Welcome to another pulse pounding edition of… The IndieNet and Beyond! It’s news and web series episodes. Plus, this time I chat with writer/director John Jackson and executive producer Ben Bays of the ‘sci-noir’ series Aidan 5.
Aidan 5 is a science fiction noir story set in a futuristic city and has a unique eye-catching living comic book style of visual storytelling. Unexpectedly, this 16 episode series is not from LA or NY, but instead is made by filmmakers in Columbus, Ohio.
“It’s a futuristic sci-noir about a detective who is trying to solve the serial killing of his own clones,” explains executive producer Ben Bays. “It takes place in the not to distant future in the year 2064 where cloning is legal and part of daily life. He kind of gets caught up in this conspiracy when he find his dead body of his own clone.”
“He gets pulled into this mystery and we find a few things along the way, but there are more mysteries and more layers to that. It is sort of a cross between Blade Runner, Sin City, and a little Law & Order,” added co-creator/director John Jackson.
But what exactly is “sci-noir?”
“It’s kind of a hybrid. It’s a scifi / film noir. It’s basically done in the old black & white style of the serials, but its got a unique style in that it’s all shot on green screen with live action photography and then all the backgrounds are hand illustrated,” answered Bays.
“Ben has a great line… You know you hear about movie or shows and they are like we have over 800 visual effect shows and then it’s funny because he is like ‘our entire show is an effect shot.’ It is 100% [visual effect shots],” laughed Jackson.
With such a unique visual look, you would think the creators took a long time developing the world and their visual effects, but surprisingly, this web series was born out of a 48 hour film contest. That Aidan 5 short has won several awards, including 48 Hour Best at the 48 Hour Film Festival in Columbus, Ohio where it all started, and Second Runner Up at Filmapalooza at the Miami International Film Festival. It even screened at the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner in Cannes, France.
“It literally was a weekend project that I just wanted to do something different. You know… I sort of asked for permission from my wife to be away from her and the kids for the weekend,” chuckled Jackson. “I just wanted to do this for fun and test the creative juices and was blown away by the response we got. But boy I tell you, for a weekend for fun it has taken me all over the place.”
But why turn the short film into a web series instead of a feature length film or try pitching for traditional television?
“Well, Ben Bays and I have been friends and… were developing a TV series. We like long format storytelling… that serial type of storytelling. We got together right before Lost even hit on TV and we had been developing something along those lines where it was just every story connected and you had to stay in there and follow along. We’ve been fans of the X-Files like that. [Ben] was there the first night [the 48 hour film] had won,” said Jackson.
“I saw the film at the 48 hour screening at Columbus, Ohio. I was just absolutely blown away by what they had done in 48 hours. On top of that, after I finished watching it, I kind of had this sense I really wanted to see more. They had created such a rich and textualized world with their story I wanted to see what happened beyond that,” said Bays.
“[Ben] had approached me after he saw the 48 hour and he said ‘hey I think we have our series.’ At first I was a little unsure, but he was really drawn into the characters and the world we were able to build in four minutes and thirty seconds,” said Jackson. “It is a world that Tim Baldwin, who is the other co-creator, and I came up with in a couple of hours. So web series, I think simply because we knew we were going to try to do something on the cheap. Really this whole project has been done with no budget. ”
“We’ve made this production with an all volunteer cast and crew. We’re all working on this on the side with our day job. I’ve been down the [feature film] road quite a bit and it’s a very difficult road to go down and we all wanted to get this made and made right away. It started out with a project we all wanted together and make a project we all wanted to see. We’ve always thought the web would be the perfect avenue for something like this and turns out it was,” said Bays.
“We could have went, ‘hey lets try to make a movie’, and it just gets turned into a script and … then the funding. The ironic part is what we ended up shooting is two and a half hours of finished content for the first season of Aidan 5, so we did shoot a feature,” said Jackson.
The web series community is quickly growing, but that doesn’t mean they can’t support each others’ work. Aidan 5 actually has subtle crossovers with two other web series: Blood and Bone China and Ragged Isle.
“We kind of found each others’ shows and admired each others’ work. I don’t remember whose idea was a cross promotion. How does Aidan 5 2064 fit into Victorian area vampire thriller, so we were trying to figure it out,” said Bays. “But I think we found some creative ways to get our shows in each others’ projects. Maya Sayre was featured in an episode of Blood and Bone China. We’ll be featuring some of their content in our episode. So you’ll have to tune in to see how that works.”
What advice would these filmmakers give to those of you out there thinking about making your own web series?
“First of all do it. Just sit down and decide to do it. At that point forward, it is just an adventure. You don’t want to look back and think “what if.” Each one you do, you are going to learn something from. Always be learning. And man the tools are out there now more than ever. I mean I would have killed for this stuff when I was in high school,” answered Jackson.
“Focus on your story and writing. Find out what makes your story unique or project unique and really focus on that. I think a lot of people like the ease of web series by just getting something out there, but I think take some time and really craft what you’re doing. Show it to people and get some feedback before you start,” added Bays.
Season one will be 16 episodes and they are developing season two and three.
“We’re actually putting more meat on the bones of season two and three. We want to shoot seasons two and three back-to-back, so we kind of want to be ready if we get the call that we are good to go,” said Jackson.
Below is the first two episodes of season one. For more information about the series, visit www.aidan5.com.
Elsewhere On The Web
Activision’s Call of Duty Elite subscribers will be getting members only access to a Call of Duty web series. The Guardian says Activision is calling in “top Hollywood talent” for the project.
The BBC series Torchwood is going to have a companion web series called “Web of Lies,” which will have Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in the cast. It is described by Doctor WhoMagazine as “a fully-scripted animated adventure with interactive elements.”
What I’m Watching… Are You?
I’ve been scouring the web in search for new web series episodes to watch and share with you. Enjoy!
Aidan 5 – Episode 8: “Down The Rabbit Hold, Part I”
Speaking of Aidan 5, here is the newest episode. It’s cops, clones, and conspiracy and they make for a very interesting sci-noir series.
BlackBoxTV Presents “Total Eclipse”
Things get bloody for a serial killer in a new episode from the horror anthology series BlackBoxTV.
Blood and Bone China – Chapter 7 – “The Gates of Wrath”
It’s another episode of Blood and Bone China. It’s a 12-part Victorian vampire web series, filmed and set in Stoke-on-Trent.
Haywire – Episode 8 “Rules To Live By”
It’s a new episode in the horror scifi series called Haywire.
Frontier – Prelude to Darkness Chapter 6
Another episode of the space science fiction animated series Frontier.
Legends of Atoll: Episode 1.1 – “The Return of the Endless One”
Dungeons & Dragons fans may enjoy this new fantasy-comedy web series. Stop me if you heard this one… Four adventurers walk into a dungeon…
Mind’s Eye – Episode 23 – “Into The Woods”
More episodes of the family-friendly fantasy series Mind’s Eye.
“Illia returns home to find an unfriendly face waiting for him. With a hop, skip and a bike ride away, Illia goes searching for his friends the only place he knows they’ll be.”
Mind’s Eye – Episode 24 – “Forest for the Trees”
The last episode of season one. But don’t worry fans they’ve anncouned that there will be a season two.
“The Dreamweavers are reunited with their friend and stare down a horde of Dolgrath’s minions and with nowhere left to run, the Dreamweavers must face their enemies in a battle for the fate of humanity.”
Mortal Kombat: Legacy – Ep. 7 – “Scorpion and Sub Zero” (Part 1)
This time we get director Kevin Tancharoen take on Scorpion and Sub-Zero.
“Hanzo Hasashi, better known as the warrior Scorpion, is summoned to meet with the Shogun of Kumamoto Castle. While traveling, the fearless General of the Shirai Ryu clan encounters his mortal enemy, Sub-Zero. Scorpion realizes too late that this trap has led him away from his village and family, leaving them without means to defend themselves. He knows that he must defeat Sub-Zero and return to his village before it is too late.”
Mortal Kombat: Legacy – Ep. 8 – “Scorpion and Sub Zero” (Part 2)
“With the Shirai Ryu clan murdered by the hands of Sub-Zero and the Lin Kuei, Hanzo Hasashi has failed to protect his village. With his eternal soul destined to rot in the depths of hell, he is visited by a mysterious sorcerer. Will vengeance be enough to get Scorpion to enter the Mortal Kombat Tournament?”
Spellfury Season 2 Episode 1 – “Mum’s the Word”
The fantasy series Spellfury returns for a second season.
That’s A Wrap
Got a web series, web comic, web… whatever, then I want to know about it. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s a wrap for now, join me (and my clone) next time for more news and interviews coming to Wednesday near you. Take care friends. Until next time… marX out.
You can follow me on Twitter @MrMarx
Follow ScifiPulse on Twitter @SciFiPulse
Marx H. Pyle is a writer, martial artist and American independent filmmaker. A graduate of Vancouver Film School, he has worked on a number of projects including the short film he wrote and directed, Silence of the Belle. He is currently in production of his scifi web series Reality On Demand.