One of the funniest and raunchiest video game web series out there, The Legend of Neil returned this week with the premiere of its third and final season. In today’s Q&A, director Sandeep Parikh (who you also saw dancing and kung fu fighting this morning in the newest Guild music video) discusses what we can look forward to in the new episodes, his upcoming blind script deal with Comedy Central and why, exactly, he might not make any money on Season 3.
NewTeeVee: So, tell me what we can look forward to in Neil Season 3.
Sandeep Parikh: We kind of threw everything but the kitchen sink at Season 3. We have seven episodes to do it in, but they’ll definitely be a little longer and a lot more epic and a lot more raunchy. Just, more fun.
I really think this season, more than any other, we had a lot more fun in the writing process. And we had a better handle on our characters and where we wanted to take the story than ever before. In a way that became really freeing. So, bigger, better, more epic and a finale that will be unforgettable.
NewTeeVee: Why did you decide to end it on season 3?
Parikh: After the first couple of episodes of the first season, I knew this was the story of Legend of Neil was not episodic, it had a beginning, middle and end. It’s not as episodic a product as, say, The Guild or most television sitcoms — it’s more of a serial show. It’s about a guy who gets sucked into a game, so either he has to beat the game or get defeated by the game.
So I posed that question to myself very early on and I love the trilogy format, it’s sort of an ancient storytelling format. I grew up watching Lord of the Rings and Star Wars and Indiana Jones — before they made that unspeakable fourth movie. These were all trilogies that I thought were really cool, and I just wanted to emulate that.
NewTeeVee: What’s the one episode we should be looking forward this season?
Parikh: It’s hard to pick the episode I like the best, because I end up spending so much time with each of them. Because Legend of Neil has so many effects shots and we score every moment of the show — it’s all original score — I spend a lot of time with each episode in post-production. And because of that, they all kind of have a special place in my heart for different reasons.
NewTeeVee: Will you be making an appearance in the third season?
Parikh: Well, we gotta keep it a surprise, right? I don’t want to spoil that. Let’s just say that there are some Guild crossovers in Season 3.
NewTeeVee: Like the characters from the game?
Parikh: No, the actors. And I may or may not be included in that.
NewTeeVee: So with the conclusion of Neil, what’s next?
Parikh: Comedy Central has given me a blind television script deal. Comedy Central and Atom, they pushed for this — it was a part of our Neil season 3 deal — and so now I’m going to focus on making Comedy Central a kick-ass TV show. That’ll be the next thing.
But at the same time I’m going to continue to create things for the web; Tony [Janning, who co-wrote Neil] and I are going to be working together on some web stuff — nothing I can officially announce. I also still owe Atom a couple of pilots from a previous deal, so I’ll be working on those as well.
NewTeeVee: And the blind TV script deal won’t be a Legend of Neil adaptation?
Parikh: No, it’ll be a brand new concept. I can’t go into details about it because I don’t know them yet.
NewTeeVee: What’s the working relationship been like with Atom?
Parikh: It’s been phenomenal. There are folks who have been working there for all three seasons, and they all seem to genuinely love and get the show. On a personal level it’s been great. We’ve all kind of become friends.
NewTeeVee: Was there an increased budget for season 3?
Parikh: Yeah, without going into specifics we did receive an increase in budget — you’ll see that. It’s still not television money by any means, but it was a great gesture from Atom in saying that, ‘Hey, this is our flagship show, we want to help you guys in any way that we can.’ That was great.
And we threw it all on the screen. I didn’t do a really good job budgeting anything for myself. I still view it as a calling card for me, you know, and rather than pocket an extra thousand dollars here or there it’s just more important to me that I make a good show and have it be a beacon for my work.
NewTeeVee: What you’re saying is that you forwent a fair amount of your producer’s fee for the show?
Parikh: Yeah, well, we’ll see if I got one of those by the time it’s all over. This year we have double the visual effects shots — over 400 this year alone — and that’s going to soak up a lot of time and money. We just kind of threw it all on there.
Everyone was still working for those web rates that we all love, but we also found that we had a little more money this time, but we also had a lot more enthusiasm from the cast and crew, and people willing to donate their time to make the show awesome.
Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): By The Numbers: Budget Analysis of a Web Series