- Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014
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- SANTA MONICA, Calif.
One discipline informs another and long-standing commercial production house harvest has experienced that firsthand, diversifying into TV series with the making of its first pilot which in turn has laid the foundation for more longer form opportunities while further fortifying the company’s spot directorial roster.
Titled Godbrothers, the comedy pilot was screened last month at UTA in Beverly Hills for broadcast and cable execs as well as cast and crew. UTA is serving as the showrunner, courting cable and broadcast networks interested in the property. The talent agency represents key players behind Godbrothers, including director Jeremy Garelick who connected with harvest via Matt Benson. At the time, Benson was at harvest which hired him to explore long-form entertainment prospects for the spot house. (Benson has since left harvest.) Benson and Garelick--who had past ties as interns--crossed paths again last year, with Garelick relating that he had a script he planned on shooting soon, asking Benson if he wanted to produce it. Benson brought the project to harvest founders, executive producer Bonnie Goldfarb and DGA Award-winning director Baker Smith, who agreed to provide funding and production support.
Godbrothers introduces us to an injudicious, run-by-the-seat-of-your pants, charmingly self-confident soul (portrayed by Miles Fisher) who in hopes of launching his acting career crashes his godbrother’s Hollywood apartment. The host godbrother (played by DJ Lubel) is a tad nerdish and neurotic. Together they face and view life through different filters, a mix which is inherently comedic as they interact with each other and others--in the pilot, among the “others,” are upwardly mobile yuppies, including a married couple consisting of an entertainment industry player and his wife, the ex-girlfriend of Lubel’s character. Fisher’s character inadvertently winds up putting himself in the middle of his godbrother’s business yet at the same time reinforces what the true meaning of “family” is all about.
For Godbrothers, Goldfarb helped assemble a team of artisans spanning a mix of TV, feature and commercialmaking talent. She loved the experience, observing that she was drawn to Godbrothers not just for the comedy but also for what’s behind it, noting that creators Theodore B. Bressman, David Branson Smith and Miles Fisher “were keen to demonstrate the different places people turning 30 were at in their lives. It’s a study of a generation. You could be 29, looking 30 in the face and still sleeping on a couch at a frat house. Or you’re a professional. Or you’re having babies. The discrepancies are so far flung.”
Bressman, Smith, Fisher, Garelick, Goldfarb and Smith served as exec producers on the Godbrothers pilot. The cast included Fisher (Mad Men, Gossip Girl), Lubel, Katrina Bowden (30 Rock, Scary Movie 5), Fran Kranz, Chester Tam, Dan Gill and Serinda Swan. Benson produced with Chris Bremmer as co-producer. Niko Whelan was line producer. Bradford Lipson was the DP. Editor was Ian Kezsbom.
The other attraction luring Goldfarb to Godbrothers was the opportunity to apply harvest’s skill set to another discipline. “Baker and I founded harvest as filmmakers,” she related. “We make films for advertisers and have stayed focused on that marketplace where we maintain harvest as a premium brand. My nature, though, is to utilize our skill set and apply it to different mediums. With Godbrothers, we have the opportunity to diversify and live in the narrative comedy series world. That will be a calling card for harvest to participate in longer format work. It’s an investment in ourselves, our company and our directors in a changing landscape. The experience we gain can also prove beneficial to our advertiser clients who too are moving into longer form content.”
Other benefits have already been realized by harvest as Garelick has come aboard the company’s directorial roster for spots and branded fare. Via harvest, which worked in concert with GolinHarris, Garelick directed a portion of the long-form web initiative “What Would You Do For A Klondike Bar?,” last year’s summer-long contest emceed by Joel McHale and which thrust several celebs into situations--suggested by winning contestants--requiring them to do something for the ice cream treat. The contestants too had to perform the same deed for Klondike gratification.
Garelick’s creative chops go beyond directing. For example, he and Jay Lavender wrote the screenplay for The Break-Up, which starred Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn.
The primary director on the Klondike project was Tristram Shapeero, whose credits include assorted episodes of the sitcom Community in which McHale stars. Harvest enjoyed a positive collaboration with Shapeero on Klondike, leading to the company adding him to its lineup of directors for commercials and branded content. Shapeero is both an executive producer and director on Community. His body of directorial work spans such comedy series as Parks and Recreation, Nurse Jackie, Veep and Bored to Death.
Shapeero began his directing career in advertising while working in London. Harvest will be the launchpad for his ad exploits in the U.S. market. Goldfarb said of Shapeero, “His command of performances in the world of comedy/dialogue will bring great opportunities to our agencies and clients.”
Shapeero’s first feature comedy, A Friggin’ Christmas Miracle starring Robin Williams and McHale, is slated for release in November 2014.