The four minds behind our new Showtime series, Moonbase 8.
Topics covered include: Zoom culture, petty arguments, band name trends through the decades, the humble origins of the show, rethinking “independent” television, the demoralizing experience of pitching a show to Amazon and Netflix accompanied by a 30 person chorus, learning to trust Ravi, whether A24 needs help with money, and why you sometimes need a couple years of distance to fall in love with something you made.
Fred Armisen: I love Zoom calls. I just love it.
John C. Reilly: I know.
Jonathan Krisel: Oh my God.
John: I hope after the pandemic's over, we can keep this whole Zoom culture going.
Fred: You know where I feel it at the end of a Zoom call? In my back. Afterwards I’m like, "God, why does my back hurt?,” from being upright for so long and just staring at the camera.
John: I always feel a little bit like my soul has been sucked out of me by the end of the Zooms.
Tim Heidecker: I've been masturbating during the calls, and it's not bad because you can just turn off the—
John: Did you hear about that guy?
Tim: Yeah, I know. Toobin. Jeffrey Toobin.
Jonathan: What happened? I saw he got fired.
Tim: He was—
John: A very famous political reporter, like, pulled his schlong out.
Tim: He was playing with himself on a Zoom call.
John: Was he playing with himself or did he just show it?
Tim: I don't know.
John: And he claims, "Oh, it was just a big misunderstanding."
Jonathan: I was talking to someone and their signal kind of went out, then their picture dropped out. And were like, "You still there?" "Yeah, I'm going to the bathroom."
John: Oh, come on.
Jonathan: But it was very professionally done.
Tim: All right. Well, let's talk about our show, Moonbase 8, that we've made in conjunction with A24. That's why we're all speaking on this particular podcast. I've got my radio voice dialed in. Everybody can get into their NPR mode, slow and low.
John: I'm Larry Mantle.
Tim: So we have me, Tim Heidecker.
John: John C. Reilly.
Jonathan: Jonathan Krisel.
Fred: And Fred Armisen.
Tim: Fred is coming to us via Zoom technology up in... Where are you up?
Fred: I'm in Vancouver.
Tim: All right. Well I think that's all we got.
I had a question this morning that I thought, well, maybe we could start with an icebreaker question. This is the question: Creedence Clearwater Revival, what is that name about?
Fred: The 60s was all about these long names. I think like Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, it's like all that stuff is—
Tim: That caused a tidal wave.
Fred: Yes, where every band name was like an old-timey organization.
Tim: What was that 1912 bubblegum company band? Oh no.
Fred: Is that what they're called?
John: Yeah, and what was the band… Some of the guys from The Byrds started that…
Tim: Flying Burrito Brothers.
John: No, I'll have to look it up. Sorry. Great anecdote.
Tim: Creedence. But the word Creedence Clearwater Revival. I don't know what—
Jonathan: It's like a church, like a revivalist church.
John: Clearwater, yeah.
Fred: Yeah. I think they wanted it to be hard to figure out.
Tim: Something like a conversation starter.
Fred: Yeah. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Tim: There you go.
Fred: I guess that's a little different. There's Strawberry Alarm Clock.
Tim: John, you going to look that up?
John: Yeah. I'm looking it up.
Jonathan: John Fogerty would perform at my elementary school to raise money for the school because his kids started going there.
Jonathan: It was kind of crazy.
Jonathan: No, it was amazing. It was in the little school amphitheater.
Tim: He spent a long time not being able to play his songs.
Jonathan: That's right. That's right. But he was still playing them at the school during that time.
Tim: That's how he would get it out.
Jonathan: Well, yes.
Tim: All right. Well, Moonbase 8’s a show that we made, basically started from—I was on an episode of Portlandia. Krisel, you had since moved on from Portlandia?
Jonathan: No, I just wasn't directing every episode at that point.
Tim: You had stepped away from the day-to-day.
Tim: Is that right? But Fred was still mired in it.
Jonathan: But I put in a good word for you to be on it. “He's cool.”
Tim: I was on there. I was hanging out with Fred. We were laughing, making each other laugh. And I was texting with John—John Reilly. I was like, "I'm up here in Portland." John's, by the way, lost in his Google search.
John: No, no. I got it. I got it.
Tim: What's the band?
John: It's The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark.
Tim: Oh, yes, yes, yes.
John: They loved those big, long... Sorry, I'm way after the moment here.
Tim: But they can edit that all together to make it all work.
Jonathan: But it's also like their band name fads do go together. Because remember in 2002, it was like The Stroke.
Fred: The 90s was very one word. Polvo.
Tim: Blur, Pulp, Garbage.
Jonathan: Jane's Addiction.
Fred: They like a simple statement. There's a bunch of them.
John: I'm on fire today.
Tim: I have not, this is no joke, I have not slept since the election. I've just been up.
Tim: Yeah. So it's now, it's a week and a half. I've just been watching CNN. Once they called it on Saturday, I'm like, "I got to see how all the states go." So I've just been up. I just watch CNN 24/7.
John: They've pretty much counted now. There's not a lot of news each day.
Tim: Wait until you see what happens next week. You're going to be in for a big surprise.
John: Apparently Q said yesterday, "No one can stop what is coming." And I'm assuming he's talking about the Biden presidency. Were you getting that ad in front of every video you watched for a while before the election with this chubby bearded fisherman going, "How do I register to vote?"
John: It was this one ad. I just kept seeing it over and over and over.
Tim: It was targeted right to you.
John: I guess so.
Tim: It's like, "Hey."
Jonathan: I kept getting Stacey Abrams saying, "Time to vote."
Tim: Wait, do you guys have ads on your YouTube videos?
Jonathan: Oh yeah.
Tim: I pay to not. It's changed my life. It's changed my life.
Jonathan: How much is it?
Tim: It's a hundred bucks a week. [laughs] I'm on a weekly plan.
John: If you think about what it would cost you to buy those video tapes, that's pretty good.
Jonathan: Stacking all these videos. Just clicked on one.
Tim: Did you guys read that story about the guy that's catalogued every Letterman episode ever? He started taping them. He started on cassettes, just taping the audio and keeping a database of who was on and what the sketches were. And he eventually started taping it on VHS. And he's just surrounded by tapes in his apartment. He's like fully enclosed by these tapes.
John: What was his stated reason for this? OCD?
Tim: He could never stay up late to watch it so he would... I don't know. I think it was probably that.
Jonathan: Like a completionist, he's got to finish it.
John: I have a friend whose father obsessively collects magazines. He gets many, many subscriptions to magazines. And then it's turned into this hoarding thing because the magazines come and he needs to read them in order.
Tim: Oh my God.
John: So he's got many years of magazines ahead of him. He's like, "No, I have to read every page of every magazine that I've subscribed to." It just sounds like a hell zone.
Jonathan: It's so irrelevant by the time he gets to it too.
John: I know. He's reading, like, The New Yorker from three years ago.
Tim: 99% of magazine articles don't need to be read at all. You get to the end of it and you're like... I was trying to read an article today about geothermal energy. There's a new... I know. And I was like, "I want to learn about this. I think this is cool." Because it's going to be this new revolution for the way we—
John: It is. By the way, I have a brother who's a contractor and they're doing that with all the new homes.
Tim: I checked out halfway through. I'm like, "I just assume the rest of this—"
Fred: Yeah, I get really mad when it starts getting long. I'm like, "Come on."
John: Page three?!
Fred: I feel like I have all my information, and then four pages in, “All right, just finish it out.”
Tim: Yeah. You feel a little bit of padding going on. All right. Let's get back on track. We're here with John C. Reilly—
John: So let's sort out this origin story because as we started to do press—
Tim: It changed?
John: It seemed like you guys didn't totally agree with where the space colony idea came from.
Tim: Oh, no. Are you reading every interview we do?
John: No, I'm just remembering when we started talking about it. Because from my point of view, and granted, the whole thing, all four of us just started piling on and adding ideas and certainly—but I remember, and correct me, right now on the record, if I'm wrong, but we were trying to think up ideas when you were up there in Portland with Fred.
Tim: Yeah. And then the subsequent days, weeks—
John: And the subsequent days. And we started, like Three Stooges, all these different ideas. Civil War reenactors was one that was pitched. And then I remembered that I had this idea for a horror movie that took place on the South Pole in a research center, and it was during the 60 or 80 days of darkness that they have down there. And I thought, “That would be a brilliant, cheap movie.” It's all about how the monster is them, is their personalities and how they deal with each other. And that idea was inspired by me looking at a National Geographic article. It showed this really homogenous, very National Geographic-friendly version of this base.
And then it had these little things in between the lines that I noticed that said, "During the many days of darkness, strange relationships develop." It was this coded thing. Like, “Wow. Oh, they lose their minds during this darkness.” And they start sleeping with each other and they start drinking to excess. And then there was a picture of them unloading cases and cases of beer.
Tim: I have this vague memory of sniffing out a show, and I don't know if it was ever made since we sniffed it out. I have a vague memory of sniffing out that there was some ice station or some Antarctica show.
Jonathan: Yes, there was. Yes, on Fox. They made a pilot for it.
Tim: Right. And I think we sniffed that out early. And then we said, "Oh, that that idea is taken."
Fred: None of this sounds like a discrepancy. Sounds like we—
Tim: Yeah, I know. That's what I'm trying to figure out is, in what shit did we step in?
Fred: I think we're all agreed. I think we're all agreed on all of that. Now, Tim, do you remember what we were joking about on Portlandia?
Tim: Two things. I have a very strong memory of it. One is this reboot of Punky Brewster that we were talking about.
Jonathan: That's actually happening.
Tim: It is?
Jonathan: Yes. On Netflix, I think.
John: Thank God.
Tim: But we were talking about it in this way, as we actually do sometimes. You end up gossiping about who's involved and who's writing on it and how many versions it's gone through. Right?
Fred: And also the cameos. The cameos are always like, "You won't believe who they got." “Okay so it’s David Hasselhoff... Oh my God, you're actually getting—”
Tim: But also, I heard Seth Rogan—it went through him. He had developed it for a while, but then it wasn't working. So then Judd and a couple other guys were talking about this thing that was so painful to get done and get made.
John: Have you read the latest revision?
John: The goldenrod page is really...
Tim: Everybody's taken a crack at it. It's getting really good. And also being super in the know about it, and like—
John: Oh, here's kind of a dick thing that I can do right now, which is that the whole reason that Tim was up there doing Portlandia—
Tim: Oh, yeah, this is a good one.
John: And I did mention it once. And then I thought, "That's such a shitty thing to say to Tim." But—
Tim: But… [laughs]
John: I couldn't help myself because in some way I can take credit for Tim and Fred working together on that Portlandia episode because the role was offered to me. And I was like, "I'm not going up there to do that. It's not enough to do," or something. Oh, I thought to myself, "Any funny person can do this. It's not a huge workload."
Tim: "Even Tim could handle this."
John: No, not, "Even Tim."
Tim: I know, I'm just kidding.
John: Like it didn't require my services. At this point I'm getting old and I'm like, "Unless it really has to be me, I can just pass this along." And then next thing you know, Tim writes me, "Hey man, guess what? I got this gig on Portlandia." I was like, "All right. Good for you." Jon, how did Tim do in the exterminator part on Portlandia?
Jonathan: He was very good. I thought the episode turned out really good. It was very funny.
Fred: He was great. He was so good in it. Because he was—
Tim: I won an award.
John: Did you?
Fred: That's right.
Tim: I won the... Not the Emmy. What's the other one that's huge? The Portland—
John: The Webby?
Tim: The Portland Acting Awards. Yeah, the Portlandia Acting Awards.
Fred: I just want to bring up the other joke that we were... I'll make it quick. The other bit that we were doing was, I think we did a cereal bit.
Tim: No, I'm going to correct you, but then you can go off this, Peter Pan.
John: Yeah, Peter Pan and Jif.
Fred: That's right. You visited the factory or something and you meet all the guys there.
Tim: The Peter Pan peanut butter factory and how they're cool.
John: This actually became a building block of the show, that kind of joke.
John: Because we realized like, "Oh, wouldn't it be funny to have the three of us sitting around just debating petty things that really have no bearing on anything and there's no resolution to these things?" They're like, "Do you like Jimi Hendrix better or the Stones?" It's like, "Who cares?"
Jonathan: But in the end, there's not much of that in the show.
Tim: Not really. I think the show kind of went in a different direction than we maybe originally thought it was going to go. But that's what happens.
John: But that pettiness, that thing of just not letting something go, and needing to be right. And pushing things when you should just be nice and just let it go.
Jonathan: Because remember that astronaut we talked to? He said that—
Jonathan: Mike. You're always supposed to say, whenever anyone has a suggestion in space, "Thank you." Even if you think it's the dumbest idea. These three guys did not get that training. Because they're immediately like, "I don't know if that's a good idea."
Tim: So Krisel came in because the three of us said, "Let's try to do something." I think we had come up to the space idea pretty quick.
John: I literally remember saying like, "Well, who's going to be the fourth Beatle here? Why don't we just aim as high as we can?"
Tim: Yeah, Steven Spielberg. He was unavailable.
John: [Laughs] No, Jon was literally the first and last choice. Contrary to this actor conversation we were just having, you really were the only person we went to because we thought, "Well, here's someone all three of us immediately trust.” And someone who already knows how to get the best out of us.
Jonathan: Oh, thanks.
John: What was it like from your point of view?
Jonathan: Oh, from my point of view, it's so exciting to be like, "Oh, this is done." The idea, there it is. I can imagine it. I'm excited to watch from the sidelines, laughing and what you were talking about, these little petty arguments. I'm like, "Yeah, I love that kind of thing." So to already have a group that's going like, "Oh, we want to do that." You go, "Well, this will be just fun to scrimmage around in this world."
John: As we were heading into actually making it happen, when it went from a bunch of insane ideas and character ideas and images, what did you think was the biggest challenge to actually turning it into something real?
Jonathan: It's kind of just sifting through all the ideas. I was thinking about this after so many years of trying to get this made, and you have all these meetings and talk about episodes and then you could go, "It might never happen." But, yeah, I remember there was a couple of meetings of like, "Well, somebody could get sick and that could be an episode where we have to quarantine." I immediately know, "Okay, I can put that whole episode together." Everything is crystal clear, so just those touchstone moments.
Tim: It’s funny to think about how ideas come from very small things. Like one episode, the move the base episode, I remember Fred just going—he was talking about packing and just how anal people can be about packing. And there's something about Fred where he can find something really specific and really granular, and it's something that really bothers him that maybe he only picks up on, but finds really funny. And then that becomes, "All right, well, why would these guys need to move? How can we do scenes where we're packing?” And so you just work backwards from that.
John: It's such a stretch. The moment when I come in there and I go, "Guys..." I just announce one day, for no reason, "We're on a bad energy vortex." It's such an unexamined decision. You guys go, "Oh, okay. All right. Well, I guess we'll have to deal with that." I remember early on when we were coming up with ideas for the show, of loving... My favorite TV show of all time is The Andy Griffith Show.
Tim: Mine's Mad About You, Paul Reiser. It's my favorite show.
Fred: Mine is 2020. I like 20/20.
John: But on Andy Griffith, I remember being in the room with you guys and we were trying to come up with ideas. And once we figured out the kind of sameness of the environment and once the characters got set, we realized each episode doesn't have to be some intricate plot. It can just be about one thing, that one little conflict. Because in a world where everything's the same all the time, one little thing becomes a whole story.
Tim: A big deal, yeah.
John: And I remember pitching to you guys, there was this great episode of Andy Griffith where Aunt Bee makes pickles. She decides she's going to get into pickles. And then Andy and Barney try the pickles and they're like, "Oh my God, these pickles are terrible." They're terrible pickles, but she's this sweet old lady. And so they decide to empty them out and hide them. And then she sees the empty jars, "Oh, you boys like my pickles." And she starts giving them more and more pickles and it becomes... That's it! The episode was just about, like, they don't like her pickles. So I thought, "What's our version of that?"
Tim: I'm trying to think. What did that turn into? It must have turned into something.
John: Well, it's things like whether we like this candy bar, or we ran out of water.
Tim: Or we have a cow now and we have to hide the cow. I'm a fan of the show. And what was nice about making it, and then it sitting on the shelf for a while, was like watching it again now, after not seeing it for a while and forgetting about lots of things about it. But just the little runs of jokes, like me wanting to use this cow for milk and you, Cap, keep saying like, "And then we're going to turn it into steak." And it's just perfectly timed, where there’s like three of those little asides, like, "Then it's time for chops."
John: And you're clearly getting closer and closer emotionally to the cow, and I'm just salivating, thinking about A1 sauce.
Tim: You have to leave reality a little bit for some of those kinds of jokes to work. Those are clearly about John and Tim being funny and enjoying each other's sense of humor than it being a character.
John: And the fact that we don't know what NASA stands for. I like to kind of rationalize that by saying like, "Well, just in the heat of the moment, they couldn't remember, but they do know," somehow. I think from now on, when I make something, like a film or show or whatever, I might wait two years to look at it. Because when this was first done, we had some early screenings that I remember thinking like, "I don't know." I had some health concerns at the time I made the show and it was reminding me of that. And then I just felt unsure about my own performance. And I didn't like the way my hair looked, or whatever.
And now, like you said, I've forgotten about all those insecurities, and now I just watch it. I love it now. I love it. All the bad parts that have been cut out that I don't remember are just now a distant... They don't even come into play anymore and I just enjoy it like a fan. Which is a good way to enjoy things. I don't generally like watching or listening to myself.
Tim: What about you, Fred? Do you like watching your own work?
Fred: I love it. I love it.
Tim: Well, you have the Fred-a-thon every year where you show all your favorite—
Fred: Sometimes I'm even surprised it's me. I'm like, "I love this. What am I watching?" I'm like, "Oh my God, that's me." I get so lost in it.
John: "When did I do this?"
Fred: "When did I do this?"
John: That's one thing that's really hard to predict is whether something is going to age well. Because there are things that I've done that I thought like, "Oh man, this is as good as it gets." And then three years later, like, "Ah, this feels very dated and not—" So that's the challenge. I'm always looking for stuff that might have legs, that might have relevance to people in the future. But it's very hard to predict.
Tim: I did this one movie a few years ago and it was a very small, independent movie. And my scenes are some of the funniest things I've ever done, I think. Not really, that's overstating. But I'm the funniest thing in this movie. But I feel like I'm in a whole other movie, do you know what I mean? The rest of the movie isn't like this at all. And my scenes are like, I'm just improvising as this kind of low-rent manager who’s on the phone. And it's all this really dumb stuff, but I was cracking myself up. I can remove myself from it a little bit.
Fred: I've had this thing happen a couple of times where I did something small, like a little movie, and then it changed titles. So that when—
John: We did a movie like that together.
Fred: So I'll see a clip of it and I'm like, "I do not—what is this? What is this movie?"
John: Fred, yes, The Promotion was originally called Quebec.
Fred: Which I thought was a better title.
John: Yeah, me too.
Tim: Can I just say something about Steve Conrad, who made that movie? Have you seen his shows, Jon? Krisel?
They're, like, the greatest... Patriot and this new show, his other show, Perpetual Grace LTD, it's some of my favorite shit I've ever seen.
John: He's one of the greats.
Fred: Oh, he's brilliant. He is really, really brilliant.
Tim: Oh, man.
John: I'm doing a new stop motion animation show of his.
Tim: Me too.
John: Oh, thank you very much.
Tim: Actually, they asked me to do it and I couldn't do that part, so they went to you.
The other weird thing about this show, obviously we made this in this really unusual way, which was we went to A24—I think you were out of town or something, when we actually went around to pitch this show.
John: I joined on a video call at one point, I remember.
Tim: Yeah, but we only went to a couple places—
John: We had just done a whole big pitch on another TV show idea—
Tim: That's right.
John: And I think we were both feeling really discouraged and used by the heads of Amazon and those kinds of places.
Tim: We were pretty bitter about the process.
John: Yeah, we were like, "I'm not going in there and doing the whole tap dance again," but we did bring a 30 person chorus with us to these meetings for that pitch.
Tim: That's a whole other story.
John: 30 man chorus—
Tim: Men's choir.
John: —into these board rooms to sing for the heads of Netflix, Amazon—
Tim: Hulu, for sure.
John: Hulu. We did them all. Showtime.
Tim: Yeah, we did that Journey song. Right? We did—
John: No, we did the Chicago song.
Tim: Chicago, right. Walking in a park, “Saturday in the Park”.
John: (singing) Saturday in the Park.
Tim: Major digression there.
John: We felt really burned by that process. We thought we made this huge effort, it was a great idea for a show. And then we got nothing. So I was like, "I'm not going around and doing a tap dance again for these people."
Tim: And then do a pilot. And the thing that scared me was we would sell a pilot, we would get all of our schedules to align under the full moon, and build a giant moonbase set, and then shoot a pilot, and then who knows if we'd ever get back together again, that was my fear, that we would capture something great. And then it would be impossible to do again. So we went to A24, and they were very interested in doing it. We just said, "We want to do six episodes, and then you guys go off and sell it to whoever wants it.”
John: I won't call them out, but another company was in a bidding war with A24. Remember? It was down to two, and they were both really wanting it. This whole thing, I think that getting burned on that TV pitch experience actually made us feel like, "You know what? I don't want to have to listen to executive opinions about whether the script is funny or not. Let's approach it like an independent movie. That's my wheelhouse. I come from independent movies." I thought, the way you do it, you create the vision, you get someone to believe in it, they pay for it, and then you send it out into the world. Why should a TV show be any different than a movie in that way?
So we went to the greatest contemporary independent film company out there, and lo and behold, they went for the idea. In the two years that we were waiting for this one to get snapped up by a distributor, the show just came into focus in a way like none of us could have predicted.
Tim: I think you said Krisel, things just take so long sometimes. I have to say, like Ravi at A24, everybody that was involved in the show, they were true to their word in a way that was sometimes hard to realize all the time, you know? Because you were like, “What is going on?” I think it's very hard for me to trust people. I'm always thinking things are, you know, I guess they're all... I don't know.
Jonathan: No, but you just have to have so much patience. I was reading an article about that new Mad Max that came out a few years ago. They were working on it for like 15 years. They almost started shooting like 15 years before they actually made it. I'm like, oh my God, you must have to... “Okay, we almost shot it. It was shut down for 15 years. Start it again.” You just have to believe in a blind faith. You just have to do it.
John: I was raised on the south side of Chicago, this whole idea of, "Who are you to think you're going to be successful? Who are you to think that you're more special than everyone else?" I literally was raised like that. So it's less conspiratorial thoughts with me than it is self-esteem, like low self-esteem confirmation. Like, "Well, yes, of course I got lucky with that other movie because I was working with those people. But now this thing that I made, of course, no, what was I thinking?" Like, “No one wants it.”
Tim: I have that too.
John: And then luckily we had these amazing people at A24, especially Ravi. He was like, "No guys," as humiliating as it must've been for him to write these emails after months and months of waiting, like, "Hey man, we're still waiting for this response from that one and this one and that one." Among us, we were going, "Yeah right man, it's over, it's over."
Tim: We had the joke going that Ravi's actually in, like, the Barbados and he's fled the country.
John: He's on the run.
Tim: We love you Ravi.
John: Because A24 was mad at him for spending this money on our show. I'm sure there are many other executives in town who in the same situation as him would have said, "You know what? This is going to be our tax write off. I'm tired of working on this. I got other fish to fry, man." Thank you Ravi. Stuck with us.
Tim: But you know, to me it seems like, and to everybody probably here it feels like, “Oh, it's Fred, John C. Reilly, Jon Krisel, what wouldn't work about that or why wouldn't that be big?” But it still ends up being a weird show that isn't for everybody. It doesn't look like everything else. All you have to do is watch five minutes, just flip around the channels to see that what goes out into the world is very different than anything I've ever made or tried to make. It's not easy for anybody to sell it or to defend it, often.
John: I think it was the case of like, these companies, these distribution companies are used to going and buying fabric, and then having lots of meetings about what the cut of the suit is going to be like, and then trying a couple of different fabrics. Then at the end of the day they have this suit that then they go and try to sell. And we kept going, "Hey, we got this suit, we already have a suit made. It's really cool. Want to see it?" And they're like, "Yeah, well we're thinking of making our own suits, you know?" Then eventually I think the truth just won out. Especially with this quarantine, pandemic thing, it made the show make a lot more sense than it did originally, I think, or it didn't seem so weird.
Jonathan: Well, everyone's dealing with that isolation—
John: Like poor Fred right now, look at him.
Fred: Yeah, I'm trapped.
John: Trapped in Vancouver.
Tim: The other thing about doing it in six weeks, or six episodes, is it kind of got compressed into, “This is the show we're doing, and we're doing it all now.” So even though we knew what we were doing, there is a benefit to sometimes doing a pilot. We just went in fucking deep end, jumped in, and were learning about the show as we were making it. Probably.
Jonathan: I was going to say, it is sort of a show about roommates, just getting along with your roommates.
John: Like Friends.
Jonathan: Did you guys have roommate experiences from college or those years after where you have some weird person in those relationships?
Fred: Yeah, I think being in a band is kind of like that, you're in a van with these people who you're supposed to be with and you love them. Then somewhere in the middle, they just drive you insane, just by recommending a restaurant. Like, "We should go eat here." Those words will just really drive you crazy. Like how could you suggest that? Why would you suggest that place?
John: You're getting used to their smells in the van. You're just like, "Ah, I can't believe I have to be with this person," even though I started out loving them. Proximity breeds—
Tim: I remember in college, my first dorm I had, my first roommate, and it's such a shocking experience really. Suddenly I'm living with this stranger and it's a small room. Just bunk bed. You're like, “This guy is my life now.” He's like my partner in life and I just met him.
John: I grew up with five brothers and sisters. So my whole life was roommates. We were four boys in my bedroom until my older brothers turned into teenagers and young adults and they kind of moved into the playroom, but even they had to share another room. So by the time I left the house, I was determined not to have roommates. To this day, when I'm alone, when I'm in the house and my family leaves and I'm suddenly alone in the house, I'm like, “Ah,” I feel this sense of adventure and privacy. I can just do whatever I want. It's from the childhood of just never having privacy at home. Never. I think I'm too settled in my own odd ways now to really be someone that could share a bathroom again.
Tim: Well, I was just thinking, one interesting thing, I was kind of saying this earlier, but the idea of doing six episodes without really stopping and looking and seeing what we were actually getting was weird because now—
John: We shot them out of order, right? Weren’t we grabbing things from all over the season?
Tim: We shot everything inside first and then we went outside.
John: That's a ballsy move.
Tim: It's a tough, tricky way to do something. I always think, you really don't know what you're doing until you've done it, a little bit. Like with all of our shows, you make a couple episodes, and you’re like, “Oh, this is the show we're making.” Then you follow that. Seeing the show now with Steven Drozd’s music, the guy from The Flaming Lips, that music does such an amazing job of setting the tone. It changes the way I would make more a little bit, you know?
Tim: It would inform the way you make more. You'd learn about what the show is and you'd say, "Oh, that really works. That doesn't work as much. This really, like, do more of that kind of episode." You know what I mean?
John: I was really a holdout on TV in general for a long, long time. I mean, until very recently honestly. It was only when I saw that Escape at Dannemora—
Tim: Oh yeah.
John: —that I was like, "Oh, okay. We're in a new era,” where if you have a good idea and you have good actors and there's great performances, of course you want it to last as long as possible.
John: That thing could have been twice as long and I would have just gobbled it up. It made me really realize these ideas of... I do still have hesitance about working in TV only because the pace—
Tim: You were a little freaked out by the pace of the show.
John: Yeah, the pace of the workday.
Tim: Right. Yeah, not the show.
John: Because you can say, "Well, we got it in three takes. What are you worried about?" It's not that I'm worried that we didn't get something. It's if we did seven takes, what would we get?
John: Would we get something? And when I work with first-time directors in independent film, I always tell them, don't err on the side of building beautiful sets, err on the side of getting yourself as many days as possible shooting, so that you can incorporate new good ideas.
John: Luckily with us, we were just improvising and constantly felt free to do whatever we wanted all the time anyway.
Tim: Everything's gold that comes out.
John: But yeah, that's the trade off, the pace.
Fred: You could also argue on that point, that film sucks. That movies suck, and there’s, like, a suck-y quality to them.
John: That's a little extreme.
Tim: I find most movies pretty boring. I mean, not A24 movies.
John: If Moonbase 8 was a movie, it wouldn't be as good as the show, I don't think.
Tim: No way.
John: Because you'd be forced to cut down on the weird stuff in order to have stuff that really fed the plot and you would lose a lot. So, I'm starting to come around to the idea of... My big thing is, I always advocate for that central vision, for it to seem... and that's another thing that messes me up about TV, is when different directors come in and then the director is by definition kind of a guest star, and then the actors have more power than the director. And then the writers have more say than the directors. All of a sudden, I don't know how to work in that environment. I grew up doing movies, and it's a pyramid. The director is at the top of the pyramid. That's how Paul Thomas Anderson works, and he makes great movies. So, why would you change that structure? But anyway…
Tim: Well, we operated kind of like a movie in that sense.
Tim: There was no writer's room.
John: That's one thing I'm very proud of, the way that we did it. We're all strong personalities with our own little egos and our own right to say, "I know what's best in this moment."
John: But somehow the four of us treated each other like a true democracy, and I really felt all of us had equal say in this, which is, it's hard to do that with two people, let alone four.
Tim: Yeah. Well, I think we all complemented each other in the right way. Krisel's visual sense in the show is very strong. It's a cool looking show.
Fred: Oh yeah, every time I see a still or anything, I'm always really happy about it. How it looks. It just looks so great. I'm so happy about that.
John: Yeah, and those suits that we detested wearing, look great when photographed.
Tim: Well, I said, if we do more, the first scene is us getting new suits.
John: But that's not going to work.
John: I was just thinking about that, because that's not going to work because they're in the base. They can't suddenly get new—
Tim: Well, NASA can give them whatever they want.
Jonathan: Guys, it's a low-budget show. Those are the suits.
John: We just have to make them better. We should put cooling systems in them, like I had for my fat suit on Stan & Ollie.
Tim: There were attempts that never really worked, that were like cooling systems.
Jonathan: Why don't we just shoot it in the winter?
Fred: That's the answer. That's the simple answer.
Tim: I always, and this is controversial, but it's about the three of us. So, maybe we're just now divers in the Pacific, in Hawaii. And we're trained—
John: We're now working on an oil rig, on an oil platform in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.
Tim: That's what The Three Stooges or Abbott and Costello would do. Over Halloween, I watched Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein with my kids and they loved it.
John: Any good?
Tim: It's good. There's some great—Fred, you must like that movie.
Fred: I can't remember any part of it.
Tim: You should watch it. There's great moments.
Fred: It's one of those movies that everyone says that they've seen, and I'm like, "Have I really seen that movie?”
Tim: It's on Peacock. It's actually on Peacock, if you have that streaming thing. But then the second movie... They end that movie with—they introduce the Invisible Man at the end of that movie. And then the next movie they made was, they meet the Invisible Man, but they're two completely different people. They're like detectives now with different names and different identities.
John: I kind of like this idea. The next one's going to be called Oil Base 8. We're on a platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil riggers.
Tim: Oil Base 8. We transitioned out of there.
Jonathan: That's why I like the Muppet movies. They're always meeting each other for the first time in every movie. “Hi, I'm Kermit.” “Oh, nice to meet you.”
John: “Didn't we do that show?” “No.”
Jonathan: No, it's a different reality. We're journalists now.
Tim: Yeah. Well, Fred, final thoughts?
Fred: I think we should maybe invest in A24 in some way. Maybe there's some way to help them with finances and stuff. Maybe that's the new...
John: With money? My money?
Fred: Yeah, with your money.
John: Oh, okay.
Jonathan: But what is the future of movies?
John: Not just movies, but the whole thing of communal gathering?
Jonathan: Yeah, concerts, everything.
John: Movies is the least of our worries. How about just feeling a group identity and being together with people again for any reason?
Fred: I do think something is going to get figured out, just only because everyone loves it so much.
Jonathan: Well, did you see that Flaming Lips concert where the whole audience was in their little hamster bubbles?
Tim: Yeah. That's not tenable for mass consumption, but...
Fred: No, but it's something. It's some direction there.
Jonathan: Where there's a will.
John: Well, what about something like Woodstock? We could do a Woodstock.
Tim: Woodstock ‘99.
John: Spread people out. Spread them out.
Jonathan: Yeah, remember, was it Spiritualized, did those concerts with headphones?
Tim: Flaming Lips did that, too.
Jonathan: Oh, they did?
John: Dave Chappelle has done a couple of concerts on his farm.
Tim: I think there'll be the vaccine and then we'll get comfortable going out by next fall or something, next summer.
John: I think even with a vaccine, I'm going to be rocking a mask for quite a while.
Tim: They say the mask is the new reality.
John: For a while, yeah.
Tim: But how great would it be if Jim Carrey came back out with a new Mask movie? This is the time to seize—A24, if you're smart, get in bed with Jim and...
Jonathan: Didn't they do The Mask 2?
Tim: They did, yeah.
Fred: There was.
Jonathan: There was?
Fred: There was a Mask 2, yep.
Tim: Speaking of Showtime.
John: I'm just glad the show is out and people are enjoying it. That was the purpose of it. It was like a little bird that left the nest finally flying on its own.
Tim: I've gotten a lot of—you're not on social media.
John: At all.
Tim: Nobody, I'm the only one.
John: I watched The Social Dilemma, and I had a couple of social media accounts just to kind of keep track of certain family members. As soon as that movie said “The End,” I turned it off, I got up and deleted both of my social media accounts, and I ain't going back. But people like it, that's what you're saying?
Tim: The messages I get, nine to one, ten to one, nine to one, something like that. Nine out of those ten—
John: You haven't seen enough things then—
Tim: Somebody direct messaged me, "This show is terrible." And I was like, “I don’t really want to talk to you about this, man.” What do you think? And he's like, "I'm a fan."
Jonathan: Oh yeah.
Tim: "This show is terrible." Let me talk to you about that. Why do you think I want to hear that? What about you thinks that I want to hear from you about that?
John: Why did you slide into my DMs with that?
Tim: How do you think that's supposed to make me feel?
John: I'm hoping now that with the fact that it's out there and people are enjoying it, it's giving people pleasure and it's like an antidote for all the craziness we've been through. I hope there's a groundswell where we get to do more. Because it really was just almost an experiment. Will this work? Will it be funny?
Tim: Oh, by the way, I was watching the last episode and we do say that Skip's father is dead. So, we did have an idea that your father would come back, but then I was like, “Oh, well he just, he lied—”
John: Oh, so we'll just make it your uncle.
Tim: He lied about dying—
John: No, we just make it his uncle. He looks a lot like—
Tim: His twin brother, right?
John: My dad's been dead for a long time, but you know the weird uncle, he kind of feels like your dad? He has some of the same opinions as your dad, but not quite.
John: I think that would be worse, in a way, than your dad coming to visit you.
Tim: Or you just forgot that he's still alive because, you do the, "Previously, on Moonbase," and "Oh, my dad passed away," and he’s like, "Oh, you’re right. He didn't die. I've just been in this experience for so long."
John: Or here's another... you're getting a good glimpse at our writing process.
Tim: Our writing process.
John: Or Fred could say, "Well, I told you guys he was dead because I'm tired of living under his shadow. I just wanted to have a place where I could be my own man, and you guys thought he was out of the picture."
Jonathan: And you guys are like, "Wait, what?"
Fred: Perfectly acceptable.
Jonathan: “We don't care.”
Tim: “This is the reality. I'm creating my own reality here. This is my opportunity to live without him under my—”
Jonathan: Do you think we can sell Quiz Lord?
Tim: Oh my God.
Fred: It's my favorite thing. I love it.
Jonathan: I think they could fill in the gaps and just put it out as a game. It has such a beautiful board, beautiful pieces.
Tim: There's got to be people that just do that, that can—
John: This can be our retirement right here, selling Quiz Lord.
Jonathan: It's Christmas season almost. We’ve got to get it out there. You know what they did on Star Wars is they didn't have any toys ready for the first Christmas after the movie came out. So, they sold an IOU.
John: Really? Wow.
Jonathan: So that when the toys did come out you—so, at Christmas time, people just got an IOU.
John: You're kidding. That's amazing.
Jonathan: So we could do that for Quiz Lord.
Tim: Start orders.
John: What a good idea.
Jonathan: Start orders. I bet people would buy that.
John: It's like those Indiegogo campaigns. It's the same thing.
Jonathan: Yeah, exactly.
John: So, invest in Quiz Lord, folks.
I want to just say finally that I'm very grateful for all of your friendships and what we all were able to do here together. And I'm very grateful to A24 for believing in us from the beginning to the end, and I'm really grateful that people are responding to the show.
Tim: Amen to that. Amen to Fred. Safe travels back to the states, hopefully soon.
Fred: Thank you. Amen to that as well. I agree.
Tim: Jon Krisel, good luck in all your endeavors throughout the rest of the year.
Jonathan: Thank you.
Tim: I hope your family stays safe and well.
Jonathan: Thank you.
John: Yeah, all of you. I hope everyone—
John: Yeah. Hang in there. Keep doing good things and believing in each other and things will get better, right?
Jonathan: Amen. A24.
Fred: Thank you.