Filmmaker Interview by Chris Olson
We recently reviewed an episode of your show, PN & Friends. For those who don't know, how would you describe the show?
PN & Friends is about a “Man-Child who’s trying to be ‘A Man’…” it can be taken at face value (about growing up and maturity, being your best self) and also has a creepy literal meaning (think Pinocchio wanting to be “REAL”) it’s a fun sit-com that incorporates everyday relatable elements with the fantastical and each episode builds on that into its own weirdo universe.
What made you want to make PN & Friends?
I’ve been having this idea for this show in my back pocket for a while (sort of a post-modern Charlie Brown character, but in a sitcom setting: How would that character react within a Seinfeld type landscape?)
I also wanted to create a story based on my life and upbringing. I feel like television doesn’t show “Real-New York” or Native New Yorkers, as much as they show a tiny subset of creatives (mostly white, young & affluent) from Bushwick, Williamsburg etc. What about the salt of the earth people who aren’t working in cool jobs and have exotic adventures with quirky love lives?
So when I appeared in Judd Apatow’s CRASHING (the HBO US series), I was using that momentum to pitch this project around, but to deaf ears. (One manager remarked: “I don’t get it, why is this PN character living with his grandmother in his 30’s? Did he just get a divorce?” They
couldn’t fathom a character so poor that he never moved out of his childhood apartment. America has blindspots when it comes to classism.)
It got to the point where I said "screw it" and just started producing it myself. The “vlogcast” style became prominent on YouTube so I adopted some of those elements with traditional sitcom structure and we’ve come to develop a solid formula for the show. And now, we crank out (just about) an episode a month, building the mythology of the show, like a dope mixtape.
Where do you plan to take it next?
I’m pushing this to get it on a major platform (HBO, Netflix, Amazon, etc.) but in the meantime, we’re plunging the story to a darker/cerebral place. It’s still dumb and goofy but things are going to get more “Nietzchean” lol.
You've done some short films in the past. How does the process compare with a web series?
I feel “webseries” is an outmoded term in 2020 since technically all series/tv shows are on the web now, in some form or the other. This show differs from my past short films in the fact that I’m worried less about how pretty it looks and more focused on cranking them out. We shoot with smartphones and have adopted a lo-fi aesthetic in order to crank episodes out in a regular fashion.
Once it gets on a bigger platform and we get a budget, we can indulge in making it look
“pretty”, but for now it’s more focusing on keeping the story tight and as funny as possible.
Any plans to dabble in films again? Perhaps a feature?
Yeah, I definitely have some projects in my back pocket (especially in drama) but right now I’m focusing on “PN & FRIENDS” since this is my first priority.
Who would you love to work with and why?
I like working with performers who can “instantly conjure up a world” where they just take a character and run with it.
I wouldn’t mind having Nicholas Cage in a project, maybe throw in Jim Carey, DMX & Sandra Bernhard in there, now THAT would be a movie!
What's next for you?
Right now just setting up the next episodes of PN & Friends coming out in Nov & Dec.
If you were a dolphin, what would you say?
“Wanna blow my hole?”, how many people have done that joke?
None - which is a shame in my opinion.
Also: “Hi I’m a dolphin and you should watch Todd Montesi’s PN & FRIENDS on WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/MONTIKILLAVISION, now wanna blow my hole?”