A Special Interview with the Cast of “Where The Bears Are”
By Dominique Robbins
“Where The Bears Are” is a gay mystery sitcom that started out as an idea and has since blossomed into one of the most influential and most watched gay web show on the internet. The show is riveting and hilarious with lots of twists and turns and lots and lots of sexy bears for you to enjoy, but there is more to the show than what people think. I had the opportunity to talk briefly with Rick, Ben, Joe, and Ian or better known as Reggie, Nelson, Wood, and Hot Toddy about the show and what we can expect for season three.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not yet watched Season 2, there are some parts of this interview which will give away the mystery in “Where The Bears Are”
DOM: Looking back at all of the success you have, over 3 million views on Youtube and over 50 thousand fans on Facebook. What would you guys say is the highlight moment of it all?
What has surprised us all is how the show has touched people. After the first season, Ian received a message from a teenage boy who was not allowed to watch the show because he was too young. But he wanted to thank Ian because his father had lost his partner of many years and it was devastating for him but when his father watched our show the boy saw him laugh for the first time in a long while and Hot Toddy was his favorite character. When Ian shared that incredible story with us, we were speechless. So many people have reached out to us and thanked us for getting them through difficult periods or stressful work situations because we made them laugh and forget their troubles for a brief time and we don’t take that for granted. It’s amazing to us that our silly little web show has had such a positive effect on people.
DOM: How long does it take for you guys to film the series and how is each episode narrowed down into 20-25 minute episodes?
We basically all sit down and map out the murder mystery adding comedic bits we want to do and then Rick goes off and writes an outline that breaks the whole story up into little episodes. Rick writes a lot of mystery novels so outlining in chapters comes natural to him. Then Ben and Rick write the whole season as a two and a half our feature film screenplay. Once we all sign off on the script, then we start pre-production. We shoot everything out-of-order like a movie based on when we can secure locations, cast member availability, etc. The shooting process takes two to three months. For season 3, we compressed the time-table so it was very intense shooting the entire season in a two month period, but we managed to get everything done except for one last scene we shot on location in Melbourne, Australia. Once the shooting is wrapped, then the real work begins with the editing process, sound, music, color correction and everything involved in making it look good.
Time moves up!
Fortunately, we just wrapped the new season in a nightclub in Melbourne, Australia and we were thrilled to include our fans from down under. Before that, all of our shooting was done in Los Angeles in various locations including Griffith Park, Oil Can Harry’s the country western bar in Studio City, a photography studio in Silverlake, the Stockroom (going back a second time after last season’s Margaret Cho episode), and a big sound stage in North Hollywood that houses a jumbo jet set! We are very excited about that!
DOM: I know you guys have said that you film the show in movie form and then break it down into episodes. Have you ever thought about making a feature film out of WTBA?
We release all our seasons on DVD cut into a movie format. In fact, a lot of our fans prefer watching it as a movie rather than 22 to 25 seven minute episodes. We’ve been very flattered that a lot of people throw WTBA movie viewing parties. We call the web show a series but we also see them as individual movies. A lot of film festivals have said no to our show because they don’t consider us as a series of films even though we sell them on DVD that way. That said, if we were to stop showing the series online, we would always be more than open to producing a WTBA feature film for theatrical release. That could be a lot of fun.
DOM: Who did the theme song?
A very talented singer songwriter named David Zukofski wrote the theme song in one night after receiving some creative direction from Ben, who wanted a kind of punk rock beat with a catchy theme. David was part of a group called the Tempermentals, who recorded it, with Greg Whipple singing the lead. Greg appeared in season one as a pompous acting teacher. Anyway, the band played the song at a few gigs right before we premiered and then they broke up! We never even had a chance to make a video with them! But we absolutely love the song and it has played been an integral part in developing our brand.
DOM: Let’s talk about season 3. There were a lot of hilarious moments in the last season, but the most interesting part was the ending. Reggie almost dies because of some psycho from college. Are there any more twists like that in season 3 we can expect?
Absolutely! We have a bunch of jaw dropping twists this season including a bigger body count. Wood has been brought back to shoot a reunion calendar for Chunk Studios, which does a lot of porn. He started out there as a model before moving on to Colt. Then someone starts targeting the male models at Chunk, and Reggie, who is producing a true crime reality TV pilot for the Inquisitive Channel, thinks the murders are an ideal subject for his first episode so he drags everybody into investigating the killings and even forces Todd into going undercover as a male model, which we know EVERYONE will want to see! We have a few returning favorites popping back up and a whole stable of hot new bears fans are sure to drool over. And the ending is bigger than anything we’ve ever attempted so we are all pretty excited.
DOM: Seasons 1 and 2 were super funny. I mean you guys went from Wood’s admirer being a short old guy with an accent to Nelson’s leather bar experience to Reggie’s psycho boyfriend to Todd being even more Todd with the toy car. Who honestly comes up with these ideas?
We pretty much map everything out beforehand. Ben knew he wanted to do a pole dance because, well, Ben will do anything for a laugh. Wood’s admirer George Ridgemont appeared in season one and he was so popular with the fans and so funny and the actor who plays him George Sebastian, who surprisingly is a big executive at Disney, is comedy gold whenever he’s on screen so we knew he had to come back. We knew Reggie would wind up hanging from a cliff in the end so we had to carefully plan what was real and what was shot against a green screen weeks ahead of time. The whole reason for that scene was so the others could rescue him using a sling. Sex toys always save the day in our show! As for that toy car, that was something Ian spotted at the house where we were shooting and he improvised that whole bit. There are lots of moments that just come out when we are shooting. We consider them happy accidents.
DOM: I have recently found out that there are many bears who have not seen your show and honestly think it’s another gay reality show on Logo. What do you have to say to those men?
Please give us a chance! We try to stress the premise as much as we can. THE GOLDEN GIRLS meets MURDER SHE WROTE with big hairy gay men! That’s what we are! You will either want to tune in or pass us by. But we try hard to entertain those who do decide to watch us and hope they keep coming back. Traveling around has been wonderful because our fan base is growing and we now have fans all over the world and there’s nothing like interacting with them on a personal level like we just did in Australia.
DOM: We have seen Nelson and Reggie and Wood come out of their shells a little bit more in season 2. Can we expect Toddy to come out more in this new season?
Todd has a big role this season and we see a whole other side of him when it comes to his relationship with Nelson. Ian plays it beautifully. We also see a deep-seated vulnerability he’s been hiding later on in the season and when he confides in Nelson, he doesn’t get the reaction he expected. But his big character flaw actually helps save the day when the Bears least expect it. Ian was so great filming that particular scene that day the crew spontaneously erupted in applause after one take because he was so effective.
DOM: You guys have now extended the cast for this season. Who are some of the hot guys we should keep our eyes on this time?
We’ve been so lucky with our cast every season. Finding Ian Parks and Chad Sanders in season one was pure luck and we’ve been grateful ever since. Both have really contributed to the success of the show. Adding George Unda in season two was a no-brainer and not only has he expanded our audience he is a genuinely lovely guy. Mark Rowe as Jeremy Richards in season two made a huge splash with the fans and we’re sorry about his fate, but we never saw his body at the bottom of that ravine so never say never. This season we have a host of new actors we are certain the fans will love. Chuck Saculla joins the cast as Wood’s former boyfriend Austin Walker, who is now a chiropractor. Adam Ridge is smoking hot as a sexy leather-clad P.I. Geoffrey Kennedy plays Todd’s rival for Nelson’s affections as a handsome young chaser named Buzz. Piankhi Iknation is in for Hairy Potter who was unable to return this season, playing sexy lab assistant Big Ben and there are so many more!
DOM: Well thank you guys! You are awesome! Cannot wait to watch season 3 of Where The Bears Are. Before you go can you give out ways new fans can join the movement and stay connected?
As always, you can watch episodes and check out our merchandise at wherethebearsare.tv. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter and season 2 is still on YouTube for a few more weeks before we permanently remove it in order to bring you season 3.
Once again, thank you. Our readers should not forget to watch the Season three premier on August 11th.