Tyler, on the set with ARCHER’s Chris Parnell

LIFE AFTER FILM SCHOOL: My First Interview — Chris Parnell!!

The second 2012 episode of life after film school — featuring actor/comedian, Chris Parnell, and my first on-screen turn as co-host — will be airing soon on the FX Movie Channel!

You might already know Chris as Dr. Spaceman on 30 Rock or Fred Shay on Suburgatory.  Or, you might be one of the millions who enjoyed his legendary raps from 10 years (!!) as a regular on Saturday Night Live, as well as his memorable impersonations of Tom Brokaw and many others.  But, for the past two years, Chris has been the voice of ISIS comptroller Cyril Figgis on FX’s innovative, animated comedy series, Archer.

Archer gives us an eyeful into the secret world of the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS) and the lives of its employees, including the world’s most dangerous secret agent, Sterling Archer.  It’s a witty, raunchy spy spoof, that’s hysterically funny.

Chris Parnell gives voice to the easily intimidated, well endowed, sex addict, comptroller-turned-ISIS-agent, Cyril Figgis.  I was particularly interested in everything Chris had to say about the voice recording process for Archer, because I spent my early filmmaking years doing all the voices for my claymation characters, and just recently was the voice of the title character in an animated student film.  But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself … let me go back a little.

Arriving at the life after film school set for my first shot at co-hosting was exciting!

I was on-set a few weeks ago to observe the taping of the season premiere, but this was different.  According to the call sheet, I was expected in makeup at 10:15 am, and arrived in plenty of time.  Stacy, the makeup artist, put product in my hair, which was a first for me.  It’s curious, because I have had makeup on before for various plays I’ve been in.  While Stacy worked her magic, she told me her specialty is horror makeup and wounds and I joked that maybe next time she could give me a bullet hole for the show.

After my co-hosts Sandra and Max, and I were finished with hair, makeup, and wardrobe (we wear our own clothes, but bring a few complete changes so the director has some options to choose from), we spent our time sitting on set reviewing our notes for the interview.

Here are some candids from the set.

We prepare questions for every guest and submit them to the producer a week in advance, who then returns the finalized list the day before shooting, but there were still some last minute changes and additions right before Chris arrived.  We are also all encouraged to ask follow-up questions as they occur to us during the course of the interview, and I was actually able to do just that later in the day with Chris.  The more people you interview, the more you realize that sometimes you have to go with the flow.  So, while we prepare extensively for our interviews, the show is done in a more relaxed, conversational style.

Shortly before Chris arrived on the set, we took a break for lunch and, right away, I noticed something different.  Craft services (the industry term for food provided on the set) for this FOX series is much better than anything I’ve seen so far on the student productions I’ve been a part of.  I also experienced another “first.”  I had a mic taped to my chest under my shirt and it took some getting used to.  As it was being put on, I felt like I was wearing a wire for the FBI or CIA, which I suppose was fitting considering that Cyril works for ISIS.

This was also my first chance to learn a little about Sandra and Max.  Coincidentally, a few years ago, they both appeared in the feature film, Bachelor Party 2.  As a freshman, I really appreciate the chance to interact with older film students from other schools and learn everything I can.  Max and Sandra are terrific and I’m looking forward to working with them again.

When Chris arrived, we all made our introductions and got settled into our chairs on the set.  Chris is such a versatile comedic actor and he kept everyone laughing all afternoon.  He talked about his early success on SNL with his unforgettable raps and impersonations, as well as his work on Archer, and gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how an animated series like this is put together.

After the interview with Chris was done, he left and the rest of us stayed on set to do pickups (additional footage shot to allow more options during the editing process).  They went quickly and, before I knew it, our work was done too.

I would have preferred to hang around to watch the taping of  the next episode of the show, which was scheduled to shoot back-to-back with ours (efficiency rules!), but I had to rush back to LMU to be on time for a class I couldn’t miss.  It was the beginning of the Spring semester and being late for Day One wasn’t exactly the first impression I was aiming for. Hopefully, next time …

Til then, I’ll be doing research on questions for potential guests, and waiting for word from the producer on the air dates/times for the Chris Parnell interview.  Stay tuned … as soon as I get the official word, I’ll post the complete schedule here!

07/11/2012 — UPDATE:

THIS EPISODE FINALLY AIRED ON FXM, due to a new programming format on the network, it kinda flew under the radar.

You can read all about it and SEE THE CLIPS HERE …. Parnell Interview Video


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