Webster Grad Writes for Disney XD Program

Sep. 19, 2016

Webster Grad Writes for Disney XD Program
Right Now Kapow premieres on Disney XD on Sept. 19

(LOS ANGELES) - “Right Now Kapow” is premiering this month on Disney XD. The show is the first collaboration between Warner Bros. Animation and Disney XD, and while that’s a historic milestone for those two companies, for Webster University alumnus Steve Clemmons, the animated sketch comedy show is also an important milestone in his career.

“’Right Now Kapow’ was the first writing gig I could pay all my bills with,” said Clemmons. “It felt great to quit a day job to go do something that I’ve been working ten years for.”

After graduating with a film degree in 2007, Clemmons worked as a waiter, a production assistant and a media aggregator.

“But during all that time I wrote in my free time with my writing partner Justin Becker,” he said. “That eventually led to Justin and I writing a couple of fake infomercials for ‘Adult Swim’ [on the Cartoon Network]. We got the first one made because we had a friend who produces comedy shows and director friends the Daniels [Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert]. ‘Adult Swim’ really liked some of the stuff we had written so we pitched something called Broomshakalaka and ‘Adult Swim’ said yes.”

This moment of career success helped open more doors for Clemmons.

“The infomercials were huge for me,” said Clemmons. “It wasn’t enough money to quit my day job but it was the first time it felt like I was on the right track. After that I got some freelance gigs writing episodes of ‘Be Cool Scooby Doo’ and ‘Wabbit’ which is the new Bugs Bunny show. This still didn’t pay enough to quit my day job, so I had to do it in my free time…which meant I frequently had no free time.”

Fitting in writing around his other gigs was no longer necessary when Clemmons was hired on “Right Now Kapow” at Warner Brothers Animation. The show was co-created by Justin Becker, his long-time writing partner and Marly Halpern-Graser. The program is an animated sketch comedy show consisting of a number of sketches that run from 15 seconds to three minutes long.

“The writing process is similar to other sketch shows,” he said. “Writers come up with ideas and write out really rough versions of a dozen sketches and then we pitch them. The ones that the show-runners like best get a note card which means they get pitched to the executives. The ones that are approved get fully scripted and most of the scripted ones make it into episodes later on, but not always. You can see a lot of ideas that you really love get rejected which can be an ego blow, but on the flip side, the stuff that makes it is your strongest stuff.”

Right Now Kapow bashmaster
"Right Now Kapow" is an animated sketch comedy show 

 

Each episode will have about 18 sketches and Clemmons says that he’s able to see at least a couple of his sketches in each episode of the show. He says that hearing his work performed by the voice actors and seeing the animation is a huge part of the process.

“We have six very talented performers who do all of the voice acting for every character and they’re fantastic,” Clemmons said. “As the season went on we started trying to write for certain performers strengths but then when they actually recorded it, the actors would blow us away. Whether people like our show’s writing or not, the show is definitely going to look and sound awesome.”


Clemmons says that his time at Webster University helped train him for this experience, especially working on the Webbies Production class with James Harrison.

“It’s the closest thing to working in television,” he said. “You are in such a big group and everybody puts in their input and then people went off and did their own individual jobs. We basically hosted and set up a whole awards ceremony and made a feature length comedy movie in one class. That’s insane – and rare.”

While the Webbies class was a great preview of what a writing room would be like, other classes helped him on structure.

“I loved my screenwriting class with Joe Schuster,” said Clemmons. “I learned stuff in that class that I use every day. He got me excited about script structure without making it all about what page numbers you have to hit with story beats like a lot of screenwriting books do.”

“Right Now Kapow” premieres on Disney XD on Monday, Sept. 19. As Clemmons waits to hear if the show will be picked up for a second season, he is focusing on other writing projects.

“I’m writing pretty much every day, working on new pilots to use as writing samples or trying to get them into development somewhere. I’ve also been working on some plays. In an animated sketch show for kids, you’re always looking to make things visual, fast-paced and kid friendly. So after doing that for a year, I just want to write something where people stand still and cuss.”

To view clips from “Right Now Kapow,” visit the Disney XD YouTube channel.

 

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