Superhero Shorts: Neighborhood Watchmen
Welcome to another edition of Superhero Shorts, where I take a look at a superhero themed short film or webseries and ask a few questions of one of its creators. This time around I’ve got a webseries for a D-list superhero team called the Neighborhood Watchmen, it’s an office comedy that shows what happens between the duties of a superhero team. And I was able to talk with Dash Kwiatkowski, director, producer, and Killzone for the series. You can watch the first episode below, or you can visit their YouTube channel to watch every episode they have up so far.
This feels a lot like it’s supposed to be the Office with superheroes, and while I haven’t seen much of the Office, I totally get that vibe from it. It also reminds me a little bit of the YouTube series MyMusic by the Fine Bros, especially with the hipster boss, though here the hipster tropes are a lot more underplayed and mainly consists of him constantly wearing a scarf and holding a coffee mug. There are a lot of fun characters here, like Killzone who may or may not be from a post-apocalyptic future and has an affinity for armor and heavy weaponry, Codebreaker who can understand any language (including water-cooler and air conditioner language) but has a hard time actually speaking, and Mind Guy who is psychic so he mainly hangs out at home and only comes into the office when he predicts that his powers will be needed. I’m not quite a fan of all the names used, I know how hard it is to come up with new superhero names that haven’t already been taken, but many of these felt a little too generic without being funny-generic. I also thought the camera work was a bit too shaky at times. I get the handheld documentary look, but it still bugs me. Aside from those fairly minor things, I thought the cast has great chemistry and I’ve enjoyed all four episodes that are out so far and am looking forward to the rest of this season. But enough from me, let’s hear from Dash.
Bubbawheat: There have been a handful of other misfit superhero teams out there, from the lesser known The Specials to the recent The Awesomes, and the more well known Mystery Men, what is it about the Neighborhood Watchmen that make them stand out from the rest?
Dash Kwiatkowski: We LOVE the Mystery Men a ton, and the concept of misfit superhero teams always stood out as very interesting. (I like Guy Gardner, even when he’s Warrior). I think one of the cool things about superheroes in general is that they’re misfits, even like The Avengers. There’s a group of guys that don’t really fit in anywhere perfectly. As far as what makes the Neighborhood Watchmen stand out, I think the fact that they’re all grounded in reality. Sure, they’re over-the-top and ridiculous, but at their core, they’re a cast of characters people can relate to. I think we tried to show the human side of superheroes in a funny way, and that makes the show stand out.
BW: I always liked the concept of watching the superheroes in between the battles, but do you have plans in the future of showing any actual battles? And just between you, me, and my readers, do any of the characters actually have any real powers?
DK: The characters definitely have powers! Killzone may or may not actually be from the future, but the rest of the team is on the level. One of the rules getting into this show for us was “No powers, no action” in terms of what we wanted to portray on film. The concept of the show is rooted in showing the behind the scenes stuff, and we want to stick to that. My old favorite parts of Justice League Unlimited were the parts that happened on the Watchtower when the team wasn’t busy fighting crime. The watercooler moments, and we wanna keep that spirit in focus. But maybe we’ll see some action in a tie-in-comic series or something! Who knows.
BW: What’s been the most challenging thing so far about working on Neighborhood Watchmen?
DK: The budget and the schedule were a huge challenge. Our AWESOME actors and crew devoted their summer to making this show, and they deserve all the praise in the world for that. It’s difficult taking an idea that you love and actually putting it together as a finished product. Early on we were supposed to work with a local production house, but their pacing didn’t really suit us, and so David Studebaker [Justin Justice] and I had to produce the show. Which meant finding a crew, casting, finding a location, building the set, getting props, organizing everything. We basically had to learn how to be producers.
BW: One of the most visually impressive thing about the show is the animated intro. How did that come about, and are there any plans on using animation in the show in an expanded manner?
DK: We LOVE the animated intro. It was created by Waterman Studios and CJC Entertainment. They’re located in LA, and they do AWESOME work. The music is done by this awesome band called Global Affront. We don’t have any plans to do anything crazy with animation, but depending on reception, we’re definitely open to other things. The fact that the only time you see our characters using their powers is in the intro is something we like a ton.
BW: Do you have any future plans for Neighborhood Watchmen beyond the first season?
DK: We actually have seasons 2 and 3 figured out in our heads in terms of what we want from them. Obviously the first season needs to hit some level of success for that to happen, but we do have plans for a few more seasons. We want to get a lot bigger with season 2. With some backing and support, we’re really excited about what we can do.
BW: How long is season 1?
DK: Season 1 is 16 episodes long. My personal favorite episode is the Musical Episode (Episode 14).
BW: And finally, what’s your favorite superhero movie?
DK: My favorite Superhero movie. So, if we’re counting animated features, I gotta go with Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Can’t beat James Woods as Owlman. Live action though I’d probably have to say The Avengers, but that might just because I’m a big Whedon fanboy.
BW: Crisis on Two Earths is a great choice, and one that I haven’t heard yet. I love James Woods as a voice actor. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
DK: This whole process has just been so humbling for me. I couldn’t have done anything that I’ve done without relying so much on the people around me who worked on this project with me, my co-creators, co-producer, the crew, the cast, all of that. I’m excited to see the views go up because I believe in this project a ton, and I think people who watch it will believe in it too.
Thanks again for talking with me and I’m looking forward to that musical episode. I hope it goes well enough that it does continue into a second and third season. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.