I’m so excited that my son is finally reaching an age of appreciation for Disney XD and the Disney Channel. He’s always been heavy into Minecraft and video games. And now he’s finally starting to appreciate the adventure in film. I started him off right too with films like; The Goonies, Indiana Jones, E.T., the Karate Kid and The Neverending Story. Which is why I’m really pumped for the new show MECH X4 on the Disney Channel. I know he is going to LOVE this show! It’s like The Goonies meets Transformers, E.T. and Star Wars. It’s just awesome!
During my recent press junket to Los Angeles for the #DoctorStrangeEvent, I had the chance to visit Disney Channel for an advanced screening of their new serialized live-action series MECH X4. After screening it, I sat down with the filmmakers and talent to talk about production and what it’s like to be a part of such a fun show at such a young age.
A few questions for the filmmakers of MECH X4
Where did this idea come from?
It started with, hey, wouldn’t it be fun to do a show about, four kids that just happen to have to work together with a giant monster-fighting robot. Then every step of the way through development, it sort of evolved. Like, wouldn’t be fun to actually have great special effects? Wouldn’t it be great to do it single camera and make it look like a movie?
Wouldn’t it be great in this day and age where storytelling is binge and serialized? Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do a long story over a season? So it started with an idea, Disney went for it, and then all of a sudden, this great team started coming together and bringing everything to it. Anupam Nigam comes from a world of serialized storytelling and the director, Zach, has a passion for the nostalgic Goonies, ET vibe, that’s sort of an Amblin feel of it all. And it all just became this thing through collaboration and really talented people.” -Steve Marmel
What about those epic monster combos? Where are those coming from?
There’s usually a method to the madness to why the monsters are made a certain way. They usually have a specific sort of mission to accomplish. We can’t really say too much. When we’re talking about it in the room, it’s a little random fun time. Like, wouldn’t it be cool… to do this. We have amazing concept artists in Vancouver because sometimes we just say, well, what does an octopus and an anaconda look like together?
We also look at what unique skills the monster has that can hurt the robot.” -Anupam Nigam
We get four versions and maybe we’ll use that one. But I would say that the monsters do have a purpose. The purpose of a monster will be built into it, and then we just sort of geek out and try to come up with the coolest version of what that purpose would be.” -Steve Marmel
My Interview with the MECH X4 Squad
It’s not every day I get to interview child stars. This was a cool opportunity to get to know more about why they chose the role, how they can relate and what they’re doing beyond film. Check out what they had to say:
So why go for this role? Why is it a good fit?
I read for it and obviously Steve saw something in me, because when I looked back through the audition tape…I didn’t think I was that great. But, we went back and we were going through this process of going through audition, after audition, after audition. Finally, the last audition, which is actually the most memorable for me, was with me and Raymond. We were doing stuff together and at the end of the audition, we had this banter back and forth which we adlibbed. That’s actually really what got us the roles. I was really excited about that. I love my character because I can see a lot of myself in my character. But also, what kid doesn’t want to be a superhero? It’s pretty amazing.” -Nathaniel Potvin
When I got the role, actually it was very interesting, I had also had auditioned for this other show to be a series regular. I remember going in for a screen test, which is the level before getting the job, and I got a call from my manager saying, we’re really sorry but they don’t want you to be the character. I visually remember me being in my bed and I was so crushed because this was something I really wanted. But the next day I got a call that I was going to do a chemistry test for this show.
I guess a little happiness spark kinda came back, and I thought – you know what…why should I be upset? I ended up getting the job and I’m so thankful because now I get to be on a Disney Channel show which is something I’ve always wanted. I guess my dreams have kind of come true.” -Kamran Lucas
That was really sweet. I wanted to do it because, one, it seemed like a really cool show. And then two, experience. I think being on set is a great way to learn. And also this show kind of, uses everything. It has its very normal moments, and then it has its very crazy moments. I’ve never worked with a green screen before so I thought that would be a cool thing to learn because a lot of things are green screen. That’s a really good tool to have in your back pocket. And the brotherly moments, I think are really awesome. It just seemed great. I auditioned with these guys and it was really fun.” -Raymond Cham
I’ve auditioned for Disney a bit, but it’s still always a weird moment in my life when I’m auditioning in front of people. Especially when you get to the network level, like a screen test. Normally when you’re auditioning and it’s just two people, one person’s operating the camera and the other person you’re reading with. If you’re lucky. Sometimes you get the camera person reading with you and they’re just not caring about the lines. Then when you get to the next level, or a network or whatever, and there’s maybe ten people in the room, or more. It kind of feels like when you’re in school and you have to do those oral presentations and no one really wants to do that because it’s kinda scary. I wish I took that more seriously in school because it’s a really good skill to have – to be able to talk in front of people. I didn’t realize that in a couple months I’d be talking in front of a hundred maybe two hundred background actors. So that was my experience and I was very, very nervous even though I worked with these people. It still never fails to get me.
I had been auditioning for two years for the role. Originally I was too short for the part, so these guys went and shot the pilot. They came back down and they wanted to cast my character again, so I went in. I just went in for a screen test and that’s when I met these two right here. It just happened very fast, is what I remember. Then I got a call from my manager one day and he said, ‘is this Spyder? ‘ I was like, ‘apparently now!’” -Pearce Joza
We talked to the MECH X4 squad about how they relate to their characters.
I like to say I’m like my character and not like my character. Spyder’s very crazy and he likes to do a lot of daredevil stuff-type-things. And I lived in Colorado for a long time so I like to go out back and play in the pond and climb trees or whatever. I also love school. I’m taking college level courses and Spyder’s not very good at school.” -Pearce Joza
I’m kinda like my character because Ryan is always rising to the occasion. So whenever he has to fight a monster or even stand up to his brother, I’m kinda like that in some ways. Also, I have two older brothers so I know exactly what Ryan goes through on a daily basis. And, Ryan loves to skateboard. I love to skateboard. So there’s some similarities between us there.” -Nathaniel Potvin
Harris and I are pretty similar in like book smart terms. But not so much. More of like we both dress really nice and we’re both ladies men.” -Kamran Lucas
Oh, how do you follow that? I’m kinda like my character in a way. When it comes to family I’m very protective… I care for my family and I’ll do anything to protect them and make sure they’re okay. I’ve also dabbled in sports a bit. When I was around eight or nine, I used to play basketball. But, other than that, I’m not too similar.” -Raymond Cham
So what kind of superpowers do kids in superhero shows want most? We had to ask…
Shape shifting! It’s the craziest. Boom, I wanna fly–I’m a bird. I end up in the water–I’m a whale. I could be anything. I think about it all the time. Maybe too much… Everyone’s like I wanna fly. WHAT? That’s it?! That’s all you wanna do? I could do that. I could do anything.” -Raymond Cham
I kinda wanna have the ability to stop and turn back time… I want to change something when I was younger. I was at Legoland and this girl pushed me. I was really mad because she did it for no reason and I just want to go back and say, ‘Hey, I’m on Disney Channel now.’ [laughter] I’m not like that in real life. Just to that one person…” -Kamran Lucas
If I had a super power it would probably be teleportation because who wants to pay for airline tickets? No one. No one does. Also, it would just be really convenient. If I got locked out of my house I could just teleport inside my house.” -Nathaniel Potvin
Telekinetic powers. It’s pretty much controlling anything you think with your mind.” -Pearce Joza
And what do kids do after saving the planet? We talked about their hobbies outside of work…
Snowboard… I was on the Junior Olympics team in Colorado.” -Pearce Joza
My favorite thing to do off set is go rock climbing.” -Nathan Potvin
I like to sleep. So late. I like to be in my bed and just not do anything. Yeah, sleep is great. Everyone should have a lot of sleep. I got a solid twelve hours one day… Yes. Sleep is awesome.” -Kamran Lucas
I wanna say something crazy like skydiving or something like that, but really I just sit home and watch movies. That’s all I really do. I mean sometimes we’ll go go-carting, which I really love doing. But yeah… I love watching movies just to study [the acting].” -Raymond Cham
And what are they watching when they’re not fighting villains?
Interstellar. Interstellar is one of my favorite movies. I love sci-fi. I love dramas. I love all genres. Sci-fi is really awesome…” -Nathaniel Potvin
One of my favorite movies was Big Fat Liar, which was with Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes. I just thought it was a really good movie because it was about a kid who left everything to prove something to his parents and go on this whole journey of self-discovery… figuring out his place in the world. It was just a cool adventure. Watching it all I guess kind of inspired me too, to be an actor.” -Kamran Lucas
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s, of course, with Jim Carrey, but it’s just amazing how it is comedy and drama at the same time, which is what I’m really into. I love comedy, of course, but I also wanna do drama some day.” -Pearce Joza
My favorite movie is Good Will Hunting. I just think it’s inspirational that these two guys got together and they wrote a movie together, and then they created something. And how they got this story and they went through a person’s trouble of being really smart and how he has to struggle with that. And my favorite line is, ‘I gotta go see about a girl.’” -Nathaniel Potvin
Gauge (my mini human) will be tuning into this and I am certain he’ll be doing superhero moves in the house as a result of it. As he should be… I mean, what’s the life of an eight-year-old without the chance to be a superhero?