Think back to high school, when the worst thing you had to go through was puberty and homework. Imagine if your town and your city were being attacked by monsters and the fate of your school and family were on you and your friends. Later this week, Disney Channel is releasing their all new live action show MECH-X4, where the fate of the city is in the hands of Ryan, a techno-path, two of his friends and his brother.
We were given a sneak peek of the new series MECH-X4 last month as well as sitting down the stars and producers of the show. MECH-X4 is a new show idea and venture for the Disney Channel that is targeting viewers from ages 8-14, as well as whole families together. At first glance the MECH-X4 seems to be a blend of Transformers and Voltron, but the show is so much more than that.
With four young teenagers at the helm, MECH-X4 is actually a live action Mecha styled show. The main characters played by Nathaniel Potvin, Kamran Lucas, Pearce Joza and Raymond Cham work together to bring to live a large mechanical robot. MECH-X4 was created just for the main character Ryan, a techno-path (who just learned of his abilities to control technology with his mind) to help protect the city from monsters that are being conjured up to destroy them. The show has mystery, comedy, action and and underlying message of teamwork, friendship and family.
The show has a lot of different influences, but according to Executive Producer Steve Marmel, “There’s a little ET. There’s a little Goonies. We love giant robots – we both love giant robots. So obviously, were ‘yay, we get to play with a giant robot.”
Executive Producer Anupam Nigam added “I love Transformers. I grew up on Omega Supreme. And for me it was also Godzilla. It was a big influence. In fact there are several Godzilla movies where he fights a giant robot. I made him watch them.”
Marmel, “We’re both comic guys, and I’m a huge comic book guy. So that serialized storytelling of epic stories, that’s the stuff I love the most. But it’s the kids in the robot that I love.”
Nigam, “It’s a good thing that we’re both comic book fans because it gives us a shorthand. I can just say, ‘oh, you mean like Fin Fang Foom, and you know.’ I’d say also when we’re talking about episodes, we tend to reference Luke Skywalker and Ultimate Spider-Man when he was a teenage superhero.”
The show started as an idea between the two Producers and grew over time. “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”. And then every step of the way through development, it sort of evolved. “Wouldn’t it 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? And then wouldn’t it be great in this, 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?
“And so it started with an idea, Disney went for it. 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.”
Since the cast of the show are still kids, the Producers and Directors take the time to let them still be kids. Marmel explains, “We do what Zach likes to call Kung-Foo takes. Once we get everything that’s written, once we get the intention down, then there’s usually a thing where the kids get to do whatever they want. And the camera rolls. They get to do whatever they wanna do. And invariably, in every episode, somebody does something funny, or poignant, or weird, or interesting that’s an extension of what was written – that’s surprising. That happens because they know the character, and they’re having fun with it, and that makes me really happy.”
The MECH-X4 team battles monsters like we’ve never seen before. Most are a combination of two different things we’ve seen before that the bad guy combines to attack the city, like a snake and an octopus. The design of the monsters is a very conscious choice according to Nigam. “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, yes, it’s a little random fun time. Like, wouldn’t it be cool to do this? And we have amazing concept artists in Vancouver because sometimes we just say, well, what does an octopus and an anaconda look like together?”
Marmel expanded on the process a bit, “We get four versions and maybe we’ll use that one. But I would say that the monsters do have a purpose; in the second episode, there’s a reason it could burrow. And the purpose of a monster will be built into it. Then we just sort of geek out and try to come up with the coolest version of what that purpose would be.”
The actors for the series are all young, but incredibly well grounded, men. The experience of being on the Disney Channel is helping their acting dreams come true as well as helping them build great friendships. They try to keep it professional on set, but occasionally, have some problems with laughing through takes. We asked each of the boys why they were in acting and inspired them.
Nathaniel Potivin had some inspiration before he even got started. “Personally for me, I got into acting because my dad and my mom were kind of in the industry. And I loved watching movies, I think there’s a lot of stuff I can learn from movies. And initially when I started watching movies I was thought ‘wow, I want to be like them.’ I want to change people’s emotions just by pretending to be someone else. Or becoming someone else. So I thought, just the art of becoming an actor is really interesting to me so that’s what motivated me to become an actor.”
Pearce Joza had a childhood revelation, “When I was four my mom took me to see this stage play, Frog and Toad. I was sitting out in the audience going ‘why am I out here and not up there?’ So for a very long I was on stage, and then I started watching Jim Carrey. He’s my comedic mentor, he’s great. I’ve done a bunch of his stand up. I thought he was hilarious. And it was like hey, I should do that. That would be awesome. That’s how I got started.”
Raymond Cham at some dance experience before he started acting. ” I started when I was eight. I loved performing. That was my thing I loved, I’m also a dancer. And just being on stage and performing for other people is really fun for me. But when I first started, it wasn’t really because I really wanted to become an actor. It was really just like filling a void of performing, you know. Then eventually I started watching more and more movies. Every time I would watch a movie – especially with teens – I remember when I would see Harry Potter with my mom, we’d go to midnight showings, I would always have this feeling. I still don’t even know how to explain it really. It was a mixture of jealousy and want. Like I was hungry for it. For some reason I just would leave the theater like, that was amazing and I want to do that. And I would just think – why am I not doing that? It’s kinda weird because all those people worked their butts off to get there. But I was just really intrigued and really wanted to do it.
“So around ten or eleven, I thought “this is what I wanna do.” I started taking acting classes and then just watching movies because I think that’s the best thing you can do as well. Just because there are so many great movies and great stories being told. And just seeing how people play certain things. It’s like how would I do something different? Or just like wow, everything he did was just flawless. I think it’s great. And then working on set is the greatest school. That’s what got me into it.”
And Kamran Lucas used a personal skill he’d been building towards acting. “So I was always a great liar. I would break a plate and I’d be like, ‘ah man, the maid did it, I guess.’ We didn’t have a maid. I look back and I think, wow, that was really mean. I could probably incorporate this into something I could do and, you know, we all have our heroes. Mine being Selena Gomez on “Wizards of Waverly Place” on Disney Channel. And I thought, I kinda wanna do that.
“A friend of mine had taken me to an acting class. I went and it was just really interesting. It was kinda like, forgetting everything that you’re doing at the moment, not being you. Blank slate. You’re being totally someone else and you’re pretending and acting like anything else. And it was just really interesting to see that, and I was thought, I wanna do this. And so it eventually became a profession and now I’m here, and I’m really grateful that I get to do that.”
Ryan has the extraordinary ability to control technology with his mind. When his talent mysteriously awakens a giant 150-foot robot known as MECH-X4, Ryan recruits his two best friends and older brother to help him operate MECH-X4 to defend against monsters that suddenly begin to descend upon their city.
Check out the Trailer for Mech-X4:
Follow MECH-X4 on Online and on Social media on Facebook and Twitter. MECH-X4 will premier this weekend on Disney Channel, the Disney Channel App and Disney Channel VOD with 4 back-to-back episodes. Check out the first part of the series on Friday, November 11th through Sunday, November 13th. The premier is on Friday on the Disney channel at at 8:30p/7:30 c