Hello my online friends. It’s time for another installment of “The IndieNet and Beyond.” Along with the usual news and newest web series episodes, there is an interview with Thomas Gofton. He is the creator/producer/director/editor of the new web series Mind’s Eye, a new fantasy web series that premiered on Friday November 26th. All new episodes go online every Friday until the season finale on May 6th 2011.
I ran across Mind’s Eye almost by accident a few weeks ago when I saw the trailer. It really caught my eye and imagination, so I just had to track down the creator for a little chat.
The series is about a young introverted boy named Illia Fairchild (Nik MacMillan) and his journeys through life with his childhood friends. Gofton describes it as a normal coming of age story, except… “There is a little bit of a twist of what is going on, because there is an overtone of angelic and demonic forces that are trying to take this boy that was prophesied as the chosen one,” Gofton revealed.
The two sides believe the boy is the key to victory for their ancient war, but that isn’t really the big twist. “[T]he twist, and actually the story itself, is the boy’s friends, who are not actually his childhood friends but are actually hundreds years old superhero types called Dreamweavers,” explained Gofton. “These Dreamweavers are humanity’s best at discovering what humans are best at, which is manifesting reality through thought. These Dreamweavers are protecting the young boy from the forces of good and evil who are both trying to take him down. And they do it in disguise. They disguise themselves as his childhood friends.”
You heard that right, from BOTH good and evil.
“We were playing a bit on the philosophy of it. The angels and demons are sort of a characteristic of what would be the embodiment of good and evil. But at the same time they are both after the same goal. Just because one is big red and nasty doesn’t necessarily mean it’s evil. Whereas the other is white and pure… doesn’t mean they’re always the good-hearted ones. Whereas the rugged, sort of real life historically influenced heroes are humans just trying to be neutral ground more or less. Just trying to do what is morally right for humanity’s best,” said Gofton.
The Dreamweavers are a colorful collection of heroes from different historical periods: the Templar Knight Mark (Tom Brown and Andrew Ellis), the druid of magic Darius (Zeeke Hamilton and Nathan Fryer), the pirate conquistador Elyssa (Danika Czubak and Lily O’Coin), the ninja Koji (Sean Liu and Jodre Datu), the gypsy wanderer Nadia (Candice Barrett and Claire Morgan), and the western Samurai Patrick (Thomas Gofton and Aidan Harris). You read that right, the adult Dreamweaver version of Patrick is actually played by Gofton.
“I was originally an actor, so I had the opportunity to cast myself in a role. And I’m not really a samurai western fan, I’m more of a knight fan. I chose the role, because it was more of a challenging acting role for me. All of the heroes are influenced by a couple of cultures in history. We tried to make it more of their background and what they came from to determine the power and what they do and how they behave,” said Gofton.
A good example of “heroic mish-mash history” is Gofton’s character Patrick, who was a promising inventor of the early 1700’s who gained his Dreamweaving ability after one of his experiments accidentally killed many innocent people. Patrick went on a soul-searching journey that led him to Japan, where he learned the ways of the Samurai. But when Japan pushed out all of the elements of the West, Patrick found himself in America where had his philosophy of the Samurai and his history with England, but had to learn to live in a wild west cowboy world.
This isn’t the first time Gofton has played with the idea of Mind’s Eye; this is the third incarnation of the concept. The first was produced by Thomas Gofton in 2007 as a short film. The short film was about kids pretending to be heroes, who become grown-up heroes and fight off a zombie invasion, then go back to being kids again. Then after meeting co-writer Tom Brown, who also plays the Templar Knight Mark, they changed the concept from kids turning into heroes to heroes for some reason turning into kids. The second incarnation was turned into a series’ concept/pilot produced by Synn Studios in the Spring of 2009. After giving up on trying to turn it into a broadcast TV show, it evolved into the web series.
Are they ready for more seasons? Yes, Gofton says they have plotted out a total of five seasons. The remaining four are structured large enough for traditional television, but can be compressed for the web. However, he noted they’ll need to hurry up and make them, because… “our [children actors] are going to be grown-up soon. They are all age 12 and 13 so they are already getting deeper voices and pimples. I’m like oh crap we’ve got to hurry up.”
Gofton is honest and says they aren’t really sure what they plan on doing after season one.
“We’ve seen two different models happen. We’ve seen Riese the series do a fantastic job and winning over the hearts of the SyFy network. And then you have something like The Guild who fired it out there and didn’t sell it off to a network. They kept it and are doing just as well. We just want to go out there and have a good time with it and whatever comes to table we are going to take with a grain of salt and say yea or nay depending on what is best for the story,” said Gofton. “The last thing I want to do is to lose all of the rights and creativeness to it. Because I really just want to listen to what the fans say and tailor it to that. I don’t think you can do that if a larger network comes in and tries to buy it up. We want it to be more fan driven than consumer driven.”
The most elusive question of all in this online storytelling biz: how do you make money with a web series? Gofton described some examples.
“The Guild has it best. The way Felicia Day has done it has been amazing. They monetize it, but they are not pushing sales in your face. The way they monetize it is sort of the same route we are going to do,” explained Gofton. “Where we have the episode for free, you can watch it and enjoy it on Youtube and on our site hosted by our own servers. You can go ahead and enjoy the show. If you want more you can download a higher resolution version on iTunes. You can buy shirts and swag. Eventually they’ll be DVDs to sell. And we plan on doing every big convention we can find. So people can come by and buy a DVD and get it signed up us. And of course advertisement. But we pick and choose the advertisements that are more fitting to the show itself.”
From Gofton’s experience of making Mind’s Eye, what advice would he give possible future web series creators out there?
“Just do it. If you believe heavily in your project and you think you have a good idea… everyone knows they have a good idea, but you have to think is this idea tangible and do some research. Really do the research on your idea. Because throwing out another Kevin Smith style Clerks comedy might work and it might not work. So you have to really think about what you are doing. And research what is out there in the market. If there is fifteen thousand replicas of what your doing it might not work. Or if you want to make it work, what elements are you going to do different to make it work?” Gofton added, “Beyond that, challenge yourself. That is one of the things we did. Try the fighting, try the kids, try the heavy make-up or the effects. It can be cheesy I guess. It’s okay with a web series. When you watch a web series I don’t think people are expecting Avatar. So you can go ahead and play around with the fun stuff and really give yourself a lesson on it.”
As for what not to do?
“What I would suggest don’t do. Don’t take advantage of your cast and crew. Don’t disrespect them or treat them poorly. If you are going to have a bunch of people work for you for nothing or next to it, you are on their time so you respect them 100%,” said Gofton.
Check out a new episode of Mind’s Eye every Friday until the season finale on May 6th 2011. Below is the first episode, “Prey.”
There are also short stories at the official website that give some insight on the backgrounds of the Dreamweavers. And there is a pen & paper role-playing game that is scheduled for pdf release in December and a hardcover release planned for 2011.
You never know what new video is going to go viral. This one is scifi related (sort of)… hey, there is a monster. The Cookie Monster from Sesame Street needs your vote to host an episode of SNL.
What I’m Watching
Haywire – Episode 2 “The Beaten Path”
It’s a new episode of the horror/scifi web series Haywire. We are introduced to some new characters who run into each other on a path two days after H-Day, when a mysterious light causes anyone who saw it to be stuck in a repeating loop with violent tendencies.
Riese: Kingdom Falling – Episode 10 “Reunion”
It’s the final episode of season 1.
Suck and Moan – Episode 6 “The Death of Immortality”
What’s up with teen vamps? And vampire “patient zero” is starting to see signs of what happens when you drink zombie blood.
Vampire Zombie Werewolf
It’s a special Thanksgiving episode! Tad and Bunny love helping the less fortunate.
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 all of 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.