‘Hell Den’ Showrunner Neil Garguilo on DrinkTV’s New Animated Comedy Series

     May 16, 2019

hell-den-showrunner-neil-garguilo-interviewWe previously brought you the first look at DrinkTV’s new animated comedy series Hell Den, an MST3K-like show that takes shots at old and outdated cartoons and TV shows. The six episode-series takes place after an Uber-Apocalypse wipes out civilization where one kid miraculously survives: 12 year-old Andrew. His house still has electricity, a working television, a VCR, and his deceased parents’ fully stocked bar, which draws a few curious apocalypse-creators to his door. There’s Kenneth, the moody Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse; BET-C, a sympathetic but volatile mutant cyborg; Fleek, a sleazy alcoholic alien; and Giantic, a ponderous giant. Together, they break into the liquor cabinet and join Andrew to watch twisted cartoons… because destroying the world is hard work.

I had a chance to chat with showrunner and producer Neil Garguilo to talk bout how the idea of Hell Den came to be, how the team behind the scenes came together to produce the project, and how they went about finding source material to absolutely skewer for each episode. Plus, Garguilo teases what might be ahead for both the characters of Hell Den and the DrinkTV show itself. And be sure to read to the end to see how you can get a discounted subscription to DrinkTV!

hell-den-interview-neil-garguiloWhere did the idea for Hell Den originally come from?

Neil Garguilo: After selling our first movie Bloodsucking Bastards to Shout! Factory at Slamdance, Jordan Fields at Shout! approached us about developing a series. We worked with the team at Shout! and landed on Hell Den.

As fans of MST3K, we couldn’t me more excited to work with the folks that have been in the MST3K business for years.

How did you and the Dr. God team get involved with DrinkTV and Rafael Raffaele Entertainment for this production? [NOTE: Rafael Raffaele Entertainment is Garguilo’s company]

Garguilo: DrinkTV came about in large part because of the Broken Lizard guys. David Park and I have worked with Kevin and Steve and were fortunate enough to have roles in Super Troopers 2.

At an after party for ST2, we met Chris and Jared. A few weeks later I had a meeting with them. We really hit it off, so much so that I refused to leave the meeting. I forced myself into their plans for the next five hours. We went to get fitted for clothing at a small house by the airport, eventually ending up at a brewery eating dinner from food trucks. A week later they called to order the series. You know…typical Hollywood story.

hell-den-interview-neil-garguiloWhat was it about the idea that made you want to take on showrunning responsibilities?

Garguilo: It was a project that we were all dying to do at Dr. God. It’s basically an animated sketch comedy series … all things that we love. A big fist fight broke out to see who got to take on showrunning responsibilities. I locked myself in a closet and after they all bludgeoned each other, I came out and claimed victory. It was a cheap win, but I got what I wanted.

How did you go about finding the visual look of the show? And what led you to Matt Kiel’s animation?

Garguilo: We met Matt in the improv community at Nerdist about 5 years ago. The first time I saw his work, I fell in love. He has such a cool, specific style. When we were making our sample video, we looked at a lot of styles, but there was no question that Matt was going to be our guy. I mean, he juggles bowling pins…he’s the total package.

What was the process like in narrowing down the selection of old cartoons and TV shows that the cast would be over-dubbing?

Garguilo: We worked with a really great company, Thunderbean Animation headed by Steve Stanchfield. Steve would send us hours of remasters Public Domain cartoons that we would watch separately and then come together for days of pitching jokes and filling a sketch board.

By the end, we had hundreds of sketches to record, narrow down and put in the show. I probably laughed more in those sessions than ever in my life. It was a really satisfying experience.

hell-den-interview-neil-garguiloWhat can you tease about the original characters Andrew. Kenneth, BET-C, Fleek, and Giantic? (I’m worried about impressionable young Andrew hanging out with these weirdos)

Garguilo: I can tease this and only this…

Hell Den feels like that experience of sitting on the couch with your friends, having a few drinks, and making fun of terrible TV. Was the production process pretty much just like that? 

Garguilo: It was basically that with a little bit of preparation. It was like riffing with your friends on the couch, but your friends are all top-notch sketch comedy writers and they’ve done some preparation before they got to the couch. It was a fun couch.

Right now, you have 6 episodes ready to go, but what can you tease about the possible future of Hell Den?

Garguilo: We’re hoping to blackmail DrinkTV into giving us a second season. I have some pictures. We’ll see what happens.

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