SANDEEP PARIKH (The Guild Web Series) Exclusive Interview

Sandeep Parikh

I recently got a chance to talk to SANDEEP PARIKH who plays Zaboo on the popular web series THE GUILD. With season 3 just being released on DVD and season 4 on the way, we had quite a few things to discuss.

Sandeep Parikh talked about the challenges of shooting season 3, hints at what’s coming up on season 4, all the projects he’s juggling right now and more. So enjoy the interview and make sure to check out the season 3 DVD of The Guild, as well as be on the lookout for season 4.

Can you talk about the differences between season three and previous seasons of ‘The Guild’?

Sandeep Parikh: Well, the major difference is that the cast size has basically doubled. We had the actors of Anarchy which is like our rival guild come into the picture and so we got to work with Wil Wheaton and that was awesome and just that whole cast of The Axis of Anarchy was a total blast. Mike Rose who plays Valkyrie is someone who Felicia [Day] and I have improv’d with a lot. It was awesome to bring him into the show. He’s just nonstop funny. Just that whole crew, being able to work off of a totally new set of characters was really fun. Then my character specifically, he got a girlfriend and basically he got laid. Congratulations to him. That was really fun to play. It was a lot of fun to play with Michele [Boyd]. She’s a really giving actor and just that whole dominatrix relationship was not something that I’d ever experienced in real life and so it was fun to sort of play that as an actor.

Can you talk about what a typical shooting day is like for you guys?

Sandeep Parikh: Sure. We generally work twelve to fifteen hour days. Sean Becker who’s our director is really great about leaving a lot of time to do improv and letting us play with the script a little bit. So we always get extra takes especially if it’s Jeff [Lewis] or Felicia and I or a combination. We all did improv together before ‘The Guild’ ever came to be and so he always gives us that extra time to play with the scene. A lot of the times that’s where we sort of come up with, I think, sort of the most fun lines and most real moments that you can’t really necessarily write for. That said the script is always awesome and Felicia I think is a really great writer. You can’t really do great improv without a really solid script. I guess our typical day is about a twelve to fifteen hour day and we get in, we go in to makeup and we usually get in quite early depending on the location and what our constraints are for the day or whatever. Then we do a blocking rehearsal and we start shooting. Depending on the scene we’ll end up doing anywhere from three to eight takes of the scene or whatever throughout the course of the day.

Do any of the improv make it into the show or is there a balance between the improv and script? How does that work?

Sandeep Parikh: There’s differing opinions on what percentages make it into the show but I personally think it’s like twenty percent. Eighty percent, eighty five percent scripted and fifteen percent improvised. But definitely some of the improvs make their way into the show, for sure. I don’t know if you remember from season one but the magic carpet stuff and some other stuff. We do a lot of improvising beforehand when we do a reading, before we shoot with all of our cast members and we’ll generally give some improv lines there. Felicia will then incorporate those into the script. A lot of times that’s how the improv makes it way in.

Do you guys film episode per episode or do you film the whole season and kind of break it up after?

Sandeep Parikh: In season one we did episode to episode basically or we did two or three episodes a weekend. Season two and three we block shot and season four is also being block shot. We’ll shoot the entire season. So if five scenes takes place in Vork’s apartment then we’ll shoot all those scenes together which is sort of the easiest. It’s the only way to do it with the budget. We shoot probably, which is pretty high, about twelve pages a day. That’s a lot.

How long did it take to shoot season three in total?

Sandeep Parikh: Don’t quote me on this. This is probably a Kim Evey question but I would say that I think it was around a fourteen day shoot, somewhere in that neighborhood. Twelve to fourteen. It’s kind of like shooting a feature. It’s really similar to that process. It’s a real marathon. You just shoot twelve days and you get very little breaks in between. I’m just an actor on this show and so it’s a total different world for me than when I’m producing something. I do another show called ‘The Legend of Neil’ which is on Comedy Central online. That’s a show that I write and direct. So I kind of at least know what Sean and Felicia and Kim are going through but it’s just that you prepare as much as you can and then you go to war for two weeks and that’s when you have to get as much as you can in the can. It just feels like the world is out to stop you sometimes with the weather and actors getting sick. Any number of things can happen but you have a lot riding on those fourteen set days that you have to shoot this. Any little schedule change can sort of cause a domino effect and people might not be available. It can get pretty crazy. On the production side, those guys have to fight tooth and nail. For us as actors it’s a lot simpler. Their job is to make it such so that we don’t feel all those problems or all those fires that they’re putting out so that when it’s time for us to act we can represent the show and do a good job. They do an excellent job of that. Kim Evey is pretty amazing.

Can you talk about working with Felicia Day, how that’s evolved over the seasons because she’s wearing three hats on this project?

Sandeep Parikh: Yeah. She wears a lot of hats. You kind of have to in the web world, I think. For my show it’s similar. I direct, write and actually this season I acted a little bit, too. So it’s sort of par for the course in terms of web content but at the same time it totally shows her fierce resolve and her belief in her project. I knew Felicia before she was as famous as she is now and she still has that same fire and sort of tenacity to really get her vision accomplished. It’s really impressive. On top of everything, on top of writer, actor, producer she also has to be the PR person. She’s always out on the internet Twittering and blogging. She has a real love for the internet that you can see. She found Twitter before I did it. She does it all. If it’s out there on the net she’s into it. It’s not just to be a PR machine but it’s also because she genuinely thinks that stuff is really cool. She’s a gamer. She played ‘World of Warcraft’ and that’s what inspired her to write this script. So it’s all very real and true and from her life experiences. That’s the thing that I admire most about her, that she’s a real, very real person.

In season four, now that Zaboo broke up with his girlfriend will he be back to courting Codex?

Sandeep Parikh: Well, that takes an interesting turn that I can’t go into specifics on. I can’t really answer that question without spoiling anything.

Can you tell us anything at all about season four?

Sandeep Parikh: Not if I don’t want Felicia to kick my head off. She’ll have to write in that Zaboo dies if I spoil anything. What I like about this season is that we sort of go back to our roots, I think, a little bit. Season three was really big with the Axis of Anarchy and I feel like season four kind of gets back to exploring more of each of our characters. So as an actor it’s really kind of cool to see that happen. I feel like we get more Tink this season. There wasn’t a lot of Tink in season three. I think there’s more for me and Jeff which is always super fun for me. I think this season will be a lot of fun for our fans. I can’t say anything else. I’m sorry.

Can you say if Wil Wheaton will be back since that was a really big cliffhanger that you guys left on?

Sandeep Parikh: All I’ll say is that they resolve the cliffhanger in a very feasible fashion. They don’t just ignore it but I’m not even sure if I can say whether or not Wil is going to appear. I will say that the fans will be happy. I think that Felicia, the script this season had us all in tears laughing at the reading and I think our fans are really going to like this season.

Can you talk about all your other projects?

Sandeep Parikh: I’m juggling a lot right now. Season three of ‘Legend of Neil’ is taking up most of my time. We’re in postproduction on that. I don’t know how much you know about it. It was a show that very similarly to ‘The Guild’ I just sort of wrote and shot on my own and then put it up on youtube.com and it got a half million hits and then Comedy Central came along and bought it and wanted to produce five more episodes and for the first time ever they picked up a second season and it’s the first time that they ever picked up a web series for a second season. We did that and then they picked up a third season. This third season we just shot two weeks before ‘The Guild’ started shooting and it was easily the most ambitious project that I’d ever done. There are a lot more stunts. There are over four hundred visual FX shots. We’re going to make a big splash this year. We’re going to premiere the first two episodes at Comic Con.
I’m really excited about that and then on top of that we do a branded web series for Trident called ‘The Webventures of Justin & Alden’ and that’s a sort of parody of the web world. When Trident came to us with these two actors, Justin and Alden, they wanted to make a web series around these two guys and we sort of pitched them the concept of these two guys trying to get Felicia Day in their web series. These two write a web series and they try to get Felicia in it and they find that she’s going to be at The Streamys in five hours and so they embark on a four mile road trip where they run into vampires and hitchhikers. All sorts of crazy stuff happens and all along the way they’re using Trident gum to sort of get them out of jams in increasingly more absurd ways. So that was a really cool experience, working with a brand and them giving us the creative freedom to have as much as fun as we wanted with the product but also tell a good story. We got to get all these web stars into it. Doug Sarine from ‘Ask A Ninja’ and Illeana Douglas who’s also a movie star but also does ‘Easy To Assemble’ and Jessica Rose from ‘Lonely Girl 15’ and we just got all these web celebrities to come together. Alex Albrecht, Mark Gantt and the guys Mark Gantt and Jesse Warren from ‘Bannen Way’. So it was a really cool way to get all of our friends in one show. Then we got some special guest appearances with Shannon Doherty and Milo Ventimiglia from ‘Heroes’ which was also really cool. So our fifth and final episode of that is coming out on Tuesday [5/26/2010]. That’ll be a pretty epic episode.

I also saw a web series listed for you called ‘Squatters’.

Sandeep Parikh: Yeah, so that’s finally coming out. I don’t know the total details on that. I think that Dailymotion is the company that eventually picked it up and it’s written and directed by Brendan Bradley who also stars in it. I feel like that it’ll be another thing where Brendan is going to pop as a Felicia Day kind of guy, a guy who can kind of do it all. He actually acted in the second season of ‘The Legend of Neil’ as a male fairy. We had this musical episode with Felicia and the two fairys singing together. So, Brendan was the male fairy and he just asked me, he said, ‘Hey, be in my web series, please.’ I read it and I was like, ‘Oh, this is really funny.’ I got to play a totally different character, a total douche bag basically which was really fun to play. I was like this boss at the office who was totally inappropriate. What sold me on it is that he said, ‘You can swear as much as you want and think of the worst possible things that this guy could say,’ and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m in.’ It was a lot of fun to be totally ridiculous. I don’t know exactly when that’s coming out. I know that we’re having a premiere party in a couple of weeks and so I think it’ll be out on Dailymotion in a few weeks.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to make a web series themselves?

Sandeep Parikh: My advice, and this is probably echoing what a lot of people say, but you just have to do it. You have to make it, whatever it takes kind of thing. My biggest advice I would say is that make sure it comes from a very honest place, that it represents you. It’s always good to look at what’s out there but don’t try to mimic anything that’s out there. Make it real people. What’s special about ‘The Guild’ is that it’s Felicia Day’s voice and she speaks the language of gamers because she is a gamer. She was obsessed with ‘World of Warcraft’ for two years. So she can speak the language and it’s from her true perspective. For me on ‘Legend of Neil’, it’s going back to my obsession with ‘Zelda’ when I was ten years old and tapping into that childhood like joy from playing that game and then representing the game and creating the whole world was a blast. I think that people especially on the web because you are generally watching it either by yourself or with your friends at most it’s a more personal connection. So the more authentic and real, the more true the perspective is from the creator the bigger connection you’ll have with your audience which is ultimately so important on the internet. Unlike any other medium we interact with our fans immediately. We get feedback immediately, comments, social networking, the ability to sort of communicate with them via live chat which we’ve done a few times with both ‘Legend of Neil’ and ‘The Guild’. It’s just that sort of connection that’s not there in any other medium. When making a web series it’s really important that it’s, for lack of a better phrase, from the heart.