Rooster Teeth Beams Out Lazer Team 2
Sci-fi comedy sequel lands on YouTube Red
When it comes to Lazer Team 2, the sequel to 2015's Austin-shot sci-fi comedy, the sky is not the limit. Writer and star Burnie Burns said, "At the end of the first movie, we promised we would go into space, and a lot of people felt we had to fulfill that in the second movie."
In the first film, the four members of Lazer Team were each melded with a different piece of super-powered alien tech: Small-town cop Hagan (Burns) got a ray-shield-projecting glove; cocky jock Zach (Michael Jones) has a laser cannon; schlubby loser Herman (Colton Dunn) donned super-speed boots; and mulleted redneck Woody (Gavin Free) got smart courtesy of an intellect-enhancing helmet. Those new abilities helped them save the world from extraterrestrial invaders, but the intervening months have been less than kind, and they are Lazer Team no more. It takes Woody being trapped across the galaxy, and the potential for removing those stinky alien artifacts, to reunite the remaining bickering members.
After more than a decade creating streaming content, Austin-based Rooster Teeth made its first foray into feature making with the 2015 original. Tapping the loyalty of their massive fan base, they crowdfunded it to the tune of $2.4 million through Indiegogo, and then had a breakout success. Burns said, "The first one went so well on YouTube Red that we got greenlit for a sequel right away."
The first movie undoubtedly hinted at sequels, and with sly DeLorean jokes, the next entry makes it clear how and why three could happen. But for Burns, there's a big difference between three films and a trilogy. He said, "I've always been anti-trilogy, because that always makes the second story a middle, with no definitive ending." Knowing that not every film can be The Empire Strikes Back, he said, "I just wanted to make sure it was a complete story, and not like, 'Oh, we're setting up what's really going to happen in the third movie.'"
When it came to writing the script, Burns and his writer/director team of Daniel Fabelo and Matt Hullum quickly discovered more latitude than they previously had foreseen. In the first film, Burns said, "We had an obligation to set up the world. ... Going into the second one, we have a lot of freedom to punch up the comedy a lot more."
Free nodded, adding, "Now it's, 'Remember us?' and straight into the jokes."
This time around, Burns said, "It's great to be in a sequel where you have actual nice sets. Before, we would go to locations, and then at the end of the day, we had to break down everything, and take it away with us, and then the next day we would come back and set it back up again."
Free said, "We really didn't have much in the way of sets in the first one. There was a lot of 'crashed ship outside,' or being in a real school." One pivotal scene was also memorably miserable: shot at night, in winter, on a football field with the cast and crew freezing. There was only one major sequence shot at Austin Studios, with the quartet confined to a prison made of movable set walls and chicken wire fences. This time around, they were back on the same soundstage, but instead of using one small corner, Lazer Team 2 took over the whole space with a massive spaceship. Free said, "The scale of these sets is so impressive. Sometimes between takes, with all the lights on, I'll just walk around the corridors, because it's so cool."
Not everything is upgraded. Free sighed. "There are definitely some challenges to the helmet." Not only must he deliver his lines through a thick plastic visor, but moving the shoot inside means his head was stuck inside a plastic can under burning set lights. "All my heat gets stuck up in my face area," he said. Yet the bigger issue may be regrowing Woody's hideous trademark mustache. It's back, and even bushier than before. Luckily, Free said, "I don't even have to see it. It's other people I'm inflicting it upon."
Lazer Team 2 debuts on YouTube Red on Wed., Nov. 22. See www.youtube.com/user/roosterteeth for more info.