It goes without saying Los Angeles is a city of dreams. Dreams that can largely be determined by someone you only meet for five to fifteen minutes, and then if you’re lucky, they might call you back in. Maybe. If your hair is the right shade of auburn. But for Alex Backes and Cody Williams, they wanted to create something of their own.
And that came in the form of Shark Bites as Alex explains, “It started as a simple collaboration between myself and Cody Williams. We wanted to make these short puppet videos with a comic strip that went along with it. It slowly morphed into a longer narrative, and eventually we just decided to swing for the fences and independently produce a pilot presentation with the intentions of selling it to a network.”
But as in the beginning of any great story, there was something missing as he quickly continues, “Important to note, Neel Upadhye came in right at we started and sort of pushed us to these longer narratives when we realized that it wouldn’t work in these really short formats.”
To create anything as an artist is to be vulnerable to the opinions of others, and that might be the greatest risk of all-to share your art. But most often, it is worth it as Alex gushes, “The most unexpected process has really been how positive the response has been. We have gotten so many people we respect and look up to, coming up to us and telling us how much they love it and how pumped they are that we just, ‘Swung for the fences.’ I am surprised by how hard it is to make traction on the internet. It is so full of stuff that we have to push so hard, and when you think you starting to bother people… Just keep pushing. Also, I am surprised how quickly it all came together. I mean, two years ago, I had a Shark puppet. Now, myself, Cody and Neel are pitching networks that we watch everyday. Super cool!!!”
Perhaps, the hardest thing about living in Los Angeles is that people believe that you should be instantly famous, and if they haven’t seen you on the Ellen Show yet, well you just haven’t made it. But like anything worth doing, it takes time, and true artists know that success comes in many forms.
“ A lot of people ask where I hope it ends up, and the answer is pretty simple. I want Shark Bites to end up somewhere that it will flourish and grow. If that is major network, AWESOME. If that is us making little YouTube videos until we feel we are fulfilled creatively, so be it. I want to tell fun and interesting stories for kids and adults, hopefully, with a message and something that inspires people. We have so much fun making these videos that I just want to keep having fun.”
And what keeps the team of Shark Bites inspired? Well, Alex says, “All of us are super inspired by nostalgia. From movies and television we loved as kids or even things like slap bracelets, the show feels like, ‘Calvin and Hobbes grew up and got a loft in Silverlake.'”
And like any great creation, it is not the work of just a couple, but of many as Alex exclaims, “I cannot tell you how awesome it is to work with this team. Cody brings such an amazing skill set and aesthetic to this show. I never thought this thing would start to look as amazing as it does. Cody builds all of the puppets. (Based off concepts I write, or he designs and I write in). He also does any design you see online, shirts, logos, stickers… I mean EVERYTHING. The Kid is a MACHINE!!!
Neel brings such professionalism and work ethic. He is so focused and keeps us constantly moving forward. It is awesome working with this cat. Neel and his crew at the reason the pilot looks so great, and why people are responding so well to it.”
And as much as it’s about the behind the scenes action, it’s the characters that you immediately fall in love with, and even makes you a little sad that you don’t have a shark friend yourself.
“I am so luckily to have had so many talented actors and improvisors come out and be apart of the cast. So much can be said about Keith and Tilt. They play the two main puppet characters, Spielberg and Brooklyn. They have made those characters into such fun and lovable dudes. My mentors and friends like Matt Craig, Frank Caeti, Barak Hardley, and Marlon Young have all come out to help. It feels really good to have those cats’ stamp of approval.”
There is always a feeling of certainty that accompanies the work of good art. There is a feeling that you are seeing film and writing in a refreshing form. That feeling comes from knowing that it will be a big deal. It will blow up.
Yes, the world is about to get bit.