Welcome to another barbaric episode of… The IndieNet and Beyond! It’s news and web series episodes. Plus, this time we chat with the stars and creators of Brothers Barbarian: lead actor/writer Ken Whitman, lead actor/director/editor Tim Gooch, and the famous fantasy artist Larry Elmore, who for this project is Art Director and an actor.
This installment was delayed after evil alien hackers from Mercury tried to take down SciFiPulse last week, or perhaps they were out of Russia or something… Anyway, this week I chatted with the stars and creators of the fantasy comedy web series Brothers Barbarian. This web series, filmed in Kentucky at the 200 year-old Doe Run Inn, wasn’t really on my radar until I ran across their premiere screening at Indy Gen Con. They had what seemed to be a huge gathering of fans, so I knew I had to talk to them to find out what the series was all about. So, what is Brothers Barbarian?
“It’s about getting as many hits as possible,” answered a laughing Tim Gooch. “It’s about two teenage barbarians who’ve been turned into middle aged men by an evil witch and their quest to find their, literally, lost youth.”
“Our tag-line is: middle-aged in middle Earth,” added Ken Whitman.
If you are a gamer (and I’m not talking about that Guild addicted to WOW type stuff–not that there’s anything wrong with that!–I’m talking about dice rolling, miniature moving, dungeon master plotting your demise, type of old fashioned Dungeon & Dragons table top kinda gaming), then you know the type of world and the guest stars that this web series has. They have an impressive line-up of guest stars with the famous fantasy artist Larry Elmore, award winning fantasy author Margaret Weis (Dragonlance), and the voice of New York Times best-selling author Tracy Hickman (Dragonlance). This is also an interesting tale of how two Kentucky filmmakers managed to get such talent and put together the series.
“Tim and I [were] shooting an independent film in Louisville and we just kind of sparked with each other, and at about three o’clock in the morning the shoot was ending. I was talking to Tim,” explained Whitman. “I said, ‘Tim, I have this idea, you and I should work together and we should play our strengths. We are two older gentlemen, so I think we should do something completely silly and play teenage barbarians turned old by an evil witch.’ And Tim, said… ‘uh… oooookkkkaaaayyyyy.’ Then about four days later the first draft of the script came and he said, ‘uh… oooookkkkaaaayyyyy.’”
In the mid-90s, Whitman worked at TSR, the company that (at the time) published Dungeons & Dragons, and he was in charge of running Gen Con. While working at TSR, he got to know Weis and they became friends. He actually grew up not far from Elmore and knew him since he was a teenager. So he had great fantasy gaming contacts… now he just had to convince them to be in his web series.
“One of the things Ken said was he had some friends who are very serious fantasy artists and authors who would love to tell fun and entertaining stories to a wider audience, but everytime they’ve tried to get involved with anyone who has a connection to Hollywood or one of the bigger studios, it seems like somehow the story loses all of its authenticity,” said Gooch. “It seems to have no real connection to the fantasy community anymore. It becomes commercialized in all of the worst possible ways.”
“I’ll never mess with Hollywood. I’ve never seen a good fantasy movie come out instead of Lord of the Rings and a couple of them…. Game of Thrones is wonderful, there is an exception to everything. When Ken brought this to me I was pretty much negative. I was like ‘I’m busy as can be and I don’t want to be involved with three old fat guys running around with a video camera,’” Elmore said honestly. “Then he started introducing me to more people and then he told me Margaret was in for it. So I thought if Margaret was in for it, then I should be in for it.”
When Elmore read the script, he wasn’t so sure about it and didn’t think it was that funny. Yet, when he spoke to Whitman about lines in the script, he found that Whitman made it sound very funny.
“If we can capture what Ken is doing, then this will be funny. Okay, I’m in,” said Elmore. “When I saw the whole thing come together, I got enthusiastic about it.”
If you listen to Elmore, he makes it sound like he phoned in his work on it, but Gooch and Whitman were quick to give Elmore credit for the hard work he put into the series. Elmore not only acted in it as the Old Wizard, but also did the storyboards and gave feedback on the script.
“Larry had worked on SnarfQuest in Dragon Magazine, so he understood the storytelling process. So when I started working with Larry on it, his expertise really helped with Brothers Barbarian,” said Whitman.
“Larry agreed to do storyboards for us, which are more or less the blueprint for everyone who is going to be involved in the visual part of the production: the camera, directing, actors, and even costume people. Larry ended up picking up the role of storyboard artists, art designer, costume designer… If you look at the storyboards and at the resulting movie or web series, or whatever you want to call this strange thing, the storyboards match the shot frames very accurately,” said Gooch. “So Ken tells the story, Larry depicts the story visually, and then I got to figure out how to capture that on film.”
“One of the things that made it as special as it was is that everyone who participated was just as passionate about fantasy genre and brought their ‘A’ game to the table, [as] opposed to if I brought in a bunch of people to be extras who didn’t know who (Elmore) was or what fantasy as a genre was. There is no way we would have had people working the hours they worked or the effort they did. Instead Ken finds a bunch of people that are all gamers and fantasy aficionados,” said Gooch.
“Almost everyone involved was a gamer or into fantasy. A lot of them played D&D. It was like you go to a convention and just get a bunch of people to make a movie,” said Elmore.
Brothers Barbarian has a very catchy Brothers Barbarian Theme song. Surprisingly enough, it was recorded in one of the rooms of the inn where they filmed with the use of laptops. That was the idea of music composer, Rafael Langoni Smith, and it worked well.
“Rafael figured out [he] could take advantage of the excitement and energy that the musicians have that are [on set] and also working as extras. I could leverage their music ability. He also brought enough knowledge and intelligence about doing the recording and composition to be able to do something like that with short notice and almost no resources,” said Gooch.
The cast and crew worked at a fast pace at 8-10 pages per day, but they had great fun making the show. They had tons of fun stories to share, like setting themselves on fire…twice. Elmore accidentally set his robe on fire. (Don’t worry, he escaped with just a slightly toasted robe.) In fact, Elmore seemed to have a patch of bad luck; Tim also accidentally punched him in the nose.
“I popped him right across the nose. I had this brief moment of panic. ‘Holy crap, I just punched Larry Elmore in the face and everyone saw it!’” laughed Tim.
But don’t worry. Elmore insisted he had been nit a lot harder than that before.
“I almost believed if someone filmed us making it, it would have been more of a comedy. There was so much silliness going on. It was fun!” said Elmore.
Now that they’ve finished season one, what advice do they have for other web series creators?
“Plan, plan, plan, plan… do everything before you actually get to the shoot,” Ken.
“Ken did a fantastic thing… Ken figured out an audience and a product before he even opened his mouth to me or Larry about it,” said Gooch. “First of all, you’ve got to have a a good story. [Ken] did not just have an idea, he had a really solid idea.”
“It is nice to have a lot of talented people to say good things about you. But just like in roleplaying, everybody at the table is who makes it happen. I was so proud to be a part of it,” said Whitman.
The final episode of season one airs this week and the creators are hoping to create seasons two and three, which they have already plotted out. Margaret Weis has actually asked to write an episode for season two. Below are the first two episodes. If you enjoy the series, please consider donating for a season two and three. You can find more episodes at – http://www.brothersbarbarian.com/
Attack Of The Trailers!
The Mechanical Grave – Teaser Trailer
Anyone who goes to scifi conventions, especially DragonCon, knows that steampunk is popular. Well, here is a new steampunk web series for you steamies… you know… like trekkies… Anyway, this is a teaser trailer for the upcoming steampunk web series The Mechanical Grave.
“The year is 1895. Steam-powered ships fly through the air. Clockwork robots have replaced servants. And a grisly murder has taken place in the dark night of New York City.”
“Called to the scene of the ritualistic murder, newly appointed police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt discovers Detective Wayne and his police officers power usurped by two special investigators appointed by the White House: Occultist Edgar Allan Poe, a clockwork automaton housing the soul of the literary legend, and Mrs. Emma Entwistle, a dangerous assassin with a unique connection to the otherworld. When they elicit information from the demon Neshrew, a much darker and more dangerous plot of world domination is uncovered.”
Elsewhere On The Web
Celebrate The Web is back with another Web Pilot Festival, but this time around they’ve teamed up with the International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) to create a Creatives Fellowship. That’s not all: My Damn Channel has offered a development meeting for the winner of Judge’s Prize, with an option to take the show to series. Plus, the Audience Choice Award will get a 30 Day Spotlight on Tubefilter and SAG New Media is offering an expedited signatory process for all teams that use SAG actors. It’s pretty cool to see this great idea get expanded. For more details click on over to Celebrate The Web.
What I’m Watching… Are You?
I’ve been scouring the web in search of new web series episodes to watch and share with you. Enjoy!
Aidan 5 – Episode 10 “A Date at the Docks”
The sci-noir series Aidan 5 is back with the premiere of the second half of season one.
“Aidan and Riley’s partnership may be at an end as he tracks down the man without a face – but can he do it alone?”
BlackBoxTV Presents: The Vampire of Sacramento
It’s another new episode of the horror/thiller web series Black Box TV. This episode is actually based on a true story and written/directed by Tony E. Valenzuela.
The Guild: Season 5 – Episode 7 – “Downturn”
This is one of the first web series to be a hit, and it’s still making us gamers laugh like it was the first season. Felicia Day and her talented cast are back with everyone’s favorite dysfunctional gamer guild. This season has been great with its fan convention storyline and guest stars.
“Zaboo’s Seat-Saver’s network gets serious as Clara tries to cozy up with a new group of friends.”
The LXD, Season Three – Episode 5 “Salvage”
Back for a third season, The League of Extraordinary Dancers is part superhero, part music (and crazy dance) video. This series has an original story packed with beautiful cinematography and compelling choreography. Check out episodes 5 and 6 of the new season. Sorry to our non-United States readers—Hulu has it geoblocked. (Don’t look at me, I didn’t do it!)
“With longawaited word from Autumn, Sp3cimen rushes to see her and is given a surprise welcome.”
The LXD, Season Three – Episode 6 “Reprogram”
“The past and present collide, as Sp3cimen and Autumn confront their new relationship.”
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 next time for more news and interviews coming to a Wednesday near you. Take care, my orc killing friends. Until next time… marX out.
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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 post-production of his scifi web series Reality On Demand.
Julie Seaton Pyle was born and raised in Indiana, where she attended the University of Southern Indiana. She majored in Print Journalism/Computer Publishing, while also dabbling in creative writing, literature and languages. This is also where she met Marx, the man with whom she would take the plunge into marriage and, years later, into another passion: filmmaking. She is co-producer, co-writer, and lead actress in the scifi web series Reality On Demand.