You got to hand it to the Canadians. Along with expressing incredible agility in the logging industry, when they say they’re going to do something, they do it. Or at least that’s the case with Montreal natives Joe Baron and Seth Mendelson, who were tired of hearing fellow wannabe filmmakers go on about how they were going to make a movie, but never actually put anything on film.
It sounds overly simplistic, but “the idea of making something” was what inspired the co-directors/co-writers/co-editors to co-create the bizarre, funny, ambitious, super cool new series Take Me Back.
The show works off a continuing storyline, so you should watch the episodes in order, or you’ll have no idea what the hell is going on. I.e. in the first installment, endearing Al (played by Seth) is a talented repairsmith who’s far more adept at fixing things than he is at social interaction. After an awkward encounter with a chick on crutches, he’s tasered by a man in a Venetian mask and shoved, unconscious, into the back of his own car and taken captive. If you miss that, it’s difficult to figure out that the man in the mask is an Al doppelgänger, who usurps the life of his prisoner.
In a phone interview, Seth said that if he could name any true influence for himself, it’d be Woody Allen. But, he admits that he’s probably the only one who sees a little bit of Woody in Take Me Back. Joe, on the other hand, joked that the show has a “Bergman/Tarkovsky sort of influence.” The series is far more random than most Woody Allen stuff I’ve seen (save the Roman chorus in Mighty Aphrodite), but the three of them (Woody and Seth and Joe) seem indebted to European filmmakers – and yes, especially Bergman. Take Me Back also has a fanciful strand that is evocative of some of the great French auteurs. Jacques Tati comes to mind.
The two have an equally tough time ascribing the series a genre:
“There’s drama, there’s comedy, there’s mystery. We put it under ‘entertainment’ when we upload it to other web sites…In the end, we just wanted to tell a good story that people would be interested in following, and maybe have a few laughs along the way…One of the things I like about the project quite a bit is how the overall mood and feel of it change over time…When Darren Fung, our composer, was writing the score, we all thought it would be quite bubbly and light-hearted, as we can hear in the first few chapters. He established a theme that, in my mind anyway, would encompass the entire project, but by the end of the scoring process we realized that we had something quite different on our hands.”
Along with its fantastic, whimsical soundtrack the show has a polished, professional look. Co-creator Joe plays the role of cinematographer and shot nearly the whole 75-minute, 10-part series himself and says, “We’re making something for the web that doesn’t necessarily look like it was made for the web.” It shows. There’s a higher production standard, a cinematic quality that’s absent from a lot of other amateur web series.
For now, Take Me Back is a labor of love, but also a means to an end. The guys are hoping that a widespread dissemination through their Website will generate a lot of viewers and eventually hordes of fans, and future projects based on its success.
They modestly request donations (which have remarkably made up the majority of the show’s cost) and plan to release a DVD once the series has been posted in its entirety. Personally, I hope they catch on. I’d love to see what else these guys will do.