'It's a love letter': The Austin-based sitcom 'Wind-Ups'
The new Austin-based sitcom Wind-Ups has been in the making since actor/writer Adam Protextor got a retail job over a decade ago. “When I was relatively new in Austin, in like 2010, I was wandering around by Guadalupe and 29th and I just walked into the Toy Joy that was there,” Proetextor says. “I walked into that Toy Joy and applied for a job and I ended up working there for four years. And that was really just like the beginning of me being a creative person in Austin – it was a hugely influential time in my life.”
And as one does while killing time at work, Protextor and his co-workers — who were also creative types — chatted about what a great sitcom setting their job would be. “And we started sketching out really hyperbolized versions of ourselves as the characters,” he says. “And those notes lived on, like, the back of receipt paper with me for almost eight years.”
Unlike most folks who think their job should be a sitcom, Protextor actually made that idea a reality. It just took a little time. “It was only after becoming active in the Austin improv community through Stephanie [Thoreson, his producing partner]… and after Stephanie and I started producing comedy videos together that I started to think, ‘oh, that idea from ten years ago… we might actually have the cast and crew to do it now,’” he says.
“I had been in the Austin comedy scene in a pretty big way for about six or seven years,” Thoreson says. “And [Adam and I] had been working together on my second one-woman show and we were like, ‘we make a pretty good team, writing [and] producing.’ And we decided to start a small production company called Baby Lion Studios. And then just over beers at the Grand one night, Adam pitched me this thing.”
Thoreson immediately loved the idea and had some ideas on how to flesh out the concept. “She added her innovations and then we started seriously being like, ‘Okay, let’s do it. Let’s not just talk about it,'” Protextor says. “’Let’s make this idea we talk about at the bar that we do.’”
Once scripts were written and parts were cast (Protextor’s old Toy Joy colleague Ryan Darbonne is part of the cast, playing a character based on his own younger self), the show was filmed inside the actual store. The Guadalupe Toy Joy that Protextor worked in a decade ago has long since closed, so Wind-Ups was shot in the store’s Airport Boulevard location. “Toy Joy was incredibly generous and allowed us to film overnights in the store,” Protextor says. “So everything you see in the store in the show was filmed from a call time of 9:00 pm to 8:00 am the next day, over four days.”
Those four shooting days happened to be in March of 2020. “We actually wrapped three days before lockdown began in Austin,” Thoreson says. “So it was pretty surreal to have so many different people in the community coming together to create this beautiful thing, and so much hustle and bustle and action and then all of a sudden everything was just gone and completely derailed.”
After spending much of the intervening pandemic time working on post-production, Thoreson and Protextor are now ready to show the first two episodes of Wind-Ups to the world, starting with a screening here in Austin. “We want to say ‘Hey, we finished this thing… it’s done,’” Protextor says. “And the next step is we want to sell this and pitch it for a full series, and we want to have a hometown premiere to celebrate the Austin creative world that honestly was its genesis. It’s a love letter to being a creative in Austin. It wouldn’t exist without the Austin improv community and the Austin music community. And I hope that we did everyone proud who inspired us and got us to this point, because for me it really does feel like the culmination of ten years of creating things in Austin.”