When Mitch Rouse who co-created the outrageous "Strangers With Candy" and "Exit 57" wanted to grow his own sitcom, he headed to his backyard.
He invited over three of his writer-buddies, and they improvised a 15-minute story about four factory workers who spend most of their days chewing the fat rather than working. Rouse paid for the production himself, and filming took place in the backyard of his house in Hollywood.
The risk was worth it. The result is "The Factory," premiering 10 p.m. EDT Sunday on Spike TV. The series co-stars the friends Rouse invited to make the original presentation David Pasquesi, Michael Coleman and Jay Leggett.
"Working with them makes my work better," Rouse says. "We are all coming from the same place."
Rouse found an economical way to put the show together. Some shooting happened around abandoned factories. Other scenes were done on dirt roads.
With little expense and a lot of ingenuity, Rouse took the 15-minute presentation to Spike TV. "I said, 'Here's a show me and my buddies did. If you like it, give us a call,"' Rouse recalls telling executives.
They liked it, and they called.
"It came together perfectly," Rouse says.
Rouse plays Gary, a blue-collar type whose wife is bipolar. "I like the idea (of Gary) going home and never knowing what he's going to (encounter)," Rouse says. "Is she up, down, crazy or happy? Every day when he goes home, it's like flipping a coin."
Gary finds a bit of a reprieve from his unstable home life through his dead-end job at the factory. His three work buddies are in the same boat. None of them gets a break at home.
Though Gary is unhappy in his home life, he stays with his wife anyway because "he figures he can't get anyone else. He would love to leave, but he's looking for an excuse." In the pilot episode, Gary tells his buddies he hopes to come home one day and find his wife with the cable guy.
But there's one little problem with that scenario.
"He doesn't have cable," Rouse deadpans.
Plots for "The Factory" come out of conversations Rouse and his co-star buddies have. When filming begins, they improvise. "It's a lot like (the way) 'Reno 911!' (works)," Rouse says.
Rouse says making "The Factory" was similar to going to summer camp.
"It was a lot of fun to make. You're laughing all day with your friends," he says. "When you're done (shooting), you look around and say, 'Oh (my), we have a show!"'