Creator of ‘Girls’ parody ‘Bros’ talks about its second episode, ‘Murray Chill’
The lovable gang of guys who stole our hearts with their hilarious reinforcement of Williamsburg stereotypes are back for their next adventure in the second episode of “Bros.”
Creator and former Williamsburg resident Anthony DiMieri posted the first well-received episode of his brainchild, a parody of HBO’s “Girls,” to YouTube five months ago. It quickly caught the eye of HBO when the official Twitter account of “Girls,” written by Lena Dunham, started following him. It wasn’t long before DiMieri set to work planning the next episode.
Five months and one trip to the Hoboken International Film Festival (and Kazakhstan) later, the second installment of “Bros” is here. In “Murray Chill,” the guys have moved past their hipster phase, but are now grappling with losing one of their friends to coupledom as the rest of them try to navigate the NYC dating scene — and a $400 bar tab.
Metro caught up with DiMieri to find out what’s in store for the bros of “Bros.”
Metro: It’s been about five months since your first ‘Bros’ episode debuted. What’s been going on behind the scenes to make this happen? How did you get the funding together?
DiMieri: The last five months have probably been the craziest of my life. Basically, our first episode garnered more attention than we’d ever imagined, going quasi-viral, getting a ton of blog and press attention, making it into the Hoboken International Film Festival, and leaving us with more and more people saying they could — and wanted to — see “Bros” as “the real deal,” encouraging us to push the series as a TV series of its own. I had never really considered that as a possibility until April, in fact rejecting it as an outright possibility given our angle as a semi-parody. That ended quickly when people from TV started to approach us and say, “Hey, have you ever considered making this a TV show?” From then on the answer has simply beenm “Uhhhhh…YES.”
I left my day job about two and half weeks after we premiered Ep. 1 and flew to Kazakhstan. It was a random, partially absurd, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve as photographer/videographer for a journalist I had been freelance editing for, who — as a supporter of “Bros” — offered to pay me for my work in Kazakhstan and in advance for a feature documentary project we’ve been working on. The money all went entirely into funding “Murray Chill,” allowing us to continue the series while remaining a completely independent production.
At this point, with the cultural stranglehold of low-budget reality TV’s painfully mind-numbing, soul-sucking barrage of content, pursuing a scripted series is a sort of radical notion of its own — even if its main characters are a bunch of douchey drunk guys. That was the idea behind leaving my job and going heavily into debt pursue the dream. It’s been exciting, anxiety-provoking, enlivening, depressing and more — often simultaneously.
Tell us about the guys’ adventures in this episode. It seems like they grew out of their hipster phase and just went back to being bros.
Making fun of hipsters is a little bit like beating a dead horse at this point — and a few of our negative (and possibly hipster?) reviewers were quick to point this out. It also seems a little too easy at this point to simply parody “Girls,” so we decided to make the move of showing the Bros in their natural habitat, of introducing female characters of the type that would actually give these guys the time of day (besides all sorts of real-life episodes, a major inspiration for the women in “Bros” has been the betcheslovethis blog and the entire proud-future-trophy-wife to rich-Bro-turned-Pro subculture it champions).
Though I doubt that Ep. 1 was the last of the bro vs. hipster clash we’ll see, we wanted to establish a clear picture of the Bros universe before having them take another plunge into foreign territory. I’m already writing in ways for some of our Williamsburg friends to return (OK Cupid Date/Philosophy grad student David, and John’s friend from the bathroom line among them).
Why Murray Hill? Were there elements based on your own life, like there was in the first episode?
If there’s a prototypical “Bro” neighborhood in this city, it’s Murray Hill. It’s home to God-knows-how-many former frat guys and sorority girls, and about half of Long Island. It’s increasingly young, mostly white, and the perfect place to live if you want to keep up much of your college lifestyle, while pretending by day to be a perfect fit in the corporate world. It’s also arguably the polar opposite of Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick.
Unlike much of Brooklyn, Murray Hill is pretty foreign territory for me, though there’s a lot of overlap with the drunken antics that take place there on any weekend and those in the Lower East Side, where I live now. We even have horse cops down here (and I swear, if we ever get a budget to do it, we already have a scene where horse cops will be trampling one of the Bros). As far as elements of my own life in this episode, rather than the Bro-specific scenarios, I think it’s a matter of the broader person-to-person relations which are based on myself and people around me. I’ve had friends who have undergone major personality shifts and dropped off the earth for a significant other — men and women both manage to pull this off. Have I drunkenly approached a girl in a bar with an absolutely terrible first line? Sure. Have I made out with someone without getting their name? There’s a bar called in Williamsburg called The Woods where you can have that experience any weekend. These experiences are somewhat universal, and I think playing them out through archetypal Bros only helps.
Last time we talked, HBO had started following you on Twitter. Any further interest from HBO or Lena Dunham?
Without saying too much, I know we have some fans there. One of the strangest things that’s happened in the past few months was hearing that Lena Dunham watched our first episode and called it “very witty.” It was a totally random text I got from a friend whose mother is a friend of Lena’s and shared it with her (at this point it’s really eerie finding out the amount of people I have in one or two degrees of separation from her) and perhaps the most encouraging review of all. I have a feeling Ep. 2 may be too far off the douchebag charts for her liking (some of it even makes me uncomfortable — and I made it). Hopefully if we have the opportunity to keep pushing forward, she’ll become a real fan.
Anything you can tell us about the future of the series?
As long as we’re doing this for next to nothing, we pretty much take what we can get. We’re writing around the locations available, the acting pool we have access to, the shoots we can afford, etc. My friend called me up and said, “Hey, my friend was on ‘Top Chef’ and I think he’d be great for ‘Bros.’” Soon enough, I met Andrew D’Ambrosi and the character Chef Eddie was born. That’s pretty much how things are working so far. The real variable is whether or not we’ll be able to take the leap to something much bigger.
We had a few bites from independent producers, production companies and even major studios following the debut of our initial episode, and it was enough to make us rethink everything and aim for TV as a goal. What people are watching are examples of what our team has been able to do for literally next to nothing from a production standpoint. There’s been interest from production companies and digital producers to turn this into some sort of “branded content” series, but at this point we’re really reaching for the sky. With a bit of finessing and the freedom provided by a real production budget, we think this can be television — and good television, at that.
Can we expect another webisode soon? And what can you tell us about the Bros’ next adventure?
Unfortunately, I’ve totally broken the bank with this one, so there’ll likely be another gap between episodes until we can find a way to fund the series going forward. Sure, we can always scale down and shoot everything cheaply and do things for zero budget, but I think a large part of what won us an audience was our production value, and it’s something we don’t want to sacrifice.
Given our team, and the talent pool of actors we’ve found, I believe that even with the success we’ve had, I still don’t think we’ve come anywhere close to our potential. It’s not that we’ll make some great masterpiece that will make audiences cry and reflect on the meaning of life, but I think we all enjoy making people laugh and want to make something that has soul — and I’m not sure we’ve gotten there yet. Whether or not we’ll all be able to quit our jobs and make this something we all do full time remains unknown. One thing I’m 100 percent sure of is that the best has yet to be seen.
Have the bros in “Bros” become bros in real life? Are you bros with them, too, at this point?
I think as far as the initial casting went last December, the goal was to cast actors who were pretty bro-ish in real life — or, at the very least, knew the territory well enough to draw improv from. The actors who auditioned who clearly had to act to appear as bros really fell short, while the guys we chose for the most part had somewhat of a natural fit for the role (Lena Dunham is pretty close to Hannah Horvath after all). Pete Hourihan (Tyler) is simultaneously a former acting major and frat guy — a rare, but extremely valuable combination for this project. Matt Jacques (Drew) was partially cast because — and certainly not in spite of that fact — he showed up to the audition completely hungover and newly minus a cell phone thanks to the prior day’s Santa Con debauchery. He was a perfect fit.
By now, we’ve all hung out informally quite a bit, with varying levels of alcohol in our presence. Matt Jacques and Pete Hourihan really hit it off and have pretty much become best of friends — putting them in a room together is both hilarious and terrifying, especially when alcohol causes art and life and visual aptitude to blur. Matt, John, Steve and I all spent a night on this EDM-fueled booze cruise type party called the Bounce Boat — a setting we’ve currently scripted for Ep. 5 — and to say the least, I think we were successful in our research.
Tell us the craziest thing that happened behind the scenes during the filming of this episode.
The production was almost an entirely rag-tag, bare-bones endeavor. Between shoots, I had to house part of the crew (a bunch of old friends who drove in from upstate) in my bedroom. We somehow slept three guys in my bed — something referred to as the “tripset” (we all grew up listening to too much Cam’Ron) — and one on the hardwood floor. It was literal guerrilla filmmaking. Somewhere there’s a photo of how ridiculous the setup was. It’s amazing what people will do to help out a friend with a crazy idea.
Follow Cassandra Garrison on Twitter: @CassieAtMetro