Your upcoming series Chronicles of Syntax - in a few words,
what is it about?
of Syntax is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi series that starts in present day
and then sends
us onto the barren wasteland of a future Earth. It follows a group of
allies and enemies whose
destinies are intertwined with Syntax, our reluctant heroine, who cannot
her past but must
battle with the choice: Live to Fight or Fight to Live.
According to my information, you
conceived the basic conept of Chronicles of Syntax a few years back
while still a student. What can you tell us about, shall we say, the
early days of Chronicles of Syntax, what convinced you that you
were on the right track, and how did the story evolve over the years?
of Syntax was my way of entertaining myself to begin with, which they say
is the best
way to start. I have so many different interests that don’t quite seem
to make it to TV and in
the void of good television, that summer when the one and only programme
to hit all the right spots takes a break, there’s really not much for
you to do but wait. So
while I was waiting – I wrote. Chronicles
of Syntax combines a love of
anime, Japanese drama,
sci fi, gaming, cosplay, steampunk, fantasy… I could go on and on, but
basically it’s a world
that acknowledges many different themes. Once I was happy with the
I had created and the characters within it, I thought it might be fun to
get it read by a professional
crowd. Bearing in mind that at the time I had absolutely no working
knowledge of the
film industry and wasn’t looking to do much more than see how it sounded
coming from actors,
I took the pilot to an Equity union meeting, where they graciously
humoured me and sat
down to read it. It was the response I got from them that told me this
might be something really
special. It sounds a bit dramatic but from that day on I feel like I’ve
been riding a rollercoaster
of Syntax. I was thrown in at the deep end of production and I had
to learn my craft pretty sharpish. Luckily I’ve had some very inspirational
professionals really take an interest
in the series and I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from them. The
story itself is pretty much as it ever was, with a bit of tweaking and
tightening here and there.
There have been a few hurdles we have had to overcome in the past which
us from getting the series to the fans as quickly as I’d have liked, and
which has sometimes
altered the direction the series is going. Now that it’s been fixed as a
will be able to get it to all the other countries who have been asking for
it and that’s made
us very happy.
prompted you to take the next step and put it into production now?
always knew Chronicles
of Syntax would belong to the fans. If it was just
about telling a good
story (which is predominately high on priority list) I could have written
a book. But Chronicles
of Syntax needs to be seen. It’s an exciting world with complex
characters and an arc
built for a series. The Chronicles
of Syntax-world needs to breath in HD glory and besides,
film was always
my first love. As a fan myself I think there’s nothing quite like
sitting with your friends
and family counting down the minutes until the intro of your favourite TV
show, or in this
case, web series. I would count myself very lucky if I could create that
for other people. Shortly
after I moved to London I started working with the British Film Institute
: Future Film Division. When I pitched the series to them it really opened up the
possibility of not just telling
this story, but telling it well and on a professional level. The next step
unavoidable and the
fans have made it possible through crowdfunding.
far as I know, as we speak Chronicles of Syntax is still in its fundraising stages. Would you like to talk about your fundraising campaign
for a bit?
course, we have a campaign going on indiegogo to raise the money for
production. We’ve been
very lucky that the fans of the series have followed us there and really
got behind us. We
are currently the most popular campaign in the world, the top webseries on
and the best project to come out of London. It’s very exciting, we even
got featured recently.
We are aiming for a modest budget of just $20,000. You can have a look at
and please get involved if you can.
spreading the word about us really helps.
There’s lots of goodies to be gained by donating
and when it’s ready, season one of Chronicles
of Syntax will be put
online to be
watched by everyone.
Anything you can tell us about your projected
of Syntax already has its cast. It was important to me to hire actors who
a high standard of acting but who were also trained in combat, so that
there’s no tricks
in the fight scenes. But perhaps just as important – I wanted a
relatively unknown cast.
often distracted when I’m watching fiction where they’ve cast really
I spend more time thinking “but you’re such-and-such” instead of
being given a clean slate
with which an actor can truly embody a character in my mind, with no
anything they may have done before. As
it is I have got a few castmembers that cult and online fan bases may
recognise but gleefully
not to the extent I mentioned above. Besides, these are some fantastic
actors and it’s nice
to be able to give the good stories to people who might not have had the
chance simply because
“they’re not famous yet”. If I were getting famous actors involved
at all it would be cameos
and nothing more.
What can you tell us about Chronicles
of Syntax's directors, and what will they bring to the table?
Dan and Adam Hipkin from TEAFilms, Jack Ayers of Early Train
from iDare Productions and James Webber from Fingercuff come in as
directors is a dream
come true. Not only are they supremely hard workers that have a love for
sci-fi and genuine
talent in their craft, but they are also really nice people! A lot of
series do it nowadays,
have different directors for different episodes and it just works so well
because it gives a
fresh voice to each story. While the series has its own continuous arc the
episodes can be seen
independently and this means that we will have the chance to see these
guys take charge of the different
adventures that are coming up. I’m very excited!
fight choreographer Ronin Traynor - what can you tell us about him, and
what kind of action can we expect from his involvement?
Traynor is by far the fighting genius that encompasses our Chronicles
of Syntax lives! Not only is
he our fighting choreographer but he is also one of the bad guys, he plays
the character Hemlock - and very well I might add. On top of this he is one of the people who
helped me create
Tycan, the in-series sport, which you are going to love!! It’s like
capture the flag but with
Traynor has worked on so many wonderful things, including blockbusters and
games. Not only is he capable of dreaming up the most wonderful action but
he has experience in fighting
within gameplay. I promise you, you won’t have seen anything like it.
return to your writing for a bit: What were your initial inspirations when
writing Chronicles of Syntax, and how would you describe your
all about the character! I’m a firm believer that if you don’t have
interesting characters then
the rest of your story, the location, the destination, the special effects
are all pointless. I’m
a HUGE Joss Whedon fan so I guess his work has influenced me a lot, Buffy
the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dollhouse… they are all series that were really well-loved. I want to make
people feel how he made me feel. When I was younger, Buffy
became my whole
fanbase was a tangible experience – it still is, I mean Firefly’s been
gone for years but I’d
declare myself a Browncoat any day of the week. His writing creates an
echo of excitement
and a loyalty that never fades. If I can achieve even half that within my
be very happy.
What can you tell us about your lead character
Syntax, and honestly, how much of yourself can we find her?
Susan E. Clarke
is a fantastic question, no one has ever asked me this before so it’s
not something I’ve had
to really think about. I identify a lot with a lack of identity. When I
was younger I was diagnosed
with a form of epilepsy called ‘petit mal’, and at the time they
didn’t really know what
it was, so I was put on some really high medication which left me a little
spaced out on top
of my seizures, and at the most critical time of my adolescence. For one
reason or another
as I grew up and eventually grew out of my epilepsy, I realised I had lost
a lot of memories
from my childhood. At first that was really tough for me to deal with
I felt like I didn’t have any grounding, anything with which to define
myself. All the choices
I had made growing up seemed lost in time. It made me question a lot of
things and I think
a lot of those questions are what drives Syntax to find out who she is.
Except she is handed
a lot more responsibility because everyone views her as a hero. You kind of
feel sorry for her but at the same time her reluctance to even try to be
who people want her to
be can be considered both admirable and aggravating. Syntax is a
contradiction of many things, caught within the definition of saviour.
As far as I know, once it's finished, Chronicles
of Syntax will consist of six 12-episode series. Would you like to
elaborate on that?
of Syntax is a 6 season series, but season one is self-contained, so we
want to get those
12 episodes out to the fans and allow them to be satisfied with it. If we
are lucky enough
to have the series picked up after that then we will be more than happy to
tell the rest of the
story, but for now we just want to focus on what we can do and do it well.
The $64-question of course: When and
where will Chronicles of Syntax be released (if that's not too
early to ask)?
now we are planning to go into production in September, which means if
to plan we should have episode one online to watch for January and then
the series should
play throughout 2013. If we don’t get someone wanting to host the series
online, we will most likely put it on YouTube and on our website. The most
important thing to me about posting the series online is that there should
be no restrictions
with other countries because there are so many other countries outside the
of Syntax and I’m determined to make sure they have it,
with no delays,
just as easily as our UK fanbase.
Any future projects beyond Chronicles
as serious as Chronicles
of Syntax but it’s always good to do what you
love and I love
writing. When I need to relax from writing the series, I simply start
writing something else
and I enjoy it. My next ambition after completing the series would be to
write a novel but if
someone came along and told me I’d be making the rest of Chronicles
of Syntax for
the next six years I’d still be very
happy because there’s still so much of the world to see.
Let's go back to the beginnings of your
career: What got you into the filmworld to begin with, and what can you
tell us about your early experiences in the field?
took to theatre at a really young age, and by the time I was 19 I had
worked my way up to become
an Equity member, and therefore viewed as a professional actress. I had
stories in my spare time, and when it was required I would write monologues
for my acting classes. Eventually there came a time when even my agent was
me off as an “excellent writer” and I realised that maybe I had
misread the best avenue
in which to tell my stories. It
was a natural step to look at writing a little bit more seriously I guess,
but I never in my
wildest dreams imagined the rollercoaster ride that Chronicles
of Syntax would bring. This
series was the project with which I took my first professional steps as a
writer. I was building
up a production company at the same time as attending full time
university. By the
time I left I was on my way to Trailer and holding a 2:1 degree with
honours. It sounds really
awesome when you say it like that but it was really hard work and being
the novice that was,
I swiftly learnt the hard way what was required of me – sometimes the
only thing that kept
me going was my passion to see this adventure come to life. That and the
friendships I had
picked up on the way, I could never let them down. My dad calls it my
apprenticeship – I don’t
think that there could be a better word for it and I’m a stronger
filmmaker now because of
the time I spent working on the series during my degree. I
have been a showrunner since Chronicles of Syntax started and
multi-tasking and getting stuck
in regardless of the job seems to be the way forward in the film industry
these days, I love
it. I’ve been very lucky to work on some of my own short films
with the BFI Future Film department in London and even the smallest of
have their challenges, you really have to have a passion for this job, a
a strong sense of what you want, to be a part of it. A
lot of people ask me “what advice would you give aspiring filmmakers” and I always say the
same thing. It sounds like a really simple piece of information that seems
obvious but no one’s
going to come along and shake your hand and say “right, NOW you are a
become a filmmaker by becoming a filmmaker. Step
outside your bedroom and just do it. Film on a camcorder or a mobile
phone, grab your
friends together, make
mistakes and learn from them. These jobs don’t land in your lap but if
you’re determined and you enjoy yourself, those steps will eventually
lead you in the right direction for your dream job.
How would you describe
yourself as a writer, and where do you usually find your inspirations?
an old fashioned fan of escapism. I feel like life can be tough enough for
people, so when
it comes to fiction, no matter what the genre, it should be able to take
them away, allow them
access to something ‘other’. Anything
can inspire me to write: music, a certain craving for a specific emotion,
an idea of a relationship… but
most of all I think it’s dialogue. If characters drive my stories then dialogue
is the catalyst for those characters. Whatever
it is that makes me think of these conversations I will
probably never know, but I can be in the middle of something mundane and
I just need to see who these words belong to. It’s very exciting for me
to meet new characters
and watch them grow through a story, sometimes they do things that even
or make me laugh or make me cry. I know once that happens I just need to
people experience it.
and filmmakers who inspire you? Your favourite movies?
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have a different relationship to film and talent than I think most people
do. There are lots of people
I admire and who inspire me in many areas of the story making process. I
can see an average
film and absolutely fall in love with it because of just one moment where
I was moved
or I learned something. My DVD collection if full up of really old movies
of stars in their
youth because I will be so enthralled by someone’s ability, to act or to
write, or create music
or direct, and from that point
I will pretty much follow them back in time to their roots,
see where they started, what mistakes they made if any, and watch their
growth within the
industry. I would say I have some fantastic films in my collection but
only a rare few I
love in their
and of course, films you really deplore?
dislike any film that doesn’t have logical character growth, or films
where the special effects
are used to try and convince its audience of a ‘good story’. You know
the ones I mean!
I prefer special effects to be an invisible aid to storytelling – like
the robot in Interview
with a Vampire.
That’s right, I said ROBOT… see my point?
series' website, Facebook, indiegogo, whatever else?
for the interview!