Jenni Powell

Jenni Powell

Friday, 14 October 2011 13:04

IAR's 'The Walking Dead' Season 2 Preview

When Image Comics began publishing a series authored by Robert Kirkman that followed the story of a group of uninfected trying to survive after the zombie apocalypse, it was less a matter of "if" it would be adapted to another medium but rather "when" and in "what" format.  While many of the novels written in the zombie genre seem to lend themselves to the movie format (such as the upcoming World War Z), the scope and visuals of The Walking Dead clearly would have been better served in the television format.

Luckily, AMC did not disappoint.  Their first 6 episode season of the television adaptation perfectly captured the tone of the Kirkman comics.  A huge reason for that was bringing Kirkman into the production not only as an Executive Producer, but also as a writer.  The high production value and impeccable makeup effects (actors playing zombies had to attend "Zombie School" in order to accurately move and walk like zombies) only served to push the envelope for the zombie genre.

David van Eyssen is an online artist who was ahead of his time. He began experimenting with interactive storytelling before there was technology that even existed to house his ideas. He produced the high- profile web series 'Circle of 8' in 2009 with Paramount Studios, which is the first (and I think still only) web series I saw a billboard for (and it was HUGE) at Hollywood and Highland. His new project, 'RCVR' is airing on the extremely popular online juggernaut Machinima and is racking up views with it's high-production value and X-Files-esque sci-fi storyline. Like van Eyssen's other projects, it once again integrates cross-platform storytelling in order to giving some audience members opportunities to dive even deeper into the world of the story while others can simply enjoy the 6 episodes of the show's first story arc.

I had the chance to interview van Eyssen via e-mail, where he shares with iamrogue his unique background and experiences working in the web space. Be sure to check out the first 5 episodes of 'RCVR' on Machinima, with the finale episode of the first arc airing online next week.

In part two of my interview with Husbands co-creator and writer Jane Espenson, Jane tells us a little more about her experience in web content and how each project differs and offers advice for up-and-coming web content creators. You can read the first part of the interview here.

Some of the earliest wins in web content came out of the 2007 – 2008 Writer’s Guild strike Most people, whether they are web series fans or not, are aware of the explosive success of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Another high-profile win for the web space came out of a derivative series based on a little sci-fi show called…Battlestar Gallactica.

I watched the first series of Battlestar Gallactica webisodes religiously.They featured a lesser-known character played by an actor I have been a fan of for years and so I was thrilled he was getting more attention, while also getting to build out the intricate universe of the series. The webisodes also lead into the new season of the show, with the character featured in the new season, who they proceeded to kill in the premiere episode…but we don’t need to get into that. (I never quite forgave the show for that.)

What was so lovely about the Battlestar Gallactica web “experiment” is that they continued to support the medium even after the strike was over, doing several web series in between seasons of the show. For Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy, they brought in veteran TV writer and fan-favorite Jane Espenson to co-write and executive produce. Jane has written for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, The O.C., Gilmore Girls, Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, Game of Thrones, and Torchwood: Miracle Day among other series. She also co-created Syfy’s Warehouse 13. She’s got street cred and the series went on to be nominated for an Emmy as well as winning a Streamy Award.

And now Jane has moved from a derivative web series to team up with actor and internet entrepreneur Brad Bell ( AKA Cheeks) in creating her first original, independent web series, a delightful and unique romantic comedy called Husbands. I had a chance to screen episodes of the series at Big Screen Little Screen LA and had the wonderful opportunity to interview her via e-mail to discuss her background as a writer, the unique opportunities that come with working on the web, and asked her to give tips to web series creators just starting out.

While both the acting unions and the Writer's Guild now have New Media divisions to set guidelines and rules for the protection their members, generally actual shoots for web-based projects don't have such guidelines and rules in place.  Some choose to run their sets much like television and film sets, as many people working in the web space have TV and film backgrounds.  Some projects, especially first-person projects such as lonelygirl15 or the work of Philip DeFranco, don't require as stringent guidelines because of the bare-bones nature of their sets and crew needed.

Having worked on both film sets when I used to be a filmmaking assistant at the Los Angeles Film School to producing a great number of web shoots from scripted series to the before-mentioned first-person projects, I've seen a lot of things that just generally should not be happening. 

This article isn't designed to be an end-all-be-all document on how you shouldn't run your set but a series of suggestions on potential Standards and Practices that could maybe make your next web project shoot run a little bit smoother and keep your cast and crew happier and healthier.

For those of you not aware of what VidCon is, or haven't had a chance to check out iamrogue's coverage of Industry Day, here is a summary: it's where online video stars go to be worshipped. 

Okay, it's not just that, though the center of the event most definitely focuses on giving the online video community one-on-one facetime with the creators they admire.  While mainstage performances felt more like attending concerts, there was also just as much educational programming included: break-out sessions, panel discussions, and presentations were spaced evenly with Q & A sessions and musical performances.

Historically, comic conventions such as the one in San Diego are relativity young and were designed to be a safe haven for comic book fans to flock together and celebrate an artistic medium that was considered to the general public to be "nerdy".  Oh, how times have changed.  Being a San Diego native, I've watched SDCC grow from a one day event held in a single hotel to the four-day extravaganza that takes over all of the San Diego Convention Center as well as most of the Gaslamp District it has become.

With its explosive popularity, it was only a matter of time before other mediums decided to get into the action.  The influx of major movie and TV studios throwing innovative and complex marketing campaigns during Comic Con (the Dark Knight ARG anyone?) has been controversial among die-hard comic lovers and professionals.

Enveloping web projects into this fold it still in its infancy.  Traditionally, many web projects live on their strength to hit a niche audience, many aiming directly for the "nerd" or "geek" demographic.  The Guild, for instance, have had to move to larger and larger rooms for their yearly panels at SDCC, now living in the recently added Hilton Indigo Ballroom.  We're even seeing produced-especially-for-web fan trailers, such as the one created for popular independent comic ElfQuest, garner enough of a following to be given their own panels. 

Below is a list of five web-related events at Comic Con that if you are a fan of internet entertainment or work in the web industry, you should definitely check out.  It is by far not en exhaustive list, check out Tubefilter News for their excellent yearly sum up of web-centric goings on at SDCC.

In the second part of my interview with actor J. Teddy Garces, he tells us about his next series, in which he delves into the "hyphenate" world of web as the series creator, writer, and star, Sound Advice.  He also tells us what it's like to be considered a "Internet Celebrity".  You can read the first part of the interview here.

The next 2 weeks on Web Content Corner I want to focus on an indispensable part of the visual medium process: acting.  Some people are aware of this but I have actually done the casting or been a part of the casting process on most of the web projects I'm been a part of.
 I was actually hired on as the Casting Director for Video Game Reunion before moving to the producing staff and I've often joked that if I didn't love producing so darn much, I'd be a casting director instead.

For me, the casting process takes three major things into
consideration: 1) When you walk in the door, I have to "see" you as that character.  2) When you open your mouth to read, you have to have the acting chops to back your "look" up.  3)  You treat everyone at the casting session with respect (that includes whoever checked you in.  It's a common practice for casting directors to have one of their co-workers in the check-in area observing how the actors treat the staff and even other actors).  I MIGHT make an exception if the actor has 2 of the 3 components, but if you nail all 3, it's a slam dunk.

J. Teddy Garces was a slam dunk.  I had the pleasure of being in the room when Teddy came to audition for season 3 of The Guild for the role of mother-banging (I mean that literally) Axis of Anarchy member, Bruiser.  He entered the doorway and WAS Bruiser.  He then gave everyone in the room a smile and a firm handshake.  At this point, I was praying he gave a good read and he did not disappoint.  The Guild was Teddy's first experience working in web but he has fully embraced the community, having gone on to make appearances in The Jeff Lewis 5 Minute Comedy Hour and now making his first leap into his own original web series, Sound Advice.

This is part 1 of a 2-part interview.

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