While in San Diego covering this year’s Comic-Con pop culture extravaganza, Daily Dead had the opportunity to chat with Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten, the executive producers behind the upcoming comedy series Ghosted, which co-stars Craig Robinson and Adam Scott as an unlikely duo who team up to take on supernatural forces.
During the roundtable interview, both Etten and Gormican discussed their approach to Ghosted, bringing Scott and Robinson on board, and other genre shows that have influenced them as well. Look for Ghosted to premiere on Fox this fall on Sunday, October 1st, and in case you missed it, read our roundtable interviews with Ghosted co-stars Robinson, Scott, and Ally Walker.
So what was it that inspired you to take a comedic approach for the story? I love that we're getting a lot of really fun and different genre shows these days.
Tom Gormican: Well, you know, when I’m watching these things, I'm always thinking that genre shows, a lot of them are super fun, and you can get hooked with these different premises—whether it's ghosts, aliens, or whether it's the paranormal stuff, but it rarely leads to a comedic conclusion. And we sort to thought that it would be a fun way to do a show, and a new take on the genre.
This series is being described as The X-Files meet Ghostbusters. Can you talk about how each of those shows and films have sort of infused themselves into this particular property?
Tom Gormican: It's like those but way worse. You can thank us for that [laughs].
Kevin Etten: I mean, we talk about Ghostbusters all the time, in terms of, if you re-watch it, those characters are not making jokes. It's real, and there's a real, grounded element to that comedy that I think we are attracted to. Also, it feels like Bill Murray is a regular guy, a skeptic who is kinda thrown into this crazy situation, and that's what makes it funny.
Tom Gormican: It never slips into a parody or anything like that, and that's one of the things that we've been very careful to try to stay away from. In this, the comedy should stand on its own. We're not sending up those genres. We're not trying to spoof shows.
Kevin Etten: Yeah, we're trying to create our own little Ghostbusters / X-Files universe where they really believe it, the audience believes it, and the comedy comes out of them being actually freaked out and scared, and trying to figure out what happened. We've been going back and re-watching The X-Files, and just the storytelling alone is incredible, although we can’t do a lot of that stuff because we only have 22 minutes. But the twists and turns in those episodes are just incredible. The other thing we want to do, that The X-Files did so well, was the skeptic/believer dynamic. To me, it made the stories feel scarier, realer, and just way cooler.
Tom Gormican: We made Craig the skeptic and Adam is the true believer.
Can you talk about how much comedy there is in the script versus how much is improvised while you guys are on the set?
Kevin Etten: 70/30 is how I would break it down. 70 written, 30 improv. We’re always wanting the script to be as funny and tight as possible, but then when we get on set, we are all about letting those guys do their thing, too.
Tom Gormican: The danger, or the problem I should say, is that we only have 22 minutes when you edit it down, but those guys are hilarious. They're improvising all the time and making things better, and so it's really fun.
So what led you guys to Robinson and Scott as the leads for this?
Tom Gormican: We were familiar with their work, but neither of us knew Craig or Adam. We'd never worked with them. Craig and I have the same management company, and I wrote about a 15-page early script treatment and sent it to him. Craig jokes now that every other word was like badass detective, like super cool, like amazing, and we laugh about it now. He read it, and he was like, "Oh, that feels like me." So I went to see Craig, and he was like, "I want to do this show. Let's do it. Get Adam Scott."
Kevin Etten: I didn't know Adam, so I called his agent, who happened to be my agent strangely enough, and she put me with him, and he was like, "I want to work with Craig. This sounds so fun." They have a natural chemistry. That's not something that we had to create, that's not something in the writing, either, that's them. They're really great together, and they're really good friends and a total odd couple in real life, too.
Are you taking inspiration from actual ghost stories, or any actual events that you’ve researched at all?
Kevin Etten: We're absolutely taking inspiration from real events, but kind of trying to disguise as much as we can and make it into our own [laughs]. We've balanced the writing staff. There's a significant group of writers who are really big sci-fi nerds who really know the genre and know every movie and every show. And then there's definitely an element of just the more hardcore comedy writers, too, so there's a cool mix of the two.
Tom Gormican: We are also taking inspiration from all these other things, too, like our favorite old movies, from the punk rock sci-fi Repo Man all the way to Ghostbusters, Alien, and The X-Files. We’re incorporating these things into this show that we really, really enjoy and putting our own little spin on everything.
In case you missed it, check out our Comic-Con 2017 coverage hub for all of our news and features from San Diego.