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Hulu is making a statement about its original-content efforts at SXSW this year with the premiere of Deadbeat, a dark comedy about a hapless New York medium.
Starring Tyler Labine (Reaper), Deadbeat is one of five television series — and the only digital show — to premiere during the film festival’s inaugural episodic program. The other series are AMC’s historical drama Halt and Catch Fire, El Rey’s supernatural crime saga From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, Showtime’s literary thriller Penny Dreadful, and HBO’s Mike Judge comedy Silicon Valley.
Deadbeat, a co-production for Hulu and Lionsgate, was created by Wilfred alums Cody Heller and Brett Konner. Brad Pitt‘s Plan B Entertainment produced the 10-episode project.
Heller and Konner spoke to The Hollywood Reporter before Deadbeat‘s premiere about their first trip to SXSW, working with Hulu and their morbid sense of humor.
Will this be your first time at SXSW?
Cody Heller: It will be. We’re very excited about it.
Brett Konner: We’re excited to watch the show with an audience. Our other experience was when we were writers on Wilfred and they had a panel at Comic Con. Being able to watch an episode of that show with a room full of people in the dark with the laughter and the response is a pretty epic experience. We’re really looking forward to that and hoping it will be be well received.
Why is SXSW the right place to premiere Deadbeat?
Konner: This Hulu series kind of combines film and interactive. I think people who are there for the tech aspect will be interested to see how the landscape of television is evolving. People who are there for film will be interested to see what it’s like for a show that was sort of written like a movie in a sense that all 10 episodes were written at once.
Where did this idea of a hapless medium come from?
Konner: At the time, we were kind of looking at what was popular. Ghost shows and supernatural shows were popular, but no one had really crafted a comedy version of that. If you were Tyler Labine’s character and you were growing up with this ability to talk to ghosts, it would probably mess you up more than a little bit.
Heller: Brett and I have a little bit of a twisted sense of humor. We’ve been attracted to morbid stories and finding the humor in that.
How did you connect with Hulu for the series?
Heller: We came up with this idea about four years ago, and it wasn’t until I guess two years after that we met with Hulu about it. Plan B was involved early on. When we met with Hulu, it was just an instant connection. They totally got the material, and it was this great relationship. We knew right then that we’d be able to make the show that we wanted to make with Hulu.
What are you most looking forward to while you’re in Austin?
Konner: Our cast was a real pleasure to shoot in New York. At the end of it, we had a pretty tight-knit family. I think everyone got along really well. It will be cool to get the band back together.
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