Interview: How Amazon’s Silicon Valley Comedy ‘Betas’ Ended Up in Silicon Beach

By Devon Glenn 

Amazon Studios recently gave the green light to take ‘Betas‘ — a comedy about about four Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who are trying to pitch their app idea to investors — out of beta and into production. To get there, they had to make a stop at Silicon Beach.

“You can’t replace Hollywood,” explained Ron McElroy, CEO and founder of ROC Santa Monica, where the pilot episode takes place. In true Hollywood fashion, both the pilot and the rest of the series will be filmed near Los Angeles, not Silicon Valley.

We asked McElroy why, when television networks came knocking during pilot season, he turned over his collaborative workspace to Amazon instead.

Although other networks, including Warner Bros., Fox, and NBC, had also approached McElroy about using the space to film their pilots, he said he chose Amazon because “they were the best fit” for the company’s entrepreneurial vibe.

Located in the technology hub of Silicon Beach, the 44,260-square-foot co-working space previously occupied by Google now hosts as many as 150 small companies in 200 offices in an eco-friendly “environment that almost feels like a living room,” McElroy said.

Capturing the business dealings of startup founders and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley naturally required a more modern setting than that of “Workaholics,” another office-themed comedy by “Betas” producer Scott Sites.

The company was only partially done renovating its offices when the camera crews arrived. Between the production team and the extras, there were about a hundred people in the space. “It was way more than we expected,” McElroy said.

Once Amazon decided to pick up the show for a full season, the production was moved to a studio in Culver City, but about 80 percent of the pilot episode takes place at ROC. Said McElroy, “It’s a nice feather in our cap that they did it here.”

“Betas” might not be the last series shot at ROC Santa Monica, either. “We’re pretty bullish on this whole entertainment market out here,” McElroy said.