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Gavin Hignight

Wingman Wednesday

Laura Monaco

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Welcome to the seventh (and final) installment of our MYSTIC COSMIC PATROL WEEK ongoing feature!

Debuting yesterday at Funny or Die, “Mystic Cosmic Patrol” is a nostalgic sitcom romp of mystical proportions. Created as an homage to kid-friendly shows like “Power Rangers” and “Ultraman,” the fast-paced webisodes combine monsters and comedic mayhem to create a parody worth every bingeable minute.

We recently sat down with series star and producer Laura Monaco to discuss how ‘fun’ was always at its core, the joy she discovered in wearing multiple hats on the project, and how hugs may be in store for any future cosplayers who choose to dress up as her character.

TrunkSpace: From an outside perspective, it sure seems like the “Mystic Cosmic Patrol” experience was just as much fun as it was work?
Monaco: Yes. Absolutely. It’s a very, very fun project. Early on, Gavin (Hignight) and I talked about our goal, which was to just have a job that we could go to work and laugh every day, and feel good coming home and wrapping up. We definitely did that. It was a lot of work, but we definitely did accomplish that goal. We had such an amazing team around us. Everyone who worked on it was just as excited to be there, so it made it a really uplifting experience.

TrunkSpace: It just seems like a show that would not cost a network a fortune to produce, and yet, because of the nature of the series, the smaller production budgets wouldn’t hurt the look and tone of it either. A network could get a franchise at a relatively affordable price.
Monaco: I love that you get that. I’m very curious to see where it goes.

TrunkSpace: The trick there is, you don’t want to show them that you can make it for basically nothing because then they will give you basically nothing. (Laughter)
Monaco: (Laughter) Yeah. We can get away with some tricks, but we still need money.

TrunkSpace: You’re a producer on the project as well as starring in it as the yellow Mystic Cosmic Patrol member. Did you view your two separate jobs through a different set of eyes on set?
Monaco: For sure. It was an idea that Gavin had. We were working on another project together and I just got so excited about it. He and I would meet, and it started from there. The more we would talk about it, the more I just had so much I wanted to contribute creatively on both sides of it. It’s a little blurry for me where things kind of stopped and started with producing and acting, but it was just so amazing to be able to jump in creatively on both sides. I really enjoyed that.

TrunkSpace: Did you enjoy the problem solving aspect of producing? Putting out the fires that crop up on set?
Monaco: Definitely. And trying to find on the fly what’s going to work.

We kind of had an idea for some stuff and had creative discussions about how it was actually going to go down. Luckily, I had such a great team of producers that when it was time to act, I could really just go do that and enjoy being in that role and know that everybody else was running everything smoothly. We really had a good family on this.

Monaco in Mystic Cosmic Patrol

TrunkSpace: Because “Mystic Cosmic Patrol” isn’t grounded in reality, were you able to approach performance from a different perspective than previous projects you’ve worked on?
Monaco: Yeah. I mean, it’s kind of funny because early on we had a few rehearsals and we had all of these ideas for different character work and things that we wanted to do. At one point they were just like, “Just be you.” I was like, “I don’t know if that’s good or bad that you just think it’s me living my life here.” (Laughter)

For us, it had to be reality. I basically am a girl who likes to be feminine, she likes to dress up and do all of these things, and she really takes her job seriously, too. Whether she’s good at it all the time or not depends, but she’s trying to do good in the world.

TrunkSpace: And getting to work with those costumed creatures, both in creation and in performance, must have been so much fun.
Monaco: It was unbelievable. The ideas that we have are one thing, but when Cig Neutron came on and created them, and then seeing Stewart put on the costume and moving around in it, I was just like, “What is happening right now?” (Laughter) It was so crazy.

TrunkSpace: The series is streaming on Funny or Die, but as far as long-term is concerned, are you hoping that it finds a home at a major network or on another platform?
Monaco: I could definitely see it on a network, but it’ll be interesting to see what Funny or Die has to offer and how this really goes down. This is the first time I’ve done anything in that format with them. It’ll be interesting to see what’s possible. But really, the way everything seems now, content can live in more places than it ever used to. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything quite so typical anymore.

Monaco with Potty Mouth on the set of Mystic Cosmic Patrol

TrunkSpace: And it’s a great show for what people need now more than ever… escapism.
Monaco: Yeah. It’s such a serious time, and there’s so much that people are trying to figure out, big issues in life… it’s so nice to escape to something that is totally silly. You can just really go into another world, play around for a little bit, and not take things too seriously. I feel like it’s a good time for that, for sure.

There’s heart behind the show as well, which I really appreciate. There’s silly humor for sure, but there’s heart involved, too. I think if anything, that will just keep growing.

TrunkSpace: If the series takes off and becomes a huge hit, and in a year from now you see someone cosplaying it up as your character at a convention, what would you think about that?
Monaco: That’s my dream! I would love if people were just having so much fun that they would want to dress like that and be part of it for a little while. I’d probably just want to run up and hug them, but I love that idea. So awesome!

“Mystic Cosmic Patrol” is available now at Funny or Die!

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Wingman Wednesday

Gavin Hignight

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Welcome to the first installment of our MYSTIC COSMIC PATROL WEEK ongoing feature!

Debuting Thursday at Funny or Die, “Mystic Cosmic Patrol” is a nostalgic sitcom romp of mystical proportions. Created as an homage to kid-friendly shows like “Power Rangers” and “Ultraman,” the fast-paced webisodes combine monsters and comedic mayhem to create a parody worth every bingeable minute.

We recently sat down with “Mystic Cosmic Patrol” creator and star Gavin Hignight to discuss the inspiration for the series, fighting rubber monsters in cardboard cities, and the power of the word “kaiju.”

TrunkSpace: Is “Mystic Cosmic Patrol” for young adults who watch shows like “Power Rangers” or is it for the parents who are now forced to watch those shows with their kids?
Hignight: Well you know, I think for me, the idea of the show really came from seeing stuff like “Big Bang Theory.” The characters in that were labeled nerds, and there was this expectation that, “Oh, this is a show for nerds.” I never felt like that. I was like, “No, this is what the mainstream thinks nerd culture is like.”

I wanted to make a show that really was like a sitcom for the Comic-Con crowd and I’ve always loved stuff like “Ultraman,” “Power Rangers,” and “Kamen Rider.” All the good Tokusatsu stuff.

TrunkSpace: So it comes from a genuine place of love for the source material?
Hignight: I’m an especially big fan of “Ultraman.” I thought, let’s make something for all these people who are our age now who grew up on two plus decades of “Power Rangers” kind of stuff. Let’s make something that’s funny to them now when they’re in their thirties and forties, but at the same time, let’s not alienate the kids. I wanted to be clever with our humor so Mom and Dad can enjoy the sitcom of it, while kids can enjoy robots beating up monsters and vomiting on each other.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned the monsters. We would have to imagine creating those for the show would be one of the more genuinely exciting parts of the gig?
Hignight: Oh, totally. Laura Monaco, my co-producer and I, there was a point when we were just kind of day dreaming when I was starting to write this. We looked around and we said, “You know, there’s people in this town that have fun and get paid for it. Let’s be those people.”

And that evolved into us thinking that the best kind of day would involve fighting rubber monsters in a cardboard city and calling it work, so we started putting it together. Resources are always slim when you’re starting something out and I didn’t know where to go for our monsters. Through a friend we found Cig Neutron, who had just come off of his first run on “Face Off.” And I was just thinking, we can’t afford this guy. He’s on this show, he’s really talented, and he’s working. And I just said the word, “Kaiju,” and that was it. He was like, “I’m on board.”

So he sculpted the head of our robot hero and he sculpted and worked on arguably our favorite monster, which is Potty Mouth. And it was exactly what you’re talking about. It was hard to call it work because we were having so much fun.

TrunkSpace: When you see Potty Mouth come together, are you all fighting over who gets to give the suit a test run?
Hignight: (Laughter) Well, I wanted to find somebody who could actually fight in the monster costume, so that costume was very custom tailored to my friend, Stewart. I have known him for years through the martial arts community. We want to make more, but we also want to have Potty Mouth make a return, so I was like, “Stewart, don’t put on any more muscle, dude. I don’t know if the costume will still fit!”

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) So what can people expect from the episode run that they’ll find on Funny or Die?
Hignight: What we’ve done is, we’ve crafted them as webisodes. With the resources we had, we were able to make four of them. And then we have another two or three down the line, which are a probably a few months off. We hope to maybe release them as a Thanksgiving Special or something really stupid that doesn’t match. So the initial rollout is just four weeks of episodes and each storyline is two episodes long. The first one is “Potty Mouth” and then “Potty Mouth Part 2”, and then “Time Crisis.” And we did that for a reason, because in an online Funny or Die type platform, people just want to get in and have some laughs and move on four or five minutes later.

TrunkSpace: So is the relationship with Funny or Die a permanent home for “Mystic Cosmic Patrol” or are you hoping it is a springboard to another platform?
Hignight: We’ll see. Their format is really cool. Sometimes they embrace stuff, and you know, take it under their wing. It all comes down to the rights, which you still own.

TrunkSpace: And that’s extremely rare.
Hignight: Yeah, which is super rare and very cool because if it’s not for them, it doesn’t exclude you if it’s for somebody else. And our hope with doing this little micro-season is to find someone who’s excited and wants to see us make more monsters and fight in more cardboard cities.

TrunkSpace: You can’t beat a cardboard city!
Hignight: Totally! We made a very conscious effort to emulate the quality of those kids shows. Technology has changed and we very easily could have gone the extra mile on some of it, but we made a very conscious decision to say, “No, let’s emulate the kind of effects that we saw in those.” It’s purposely low budget in some ways. There’s a scene in one episode where they’re fighting Time Bats and when you see those fishing lines, it was not an accident that those were left in. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: That gives it a great nostalgic look and helps the audience feel like they’re in on the joke.
Hignight: I hope so. And it saves a little money while we’re at it. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: One of the most difficult things in the world to create is a hella catchy opening theme song. You guys nailed it. That song is gold.
Hignight: Thank you! I wish I could take credit for it. I guess I can take credit for finding and sweet talking Wordburglar, who performed it. He is interesting. He’s, as you can tell, just an insanely talented musician. I discovered him because he made an entire concept album and the whole album is about G.I. Joe. He’s known as The Rap Viper. Every song on the EP are just these incredible rap songs and then if you dig in and really start listening to the lyrics, it’s like, “Oh, wait, he’s talking about Cobra Commander and G.I. Joe!” I knew he was the one for us. I swear I said the magic word “Kaiju” and he was like, “Japanese monsters? I’m in!”

TrunkSpace: It sounds like “Kaiju” can open any doors in Hollywood.
Hignight: It’s like our secret handshake.

TrunkSpace: Well, we can say one thing is for certain and that is that we hope to one day have a Potty Mouth figure sitting on our desks here at TrunkSpace.
Hignight: You and me both, my friend! If I can hold a Potty Mouth vinyl figure or action figure, I think that would be a true measure of success.

Mystic Cosmic Patrol” debuts Thursday at Funny or Die.

 

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