Betsy Kenney and Dara Katz are….bounty hunters. Actually, they’re not. They are talented writer/actors, though! Talented actor/writers who’ve created an intentionally terrible series that’s as funny as its fly-by-night origin story is inspiring.
How did Bounty Hunters come about?
Dara Katz: We wanted to do something together and we just started throwing ideas against the wall. We knew that we wanted to do something different from what we would normally do, like an action movie. So we just tried to find something to build that into and that’s how being bounty hunters became the idea of the show.
What was your writing process?
Dara Katz: We sat down pretty quick after coming up with the idea and we pretty much did it all in one day. We sent stuff back and forth to each other, read it out to each other, and then wrote more. It was a pretty quick process; we really wanted to get something made.
Dara Katz: It was very low, that was another thing we really had to work around. It was about $500. We were very cheap when it came to filming and sound. That’s where having it have a VHS kind of feel really helped us.
What was your biggest hurdle?
Betsy Kenney: Our biggest hurdle of bounty was making it “bad funny” instead of just “bad.”
Dara Katz: I hadn’t done a series like this ever before so it was really learning how to do all of this for the first time. Learning to manage money, learning to manage people, manage time. Beyond that, we had one shot we had to get outside and our director could barely talk, we could barely talk because we had done so much screaming, and it was really cold out and everyone kind of miserable. That was the [one of the biggest hurdles] of the whole thing.
What’s next for the series?
Dara Katz: We’re trying to push this out as much as possible. We’ve submitted to some festivals. We’re gonna be in a Brooklyn festival this summer and then some other projects. We definitely want to do more projects but we’re not sure if they’re going to be genre-based or the same as this.
Betsy Kenney: Writing…but we cannot disclose any further information.
Do you have any advice for people looking to break into digital comedy?
Dara Katz: Me and Betsy wanted to do this, so we just clamped down and did it, which sounds easier said than done. You just have to sit down and write it and then get people involved. Doing this with Betsy was great, too, because she’s a real go-getter and, if she wants something done, she will do it. So, definitely be careful who you work with. Work with people who have similar goals to you and similar work ethics so that you can split the work evenly.
Betsy Kenney: Just keep making stuff- don’t think any idea is too precious. You only get better at making content from doing it over and over again and getting better each time. I am only getting to a point now where I’m happy with videos I make but I know at first I was making videos and web series that were sloppy. Just start with a small idea, film it, and see if it works. If it doesn’t, start again and keep doing it until you are happy with the result.
What other web series are you watching?
Dara Katz: I was just watching Conner O’Malley and Joe Pera’s How to Make it in USA, which is so dumb and funny. The Other Kennedys, I love that too. Young Couple which is out of Chicago is really good. I hosted Indie Cagematch with Ann Carr and The Actress is really great. I like High Maintenance too, but I feel like now that’s a really cliché answer.
Is there a secret to pursuing comedy if comedy’s not your full-time job?
Dara Katz: I think it’s really hard. Betsy had a really good job and really good co-workers and then made the jump to do comedy full-time and it was really scary but it also lit a fire under her butt. If you’re going to quit your day job to do comedy full time, just know that it’s going to be scary and you’re going to have to work your butt off, but it’s going to pay off. I’ve never done that because I’m scared of what my parents would say. Also, I’ve had a lot of jobs that I did like, especially [the one I have] now. I’ve landed in a job where everyone knows I do comedy and comes to my shows and, if I had a big audition come up, my boss would be understanding. If you want to do comedy full-time, you just have to jump in.
Betsy Kenney: Take the plunge, be poor for a little while, and focus on making comedy work.
Here are three of so many reasons to check out Bounty Hunters.
1. Good bad
2. Good good
3. Good fun
Episode #1, “The Best in the Biz”
It’s very easy to swim in the “I make bad things by accident” pool. It’s very hard to swim in the “I make good things on purpose” pool. It’s the hardest to swim in the “I make very good things that appear terrible to the untrained eye” pool. In that regard, Betsy and Dara are backstroking in a near-empty lap lane.
Episode #2, “Cute But Weird Old Woman”
Despite Bounty Hunters’ wonderfully awful plot and production values, performances like Pat Regan’s are just…straight up good.
Episode #3, “Ah! Dynamite!”
The amount of fun Betsy and Dara are having is palpable in each episode. Usually that kind of transparency amounts to unwatchable content. In Bounty Hunters, it’s perfectly disarming.
Luke is a writer/director for CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.