MALDEN, Mass. (WWLP) – A group of three builders, who are also friends, from Malden, Massachusetts are on a show called Making Fun to make children’s imaginations come to life through the magic of building.

A couple of years ago, John Graziano, Derek Forestier, and Paul Jackman had uploaded a photo to Reddit of them in a giant Adirondack chair they had built together. Eventually, an LA producer spotted their photo and would have a show concept in mind for the three friends to collaborate on.

John Graziano, Derek Forestier, and Paul Jackman joined Pat Lap and expert maker Jimmy DiResta as a cast to compile and create projects.

Meet the cast

Jimmy DiResta: A New York-based designer, artist, video producer, and actor, that has appeared in previous shows such as Making It alongside actress and comedian, Amy Poehler and actor Nick Offerman.

He has also been in other shows such as Dirty Money which appeared on the Discovery Channel and Hammered with his brother John DiResta.

DiResta building skills evolved from when he was a child by building with his dad and gaining an interest in toy development and later became a builder installer. DiResta has his own YouTube channel called jimmydiresta where he time-lapses his woodwork projects.  

Paul Jackman: Jackman gained building experience from attending trade school and continuously training as a traditional woodworker. Jackman is also known as an internet celebrity with approximately 400,00 subscribers on his own YouTube channel called Jackman Works where he first began creating massive wood projects.

John Graziano: Graziano had always been involved with technology and computers, but then developed into wood making when he became an adult. Outside of the Making Fun series, Graziano also works as a video producer.

Derek Forestier: Forestier was an average blue-collar worker that had always been using his hands before building massive creations on the Making Fun series.

Pat Lap: For Lap, his grandfather was a woodworker and Lap picked up on the trade from him. Lap also comes from Canada. His YouTube channel is Pat Lap.

How Making Fun series got started

When Graziano moved into a new apartment in Salem, Massachusetts with his wife, his landlord mentioned that another resident had done woodwork and had a YouTube channel.

At the time this resident had 10,000 subscribers, this was around the same time Graziano had been getting into knife making. Graziano had subscribed to the YouTube channel because it was in the “maker world of technology”, but began to realize that this had been Paul Jackman’s channel.

Graziano and Jackman would then begin to collaborate on building projects together.

“As a fan, I reached out to him, and then I kind of met him. We became friends, and then fast forward a couple of years, Jackman is now breaking 100,000 subscribers on YouTube. When you get to that amount of subscribers, YouTube lets you shoot either LA or New York offers,” said Graziano.

After a while of working together, Graziano would be introduced to Jimmy DiResta from Jackman’s YouTube channel.

One day, Jackman had asked Graziano and Pat if they could write a funny and lighthearted skit for the YouTube channel. All three of them had then gone to New York to shoot the video, including Derek Forestier. While they were there they had taken a photo of themselves in a giant Adirondack chair they’d built together.

The photo would appear in the video on Jackman’s YouTube channel and Reddit. Then the LA producer got in touch to find out what they do and if they were interested in a TV show.

“When we all took the group photo, we were like let’s see what comes up and see that this might be a fun project,” said Graziano.

“Derek was super excited because he didn’t work in TV at all, Jimmy was kind of like I’ll do it, I’ll see what happens. Pat was excited, he lived in Canada so he was remotely excited and Jackman was more like well I have my YouTube channel, I’ll do TV, and I was kind of in-between that.”

Make Fun was originally brought to the Discovery Channel, but the show was turned down and then turned to Netflix, where the show had then been accepted for its first season of eight episodes.

Graziano told 22News that it took over three years for the picture to be discovered and develop a show. Due to the pandemic, the show had been delayed for some time before episodes could be made. Since the show first premiered on March 4, 2022, its been in the top ten on Netflix-kids in over 30 countries such as Canada and Australia. “Which is just mind-blowing, it’s hard to wrap your mind around those numbers,” said Graziano.

How the title of the show was determined

The show got its name, Making Fun during a time when a couple of directors had come in to make show adjustments. After cast changes were made, the idea for the name of the show then began to evolve. The show was first called Brotherhood before the Director turned the name into Making Fun.

“You couldn’t think of a better name because we are making fun of each other, lighthearted fun at the kids, they’re making fun of us, and then making fun of projects,” said Graziano.

Courtesy of John Graziano.

Show operations

During the first season that was shot in the spring of 2021, a rough outline of the days of shooting and scheduling would come up the night before filming, according to Graziano. Then everyone shows up at the studio in Salem the next day at 9 in the morning, to break down from just talking to the children.

A big screen is shown with children on it, that talk to the builders while they are on set through earpieces. They are in direct connection with the director and the children on a roll-around 70 to 80-inch tv screen.

The builders know ahead of time what they will be making and which tools to use, but through TV magic you may not be aware that they have it all planned out. Graziano said, “it may seem a little more impromptu than it is, but still have to interact with the kids, listen to pitches, and then make a decision on which pitch they liked better. That takes about three-quarters of the day and then after that, it’s getting all of the shots of the material. It has been 11-hour days of shooting with five to six days a week of filming. The last day would be a reveal.”

The nearly six days of shooting develop into one episode for viewers to tune into. Four cameras are being used during filming.

Improv joke telling and friendly ribbiting is conducted amongst the cast during the show. “Most of us are from the Northeast, to show affection we usually make fun of each other, so its this kind of weird thing where we are all Northeast characters. “

Children’s reactions to Making Fun creations

Graziano shared what the children’s reactions were when they saw their imaginations come to life.

“It’s pretty cool, when the door opens up and the fog comes out, it’s like woah we made a dinosaur or this crazy nutcracker that shoots fire out of its eyes, but imagine that for us times 100 for a kid. It stunk because of the pandemic, they couldn’t be on set, but I think visually seeing that stuff still as a kid is like woah that’s the coolest thing, they built exactly what I wanted.”

Graziano mentioned the project that received the most reaction, “I think visually the guitar boat is the one where that kid was like it’s in a boat and it plays. It’s a cool feeling.”

“It’s humbling to realize the reach that Netflix has and then just seeing kids literally from around the world, still having their kid imaginations coming up with these ridiculous things, hoping we build it for them.”

Graziano says when kids are watching the show, they send inventions, drawings, and ideas to social media, in hopes they can go on season two.

When children get inspired by the creations they see on the show, they will also try to make their own smaller versions of objects that appear on the show such as a slingshot and might submit a video of it to the Making Fun social media as well.

Each episode’s materials are chosen in consideration of the following factors: 

  • What is the project for?
  • Is it going to be outside?
  • Is it going to get a lot of use?
  • Does it just need to look pretty on camera?

Materials and techniques that have been used previously include expanding and drying foam for cutting and carving, regular foam, metal, welding, paper mache, and any other material that is available to use.   

Will there be a Making Fun season two?

For season two to be determined, various measures and statistics are being taken into place such as considering how many views the first season has received. “We are hoping we can get to season two,” said Graziano.

Graziano shared what he’d hope to see if a season two is made, “I mean it would be cool to be able to have kids on set to see their reaction and to test some of the stuff we built. The bigger, the better, the more ridiculous.”

Watch: Full interview with John Graziano