Ever seen an old, beat up car sitting on the side of the road, clearly out of commission, possibly even past the point of no return just waiting for someone to take it to the dump? Well, Mark Worman, owner of Welby’s Car Care in Springfield, Oregon, wouldn’t see a piece of trash – he’d see the opportunity to bring a car back to life and back to its glory days. And, not just any type of car. Mopars. Which means Mark only deals with Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth Original Equipment (or O.E. for the car buffs) restoration.
|The car that started it all|
One day, a client came in with a very rare ’71 ‘Cuda 440-6, one out of about 104 ever made. The car was in bad shape – almost beyond reparation – from a high-speed wreck in 1980, and had been rotting away for well over 20 years when it arrived at Mark’s shop. Online forums began buzzing angrily over the idea Mark might re-body the car, a cardinal sin in the world of O.E. restoration, which means taking all of the identifiers, like the VIN and parts numbers, off the original parts and inserting them onto newer, but less desirable, ones – essentially, fraud.
To prove his honesty and O.E. restoration skills, Mark decided to document their progress as he and his crew brought the ‘Cuda back to life. With that, ideas for a reality TV show spread like wildfire. Add in Mark’s kooky – yet lovable – team of hot rod fixer-uppers, and you’ve got Graveyard Carz, a reality television show produced by The Division, set to hit televisions across America this June on Velocity by Discovery.
We talked to The Division’s Casey Faris, executive producer and visual designer for Graveyard Carz, who filled us in on the process of getting picked up by a network, the quirky cast, editing for a reality television show, and more. The road to getting a deal for Graveyard Carz was about as bumpy and wrecked as the cars they restore, but if anyone can bring something to life, it’s Mark and his team.
You began production on Graveyard Carz before even having a deal in place – what was that process like and how did the cast and crew deal with it?
|Mark and his team brought this Road Runner back to life|
At The Division, we truly try to make a little go a long way. The original pilot was finished in spring of 2008. Our sizzle reel was uploaded to Vimeo that summer, which is when we began talking to several production companies. After being passed around, hyped up, let down, lied to, brushed off, and ultimately back-burnered, we finally started independent production on Season One in fall of 2010, and wrapped around April 2011. We didn't have any deals in place until about two-thirds of the way through production.
How did we do it? Dedicated people. Just about everyone worked for free or nearly free. Without everyone's heart being in place to see the project succeed, we would have gone nowhere. Waiting for so long for the project to take off was hard, but we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Television is full of reality TV shows. What is it about Graveyard Carz that makes it special?
The humor is very smart. Mark has a sense of humor that really shines through on screen, as well as in his producing role in the company. All of our editors are constantly being trained to recognize good comedic timing. Even though there is the occasional toilet humor here and there, the actual comedy is very quick and sharp, more like the humor of The Office than American Chopper. The characters aren't over the top; they're regular, likable guys who are simply hilarious to watch, and even funnier with the right editing.
There's lots of car shows out there, but our show is the ONLY show that focuses on Mopar Original Equipment restoration. That type of exclusivity is unheard of in the television world. Combine those factors with our characters and you have a pretty unique show.
What kind of reaction has there been to the show so far?
Our show has played in dozens of countries around the world. Everywhere it plays we, of course, hear from car people – especially the Mopar freaks. But because our show’s characters are so genuinely likable and relatable, it hits an even wider array of demographics. We have people young and old, male and female, obsessed with our show all around the world.
I think when Graveyard Carz hits Velocity in the spring it will receive a very good response. I think car people will LOVE the show, but even people who don't really like cars that much are going to catch on and really enjoy our program.
What does each character bring to Graveyard Carz? How do you think the American audience will perceive them?
|The GYC Cast; from left to right: Mark, Royal, Daren and Josh|
We got really lucky with our characters because they complement each other so well. Mark's the boss, the expert, and also can be a pretty big jerk (I say this with love). I think people are going to pick up that, yes, he has an abrasive personality, but he also has a heart of gold, and is really more of a little kid in that way. He also really knows his stuff, which I think people will respect. A bit like Gordon Ramsay in Hell's Kitchen.
Daren is the anti-Mark. He is a good guy, but his favorite thing to do around the shop is to wind people up – usually Mark. He doesn't seem to be happy unless someone's mad at someone else. But if you ask him about it directly, he would tell you he's all about peace and harmony. The audience is really going to like Daren, but they'll catch on to his schemes and begin to appreciate his mind games as well.
Royal is the adorable, goofy one. Often times in the edit suite, we'll stand back and look at a Royal edit, and everyone will just shake their heads and say something like, "Poor Royal, he's so sweet..." He likes to get work done, probably more so than the other characters, so he's always more happy when progress is made on a car. We keep telling Royal that ladies are going to be after him because of his cute, dopey personality.
Josh is the son-in-law, the young mechanic in training. Josh is very relatable to younger viewers, because of his age. Josh's perspective is always from a young, learning point of view, so that gives us great opportunities to have our audience learn along with Josh. People will always be rooting for Josh because he's the good guy that always just wants to be doing something cool. I think American viewers are really going to love that.
|Royal on the GYC set|
How does shooting and editing a reality show differ from editing a scripted film?
With a reality series, the first thing is we have tons of footage, which is why PluralEyes is especially useful. We’ll have several hours of footage for each scene, which ends up being about three or four minutes of the show. Normally, if we had three hours of footage, at least an hour would be spent just on syncing. With PluralEyes, it’s synced in about 10 or 15 minutes, and we don’t have to babysit, we can work on something else and still be productive. It really is a time saver.
A reality show's story is probably 80% in the editing, which is why it’s so important that we get to that phase quickly. Although we were all on the shoot and have a pretty good idea of what went down, we don't really have much of an idea of the real story until the edit is done. Things you think will come across really easily are sometimes surprisingly hard to convey to an audience, and other things that we didn't even notice during a shoot will become the main feature of that segment. It's pretty weird sometimes!
Season One is still yet to premiere in the states, but what does the audience have to look forward to for Season Two of Graveyard Carz?
Without trying to hype it up too much, Season Two is going to be a killer. Starting with our first episode, there are all new cars, equipment, and more high-speed adventures. We are all very excited to see Season Two.
We have tons of amazingly cool vehicles, the production value is higher, we have sponsors which allow us to do more field trips and activities with the crew, we'll be traveling more, and just pretty much tearing out all the stops to make it a really fun ride. Plus, Season Two is 13 one-hour episodes, whereas Season One is only six.
What other projects are in the pipeline?
Our other production right now is Lynch 4 Hire, which is a half-hour show that was just commissioned by MavTV. It's a really fun show about a couple of brothers doing odd jobs to make a living.
We have quite a few irons in the fire, most which I have to keep somewhat under wraps, but I'll tell you we have some really exciting projects coming up later this year. We're all very excited.
Don’t miss Graveyard Carz, premiering June 14th on Velocity by Discovery!