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Q&A with Old Dogs & New Tricks’ Leon Acord

Leon Acord

Creator/Star of Popular Gay Web Series Talks 4th & Final Season

The recent third season of popular web series Old Dogs & New Tricks — about four middle-aged gay friends living in youth-obsessed West Hollywood — proved to be the comedy’s most successful season yet. Guest stars like Mo Gaffney (Absolutely Fabulous), Rutanya Alda (Mommie Dearest) and Kathryn Leigh Scott (Dark Shadows) attracted new viewers. Storylines involving a sex tape with Ross (David Pevsner), Nathan’s new romance with Jake, Brad’s (Curt Bonnem) desperate search for work, and Muscles’ (Jeffrey Patrick Olson) confusion after dating a “chubby-chaser” led many long-time fans to declare it the best-written season of ODNTyet.

Those fans have validation. The show is now an Official Selection of the 2015 HollyWeb Festival in Hollywood, and is also eligible for several awards from International Academy of Web TV. (You can watch all three seasons at www.odnt.tv.)

Meanwhile, ODNT has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for a fourth & final season: if successful, the show will return for a full, final season of 8 to 10 episodes.? If less than successful, ODNT will sign off with a single mini-movie finale.? Visit it at http://igg.me/at/ODNTS4 if you’d like to donate.

We spoke to the creator/writer/star of ODNT Leon Acord about past success, future challenges, and why web TV shows are measured “in dog years.”

Congrats on your successful third season! Did you have any idea when you first created the show it would go this far?

Thank you!? When I was first writing, I felt something was there. But remember, this was before I knew we’d have this team. So while I felt it could have legs if done right, I didn’t necessarily think we’d ever pull off even a Pilot.

Then Arvin Bautista, the show’s “quality controller,” came along, and we assembled this amazing company. But even with them, each season has felt like a miracle.

How much has the web TV changed since ODNT first debuted in 2011?

When we first started, shows had to be short, like three minutes. Five was considered risky; anything longer was verboten. Now, I think rules are verboten. Streaming TV is practically mainstream, with several 30-minute and hour-long shows. Or you can do 21 minutes, 39 minutes. Or three minutes!? Netflix and Amazon are the new HBO and Showtime, and actually winning many awards! Many cable and even some networks now offer streaming. All the lines have blurred.

What advice would you give someone starting a web series today?

I used to say, every actor should produce his own web series. Now it seems, every actor has. The market is so crowded now.? You have to be so driven that nobody can talk you out of it, and you’re willing to do it all yourself, if necessary.? Be prepared to be completely obsessed. If you cannot completely surrender yourself to the project, then pass. That’s the only advice I can offer.

What has been your favorite experience?

So many. I love getting email from people who discover our show, who tell me how much they like seeing gay men their age being represented, or how some of our stories have reflected events in their own lives. Or how one of our characters is “just like” somebody’s friend. Or how they wish they had friends like our friends.

Selfishly, I loved working with these talented, gifted actors, these amazing guest stars, and this kick-ass, as-good-as-they-come production crew.

And your least favorite?

What we’re doing now. Fundraising. I know some people who actually enjoy it. I’m not one of those people.

Also, some Season 3 editing choices were very painful. I overwrite. Several episodes came in at 16 or 18 minutes long! My first step was to cut every possible Nathan line I can–he talks too much, anyway. We’ve removed at least one or two of his lines from each of Nathan’s scenes; in some scenes, many more. But sometimes that’s not enough. We had to trim the end of a scene in which Jeffrey Patrick Olson did amazing work. That part of the scene, we realized, was similar to a scene in the following episode, so we could cut that dialogue. We even tried? to keep his work in the scene while cutting the dialogue around it. Didn’t work. So eventually we cut it. It killed me.

In your Season 4 IndieGogo campaign, you’re letting viewers decide: will the show end with just a mini-movie or a full season. What led you to go this way?

For Season 3’s campaign, we were asking for money for a full season–but just in case we couldn’t meet our goal, I wrote a version of “WeHo Horror Story” as the series finale (in which Damian did die!), as well as the version that led into an eight-episode season.

We thought we’d flip that–ask our viewers what they can afford to contribute to the production, and then move accordingly. It takes the pressure off us to constantly hound people for money, and puts the question to the audience: jhow much “show” do you want to see before we sign off? How much are you willing to contribute to see that much? We’re asking for a base of $5,000 that would pay for one great mini-movie. I think we can reach that goal. If we do, I hope our viewers and fans keep going, and help us raise around $15,000 for a full season.

Won’t you be disappointed if you only do a single “mini-movie” as a final farewell?

I a lot of ideas. I would love to give these actors some great stories to play one last time. I’d love to give Nathan a little longer shelf life to figure his shit out before [makes throat-slashing gesture]. That said, I’m so grateful this experience happened at all. I’ll still be happy, if we just do a one-shot. Again, its up to the viewers!

Couldn’t the show last longer?? Why quit now?

Yes, story-wise I think, if we were on cable or had a sponsor. But web shows’ lives have to be counted in dog years. Every season has been a miracle, a dream come true. Most web shows last one, maybe two seasons. A few lucky ones last three. And very, very few make it to four.? It’s hard to hold a cast and crew together when you can’t pay them their worth. It gets exhausting constantly asking people for money. If we do a full fourth season, we’ll be in rare company! At that point, we’ll count our blessings and say goodnight.

There’s been some talk of shooting a feature film version of the show if Season 4 is successful. So you there might be an afterlife for the Old Dogs yet.

Any clues as to what happens next??

I have lots of ideas!? But what I write, and how much we we shoot,? all depends on how much our viewers contribute. So I can’t say anything til April 4th!

http://www.odnt.tv/

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https://twitter.com/ODNTTheSeries

http://www.youtube.com/user/OldDogsTheSeries?feature=mhsn

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ODNT Cast

Bruce Hart Leon Acord

Shooting Season 3

Season 3 Table Read