This post was written by Tomas Pais

Imagine a gig as a worker or handyman. Imagine that he has long hair, a long beard, and tattoos all over his arms, and he drives through Los Angeles with the windows down, blasting heavy metal music. That’s Henry.

You would think his intensity alludes to a story of an aggressive nature, but Henry is only serious about one thing: the laidback lifestyle he has come to love. A metal Lebowski, of sorts. His problem, however, is that other peoples’ drama is a constant threat to his chill life, and every time he goes on a job, he gets entangled in the lives of his unruly customers.

Tomas_pais_1_0'Metal Man'Credit: Courtesy of Tomas Pais

The idea presented itself in a conversation with a new friend over lunch in Highland Park. I had been describing how I’d been working on building a Tiki bar in the carport of another friend’s house and how I found myself being a calming presence during a chaotic roommate situation.

As the story unfolded, it became clear that there was something immediately engaging about a reluctant but decidedly engaging character who just wants to keep the world around him in a state of “chill vibes.” It takes work to be someone who desires that type of life, and it can take even more work to hold space for others to do the same.

From there, the endless possibilities for setting up bizarre and endearing Los Angeles archetypes, each with their handiwork to complete, sparked the desire to create an outline for a series of episodes, a script for a proof of concept, and, subsequently, a pilot.

It was important to shoot something because so much of what the show feels like is a vibe, and sometimes it’s easier to show people what your show is than having them try to imagine it on the page.

It was early in the process that a dear friend of mine, John Patton Ford, took an interest in the project and offered to help write an episode or two with me. After settling on a script to shoot as a pilot, we secured some financing and were set to shoot in the spring of 2020. For obvious reasons, we had to shelve the project and despite the personal difficulties most everyone had to deal with, it turned out to be a blessing forMetal Man.

It gave me a lot of time to ruminate over and refine what I wanted it to be. Since I was playing the central character, I was able to grow my hair out to a more appropriate “heavy metal” length. It’s safe to say that my determination to not give up on this project was one of the few life rafts that kept me afloat during a complicated time in the world.

Once things started to ease up, I brought on my neighbor and friend, Kaelan Housewright, to help produce and a wonderful director and friend, Laurel Parmet, to tie it all together creatively. I was also extremely lucky that they both had talented friends of their own who jumped at the chance to work on Metal Man. Todd Bell was our director of photography and Nick Weidner was our editor. 

One of the funniest moments in the process of getting the pilot made was watching David Massil’s audition. I must have watched it 63 times the night that it came in and laughed so much at the fun and levity he brought. The best part of this was when, after casting David in the pilot, I learned that he is a practicing MD who lives in the Bay Area and just acts on the side as a “fun and relaxing hobby.” He was such a joy to be around and so committed to doing his best on set that he made people smile without even trying.

Something I’m going to share with you about myself is that, in some ways, I am a lot like Henry. I have had a rich and storied life as an actor and writer, filled with a lot of failures and few successes. Now, I am most concerned with building community, helping and being available to my friends, and besides being handy around the house and enjoying the company of well-behaved dogs, every day I’m motivated by the possibility of connecting with people.

Getting to share with others, this incredible voyage called the human experience and laughing about it. Discussing how life’s challenges, whether self-inflicted or not, can be resolved with humanity and empathy, even when they hurt the most. Finding that stillness in the presence of chaos is ultimately what Metal Man is about.

So yes, this show is personal to me, and I can’t wait to make a first season so I can share it with the world. 

This post was written by Tomas Pais