We are a few weeks into 2011 and we are catching the flu at The IndieNet and Beyond… or… are we just becoming a Vampire Zombie Werewolf? Are my fangs showing? How embarrassing? More news and web series episodes, plus an interview with the stars and producers of the web series Vampire Zombie Werewolf, which just had episode 5 premiere. This show was a Top Ten pick for 2010 by ScifiPulse and has been nominated for awards by Indie Intertube for 2010.
Last week, I interviewed the stars and creative minds behind Vampire Zombie Werewolf: Steven Lekowicz (“Tad,” Executive Producer/Writer), Tanya Ihnen (“Bunny,” Executive Producer) and Robb Padgett (“The Producer,” Writer/Director/Executive Producer/Composer/Editor). They wear many hats in the creation of this cleverly funny web series, and I could tell quickly during the conversation that they are all close friends.
Vampire Zombie Werewolf is an interesting title and and interesting concept. A web series producer visits a rich couple who will give him some big bucks to invest in a web series, but they have some of their own ideas about what it should be about. However, the Producer quickly learns that this isn’t a normal yuppie couple, but rather two people who are Vampire, Zombie and Werewolf all rolled up into one. He finds it difficult to escape as he learns how they became such beings, which turns into a hilarious story poking fun at some iconic monsters. But where did this odd idea even come from?
“I was just trying to think of the most blatantly pandering commercial title I could possibly think of. Just cram a bunch of basically search terms together to form a title. And then the story kind of developed out of it and the story actually transcended the concept,” explained Robb.
“The idea of making fun of any of those shows. Well we don’t want to make fun of vampire show, well we don’t want to make fun of a werewolf show… we could make fun of all of this stuff together by combining everything,” Steven added.
Why not try to sell it as a TV series or turn it into a movie? Well, this is not their first venture into the web series frontier—they all worked together on a previous sitcom web series called Life from the Inside. So they have previous experience in this medium and they are passionate about it.
“This is the genre we like, so we keep going,” said Tanya.
“If we would have made a film [we] probably would have taken it to festivals, the end result if we hadn’t sold it would probably be to put it on the web anyway. So just skip that step and go straight to the web and make it easier for everybody,” said Robb.
“Just make what we want, put it up when we want, where we want, and there you go,” Steven added.
There have also been a number of extras like the Commentary episodes, Thanksgiving episode, Christmas video, and the Balthazane episodes. The original plan was to launch Fourth of July, but you know what they say about best laid plans… So that premiere date turned into Halloween and the holiday extras kind of grew out of that schedule change. Robb told me they always planned on having extras. He had to satisfy his ‘obsession’ with the number three so it was originally going to be three episodes, then extra and so forth. “I don’t know who would stick around with the last extra, but that was the plan,” laughed Robb.
One extra that really grew larger than was originally planned was the Balthazane videos and website. Some call Balthazane the most influential webseries critic out there. Well, maybe only he would describe himself that way. “Once we realized what the character was and Robb realized the great opportunity… ‘Why don’t we see his webseries reviews?’” said Steven.
“There was always a kind of tentative plan to make his website, but the videos were definitely something extra. And now we have ten of them.” said Robb.
“They’re very short and, you know, pointless. But, hopefully amusing,” said Steven tongue-in-cheek.
“They’re not pointless!” objected a laughing Tanya.
“Almost completely pointless,” laughed Steven, “When you sit down and watch all of them back-to-back you’ll see that each one is consisting of maybe 40% new footage. But I think that is something he would do because he’s kind of a jerk.”
“And it’s obviously a commentary on web criticism anyway. The kind of reviews we’ve gotten for this show and Life from the Inside that were practically pointless,” added Steven.
Vampire Zombie Werewolf has a lot of jokes poking fun at web series, which is one of the first web series I really know of that has done that. Why did they decide to use some meta-storytelling humor, like the “inflating the stakes” joke in episode 4?
By turning the Vampire Zombie Werewolf couple into wannabe web series producers “there are all sorts of opportunities to just play with that,” said Steven.
“Plus we weren’t just making fun of the genre in general. We are sort of poking fun at web series that work in this genre specifically. It was sort of a reaction I had some things that people would make that I would watch, I like these people that make these show, but I wanted to comment on web series specifically. And yeah maybe there was a slight conscious effort to be the first.” chuckled Robb. “Let me tell you something. That ‘inflating the stakes’ joke took me two days, because I built that bellows pump.”
Vampire Zombie Werewolf season 1 will be 9 episodes. Will there be a season 2?
“Definitely there’s plans, although we have other shows we would really like to produce. But we have kind of tentative story lines in mind for season two already,” said Tanya.
“This season has a definite ending, but it also has an opening for a second season,” cryptically answered Robb. “We have quite a few shows that are in different stages of development. They are all comedies, but some are more dramatic comedies than others. But deciding which genre we want to do is the bigger question. The next show we were supposed to do was a noir, mystery, thriller… comedy.”
“I think it is safe to say we’ll be doing a comedy next,” added Tanya.
What advice to these web series creators, who have now created two web series, have for those wanting to become web series creators?
“I think the ultimate advice is don’t listen to anyone…including us. When we started Life from the Inside everyone told us we were doing everything wrong. You can’t do half-hour shows, it’s not dark, it’s not lovey enough… and we did it anyway. [Going into Vampire Zombie Werewolf] we did our own thing and we’re getting great responses for it. I think the ultimate thing about web series is you can do what you want and make the show you want to watch,” says Tanya.
“If anyone wants to do it, make sure you concentrate on the story and script. And then secondarily, see how you can get it technically. I’ve gone to film school and… we’ve done this before with another show. If you can make the sound a little better, have someone that knows how to get a good shot. I think that is all you really need. If stuff looks a little amateurish, that’s okay if the story is really great and the characters are interesting,” said Steven.
“Here’s my advice: what they said. But also my number one advice would be if you have good sound you can do anything. And my other piece of advice is you should maybe take other people’s advice sometimes, but… don’t take any advice that stops you from doing it. Take advice that helps you do it, but don’t take advice that stops you from doing it,” said Robb.
Below is the first two videos. You can find the web series online at: http://vampirezombiewerewolf.com/
Elsewhere On The Web…
‘Mortal Kombat’ Fights On As Webseries
Director Kevin Tancharoen, who directed the very awesome “concept trailer” Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, is making a 10 episode web series based on Mortal Kombat starring Michael Jai White as Major Jax Briggs. Tancharoen, Todd Helbing, and Aaron Helbing wrote the script. Filming will began this February in Vancouver. Some of the characters believed to be in the web series are: Shang Tsung, Liu Kang, Sub Zero, Durak, Kabal, Kitana/Mileena and Scorpion.
What I’m Watching… Are You?
Death Battle! – Goomba VS Koopa
Revision3 has launched this new web series. It is sort of Deadliest Warrior, but with a much more scifi flavor to it. An all out battle to death between two or more characters from pop culture. This time it’s a Super Mario Bros. theme with Goomba Vs. Koopa.
Mind’s Eye – Episode 8 : Struck Out
Illia is confronted by schoolyard bullies, luckily his friends are Dreamweavers.
Riese: Kingdom Falling – Making Of: Riese and Fenrir
SyFy wants to make sure we don’t forget about this Canadian steampunk web series. They gave us a new behind-the-scenes video of Riese: Kingdom Falling.
Vampire Zombie Werewolf – Episode 5 “Of Webseries and Werewolves”
Hey, these guys sound familiar… Episode 5 is alive! It’s time to build suspense and also get a few laughs from a look at past web series by The Producer, like Sand Witches!
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. Take care my virtual friends. Until next time… marX out.
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 pre-production of his scifi web series Reality On Demand.