faces reminded me so much of me & my ex.
Siobhan – Often we have people say what kind of mother would leave her child with him and we are like well he is their father and yeah he had a rough night the night before but she still has to get to work. She has to pay the bills. Who else is she going to call at 6:45 in the morning. She can’t be late. She can’t lose her job. But as a single parent you have a different dynamic then say a nuclear family and I’m saying “nuclear” with my little bunny ear quotes around it.
Adam – That’s what makes it so exciting as well because as messed up as these dads are because they are trying to hold on to their masculinity and all this other stuff in life they’re also going to screw up but hopefully you will watch over the season and find some very graceful moments and find the caring moments. For instance when their kid is hurt they will go over and put a band aid on and say you’re all better now and you will see that they care for these children. They’re just kind of the non-nuclear dads.
David – A lot of dads are like that, I think. They’re not all paired up like this perfect kind of combination. Again taking from real experiences and where we’re all at we are all these different combinations of people. I know that if this series goes big I’m getting a nanny.
Siobhan – You and me both David. I’m trying to figure out how I can move my son and I to Toronto for the summer to do the program and it’s a whole other world. And who is going to take care of him while I’m doing this. How is this all going to work.
I have an almost 11 year old and an almost 17 year old and I have friends who have younger kids and they ask if I miss those ages and no I don’t I don’t need baby sitters any more. If I want to leave all I have to do is say I will be back in a couple of hours. And they are so far a part they are like only children, it’s perfect.
Adam – That’s awesome. That’s called planned parenthood. An 11 year old and a 17 year old that’s a great idea. I think that’s like a different episode.
Siobhan – Ok now Woody Allen.
Siobhan – Well we’ve been experiencing a lot of success. For instance we have been short listed for a fund called the Independent Production Fund which can fund you to basically create 6 webisodes and create web content and sound bites. So we hope to hear from that soon to see if we actually got it. So hopefully we get that because we don’t have a broadcaster right now. We’ve also been short listed for IdeaBoost which is a business incubator out of the Canadian Film Center in Toronto which is a cash component and it is also a business incubator where we will be able to show to a whole bunch of potential investors to try and raise the capital to film accordingly.
Adam – Really the goal is to get enough people on board who like the show and want to support it. Ideally to create more content. I feel like one of the things is you get to the point in the pilot where they are sitting down and then you are like what happens next.
Yeah that’s what I was like when I was watching it. I watched the pilot like 3 times. I may have watched it 4 times but it’s possible during that fourth I didn’t actually pay attention to it. I was sitting there thinking to myself that this can’t be it and I was that it was a half-pilot and I thought to myself that I needed to see more.
Adam – We actually filmed it that way because we don’t have enough to make a whole episode so instead of trying to fit it all in so we shot it that way so that when you were watching it you wanted to see more.
Siobhan – Show me the money so we can make it. Because we’ve got it. We have these ideas and concepts but it’s just been getting that money to do it accordingly and now that we’ve proven that we do have an audience one of the things I’m excited about is the Banff Media Festival this summer is that all of the digital buyers are going to be there. Netflix is going to be there. Hulu is going to be there. We are looking to see if we can find the perfect partner as well and not just a broadcaster to buy it.
I actually think that would be a brilliant way to go because in the beginning when webseries first started off nobody really paid them any mind but in the past couple of years it’s really gotten to the point where it’s a viable art form when it comes to telling stories.
Siobhan – Definitely.
Adam – It used to be you would get a maximum of five minutes and that’s all you get. Nobody wanted any kind of longer content at all and that can be good or bad but it’s in a webcast kind of world and sure people are watching it on their mobile and all this kind of stuff and you can’t look at episodes the same way. But ultimately I think they are almost serializing these episodes. You have a half hour episode and you can break it in to 3, 4, 7, 8 minute episodes that are consumable on a mobile device and also at the same time they can be put together for a broadcast component.
Siobhan – This is also why I love this model. Not necessarily to release everything all at once but you’re not limited by the traditional half hour or the hour broadcast model. You determine the time that is needed to facilitate the story.
I think if it’s a quality program. If it’s quality work because as much as people like to say that the viewing public really doesn’t know what’s smart. But that’s not true they do know what smart programming is and they do know what’s good and if it’s good they will watch it and they will go to where it’s at whether it’s online, through a movie, or independent they are going to find it. They are going to find it as long as it’s quality work and that whole thing where viewers don’t know what they want and they don’t know what’s good I don’t think that’s true at all. Especially not any more.
Siobhan – I agree with you.
Adam – They know what they want.
Siobhan – And we’ve always tried to make sure there was that quality control. We think it’s a great compliment when people go whoa this is a webseries? This is broadcast quality. Ultimately when you say webseries that’s just a platform in which it’s being delivered. Most of the people I know are cord cutters. The traditional platform that we grew up on and were weened on is not the reality of today. Most people are kind of done, I think, they cut the cord, the cable cord and their going to get their information and entertainment elsewhere.
I noticed that there was many times during the pilot and I have to give you guys so much credit for this because there was many times during the pilot where you could have stepped over the edge and it could of become slap stick and I would have been I’ve seen this. It’s been done. I’m not the demographic for this. There were so many times where it could have gone over the edge and it could have gotten to that point where it’s just frat boy comedy and you didn’t and I thought that was impressive. I got to that scene where when the little girl, by the way I have a weak stomach so thank you for that.
Siobhan – We’ve had a lot of people say shouldn’t it have a warning label on this I was eating lunch while I was watching this.
But the thing that I loved about that scene was that one it’s very true because if you are a parent and you have never been thrown up on then you are not a parent and you have to redo it over again. You could have gone and shown the little girl and he could have been more expressive about it but no it was just a moment of this is what happens and I can’t believe this is how I’m starting my day and boom you moved on and I loved that.
Siobhan – I think that part of Davinder’s thing. Out of all the dads I think he is the most self satisfied out of all of them. He’s got a really hot wife. He’s can pretty much do what he want’s to do but the problem is that his kids are pukers. They just can’t keep their food down. That’s his characters flaw is that he has to deal with that issue.
Adam – That’s why he is wearing tye-dyed shirts so it doesn’t show.
I also loved the scene where the character named Tim who was struggling to get his kids shoes on and he was getting so aggravated and I kept thinking to myself yeah I’ve been there.
Siobhan – There were 2 characters that were struggling to get their kids shoes on, Tim who has the little girl and David who was trying to get the boots on.
Yes it was David’s character. You’re right. Thank you.
David – I have a 10 & a 7 and we are still trying to get them through that. For some reason time moves very fast until it’s time to actually leave the house and then things seem to go at a super slow motion. I’m ready to go but you guys are still in your underwear and now it’s time to put your shoes on. And my son still hasn’t put his shoes on because he is looking for a lego which he had 2 hours to do that. For some reason when it comes to putting their shoes on they become really stupid. I don’t know what their deal is and I mean that in a great way.
Siobhan – For the longest time my son only wanted to wear rain boots. Especially in the summer and I was like that’s fine by be because it’s easier to get them on and off. It’s totally fine. Go for it. I find whenever you find something that works so you just go with it.
David, other than DADS do you have any other projects you have coming up?
David – Um yeah well trying to get girls pregnant. Um…drink beer. I wrote and produced a short film and it’s just starting to make it’s way on the festival circuit.
Siobhan – And the name of it is?
David – Oh sorry, it’s called Stalled and just living my life as an actor. I’ve got a small role in the big Superman moving coming up. I’m a short film guy. I’m a feature film guy. I’m writing and basically if DADS doesn’t go through I have to get a real job. So I’m really, really wanting it to take off.
Well it was great talking with you and I am looking forward to our next follow up in a few months after Banff.
Siobhan & Adam – Thank you.