You have recently released the (first season of the) web-series With the Angels,
working as writer, director and producer - tell us what that series is about?
about a Christian girl from a small town in Arkansas who moves to Venice
Beach, California. It's about faith in all its forms, and about the
connections between people who don't seem particularly connected.
inspired the series, and is it in any way autobiographical?
the characters were inspired by a play by my friend, Werner Trieschmann,
who did some writing on the show also. But I wanted to tell this
story, basically, because I think people in America are so divided along
lines of faith, though they rarely talk about it. I wanted to look at
that. All of the characters are me in one way or another. I'm an
incredibly optimistic cynic, if that makes any sense, so different
characters reflect different aspects.
few words about the freaks in With the Angels, and are they based
on real-life persons?
Taffy is a Jesus freak, so I guess she's our central freak.
She's not based on anyone in particular that I know in my life, but there
are probably lots of her out there in the world. People think of
southern Christians as being pretty narrow-minded, and in some ways Taffy
is, but I wanted to create this person with an incredibly open heart,
to kind of mess with the stereotype. We're all freaks in one way or
another, I guess. Some people embrace it, some hide it. But it's always in
Where did the title With the
Angels come from?
seemed like a natural choice, given that LA is the City of Angels, and the
expression with the angels has a spiritual connotation, as
well as a connotation of a certain darkness because of its association
with death. It seemed like it was a title that encompassed both
light and dark.
On the set of With the Angels
Some words about your cast?
miraculous. Especially Jamie Tisdale, who plays Taffy. She's in almost
every episode and literally carries the show. It would not be the same
show without her. Everyone else is amazing, too. Carly Jones,
René Alvarado, my brother, Sean Biggins, and Tim Depriest were people I'd
worked with before. Kay Ostrenko is a dear friend and we'd always wanted
to do something together. Jamie and Madison Palasini were found by
my great casting director, Amy Desouza.
personal thoughts on Venice Beach, California, where the series is set?
really does have a high freak factor, like Taffy says. We
decided to shoot there because we had a visually perfect building to shoot
in, but it fits for Taffy, too, because it's such a total culture shock.
It's a place where there's a lot of spirituality floating around, but it's
very very different from the type Taffy grew up with. There are also
people wandering around in star spangled speedos, clown make-up, and
half-naked. Visually, it's a crazy fun place - this juxtaposition of the
natural beauty of the ocean and the trappings of a city, with a dash of
the just plain weird thrown in.
to go to learn more about/watch the series?
will take you to our YouTube page, which is right now the easiest place to
watch the show, because it's set up with some nice playlists. Strike.TV is
our home base. But the best visual presentation of the show is at Koldcast.tv. They have an amazing player, though I'm hoping they find a
better way to aggregate the episodes eventually.
Jamie Tisdale as Taffy
developments on With the Angels you can at least hint at?
the first season is over, so there aren't really any secrets left there.
If we do a second season I think it will be time for Taffy to get on
with it, and explore the entertainment world, which is why she moved to LA
in the first place.
With the Angels essentially an open-end series or do you already
have a particular finale all mapped out?
Season 1 ended in such a way that it could be the end, or not. I don't
have an ultimate conclusion I need to get to, but I'm also not one for
leaving a lot of loose ends, either.
Carly Jones as Ashley
projects besides/after With the Angels?
finished writing a feature, a thriller that's going into production soon.
I have a few other web series ideas cooking, and I have 2 TV pilots out
there as well.
series is a part of Strike TV - a few words about that
TV was founded during the writer's strike, and the idea is to put the
power into the hands of the creators of shows rather than a studio or
network. Strike provides a lot of support, but doesn't finance projects,
and the show remains the property of the creator.
You have previously written for the now
almost legendary lonelygirl15 - could you elaborate on that
started out as a girl blogging in her bedroom, and grew to a kind of
adventure series, with a lot of action and intrigue. The show's
biggest claim to fame is that people initially didn't know it was
fictional - they thought Bree was a real girl. That happened before I got
there, though. The show gave birth to an incredibly loyal, cohesive
community that still exists even though the show is over.
Other films, TV-shows or web-series you
worked on and would like to talk about?
I have written for
a crazy TV show called Dante's Cove that couldn't possibly be
more different from With the Angels. It has a pretty solid
niche/cult following. I worked on a web series for my incredibly talented
colleague, Paul Etheredge, called Buried Alive. And the movie
I just finished is going to be very cool, but I'm not going to say much
about it. I don't want to ruin the surprise. My short film Rock Bottom was my film directing debut and prepared me for
directing With the Angels.
are mainly making movies for the web. How does filmmaking for the internet
differ from theatrical moves or television?
it differs less and less as TV and the web merge, and as online video
players get more sophisticated. But for me personally, I still find that
shows with great visuals but very little dialogue don't hold my interest
on the web. I want my web show characters to TALK - a lot. I'd
rather hear them tell me what happened than watch it happen, weirdly
enough. On TV, this is less true, and when you get to movies it
becomes much more about the visual. People have created some incredibly
beautiful and lavish visuals for the web, so there are exceptions, but I
think the most successful stuff doesn't have a lot of really wide shots -
more close-ups of people and a good amount of dialogue. Even monologue.
The immediacy of the audience response is really exciting to me as a
writer, as is the ability to send the audience to different sites to pick
up deeper threads of the story. The web is still largely a
one-to-one experience, or simulates one, because people are more likely to
be close to the screen and watching alone. This invites interaction
in a way that TV or movies can't. You interact with a movie mainly
by suspending your disbelief and letting it wash over you. You interact
with a TV show by investing in its characters as a spectator, maybe
comparing notes with other spectators. But on the web, there's often an
opportunity to actually touch the story yourself.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
web-series/web-shows by others that you find particularly interesting?
favorite is Mountain Man, which is on StrikeTV. I enjoy The
Guild. One of my favorites over time was a show you can still see on
YouTube called Where Are the Joneses?. I love Mortified Shoebox, because I love exploring the real lives of regular people. I
think there's a real shortage of good dramas, and StrikeTV is really leading the
way in that regard, with some solid dramatic series like John's Hand, Anyone But
Me, and Dangerous Women. They
have a lot of good things that so far have produced only one episode. It'll be
interesting to see which of those get off the ground. Of course, the Battlestar Galactica web series is fantastic. I'm not a big
girl, but that show rocks. I wish there were more dramas that understood
main influences as a writer and director?
guess I'm influenced by everything I've ever seen on some level. My
favorite TV shows of all time are probably Six Feet Under and
The Shield. Those shows are pretty different, I know, but
they're connected by a certain fascination with humanity, our flaws, our
virtues. I don't know. I'm a pretty sincere person, and a sincere writer.
I appreciate irony and sarcasm, but I think they're overused. I'm
influenced a lot more by TV than by movies at this point, though that
hasn't always been true.
What kind of
movies do you watch privately and your favourite films?
an incredibly wide range of things. No particular type. I
love everything from wacky comedies to super serious dramas. It's not
about the type of movie for me as much as it is about the strength of
favorite films change constantly. One
of the more recent ones is Pan's
Labyrinth, which works on
so many levels. Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven is very high on
the list. Twelve Angry Men - the original. American Beauty, which I think is a very misunderstood movie.
films you really deplored, and why?
know, I'd rather not go there. Every movie works for somebody, even if it
doesn't work for me.
Anything else you
would like to mention and I have just forgotten to ask?
I think you covered it all!
for the interview!