Paranormal Disruption blends comedy and horror where it’s never been: the workplace.

Paranormal Disruption is a startup satire in a haunted reality. An upcoming web series written and starring Nikita Redkar, Paranormal Disruption is a comedic horror series set in a startup. It contains big funny characters in open floor plans and nap rooms with beer on tap. It addresses cult mentality, a lack of racial diversity, bait-and-switch job perks, and the chilling ease of your replaceability. Sound familiar? Thought so! It makes you wonder why there aren’t workplace horror shows.

Nikita Redkar (Moontower Comedy Festival, BettyFest) is currently crowdfunding for Paranormal Disruption, which features a cast of familiar Austin talent and an all POC crew behind the scenes. Nikita took a moment to tell us why we should all rush to hit the donate button.

Nikita: Like most comedians, I’ve kept up a string of jobs to keep me fed and sheltered while I pursue comedy. From healthcare to technology to even a shady law office, I’ve kept myself afloat in all sorts of day jobs. And I’ve noticed one common theme uniting all offices.

Remember in the early 2000s when Blink 182 was all like, “works sucks. I know.” That was true! And now, we’re in an era of following our passions and scoring our dream jobs (hey, I wouldn’t be here right now if I wasn’t doing exactly that!) But somehow, EVERYTHING has become a dream job. Offices have taken the message of “bE yOuRsElF” and dangled it in our faces in the form of an exciting work culture, only to have it be a lowkey trade for unquestioned allegiance. The number one culprit of this? STARTUPS.

How is this funny?! Oh it totally is. We haven’t seen enough of startup culture antics on TV. Silicon Valley got us started, but now it’s time to get more niche and call out the rapid spread of cool offices all over the world!

How is this scary? Well, I’m a big fan of horror. We’ll talk about this again in another paragraph.

The series weaves narrative structure with sketch comedy. As in, each episode contains 1-2 quick sketches introducing us to the absurdity and satire of startup culture.

But the overall episode pushes the plot forward. The series centers around Nikita, the main character, who begins working at a startup with a mysterious, insidious way of conducting business. The employees aren’t normal and seem to be operating on a weird agenda.

Horror is the most challenging genre. One wrong emotion from an actor, missed cue from a director, poor edit from an editor can ruin a perfect scare. That’s why I love the genre so much – it’s CALCULATED. Also, I love a good scary movie. Especially when I’m watching with someone I want to cuddle. If my series can give you that excuse, well I’ve done my part.

Paranormal Disruption’s core crew is made up entirely of people of color. I hadn’t set out to make a point of diversity, but everyone I’ve ever dreamed of working with turned out to be a person of color. And the best thing about us is we never have the same idea. Different backgrounds bring different perspectives, and if you want to relate to as many people as possible, you need as many perspectives as possible. That’s why I’m pushing diversity in film.

But I need your help! I want to make Paranormal Disruption as perfect as possible and that can’t happen without money. Why should you support me? Because I love when comedy has a good message. You know that feeling you get when you leave a comedy show feeling energized and smarter? Or even when you have a moment in your life where you feel a little less alone and a little more supported because you heard someone voice what you were thinking? That’s what I want to do with all my content, ever. I use comedy to learn about different perspectives and to learn about things I take for granted. It’s kept me on my toes, and I want to do the same for you.

In short, Paranormal Disruption is a startup satire in a haunted reality. It contains big funny characters in open floor plans and nap rooms with beer on tap. It also addresses cult mentality, a lack of racial diversity, bait-and-switch job perks, and the chilling ease of your replaceability. I hope you support or share our project. Mostly? I just hope you enjoy the shit out of it.

You can make a donation to Paranormal Disruption on Indiegogo: www.indiegogo.com/projects/paranormal-disruption

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It’s 2023 and Weed is Legal In Texas

Dream Shake Productions’ Alex Ybarra and Carl Stoneking first started making comedy videos together 10 years ago as students at Texas Tech University. After college they pursued more traditional career paths, but their passion for filmmaking reunited them three years ago in Austin. Alex and Carl immediately got involved in the local comedy scene including taking classes with the ColdTowne Conservatory, enlisting dozens of comedians and actors in their award winning short comedy films.  

Last year they took on their most ambitious project, a web-series written by Christina Parrish called Toddumentaries. The science-fiction teen dramedy has been an official selection at SeriesFest in Denver, Melbourne WebFest and HollyShorts Festival in Los Angeles and is making its debut online this month. After the success of Toddumentaries, Ybarra and Stoneking decided for the first time to seek outside funding for their next project, High From Texas, which is live on Kickstarter until the end of August.

We sat down with Ybarra and Stoneking to learn more about their new stoner comedy. 

Tell us a little more about Dream Shake Productions.

Stoneking: Alex and I started making dumb comedy shorts when we were in college, it was just for our own amusement.  Then about 4 years ago I decided to move to Austin and pursue filmmaking more seriously. Alex was already living here working as a PA.

Alex: I was just soaking up everything on set, or I have been for a while now. I worked on independent films, TV series and had a stint in the post production office for Terrence Malick. I wanted to be an assistant director before deciding to jump into the camera department, and that’s where I’ve been the most comfortable. Filming comedy is what I want to do, and I’m eager to continue improving my skills behind the camera. I’ve always thought Carl was a natural director, and I’m a natural facilitator, so we continued to grow our relationship and here we are, still making things.

Stoneking: We both graduated from ColdTowne Conservatory. We met Christina Parrish through the theater, and she wrote the last web-series we produced (Toddumentaries). We also met Cody Dearing, who helped write our new project High From Texas.

Some of the cast and crew at the first High From Texas table read.

What is High From Texas about?

Ybarra: High from Texas is set in the year 2023 when weed has been legalized nationwide. It follows a small town couple as they attempt to open the lone star state’s first marijuana dispensary despite concerns from a collection of interesting locals. 

What made you want to combine weed and Texas? 

Stoneking: I spent a lot of time in Denver and found the whole marijuana scene very hilarious. I didn’t really see any shows that represented it accurately, so I wanted to write one. When I moved to Austin, I felt like I was really living in Texas for the first time. You go to Barton Springs or Zilker, you see the capitol, living in this city really made me feel like an actual Texan.  So it felt natural to me to combine these two cultures that I’ve spent time in.  

What is your goal with this web series? 

Stoneking: The first thing we want to do is make people laugh. Cody Dearing and I have spent almost a year working on the scripts, and we are very proud of where they are now. The cast is made up of some of ColdTowne’s most talented performers, so with them the scripts are taken to another level.   

Ybarra: Beyond the comedy of the show, we really want to shed light on the issues of federal prohibition on marijuana, and to show that it’s not that big of a deal. Life in Texas will go on, there will be so many people who are for it, and the state would be better off, period. Texas is so far behind the rest of the country, we honestly just want to create a world where that’s not the case. It’s fun to ask the question, “What if Buc-ees had a small marijuana dispensary section by the Yeti coolers?” There’s a lot to lampoon here, and we intend to do that without restraint. 

Why should people support and back this project?

Stoneking: The scripts are hilarious. The cast is extremely talented.  There are 40 million Texans and like 3 billion pot heads, so the audience is enormous!  We just need a little help to get it out there.

Ybarra: This is a collaboration with so many funny Austin improvisers and comedians, who are working together on a unique idea. The list of actors is incredible, and you can find all of them on stage in Austin any given night. Not to mention, there are a lot of shows about weed, and there are a lot of shows about Texas, but we have created the only show about weed AND Texas. Apparently, Willie Nelson is a fan of the whole idea, too. He agreed to sign some posters as Kickstarter rewards, and three have been bought already. We’re extremely grateful for his interest, it’s amazing.

If you’re into the idea, believe the state of Texas doesn’t want us to CHILL or just love throwing your money at the arts, you can back the project here: https://goo.gl/m9KXXH

You can also check out other work by Dream Shake Productions here: https://goo.gl/w1BhEo